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While marketing planning software has often been too expensive for many businesses, these days, new software offerings at every price point are giving enterprise-level capabilities to small and midsize businesses.
Marketing planning software makes it easier to understand your business' audience, create targeted marketing campaigns, and monitor their effectiveness.
There are many factors and features to consider when choosing the best software for your marketing team. This guide will help you understand the options available to your business.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is marketing planning software?
- Common features of marketing planning software
- What type of buyer are you?
- Benefits and potential issues
- Market trends to understand
What is marketing planning software?
Marketing planning software gives companies the tools to plan, track, and even predict marketing campaign success. All of these features are available to your entire team in cloud applications that are accessible from anywhere. Collaborative tools allow analysts, creative designers, project managers, and other team members to work together with access to shared data. Companies can also set budgets, define goals, and measure progress with greater accuracy and ease.
Common features of marketing planning software
While features vary from product to product, marketing planning software typically offers some or all of the following functionality:
|Collaboration||Work on a project with other stakeholders using shared information in real time. Coordinate schedules and project milestones using calendars, conversation tools, and more.|
|Marketing calendar||Schedule upcoming campaigns and marketing communication using advanced calendar tools. Analyze past campaigns for audience data and cost effectiveness.|
|Goal setting and tracking||Define your business objectives and marketing goals, and then track progress over time.|
|Budgeting and forecasting||Estimate the cost of future marketing campaigns. Set, track, and modify budgets based on real-time marketing analytics.|
|Media planning||Assign teams and budgets by advertising channel and promotional vendor.|
|Presentation tools||Share creative assets across teams. Create workflows to gather internal feedback and authorize publication.|
|Predictive analysis||Apply statistical analysis and machine learning principles to predict campaign effectiveness and return on investment (ROI).|
What type of buyer are you?
Before purchasing marketing planning software, you should define your company's primary marketing strategy. The type of marketing you do will determine the solution that best supports your business objectives.
Outbound marketers should consider tools that track ad click-through rates (CTRs) and newsletter engagement. These features help outbound marketers get the most from tools such as search engine advertising, website ads, and email marketing targeting lists of leads.
Inbound marketers should consider solutions that support website analytics and other search engine optimization (SEO) factors. These features help inbound marketers evaluate their blogs, websites, and social media. Lead nurturing, such as drip marketing, is one way inbound marketers draw customers toward a purchase decision.
Social media marketing
Marketers who rely on social media channels to connect with customers should look for applications that can monitor conversations, track the source of inbound leads, and ultimately measure the success of social media campaigns. Many social media marketing platforms provide limited marketing automation tools, while advanced social intelligence is usually reserved for best-of-breed solutions.
Benefits and potential issues
Here are a few things to remember when selecting the right software for your marketing team.
- Focus on the essentials: Beware of choosing software that offers many features but ultimately lacks the essential functions you need to support your established processes. Look for software that covers your essentials needs and can grow with your business.
- Confirm all necessary integrations: Whenever you adopt new software, it's important to ensure it integrates with your existing systems and data. For example, some marketing software offers native integration with customer resource management (CRM) software and related platforms. Without native integration, developers may need to spend time making your software platforms compatible with each other.
- Consider the learning curve: Learning to use new software takes effort. Look for intuitive software options that have plenty of tutorials and self-service documentation. Online tech support is sometimes only available in higher-tier packages.
Market trends to understand
Data visualization helps marketers understand complicated metrics. As smaller companies gain access to big data, the information can feel overwhelming. Data visualization helps teams make sense of abstract analytics and spot opportunities. Ultimately, data visualization tools help companies spend money and time more efficiently.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is making sense of complex data. AI can often find important details in data much faster than humans can. AI is still considered an advanced software feature, and companies may pay a premium to get it. This reality is changing, however, and software that doesn't invest in AI is widely expected to fall behind in the coming years.