Actionable tips, community conversations, and marketing inspiration.

Your Marketing Toolbox Needs a Makeover

Megan Pratt

Principal Product Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

Topics Covered:

The perfect marketer in today’s ever-evolving landscape wears many hats. They decode data, write compelling copy for any format, come up with creative ideas to overcome challenges, use psychological principles to understand their target audience, sniff out trends, keep up with the ever-changing algorithms across the web and social, optimize every aspect of an email campaign and so much more. 

Newsflash: the perfect marketer also doesn’t exist. That’s where tools and technology come into play — they pick up where even the most experienced and capable marketers leave off, fill in the gaps with data, make us more effective and efficient, and, ideally, keep us sane. 

If your inbox is any indication, there is no shortage of tools promising to help you engage with your customers, spend less time doing it, and save you money along the way. Your brand probably uses a few (or more than a few). On average, businesses use an astounding 91 marketing services. Unfortunately, only 13% of marketing executives said they were confident that they were making the most of their data using existing systems and processes. In the end, we have to ask ourselves, are all of these tools really moving you closer to your goals? 

You’ll be relieved to know you don’t need an overflowing marketing toolbox to manage all of your competing priorities. We believe what marketers really need is to do less in order to do more of what really makes a difference. In reality, many of these tools carry a heavy cost both in the actual money you spend and the time it takes to learn, manage, and connect them. It’s time to let go.

In this article:
Marketing is an (Ultra)Marathon, Not a Sprint
The Lean, Mean Marketing Machine
Build Your Brand
Build Customer Loyalty
Better Data, Better Decisions
You CAN Have it All
Ready, set, go!

Marketing is an (Ultra)Marathon, Not a Sprint

What does an ideal marketing toolbox look like, for the savvy marketer who wants to travel light? The landscape can be overwhelming with choices that span from point solutions that only solve one problem, to full-scale platforms that promise to solve all the problems you have, and even some you don’t. In the end, marketing is a competition. It’s about outpacing your competitors, being first and most impactful in your customers’ minds, staying ahead, and winning them over time after time. 

Let’s take the example of some of my all-time favorite competitors, ultramarathoners. Ultramarathoners are a special breed of ambitious people who think that marathons (26.2 miles) just don’t cut it. They need more. So, they invented races on trails in the mountains, across the desert and basically, anywhere they could find, that hit distances of anywhere from 27 to 100+ miles. These races take hours and sometimes days and are often accompanied by whole support teams who equip the runner with food, water, changes of clothes, and moral support. 

Have you spotted the parallels yet? 

If you put yourself into the dusty, worn-out shoes of an ultramarathoner for just a second, you’ll see that at the heart of a successful ultramarathon attempt is a laser focus on having just enough of the things that matter, without weighing yourself down with any shiny extras. In other words, winners travel light. The same concept applies to marketing.

The Lean, Mean Marketing Machine

As a marketer and runner myself, I can identify with both the challenges of the stretched-thin marketer and the long-distance runner. While it would be fantastic to have a camping stove to help satiate my mid-run craving for a cheeseburger, there’s no way I would make it to the end of even a 5k carrying such a heavy piece of equipment. 

The same type of thinking applies to just about every marketing solution you can think of, whether it promises to help you manage your customer data, send better emails, or optimize your social media campaigns. In my experience (and the experience of thousands of AdRoll’s customers), less is definitely more when it comes to creating a lean, mean marketing machine that gets you where you want to go, helps you outpace your competition and keeps your focus on the things that really matter. 

Taking this agile approach to your marketing toolbox requires you to take a step back and think about what your goals are, your organization’s strengths, and how you’re currently communicating with your customers. As you’re taking stock of what you have, what you need, and what you don’t, focus ruthlessly on what you really need to execute against these four crucial pillars of growth: 

  • Build Your Brand: First impressions are critical and lasting. Initial interactions with your brand require special attention. Get the tools you need to find new customers and stand out.
  • Turn Visitors into Customers: Re-engage your website visitors and past customers with targeted, personalized experiences that create immediate connection and keep you top of mind.
  • Grow Customer Loyalty: Keep past purchasers coming back for more and buying more each time, and increase customer lifetime value (LTV), with relevant customer experiences.
  • Better Data, Better Decisions: Outpace your competition by getting better insights into your cross-channel campaigns, giving you a clear picture of the path to purchase and enabling you to make quick, efficient optimizations. 

This article is by no means meant to tell you which tools to choose. Instead, think of this as your guide to a better, more efficient, more manageable future where your marketing toolbox gives you everything you need and nothing you don’t, empowering you to get back to what really matters — telling your brand story and forming profitable long-term connections with customers.  

Build Your Brand

It’s not easy to stand out above the crowd, particularly in the crowded online landscape. Making your mark and creating memorable connections with your target audience is critical to your long term success because people buy more (and more often) from the brands that they love. 

Building positive brand associations and nurturing your fan base doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes a combination of authenticity, patience, long-term goals, and a strategic approach. In order to set your brand awareness campaigns up for success, you’ll need to be able to: 

  • Identify your ideal audience and develop an ideal customer profile.
  • Reach new customers who are similar to your current customers (Hint: Don’t limit yourself to demographic similarities!).
  • Distribute cross-channel campaigns quickly and easily.
  • Create a cohesive brand look, feel, and experience.

The right tools in your marketing toolbox will help you more easily manage all of these to-do’s, provide better results, and help you measure your impact. The problem, however, is that completing all of these tasks often requires you to cobble together several tools. 

Whether you’re in the process of choosing which tools to use or you’re evaluating your current set of tools, here’s a checklist of questions to ask: 

  • How will I gather intelligence about my current audience? 
  • What do I need to turn that intelligence into actionable insights? 
  • How can I identify new opportunities (audiences, channels, campaigns)?
  • Which channels will I use to build brand awareness?
  • How will I know which brand awareness campaigns, channels, and messages are contributing to long term results? 
  • What solutions do I need in place to make sure my customers have a unified experience with my brand no matter which channel they’re on?
  • How does this solution tie in with my other efforts?
  • How will I communicate my success with my company? 

When it comes to choosing tools to help you tell your brand story and make profitable connections with the right customers, it’s important to remember that using more tools doesn’t usually equate to getting better results. In fact, using too many tools can distract from telling an authentic, relatable story that resonates with the right people at the right times, at best, and at worst, muddies your message and campaigns so much that you can’t tell what’s making an impact. Trimming your marketing toolbox to contain a few high-value, multipurpose tools will enhance your ability to grow more quickly while spending less time and money managing multiple tools. 

Turn Visitors into Customers

Congratulations! Your target customer finally came to your website! They may have even browsed products and put an item in their cart — pat yourself on the back. The hard work is all over...right? I think we both know that not only is the hard work not over; it’s really just getting started.

Finding a solution that helps you stay top-of-mind for your customers, creates personalized experiences that span multiple channels, and brings your customers to the point of purchase is a delicate balance between demonstrating that you know them and not seeming like you’ve been following them around creepily. It gets more complicated when you think about things like privacy regulations

In any good relationship, respecting privacy, establishing boundaries around sharing, and showing some background knowledge about your audience is definitely a good thing. It’s particularly important when you’re working to build mutually beneficial—and profitable—relationships with your customers. The solutions you choose in this area need to offer deep wells of customer insight and analysis, a broad reach that helps you share the right message at the right time with the right customer, and in-depth knowledge of the privacy landscape. 

Here’s a handy checklist to get you started: 

  • How many customers in my target audience can this solution help me reach?
  • Which channels will this solution focus on? 
  • How will I gather, use, and store customer information? 
  • Does this solution have a focus on updating privacy regulations?
  • What kind of segmentation does this solution offer?  
  • How will I create relevant experiences for each customer segment?
  • What kind of onsite personalization is a good fit for my site? 
  • What’s my strategy for encouraging customers to opt-in to my email list?
  • How will I use email to bring customers and potential customers back?
  • What kind of data and analysis does this solution offer?
  • How does this solution tie in with my other efforts?

Build Customer Loyalty

It’s much less expensive to keep a current or previous customer than it is to go out and find new ones. In fact, it costs 5x as much to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. In addition, existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more when compared to new customers. Though it can be easy to forget these customers and assume they’ll purchase again when they’re ready, that’s often not the case. Customers, yes, even the most loyal, are at risk of being pulled away by competitors with every ad they see online, every store they visit, and every friend they talk to. Keeping your loyal customers engaged is critical to the success of your business because customers who come back usually bring their friends and purchase more. 

The right customer loyalty solution is the one that helps you create personalized cross-channel experiences with minimal effort, helps you manage and activate your customer data, and helps you find creative, effective ways to share the right message with your customers at the right time.

Here are some questions to keep in mind while you’re evaluating: 

  • How does this solution help me personalize my messages to the right audiences? 
  • What kind of email targeting and personalization does this solution offer? 
  • How will this solution help me manage and activate my customer data? 
  • Will this solution help me encourage customers to refer new customers? 
  • What kind of data and analysis will this solution provide? 
  • How does this solution tie in with my other efforts?

Better Data, Better Decisions

The right data is both the beginning and the end of every marketing conversation. If you don’t have the right data in the right format, it’s hard even to know where to start. During and after a campaign, the right data is critical to helping you stop what’s not working and do more of what is. 

When I say “right data,” I’m not just talking about the right set of KPIs. What I’m really talking about is a clear picture of what’s actually happening with your campaigns across different channels and audiences. The best data and analytics solutions will give you more than just numbers; they’ll help you understand your customers better, help you find unique and hidden opportunities, and help you identify opportunities for new, engaging messages. 

Choosing a solution to help you manage your data is one of the most important decisions you’ll make because it informs all of your other efforts. With that in mind, here are some things to pay close attention to:

  • How does this solution integrate with my marketing campaigns? 
  • Will this solution help me get one clear picture of my customer journey across channels?
  • How easy will it be for me to share these insights and reports with people outside of the marketing organization?
  • What does the setup process look like? 
  • What kind of insights (beyond numbers) will this solution provide? 
  • How will this solution help me deduplicate my spend and purchase data?

You CAN Have it All

Assessing your current marketing toolbox also means consolidating multiple tools into a lean marketing stack. Hone in on those few key platforms that fill various needs, allowing you to reach your goals, make agile decisions, and grow your brand faster. Many marketing platforms are coming to the forefront, making promises to help you own your customer journey from one single place – a worthy goal! 

These solutions can be a great option as long as they live up to what they set out to do. If you’re interested in a solution that provides everything you need, you’ll want to evaluate them based on the questions above. Also, you’ll want to figure out the following: 

  • Which phases of the customer journey do this solution cover?
  • Does this solution use insights from one campaign to inform future campaigns?
  • Can this solution help guide where I spend my time and effort? 
  • Does this solution help me understand the hand-offs between campaigns and channels?  
  • What kind of machine learning or AI does this platform offer to help you make smarter decisions and extend your capabilities?

Ready, set, go!

Your marketing toolbox is as unique as your products, challenges, and audiences. At times it can feel like just ONE MORE tool will fix every problem and open up a world of new opportunities. I get it. We’ve all fallen prey to a shiny new solution. One solution leads to another, which leads to another, and pretty soon, you’re in marketing toolbox overload. The key to your success is to find your swiss-army knife style partner to help eliminate the weight of your marketing toolbox, enabling you to go further, faster. 

When you’re ready to let go of the tools that are costing you time and money and not making enough impact to make a difference, let’s go! 

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