174370309The marketing software space is heating up. CRM companies are adding marketing features, marketing automation tools are adding CRM features and it’s getting harder and harder to know what you need, when you need it and how to select the right software for your company.

From our perspective there are really three types of products. The first is Customer Relationship Management software to manage your customer and prospect interactions. Who did what to whom and when? How likely are they to become a client? Stuff like that.

The second is Marketing Automation software to help you streamline your marketing operations. This software typically works for businesses that are already doing a lot of proactive marketing and need to automate and simply the day to day tasks associated with email marketing, lead nurturing, website management, landing page building, and analyzing performance of the marketing effort.

The third is Inbound Marketing Optimization software to help you implement, manage and optimize your inbound marketing program. This type of software includes the ability to personalize the visitor’s experience on your website, monitor social media, automate posting of content to social media, help you make sure your content, like the blog, is always optimized for your keywords and perhaps the most important feature, provide you insight into what’s working and what’s not.

It’s this last feature that I think makes inbound marketing software so interesting. When you think about it, this ability to look into the future provides business owners, CEOs, and marketing executives the kind of real-time insight they’ve been looking for.

Allow me to try and illustrate.

The Limitation of Automation

When you send out an email, the data you get back is historic. It looks back in time and tells you who opened the email, who clicked on the email and where they clicked. While this is valuable information (don’t get me wrong), you really can’t do anything about it retroactively. You can work on your next email to improve its performance, but that’s about it.

However, when you’re keeping track of marketing performance in real-time and you notice website visitors are off projections or leads are down for the month, you can proactively adjust your tactics. If you’re practicing inbound marketing there are a number of actions you can take today, to impact results tomorrow. This power isn’t delivered in standard CRM or marketing automation tools.

The Power of Inbound

For example, using Inbound marketing software, you could move lower performing CTA buttons off of the home page and replace them with higher performing CTA buttons to improve lead generation and conversion rates on the home page. You can adjust landing page copy, image or form fields to improve lead generation on key landing pages.

If website traffic is down, you could identify content on your site that is highly viewed and place that content on social media to drive additional traffic or better yet, work to gain a guest blog post opportunity and highlight that content at the end of the post. This would drive traffic and leads with a single effort.

Of course this effort requires access to data in a format that allows you to quickly see what‘s working and what needs improvement. This should include the ability to drill into that data and see the details without having to create custom reports, detailed dashboards or hopping from application to application.

Comparison is critical to this effort too. How did we do last month? What about this month this year vs. this same month last year. This takes seasonality of your business into consideration. What about a rolling three months?

Perhaps most important is how are we doing vs. our goals? Goal setting creates expectation and expectation drives results. Vince Lombardi said, “If we’re not keeping score, we are just practicing.” The same holds true here. The only way to see real improvement is to set goals and work to attain those goals, month over month.

To learn more about how you can pick the right marketing software for you, for your business and for your industry, click here to download our new infographic, Comparing The Top Marketing Software.

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Originally published Apr 16, 2014 10:30:00 AM, updated October 20 2016

Topics:

Inbound Marketing Marketing Automation Lead Generation Landing Pages Calls to Action