Marketing technology is a conundrum that many manufacturers can relate to based on their operations. Are your tools up to date? Are they connected in a true system to take advantage of technological prowess and provide meaningful value? The reality is that many manufacturing marketers aren’t sure if they have more tools than they need or not enough.
Your marketing technology tool set should make tasks easier, if not automated, and help you measure the impacts of your activities. It should help you capture leads, nurture prospects and customers, segment your database, enable sales, and delight your audience.
But it’s also easy to get lost in the virtual space that is marketing technology. Scott Brinker, editor of the chiefmartec.com blog, first published a map of the marketing technology landscape in 2011 containing approximately 150 vendors. That list has evolved into the Martech 5,000 database, which actually contains more than 8,000 marketing technology companies. Overchoice comes to mind.
Key Areas for Manufacturing Marketing Tech Stacks
Just for fun, we asked the ChatGPT tool from OpenAI to tell us what were the key marketing technology tool sets for a manufacturer with 250-499 employees, selling equipment for as much as $250,000, and with a sales cycle of about a year. Here is its list:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) system
- Content management system (CMS)
- Social media management tool
- Search engine optimization (SEO) tool
- Web analytics tool
- Product information management (PIM) tool
Being completely honest, we did not have PIM tools on our key tools list. They have not been widely adopted by manufacturers, so we chalked it up to the “mostly correct” nature of AI. But the more we thought about the key role PIM tools play in e-commerce and sales enablement, the more it made sense. More on that in a bit. And more on what did not make the list.
Let’s take a look at the key areas for martech tools for manufacturing marketers.
CRMs to Manage Customer Interactions and Automate Certain Functions
The long buying cycles of high-priced machines make it essential for manufacturers to build and enhance relationships. CRM systems not only help you track and manage customer and prospect interactions, they also identify key conversion points or drop-off points. It helps with targeting and personalization.
CRMs can also become your marketing automation platform for email, nurturing and attribution. They can function as a sort of bridge or handoff from marketing to sales. In essence, CRMs give you the potential to manage, analyze and interact with your past, current and potential customers. A well-managed CRM helps predict customer sales and leads.
CMS Tools Have Evolved Beyond Managing Web Content
A CMS should be more valuable than just enabling manufacturing marketers to update website content without needing technical expertise in web development. Creating and publishing blog posts, product pages, and news articles to ensure that the website reflects the most current information about products and services is the bare minimum.
Popular CMS tools and plug-ins have progressed from improving the ease of development work, and user experience for website visitors, to include:
- Search engine optimization (SEO): Making it more likely to rank highly in search results and attract visitors.
- Web optimization: Providing tools and insights to improve performance, such as identifying technical issues and optimizing the layout and content.
- Experimentation: A/B variant testing to allow you to try out new ideas and approaches.
Social media is no longer the tough sell that it used to be in manufacturing circles because industrial buyers use social media more every year. Social media can be a powerful tool to increase visibility, engage with customers, improve customer service, and build brand loyalty. If nothing else, the titanic shift to digital research for products and services has helped manufacturers understand that their brands needs to be top of mind when a prospect begins a buying journey.
Social media management tools have advanced beyond scheduling and publishing posts. Look for tools that allow collaboration among multiple users and provide more advanced engagement and analytics.
The elongated, non-linear nature of the manufacturing buying journey means different stakeholders are seeking different types of information about your products and services at different times. SEO tools can help with the fundamentals of overall discoverability and also with the nuances of different messaging to different personas.
SEO tools should help you:
- Focus on keywords and secondary keywords for all pages
- Eliminate technical waste in website code
- See where to build depth of content in key areas
- Grow off-site authority
Your search marketing will always benefit from being rooted in the intent of your target markets. SEO tools can help you strategically place content or paid promotions in front of people actively looking for what you provide.
The narrow definition of a web analytics tool is that it tracks website traffic and user behaviors. But you are gathering more data than ever through your marketing activities, and data can be overwhelming. The right analytics tool — such as Google Analytics 4 — should be helping you connect as many data points as possible to help identify what is working and what isn’t.
The numbers are telling you something. The more you can identify where your revenue or successful outcomes come from, the more intelligently you can adjust your marketing mix. These tools provide documentation that reveals trends and opportunities. They should show you a path to identify which activities drive revenue and also when prospects drop out of the funnel.
You will be hearing a lot more about PIM tools as e-commerce takes hold in the manufacturing buying process and the importance of customer experience becomes more apparent.
PIM tools ensure that product data is sufficient for a good customer experience across all sales channels. They will help you create automated product feeds (formatted how you need them) to populate all of your channels. Your online product catalogs will always be up to date with product sheets that are easy to design and share.
B2B Martech Stack Recommendations That Did Not Make the ChatGPT Top 5
Given the importance of online research and customer experience in the industrial buying journey, you should have some sort of conversational marketing tool on your website. We like to say you should treat your website like a virtual trade show. That means you should have a chat tool or chatbot to answer questions and direct inquiries.
Another emerging tool in the B2B marketing technology stack is for relationship-based key accounts – Account Based Marketing Technology. There are a growing number of ABM platforms that help you personalize and target your custom messages in a multichannel approach.
And, lastly, we found it a touch ironic that ChatGPT did not suggest AI tools as a priority for your B2B marketing technology stack. You can bet that this area will be a priority in the future.
Talk to Us for Help With Your B2B Marketing Technology Stack
In order to gain full-funnel visibility for your marketing activities, you must create a technology framework by connecting your tools and platforms. In essence, this is like breaking down silos among your staff. Once your website, marketing automation and advertising platforms are “speaking to each other,” you will be in a position to gain actionable insights from your marketing activities.
Visit our integrated marketing services page to learn how we can help you audit your tech stack, implement proper tracking across all systems, and ensure your CRM contacts have proper marketing attribution.