Marketing is hard. In 2016 it’s really hard – graduates be warned. Gone are the days of mood boards and long, boozy lunches. The advent of the internet and online marketing has changed the industry we work in. Marketers need to be part artist, part scientist, and now it seems, part technologist.

A survey by Fournaise Group showed 73% of CEOs felt marketers are unable to illustrate how they impact business growth. Marketing can be seen as an expendable cost center by a board focused on cutting costs. The modern marketer has to offer a multitude of skills and near-impossible dexterity of functions. A recent study by Econsultancy showed that finding people who combined the right technical and personal skills was a growing challenge for businesses. Today, on top of the more traditional marketing skills, we must combine graphic design, customer service, data analysis, development (to a certain degree), communications, product development, finance, HR and (gasp) even Sales.

How can marketers better demonstrate their impact and yet continue to manage disparate systems in an increasingly complex market?

Thankfully, there is a world of helpful cloud marketing software out there which are helping make our lives easier. The essential tools in any marketer’s toolbox encompass a range of functions across the customer lifecycle.

1) Email marketing

The workhorse of any marketer’s arsenal is the email marketing platform. Email marketing reportedly has an ROI of 3800% so it’s easy to see why. Three key features of note in an effective email solution are easy-to-use email builders, sometimes known as WSIWYG editors (what you see is what you get) which makes creating rich HTML emails easy. Marketing automation features enable activity triggers to send follow up communications making your relationship management far more intuitive and personalized. Finally, and a running theme throughout this list, is integration with other systems. Being able to dynamically port data from your email software to other systems, particularly your CRM saves endless hours of manual data management, and more importantly gives you vital insights into audience behavior.

Mail Chimp

Mailchimp offers all of these features and more as a key email marketing service.

2) Social Media management

Social media is incredibly important to business in 2016. Impacting and measuring brand, customer service and product marketing are areas which social media can have a huge impact. Measuring and managing social media channels however can be very time consuming and imprecise in a 24/7 world. Good social media management tools offer publishing capabilities as well as analytics and single reporting dashboards that make managing your various channels much simpler.

Falcon.io

Falcon.io offers social media monitoring, publishing and analaytics features in one place.

3) Email tracking

Not all email is sent via an email marketing tool – but all email needs to be intelligent. Empowering even your sales team to send emails that are trackable gives us the intelligence to make informed and decisive follow ups and builds a better picture of our audience. Email tracking tools that integrate directly with your webmail services and bridge that gap to your CRM are powerful solutions for keeping on top of all activity.

Yesware

Yesware is an email tracking tool which delivers visibility for your sales and marketing team.

4) Content scheduling

Social content posting generally happens in peaks at certain points during the day. How do you keep the content regular and consistently shared if you’re not online all day? Content schedulers allow you to set a schedule for sharing content and a feed where you can add posts and content directly from your web browser – via plug-in – or via different integrated apps.

Buffer

Buffer enables you to easily schedule a series of content posts for Twitter.

5) Marketing planning

Marketing plans of old were lengthy tomes which as soon as they were published were out dated. In a world that moves quickly it makes sense for marketers to be able to plan, react and rework their strategies just as fast. Online marketing planning tools give marketers the functionality at their fingertips you’ve come to expect from other SaaS applications. Collaboration and sharing functionality makes global marketing planning much more simply, and well designed dashboards make it simpler than ever to present your ideas and approach in a succinct way to the board.

Hatch Marketing Plans

Hatch Marketing Plans is a online planning tool that makes marketing strategy simple.

6) CRM software

Your CRM is the life blood and beating heart of your sales and marketing operation. A good CRM platform is vital to building an effective marketing platform and stack. It is a highly competitive market worth $billions and can be as personal as a signature which platform works best for you. Key features to look out for are: simple to use UX, mobile apps for your teams on the road; trigger features which enable status updates based on activity; and clear pipeline stage tracking for both contacts and deals. Integration with other tools is a must have.

Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a simple to use and clean-designed CRM.

7) Integration software

Integrating your various applications can sometimes be challenging if the teams behind them haven’t already launched a back-end integration, or allow you to access the API. Don’t ditch your favorite apps, simply find a great integration tool which takes the hard work out of building your stack. By providing different automation rules, bespoke recipes and custom interactions, they keep your attention on planning and delivery, and not manual updates.

Flow XO

Flow.xo is specifically for business management workflows and have numerous integrations.

8) Marketing analytics

Planning and delivering your marketing campaigns is one thing, but without analysis how can you measure your impact. Particularly for online marketing there are a host of tools out there which enable marketers to track web visits, landing pages, conversion rates, audience demographics, and a whole world of other exciting data.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the market leader in online analytics and free to use.

9) Graphic design

Getting hold of design time for marketing uses can be difficult if you have a designer in house. Save in-fighting and grab hold of an online design tool which gives you all the power of a design team and none of the headache of resourcing them. There are numerous free to use tools which provide high-end graphic functionality, templates and easy to use interfaces – extremely useful for anything from beautifying a presentation to full design jobs.

Canva

Canva is an easy-to-use online graphic design tool.

10) Presentation software

With all the great work you’re producing and managing, you’ll want to show it off in attention-grabbing aplomb to the board. If you’re tired of simply relying on smart art and bullet points, why not push the boundaries and get an online presentation tool that goes beyond the slide. Combining powerful, yet simple design functions and analytics, high end presentation software is a real secret weapon.

Prezi

Prezi is a high end presentation tool which combines design, collaboration and analytics features.

Find and compare these and thousands of other business software applications at crozdesk.com

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