The Essential Small Business Marketing Technology Stack
Marketing technology (Martech) has exploded to almost unfathomable size in recent years. Few other areas have been disrupted, and continue to be disrupted, by technology more than the art of securing new customers.
The graphic above was first produced in 2011 with 150 companies operating in the martech space. In 2015, it had grown to 2,000. Last year, it nearly doubled from that to the 3,500 mark. This year, it includes nearly 5,000.
For the average small business operator who also needs to be on top of accounting tech, product tech, HR and all the other techs, finding the right blend of solutions, or tech stack, for a high-performing marketing framework can be daunting.
For our own business, clients and in-house projects we have trialed dozens of new technologies designed to make marketing more effective while reducing the financial and human resources required to deliver genuine results.
If I knew five years ago what I know now and was starting my own small business these are the essential technologies I would invest time and money learning to use. The payoff will be immense.
Your website is the foundation of all marketing. Using a content management system (CMS) that allows you to quickly and efficiently load products, add and edit content, integrate other technologies and manage security is essential.
Don’t be conned into paying big fees for a complex proprietary or custom CMS. Demand your provider use an open source platform like WordPress. If you are planning an online store, the WooCommerce platform was made for WordPress.
If you elect to outsource building of the site to someone else it is essential you take the time to understand how it works. What plugins you are utilising, what structures have been established and what the SEO strategy is. It will grow to become your most important marketing asset.
Many years ago I had an idea for a website that eventually became www.mbanews.com.au. I visited a range of web developers all with their own custom/proprietary CMS. The development quotes came in at $15,000-$75,000. This was well beyond the $3.50 I had planned to spend.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was someone who told me to “Lock yourself in a room for a weekend and learn WordPress”. So I did.
Four years later the site attracts more than 10,000 unique browsers a month and has become the number one source for potential MBAs in Australia. The external cost to get the site live $0.00. Well inside my budget.
Building a database of satisfied, engaged customers who do your marketing for you by word of mouth is easily the most cost effective form of marketing, because it costs virtually nothing.
While there are literally hundreds of solutions available for email marketing, for ease of use, low cost and extensive range of integrations we recommend MailChimp. The core platform makes building lists, creating emails and understanding the results easy. With an ever-growing range of integrations, including the ability to develop Google remarketing ads, it will change the way you reach your customers.
Understanding how your customers are interacting with your website is essential to the continual task of refining your product and marketing messages. Intalling, monitoring and using the insights provided by Google Analytics.
The range of data available to businesses from Google Analytics is simply extraordinary. The biggest challenge you will find is isolating and utilizing the data that is of most value to you. Again, the easiest way to get your head around the complexity is to take a deep dive; immerse yourself in it for a day, the knowledge you gain will last years.
Cost: FREE for small business
No other area of martech is populated by more sharks than online advertising. Some of these sharks have built very big businesses on their ability to separate small business people from their money on the promise of an avalanche of customers. Most of their customers are left confused, and poorer, with little to show.
Depending on the goals of your business, Google advertising should be a large chunk of your budget. Whether you are DIY or using an agency, managing the effectiveness of this spend to ensure you are maximising ROI is easy with a platform like WordStream. One of the many benefits of WordStream is the extensive resources available (for free) to help you get the maximum from every dollar.
Advertising on social media platforms, particularly Facebook, is increasingly easy with ex Many people have built.
Cost: How much have you got? External AdWords management can be charged as a flat fee (including set-up and ongoing management fee) or as a percentage of your spend. Bigger agencies will charge 15-20% while smaller agencies (like us) charge 10% with a minimum fee.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Search Engine Optimistaion (SEO) is how you ensure customers looking for your products can you find you easily and before they find your customers. Great content is the foundation of all SEO and your website should be a highly-tuned SEO machine. Once you have your site humming, developing off-site SEO tactics like backlinks, can take your traffic stats to the next level.
We used a range of different SEO technologies before discovering Moz. If SEO is going to play an important part of your marketing, the Moz platform is essential. Identifying high value keywords, making content tweaks and tracking performance are all easier with Moz.
COST: From $US99/month.
Most small businesses don’t need to be told the importance of (organic) social media in their marketing. While paid advertising on social media platforms is important, building an organic social following is the sort of investment that will pay dividends for years.
Like your website, content on social media is king. Monitoring what content is working and what is not can be made much easier with the use of martech like SproutSocial and Hootsuite. We use both for our business and clients.
With prices starting from $100/month it is a significant investment, especially when you can count your followers on one hand! But it is important to be persistent in posting content, understanding what works and why and refining your content to improve engagement.
Cost: Sprout Social from $US100/month. Hootsuite $US25/month, billed annually