Marketing tools are again moving towards specialty tools. But, this time, the connections between tools may make this shift permanent or hard to reverse. I think this is a welcome development, especially if you don’t like the all-in-one approach.
I’ll provide an example later in the article about how incredible this is for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
I get frustrated by tools that try to be all things to everybody but do nothing particularly well. Think of a Swiss Army knife. It has lots of tools that are OK in a pinch, but none of them is what you want in your hand if you intend to do serious work.
Initially, the market developed as stand-alone single-purpose tools. An autoresponder was an autoresponder. Landing page solutions delivered landing pages. On a good day, they linked together without issue. Connecting tools was a challenge and only the bigger tools connected with other sizable tools.
Limited connections meant that you had few options to develop funnels, write blogs, create newsletters, and connect them all together. While many tools popped up, they disappeared just as quickly. If you had an idea in mind for a function or look, typically you had to dig into a bit of code.
Then, in 2006 there was a market response to the gaps in capabilities and user frustration. Hubspot, Marketo, and others created suites of tools under one banner in an attempt to bring all of the capabilities and requirements of digital marketing into one solution. Suddenly, you could host a blog, share on social media, create a list, send emails, create automation and more with one central tool. Brilliant! Except, it wasn’t.
In spite of nine-figure venture capital investment into some of these companies, they weren’t able to overcome the complexities of creating an integrated solution. Nor were they able to keep pace with developments in the market and update fast enough to be reliably up-to-date. Their promise of a single solution was bogged down by the size of the challenge they faced and the rapidly evolving environment across the board.
They were/are also quite expensive. A few years back I read an article that reported that 90% of CEOs didn’t trust their CMOs because they couldn’t provide an answer to questions about how much money their advertising and marketing generated. These tool suites made that situation even more complicated for small businesses. Spending $20,000 a year to get software online and dedicating a person to the task of running it (after costly training) is a hurdle for many businesses. The hurdle gets even higher when you realize that you purchased a knife to take to a gun fight.
What they have done quite well are hire writers that produce very useful guides, templates, and checklists. I suggest you take advantage of those materials if you haven’t already!
Today, the shift is back towards individual solutions that do one thing very well. They also make it easy to communicate with other solutions so you can build a custom suite of tools.
So what, you say? If you’ve been reading trends in digital marketing for the past few years, you’ve heard of some interesting developments. For instance, multi-channel marketing that lets you follow your prospects from their computers to their devices and back again. Mobile marketing that knows when your prospects are located near your store or in a place where your solution is needed. The internet-of-things suggests that all of our devices will become best of friends and share information like schoolgirls at recess. Until now, tools to take advantage of these concepts belonged to the Fortune 500.
Today, small business owners and entrepreneurs can compete easily and level the playing field.
For instance, consider this flow. I can run an ad for a free marketing funnel review and target it specifically at the people that would be interested in this offer. Once people click on the ad, they are presented with a form to fill out that provides the information I need for the meeting. That information is immediately emailed to me. The prospect is then sent a link to click, which takes them to a site where they pick a day and time for the session that is free on my calendar. If they fill out the form and don’t sign up for a session, they get reminder emails until they take that action, then the reminders cease. Thirty minutes before the session, they receive a link to come to the online meeting room where I can share my desktop and walk them through suggested improvements.
What does the prospect see? A link to click. A form to fill out. A web page to pick a day/time. (they can add it automatically to their calendar). An email with a conference link. A conference.
What do I see? A completed form. An event automatically added to my calendar.
What tools do I use to make this happen? WordPress, AdEspresso, Facebook ads, Drip, Calendly, Zoom, Center by Leadpages, iCal, and a few WordPress plugins. That’s nine tools. They all work together perfectly. They all generate data and reports. I can tell exactly how much I spend and how much revenue it generates.
I can easily figure out how much it costs me to add one client. I know how much that client is worth to me over the lifetime of the relationship they have with me. I know how much it costs me to put products and services in the hands of my clients. I know how much a referral sale costs me and is worth to me. I know the average time a customer will stay with me.
How do I know all of this? Because the workflow I demonstrated and all of my other workflows provide data that I use to quickly get answers.
That means I don’t have to guess. I can test and improve constantly and know instantly what works, what needs to be better, and what I need to retire.
What would that knowledge be worth to your business? If you are like me, it is priceless.
That is why I love this new evolution in tools. They work. They work together. They provide me data that saves me money and makes me money. What could be better than that?