7 Marketing Technology Tools Small Businesses Should Know About

It's All in the Numbers
Fans of the TV show Mad Men know that the world of advertising and marketing was once dominated by creative types who were always trying to come up with the perfect slogan to pitch their products. That world has changed. Of course there are still lots of creative people involved in marketing, but the field is becoming increasingly dominated by people who work with numbers.

Companies like Varick Media Management, recently profiled in the New York Times, are developing new ways to use statistics to measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts. In a recent ad campaign for Vespa scooters, Varick placed 27 different ads on a variety of websites. Some ads focused on price, while others highlighted the fun of owning a scooter. Some offered a free T shirt; others offered zero-interest loans. The ads used different shapes and different illustrations. After the campaign had been running for a while, Varick was able tell its client which ads were most effective by counting clicks.

This kind of statistical approach doesn’t just measure an ad’s effectiveness. It also tells a marketer what type of person is viewing an ad, at what time of day, and on what day of the week. This information allows marketers to adjust their campaigns on the fly as they learn what’s working and what isn’t. It also allows them to try out different approaches before they make major investments in TV or print campaigns. For example, which works better in an ad for sunscreen: a little girl or a woman in her twenties? Statistics from Internet advertising can help marketers choose which one to use.

Marketing technology is not just for major corporations with million dollar ad budgets. Small businesses can also play this new numbers game. Here are some of the tools that are currently available:
  • Web analytics. Many software companies have developed tools to help marketers collect and analyze data on how visitors interact with their websites. For example, an analysis might show which landing pages encourage visitors to make a purchase.

  • CRM. Customer relationship management (CRM) uses software tools to help a company keep track of its customers — who its best customers are, what they buy most often, what new products they might be interested in.

  • Online surveys. These powerful tools can give marketers vital insight into what customers value and how they make purchasing decisions. Online surveys are an efficient way to profile different categories of customers and identify their needs.

  • EMM/MRM. Enterprise marketing management (EMM) uses software tools to manage and measure all aspects of a company’s marketing efforts. The goal is to determine which efforts are producing the greatest return on investment. Marketing resource management (MRM) is a part of this effort. It allows a company to manage and coordinate it marketing resources.
  • SEO. Search engine optimization is a method of bringing more visitors to a website by using appropriate key words. The goal is to move the site closer to the top of lists generated by search engines such as Google.

  • Media buying. Companies such as Mediabank help marketers use their data to make media buying decisions. These firms also offer software to help marketers track the effectiveness of their ads.

  • Social bookmarking. Sites like delicious.com allow people to share their lists of bookmarked sites. People can check out their friends’ lists or search lists by key words called “tags.” Marketers can encourage visitors to bookmark their site on shared lists, gaining broader exposure for their site and attracting more visitors.

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