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Successful Marketing Is About Strategy, Not Just Tools
These days, there's a lot of buzz about marketing automation software and other technologies that seem a little too good to be true. If you read half the blog posts about modern marketing tools, you'd start to believe you can magically solve your challenges by paying X amount of dollars for a software product. The truth is - while they can be helpful - tools don't really deliver results without a skilled marketer at the helm.
What Are Tools?
In essence, marketing automation tools are designed to help manage customer acquisition and retention in a way that fits a company’s marketing and sales funnels. If you believe the hype, however, you may start to think these tools are like genies in a bottle, which immediately solve problems at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, as with most things in life, success isn't so simple.
Some companies are constantly searching for the best marketing stack or the most effective tools for blog conversions and content promotion. Whatever the case, it usually doesn't take them long to discover that tools can't work miracles by themselves.
Contrary to what you may have heard, tools don't really solve problems; they merely optimize processes. And, like any other tool, they are only as effective as the people who wield them. Savvy marketers are able to effectively leverage different technologies to execute, analyze and improve their marketing activities. That said, even the most innovative technology is all but useless without a sound strategy.
While tools can bring organization, speed or improvement to something that already works; they are not going to solve a problem. For instance, if you were already driving a lot of traffic and leads from your content marketing efforts, you might need process improvement for nurturing, tracking and routing these leads to your sales team. A marketing automation tool could definitely help with this. That said, if you don't already have an effective strategy for driving inbound traffic and leads, you wouldn't be able to improve your inbound/content marketing program by merely purchasing Marketo, Hubspot, Pardot or any other automation software.
Far too often, companies invest in tools, because they want a quick and simple fix. When tools don't work, they feel like they must have bought the wrong ones. In truth, however, they simply failed to realize that tools don’t drive results - strategy does.
Strategy Requires Time and Expertise
There's a lot of hype surrounding modern marketing automation platforms, but you should never buy something simply because it's popular. If marketing success only required a few tools, everyone would be making money hand over fist. Of course, this isn't the case. To really move the needle, it takes long-term planning, involving research, hard metrics and constant optimization.
That's not to say that tools aren't useful, because they certainly can be - when they are used to complement your existing strategy. But, you need to have a strategy to make any type of tool work. If you don't, you're far better off using the money you might have spent on tools to invest in a practical, long-term marketing plan.