Laurence O Toole, CEO of Analytics SEO

Analytics SEO are an SEO vending suite providing a tool to monitor and record workflow on most elements of organic search, what will be the biggest challenges and opportunities for agencies and brands that use your services in 2015?”

 

If you’re a marketing leader in your organisation responsible for choosing the right tools and data to help you grow your business, then you’ve probably felt at one time or another like the proverbial kid in a candy store, dazzled by the fancy marketing messages and bewildered by choice.

There’s so much data available and a legion of marketing software tools and APIs covering every aspect of the marketing mix; analytics, site auditing, PPC bid management, website crawling, keyword ranking, competitive analysis, link profiling and disavowing, outreach, PR tools, content marketing planning, content idea generation, CRO, social media, reputation management, website personalisation, webmaster tools, marketing automation, reporting, alerting and dashboarding. (What have I missed?)

I think one of the biggest challenges facing marketers in 2015 and beyond is that they know that the answers to their marketing challenges lie somewhere in this tangled mess of systems and data.  There is no one-fits-all solution.  As marketers, we have to pick the right combination of technology and hope it plays nicely with your existing systems and processes.

But how on earth do you determine what is best going to fit your needs?  How do you find the time to evaluate the alternatives and secure a budget for what you need?  To be honest that’s a big enough topic to be the subject of another blog post and in reality it’s really the easy part of the puzzle! Once you have selected the right solution then the real work begins!  You need to agree service levels and sign contracts, upload your historic data, configure and learn the new platform, do some business process re-engineering, train your whole team and roll-it out to your customers!

After you’ve done all this, you probably want to pause for breath.  But now you’ve got to convince the powers that be; that your multi-thousand dollar investment is starting to generate a return.  Hopefully, this will be self-evident soon after implementation, but if this is not already becoming abundantly clear, then chances are this might require further refinement of existing business processes, re-training key staff and/or (dare I say it) abandoning the project as a bad idea.

So as we start looking forward to 2015, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the investment decisions we’ve made over the past 12 months and the investment decisions we’re likely to make in the next 12 months.  And the question on everyone’s lips this year should be;

 

What investments should I be making in Big Marketing Data and Technology in 2015?

 

You first have to look at what sales and marketing software have you bought in 2014 before thinking about the new additions you could add in 2015? (Let me know in the comments – what’s ‘out with the old’ and what’s ‘in with the new’).

Every time we implement new software into our business we learn good and bad lessons that help us improve our own approach to software development and customer success.

In 2014, one of our biggest investments was in Insight Squared which is a sales and marketing management tool that sits on top of Salesforce.  For a B2B organisation like us, it gives us great summary data and more importantly relevant and timely insights that (painful experience tells me) take an age to get from Salesforce in a digestible form.

I have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with Salesforce – I love the fact that it’s a central repository of customer and prospect information and that I can integrate usage and sales data from our system, with analytics data from Woopra and questions from Zendesk our ticketing system – they all play nicely together.  But only since investing in Insight Squared have we started to realise the full power of Salesforce.  (Hats off to Insight Squared – they have a very intuitive UI, a great product and a superb approach to on-boarding customers).

This complementary eco-system of products have allowed us to hone and refine our sales and customer success processes.  We extensively use APIs to connect these systems together and ensure the right data flows to the right system or interface.

This trend of building closely coupled eco-systems of software that play nicely, or integrating APIs from many providers into one central dashboard solution has been something that has been gathering pace over recent years.  This will continue to accelerate in 2015 and beyond as new companies and technologies make it even easier for marketers to get the answers they need at their fingertips.

There are some advantages to this approach that aren’t so obvious.  For example, it appears that Google’s AdWords team doesn’t want, like or allow AdWords API users to incorporate their PPC data with organic ranking data in the same platform (see the reasons Raven tools gave for removing organic ranking data from its marketing platform in December 2012).  This makes it difficult for public facing companies to offer a product which supports SEO and PPC in the same platform – but companies can of course integrate these data sets in their own internal dashboards behind closed doors.

With the advent of more and more cloud-based dashboard solutions (Diib, Ducksboard, Geckoboard) that allow you to pull disparate sources of data together into one solution, building your own eco-system for sales, marketing, customer services has never been easier (even if you are not a developer).  Give them a try – you can normally get a free trial up and running very fast!

The majority of these platforms only give you high-level overviews and if you want to delve into the detail then you need to go back to the source application.  Of course, you can invest substantially more in enterprise-level Business Intelligence Analytics & Reporting products (e.g. Tableau, SAP Business Objects, Tibco Spotfire) that allow you to drill into the data but for the most part these are the realms of big business as they can cost big bucks!

Much as we’d like everyone to buy our SEO software, we recognise that it’s impossible for it to possibly meet everyone’s needs (even Apple or Microsoft haven’t quite managed that!).  So rest assured, although we’re planning to roll-out some game-changing new Big SEO Data™ and features in our own SEO software platform throughout 2015, we’ll also be making them available via APIs and through connectors to third party applications – so hopefully (even if you don’t need our whole platform) we might still have a chance of being part of your software eco-system and playing a small part in your success in 2015.

 

‘Out with the old and in with the new!’

 

Whether it’s football managers preparing for the January transfer window, or politicians shuffling their cabinets, January is the ideal time of year to make some important changes to give you the best possible chance of success in the year ahead.  It pains me to say this (as I am a Liverpool fan), but Liverpool are currently a good example of how spending millions on the ‘best’ is no guarantee of success….. if they don’t play nicely together (if you are in any doubt – look at Spurs last year)!

I’d love to hear what combination of marketing platforms you are using and what plays really nicely together?  Which software tools you are planning on scrapping and what new additions you might you make to your software eco-system in 2015? And whether you think Liverpool might win the league again in my lifetime?

 

Other 2015 Predictions:

Dixon Jones – Majestic

Gareth Hoyle – Link Risk

Grant Whiteside – Ambergreen

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