Round-up of Marketing Automation Tools

I was recently involved in an exercise to evaluate multiple marketing automation tools. As I scanned through the market for solutions, I was impressed by the number of options and capabilities of many of these tools.

But first things first | As a marketer, I believe “marketing automation” is BIG BUSINESS! It is also critical if a marketing team needs to show outcomes and impact beyond vanity metrics.

So what is Marketing Automation? According to Wikipedia, “Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks

Obviously the best way to do marketing automation is through the usage of automation tools. In this post, I am listing some of the marketing automation tools

Eloqua

Marketo

ActOn

Infusionsoft

Hubspot

SilverPop

SimplyCast

Pardot

Unica

What marketing automation tools have you come across? Leave a comment to let me know

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist / Byline in : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost | Wipro NewsCred | Marketo | Finextra | Inc42 Business2Community | ProBloggerFamous Bloggers | TheNextWomen | Nasscom | PaulWriter WomensWeb | Sheroes PeopleMattersYoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous | The Change Blog
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Top Marketing Blogs in IndiaDirectory of Top Indian Blogs and Most Widely read Indian Bloggers,Directory of Best Indian BlogsAlltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) ,50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter (2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

Essential Skills for the New-Age Marketer

Marketer Skills

According to the 2015 CMO Survey sponsored by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and McKinsey, Inc, marketers are optimistic about the business growth and economic outlook this year, and marketing budgets are expected to grow by ~8.7% in the next 1 year. However according to the 2015 IBM CMO Study, “4 out of 5 CMO’s anticipate a high level of complexity over the next 5 years, but only 50% feel ready to handle it

It is indeed an important, interesting and exciting time in the life of marketing professionals. Marketing is at the hot-seat, invited to the board-room meetings, is increasingly considered a key enabler / driver / catalyst for business growth and profitability and today’s CMO is being viewed as a potential contender for the next-CEO!

However when I look around me, I see a lot of marketers struggling to live up-to the expectations of what marketing should do? A root cause analysis of the big WHY throws up very many answers – from changes in the external world, lack of visionary leadership on how marketing should grow and evolve in today’s VUCA (Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous) world, technology, innovations, explosive growth of digital / social media and distinct multi-generation (Gen X / Y /Z?!) demographics among the consumer base.

However, I also see that there is a “marketing skill-gap“. A lot of so called “new-age marketing professionals” don’t seem to have the required skills to get the job done.

In this post, I’m sharing my views on essential skills of the new-age marketer:

*) Be a Data Scientist / Analyst : Never before has there been so much consumer data generated and available for consumption and analytics. Marketing is no different. So the new age marketer needs to first define what data is to be captured and why?. Then invest in tools / technology to capture that data. Next is to analyze data and draw actionable insights. Lastly, to define the “What next in marketing and in business?” based on data.

*) Understanding human behaviors : The new-age marketer is increasingly being viewed as the owner / custodian of customer experience – for both B2B and B2C businesses. The thing about experiences is that they are always personal, subjective and unique to “you” as an individual / business. Hence, a basic understanding of human behaviors – in terms of motivators, emotions, decision making process, habit formation, determinants to action / inaction, purchase drivers / patterns is key.

*) Be a Storyteller : Nothing tells / sells better than a story. It is for good reason that storytelling has been the most popular communication format with even kids. Even to this day, a (personal) story is better received than a long boring speech. So it is important for any marketer to be able to narrate the brand story via (visual) storytelling

*) Be a Visual Designer : With the meteoric rise in content, we are all bombarded with hundreds of messages on a daily basis. So, how does any marketer capture the eye, mind and imagination of the consumer? Visual communication is possibly a powerful and effective way – Be it with videos, infographics, photos, images,etc. From personal experiences, I can say that “visual design” (or creating a visual piece of content) is a science, skill and art. Fundamental is your ability to visualize and design i.e., see what no one can see, see what does not ‘physically’ exist, and then design it so it appeals to masses. Visual designing is a skill which can be formally learned and also built over time by repeated practice and observation.

*) Understand that “Content is King” : As a marketing practitioner and blogger, I can confidently say that “content is king” in today’s era. Knowing how to craft, curate and convert content is key for any new age marketer. Appreciating the “How-To” create different content formats and hands-on experience in the same makes all the difference. I can vouch for the fact that my blogging journey has significantly enriched my understanding on the entire content life-cycle from strategy, planning, creation, editing, publishing and promotion. When it comes to content life-cycle, hands-on experience makes all the difference

*) Get Hands-on Social Media Experience : As an active social media user, there is one thing I observe – Not everyone understands how to use social media. Especially in the marketing context, the only way to understand the ‘ways of social media’ is to get your hands-dirty. You need to put yourself out there, and continuously experiment, innovate and evolve. No amount of learning or theory or advice helps! As for as social media is concerned, experience is KING!

*) Make the mobile your new best friend: Mobile marketing is undoubtedly the next BIG bet for most businesses / marketers. Understanding how to make mobile marketing work for your business is critical for any marketer

*) Learn to Embrace Marketing tools / technology: As a marketer, I have found that there is a tool / technology solution to make a marketer’s life faster, simpler, better and easy! Check this amazing supergraphic on the marketing technology solutions. The tough part is to be clear on what marketing needs to achieve, and then assess the right marketing tools / technology to aid in your journey. Key in any marketing tool / technology assessment is to have a well defined marketing ROI (Return on Investment) based on tool usage

*) Get Creative : The new age marketer has to be creative in ideation and execution. From marketing campaigns to lead generation to team management to stakeholder management to marketing spend – it is critical for the marketing team to find creative ways to address day-to-day challenges, as well as the bigger road-blocks which come your way!

*) Be a Collaborator : The new age marketing teams are the the overlay of strategy, finance, operations, technology, sales, SME (Subject matter expertise) and innovation. And so collaboration with external / internal teams will be key to survive and succeed.

*) Be an Effective Communicator : Key to success in marketing is communication. As a marketer, I can safely say that what you say is as important as what you don’t say! So effective communication skills – both oral and written, along with a command on language is critical to be able to effectively deliver marketing expectations

*) Invest in Continuous learning : Never before has the world of marketing been so dynamic and fast-paces. There are new buzzwords everyday, new tools every second day, new innovative ways of marketing every third day and new (increasing) consumer expectations which are driving what marketing can / should / need to do. To scale up, it becomes critical for any new age marketer to continuously watch the market trends, and be updated with the latest and greatest.! Investing in formal / informal learning go a long way in how successfully marketing teams can deliver against marketing / business objectives.

That ends my list. What do you think are the essential skills of the new-age marketer? Leave a comment to let me know

First published on LinkedIn

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist / Byline in : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost | Wipro NewsCred | Marketo | Finextra | Inc42 Business2Community | ProBloggerFamous Bloggers | TheNextWomen | Nasscom | PaulWriter WomensWeb | Sheroes PeopleMattersYoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous | The Change Blog
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Top Marketing Blogs in IndiaDirectory of Top Indian Blogs and Most Widely read Indian Bloggers,Directory of Best Indian BlogsAlltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) ,50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter (2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

400+% increase in webinar registrations in 9 days | How we did it?

Webinar Generic

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist / Byline in : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost | Wipro NewsCred |Finextra | Inc42 Business2Community | ProBloggerFamous Bloggers |TheNextWomen | Nasscom | PaulWriter WomensWeb | Sheroes PeopleMatters YoWoTo |  2Most.com | Parentous | The Change Blog
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Top Marketing Blogs in India, Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

Supergraphic | Marketing Technology Supergraphic

I believe that the time is right and ripe for technology solutions to be used in Marketing. I was in conversation with a senior business leader in a technology firm, and he asked me “What technology solutions can be used for marketing?“. I get to hear this question a lot… So when I came across this fantastic supergraphic on Marketing Technology solutions, I had to upload it on my blog.

All questions are answered below :)

Infographic | Total Social Network users in 2015 (Millions)

I always wonder how the growth of social network users will be in 2015. What will be their demographics and which social channels they will adopt?

Below infographic is an excellent compilation which highlights interesting perspectives:

[Src: Adweek ]

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist : Huffingtonpost | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in | “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in | “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in | “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

Infographic | What are the new rules of content marketing?

Content Marketing is increasingly becoming an integral part of global marketing / social strategy and online branding. The adage “Content is king” is true today as it was when it was coined several years ago. In my view, “Content is king”, “Marketing is the queen” – and together “Content Marketing” rule the online / social world.

So I was particularly interested when I came across this interesting infographic (even thought it is dated) on the new rules of content marketing. Hope you find it useful too!

[Src: Digital Information World ]

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist : Huffingtonpost India | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes 20 Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

Infographic | 10 Social Media Marketing Trends to watch out for in 2015

In continuing with the trends update, ever wondered what are the Social Media Marketing trends to watch out for in 2015? Here’s a perspective
10 Social Media Marketing Trends to Watch Out this 2015 (Infographic) - An Infographic from CJG Digital Marketing

Embedded from CJG Digital Marketing

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist : Huffingtonpost India | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes 20 Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

Online, Digital, Social – 9 Insights from the lens of a Marketer

A few months ago, I was in conversation with the CEO of a multi-billion$ global consumer goods company. One of the topics of discussion was around online, digital and social strategies that the enterprise was embarking on (yes! They are  some-what “old school” in operations even in 2014 and as I learned there are so many companies who are NOT ONLINE, NOT adopting DIGITAL, and NOT really SOCIAL – and many are successful with impressive growth targets), and the conversation got exceptionally interesting when we spoke about the below questions:

  • Is there a boundary between online, digital and social strategies?
  • Does business strategy drive online marketing strategy?
  • Does digital drive social?
  • Does social drive digital?

The questions stayed with me..

A few days later, I was in discussion with another entrepreneur friend who runs a successful manufacturing unit which has a diversified business portfolio of apparel manufacturing and agricultural machinery. He was planning to launch a social campaign and again had some basic questions

  • Is online marketing necessary?
  • Digital / Social marketing – What first and What second? Why?

And then a few days back I had the opportunity to connect with a high-end fashion designer who again asked me the same question?

  • Should I do social? Which social channels?
  • Should I have a digital marketing strategy?

All led to long long long conversations and some interesting insights. Before I get into my views, I did some online research on the basic definitions.. Sharing snippets I found relevant:

Online Marketing (or Internet Marketing) refers to a set of powerful tools and methodologies used for promoting products and services through the Internet. Online marketing includes a wider range of marketing elements than traditional business marketing due to the extra channels and marketing mechanisms available on the Internet.

Digital Marketing refers to any marketing delivered via an online platform or involving an interactive response channel including mobile. Digital marketing is: Building awareness and promoting a brand or product using all available digital channels

Social Media is the social interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.

Without much ado, let me now share my key insights from the lens of a marketer

(1) Business Strategy should drive the Marketing Strategy; and Marketing insights can drive Business Strategy For e.g: If your business strategy is to provide a portfolio of products and services to your customers, your marketing strategy should be aligned accordingly. And if your marketing insights indicate that your customers want you to add a new service, then your business strategy should be open to the consideration

(2) Marketing initiatives should ALWAYS be based on marketing objectives

(3) Online, Digital and Social Media Marketing are marketing channels and a marketing strategy. The boundaries blur. Below is a conceptual view

Online Digital Social

Online Marketing examples include web-sites, blogs, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), online ads, e-mail marketing, online Press Release (PR)

Social Media Marketing examples include leveraging social media platforms like Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn for your marketing and promotional activities

Offline Marketing examples include print ads, Press Release, Direct Mail, Telemarketing, etc.

Real-world Social Marketing refers to marketing through ‘real-world’ social interactions and conversations at events, word-of-mouth publicity, etc.

(4) It is (near) impossible to show quantitative ROI (Return on Investment) for every marketing initiative – specially for Internet Marketing initiatives. In marketing parlance, the qualitative ROI can be subtle, long-term and not directly attributable. Below is an good way to showcase ROI

ROI

[Src: http://www.infographicsshowcase.com/roi-on-internet-marketing-services-infographic/ ]

(5)  “No Money Marketing” is often misunderstood. It is NOT about ZERO $ marketing spend, but optimally leveraging marketing channels coupled with creative marketing strategies to have maximum customer reach and impact in line with marketing objectives

(6) Social and Digital – What comes first? : It depends on your business, and your understanding of social and digital. I know of companies whose digital strategy drove their social media marketing strategies, and I know of companies whose social strategy drove their digital initiatives. Suffice to say, the digital world and social world are closely coupled and if you do one, you (or / and the ecosystem you’re a part of – like partners, customers, community, suppliers) also make inroads into the other. In most cases, Social Media Marketing is a sub-set of Digital Marketing.

(7) The choice of which social channels to use depends completely on your social media objectives and where your customers are. Don’t do Social because everyone is doing social and because it is the new buzzword. Do it because you believe it will add value to your business and marketing

(8) It is better not to start social media initiatives if you don’t have a long term plan, management commitment and the “right brains” behind your social initiatives. Too many companies start and stop too soon, and that impacts your brand negatively

(9) Digital and Social are evolving and will continue to evolve. Everyone is learning, so be open to learning, failing and course-corrections. That is the only way to succeed.

What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know…

How to fuel your creativity? – Here are 20 ways..

Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity” – Charles Mingus

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while” – Steve Jobs

Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people” – Leo Burnett

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will” – George Bernard Shaw

The “creative genius” is in different states for each of us
For some it is perpetually active :)
For some it is seldom active
For some it is dormant
And for some it is asleep :(

In this post I am listing 20 easy ways to fuel / spark / re-kindle your creativity. I have personally tried all of these and they work!

  1. Do nothing for 30 minutes a day. Just lie / laze around and let your thoughts flow. You will be surprised at the impact this has over a 1 week period!
  2. Dream – Yes! Day-dream :). There is something about dreaming which sparks better creativity
  3. Take a walk “ALONE”
  4. Disconnect for 15 minutes with the electronic world (including mobiles, TV, internet, Google, Twitter, Facebook) – Refreshingly liberating and aids significantly in “creativity”
  5. Listen to music
  6. Talk to someone you love (parents, friends, siblings, children, spouse)
  7. Look at the sky for 10 minutes (especially early morning or evening) – I don’t know why! But this always helps
  8. If you’re a right handed person, use you left hand for 15 minutes a day. In 1 week, you will experience the difference
  9. Indulge in physical exercise – Run, Dance, play a game, do whatever to get your heart pumping and hormones flowing!
  10. Meditate
  11. Read something you’d never usually read
  12. Watch a program you’d never usually watch
  13. Learn something new (For e.g.: Cooking, A new language, Art, Ikebana, Puppet making, make-up, yoga, photography, etc.)
  14. Laugh – Indulge in anything which makes you smile
  15. Sleep – Sleep is the best medicine for so many things, and can solve many a problem (no matter how complex or complicated)
  16. Think about the HAPPIEST moment(s) of your life – There’s something about a good memory which sometimes sparks the best creativity
  17. Look at old photographs
  18. Re-live the “good old days” in any way you can 
  19. Take a shower
  20. Your turn. And be CREATIVE :)

Have you tried any of these? Did they work for you.. Leave a comment to let me know