The 2018 ‘MarTech 5000’ featured almost 7000 marketing technology solutions. So it’s fair to say that there’s plenty of choice for marketers looking to add to their toolkit.
The right tools allow marketers to be more efficient, collaborate easier and accomplish more than they could without them. But with so many different tools and solutions available, choosing the right tool to help your marketing department is a challenge in itself.
In this podcast, Mike, Emily and Stefan from Akkroo discuss five marketing tools that are helping transform the way they create, collaborate, and generate new leads.
In this episode we cover:
- Tools that help optimise our paid search advertising
- The tool that’s helped Akkroo create a consistent, scalable content marketing process
- How Drift is helping our sales team book more demos
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No time to listen? Read the transcript
Stefan: Right, OK, welcome back the The Big Event podcast by Akkroo. Today, marketing team back with me. We’re talking about our favorite tools at Akkroo.
Stefan: Starting off, we’ll just introduce each other, what we do. Start with me. I’m Stefan. I’m the Marketing Manager. I look after the Akkroo brand. I look after the delivery of stuff like this. So, the podcast, anything audio visual, and also conversational marketing.
Stefan: Mike, can you talk about what you do?
Mike: Yeah, sure.
Mike: I’m Mike. I head up the Demand Gen and Marketing team. My main responsibility is making sure we’re hitting those lead targets, making the sure the quality of lead, volume of lead we’re passing through to the SDR and sales team is what they need.
Stefan: Great. And Emily?
Emily: Yeah. I’m Emily. I’m a content marketer here at Akkroo. I manage all of the written content we produce. So, that’s our blog, our website, our downloadable eGuides. Yeah, if you’ve read any of our content, chances are I wrote it.
Stefan: You turn our bullet points into actual content pieces.
Mike: My scribbles!
Stefan: As little bullet points as possible for the maximum amount of content.
Stefan: Okay. Let’s go relatively quick fire around the room. What’s your favorite tool, how did you find it, and how do you currently use it?
Stefan: Mike, do you want to kick off?
Mike: Yeah, sure. I’ve got two tools that I’m going to list as two of my favorites at the moment.
Mike: First one is Real Time Board. They describes themselves, I think, as a collaborative white boarding tool.
Mike: Essentially, a shared blank canvas. You can drop in templates for, whether it’s wire frames or data mapping. What I primarily use it for, and what I get the most benefit from, is mapping our lead process and the data touch points.
Mike: When a lead comes in from a certain source, when does it become a marketing qualified lead? When does it become a sales qualified lead? And what touch points get it to that criteria? It’s really good just to have that in a visual format so I can understand it a bit more clearly. Visuals are easier. And for other people, as well. The marketing team, the entire business.
Mike: When someone new joins, whether it’s … We recently had someone, a new customer champion join, in the customer experience team. I’ll go through the Real Time Board on what we do, how data flows through, where marketing touches leads, where content will have an impact, where AV will have an impact.
Mike: It’s a good, collaborative visualization tool.
Stefan: I’d never heard of it before you started, actually, at Akkroo. You’ve done a lot of pre work before joining. It was great to just see that visual aspect.
Stefan: It’s easy to write a big long document about what you’re doing, but when you can see it visually, it’s a lot easier.
Stefan: It’s definitely a tool more teams at Akkroo, are using products, creating all sorts of stuff in there. The wire frame aspect of it, really easy. You don’t have to be a designer, you can just go in there and create stuff.
Mike: Yeah, a lot of uses. I think I first used it at Akkroo, in my job interview, to map what we could do, and a lot of it we are doing now, which is really cool.
Mike: If you go on the Real Time Board website. I think … I’m guessing it’ll be realtimeboard.com. They’ve got a really good 90 second explainer video, which outlines a whole bunch of uses. Really cool tool, a lot of uses. Especially for visualizing things that probably get stuck in spreadsheets and are hard to explain.
Stefan: You said you used it before you … well, for your interview?
Stefan: How did you find it?
Mike: I found it. In my previous job, it was a tool that the VP of Marketing there brought in.
Mike: I’ve kind of taken the credit for that since I brought it here.
Stefan: Well, maybe they took the credit from someone else, you never know.
Mike: I’m sure they did somewhere along the line.
Stefan: Okay. Well, so, that’s one tool. Anything else you want to say on Real Time Board? I think it’s great.
Mike: No. I think it’s really good to collaborate and visualize things. I’ll leave it at that, really.
Stefan: Alright. We’ll come back for the next tool, in a sec.
Stefan: What’s your top tool at the moment? What can’t you stop using?
Emily: Yeah, so, obviously, as a content marketer, it’s a content tool. It’s called Gather Content. They describe themselves as a content operations platform. It’s a tool that I’ve been using for quite a while. I started using it at my last job, worked at an agency. Content marketing agency. As the agency we grew and we brought on more customers, had more moving parts to our content production, we needed a tool to help us keep track of everything. Make sure we were meeting deadlines. Make sure the right customers were seeing the right pieces.
Emily: There was a tool we found and started using. When I joined Akkroo, we didn’t have anything like that in place. We’d have half a document outlined in one folder, then the same document written in a different folder. It was very difficult to work out what was at what stage.
Stefan: Scrappy startup.
Emily: So, just introduced that to the team. It’s been really useful. I’ve certainly found it really useful, anyways.
Mike: Yeah, it’s been a vast improvement from our Dropbox paper documents, where documents float around. The thing I really like about it is everything’s in one place, obviously. The process from brief to sign off to final piece of content, ready for publication, the process can be mapped and controlled.
Emily: Yeah. Because the tool’s very customizable, so I set up that whole workflow to brief stage.
Emily: Drafting stage, review stage. All these different steps. But, if we had a different process. If everything changed and we, I don’t know, were working with a freelancer to do various things, we could have a different process for a different project. Makes it very, very easy, flexible, and easy to grow with the team.
Stefan: You mentioned that you used it in your previous role, at a content agency. Was that something you brought on board, or was it something that was there when you started?
Emily: Yeah, it was something that me and a couple of colleagues had done some research and brought that on. We looked at a few different tools and this was the one that worked best for us.
Stefan: I suppose, with content management systems, things like WordPress. We use that for our blog. Don’t mind saying that. It’s a great platform, and there’s a lot of content tools in there. You can review it, you can see all the revisions you’ve done. Can’t comment. But, it is nice for Gather Content, to have a tool outside of that, that you can organization everything.
Emily: It makes it a bit easier to collaborate on things, as well. If you’re reviewing something, you can leave pointers or suggestions. Just, good job on this section.
Mike: The ability to create projects. We’ve got the website content all in one place. Marketing and top-of-funnel content in one place. I think it’s just made content much more scalable, operations. As when we bring in more people on the content side of things, it’s something they can pick up quickly, understand the areas they’re working on. As you mentioned, the collaboration is a really good tool as well.
Emily: It will mean, you, as managing the team, or if we have a head of content role, it would be really easy to get that overview as to what content is at what stage. Yeah. Works really well.
Stefan: Yeah. Nice. I like it, too.
Stefan: My turn, I guess.
Stefan: Definitely a tool I spend a lot of my time in is Drift. Big fans of Drift here at Akkroo. Going through various stages of Drift, as well.
Stefan: In those early days, probably before they were well known, we just had the free version installed. It was the classic chat bot. “Hi, how can I help? ”
Stefan: Definitely the last 12 months really ramped up how we use it.
Stefan: It’s a key part now of our entire online experience. Whether that’s our website, our landing pages, there’s generally some sort of playbook, as Drift call it, to interact with visitors and start to qualify them.
Emily: We’re using it across all our different platforms.
Stefan: It’s a very easy tool to use. They’re on a fantastic journey, as a company. It’s been great to see that. It’s a tool, as well, that’s becoming really important I think.
Stefan: Recently, we did our quarterly presentations and Drift came up. It’s one of those tools that seems to be a key touch point for a lot of deals. It’s accelerating some deals, in a sense. People are used to picking up the phone and texting their friends via iMessage, WhatsApp. Why wouldn’t you have a chat with someone on a website?
Mike: When you went through those numbers of the deals that Drift had touched, I was really surprised at how many there were. It’s impressive. I believe it definitely is speeding up the sales process.
Mike: It takes away those gaps. If you’re looking for something on a website, and a Drift bot can direct you in the right place, get you there quicker, that benefits, obviously, the end user. The prospect. It also benefits us, as a sales and marketing team. It’s really cool.
Stefan: I agree.
Emily: Have we found that the SDRs, they’re getting more meetings booked through Drift the longer we use it?
Stefan: Definitely where we’re trying to, as Mike said, point someone in the right direction, perhaps they want a demo of Akkroo, where the end point is a meeting with an SDR. I think it was a learning curve for them, at first. There’s this new tool coming in. They use a lot of tools in their stack already. I think Drift was one of those things they’re like, oh, another thing to keep track of.
Stefan: Now, they’re getting these pre qualified leads come through to their dashboard, where a bot that’s pre programmed has asked them all the questions they would usually ask. They can just jump straight into that discovery call and find out if they are truly the right fit, then pass them off to the account executive team.
Mike: Yeah. It’s made that whole process more efficient.
Mike: Although, I would say, if you are thinking about implementing Drift, it’s worth considering what you’re doing on the chat side of things at the moment. It may feel like to some sales people that you’re taking an element of their role away. They’re used to jumping on the chat and manually typing to someone.
Mike: What we’ve found is we get better engagement out of the chat bot as opposed to a real person, which sounds kind of crazy. I think people, in some cases, are wary when a salesperson starts talking to them on the website straight away. They might not be ready to be sold to yet. It feels easier, possibly, talking to a chat bot.
Stefan: Yeah. That’s a good summary.
Stefan: Keeping the theme. I didn’t find it at all. I think it was Andy, our co-founder, who set it up. I’ve picked it up now and it’s something that I look at all the time.
Emily: Yeah, you’ve certainly done a lot of work to optimize how it all works. Make it work for us as a marketing and sales team.
Stefan: Yeah. Love using it.
Mike: I think I’m owed about three Drift t-shirts from LinkedIn and other things. I’ll call them out now! We can move on after that, if you want.
Stefan: Yeah, me too. Using Drift.
Stefan: Alright. So, I’ve got another tool, but, Mike, you have another one. So, if you want to kick off with that?
Mike: I spend a lot of my time optimizing paid search, demand generation campaigns on a cost per click basis.
Mike: One tool that I use frequently now is called Opteo. That’s an AdWords optimization tool. We got AdWords to a level where we were as happy as you can be with the performance. Good volume of leads were coming through. Cost per lead we were happy with.
Mike: I wanted to spend less time day in, day out, on AdWords itself. Option is a tool that automate and help identify some of the changes you can make.
Mike: Automate process key tasks like finding new key words, making sure you’ve added your negative key words in, so you’re not wasting money. Reminding you to set new ads, or to pause a losing ad if you’re running a split test.
Mike: A real time saver. You’ve got pretty cool integration with Slack now, so you can ping your suggestions through, and improve them in a few clicks. That process of managing ad words has become a lot more streamlined and takes me a lot less time. We probably do get more out of our ad words than we ever have before. Which is pretty cool.
Emily: How long would you say you spent optimizing the ads before you used Opteo?
Mike: Probably a few hours a day. Especially in the earlier days of Akkroo, when we were more startup, I guess. You want to make sure, we still do want to make sure we see every pound we spend is going to the right place and we’re getting maximum value out of it. But there is that increased pressure in the early days, because, obviously, you’ve got less budget.
Mike: It’s cut down from a few hours. I still log in and check ad words itself once or twice a week. It’s cut that down substantially.
Mike: I found that … it was a bit of a different story. I went to a speaking event, a customer success workshop, where Lincoln Murphy was speaking. I sat next to the co-founder of Option, Guillaume, and got chatting. He was doing some AdWords consultancy at the time as well. Knew he was a real specialist in the area. Showed me the tool. When I joined Akkroo, we purchased that.
Mike: It’s a company we’re linked to in different ways.
Mike: Our chairman, Gareth, the marketing manager at Opteo now, I believe worked at one of his previous companies. It’s a small SaaS world.
Stefan: Three degrees of separation.
Mike: Really good tool. I think it’s built more for AdWords agencies, but we’ve sent a lot of benefit from it. I think if you have anything invested in ad words, and if that’s a key driver of leads for you or an area of growth, it’s worth checking out.
Stefan: Yeah. I can’t comment on that because I don’t get AdWords.
Stefan: I’m going to say that right now. Fair play. I think anything that makes that job easier. It does look … There’ll be people listening to this podcast who totally get AdWords and paid, but it does look like a horrendously complicated thing. And something that, if you didn’t keep an eye on it, it could get out of hand if you didn’t put the right measures in.
Emily: Spend a lot of money very quickly, I’d imagine.
Mike: Yeah, if you haven’t got negative keywords, and you’re campaign’s set up properly, it’s amazing how many people will click on your advert. You might wake up to a bit of a nasty surprise.
Stefan: Are you talking from experience here, Mike?
Mike: There was one. I’ve never had any nightmare situations, but we did, in my previous role once. We woke up, checked the click report, and it’d spent a few hundred pounds overnight. Which was fine, it was within our daily budget. We looked at the search term report, and it was really bizarre groups of search terms. Then, we later found out that there was a crossword running in one of the major newspapers that weekend. People were searching a phrase that then brought up one of our landing pages.
Mike: People must have been clicking on it to find the answer.
Mike: That was a one off. That’s my only kind of
Stefan: So your bounce rate for the landing page was huge.
Mike: The conversion rate dropped massively. I’m assuming we helped some people out with the Sunday crosswords. Every cloud, I guess.
Stefan: Good little story. I like that, I like that. Good.
Stefan: Emily, any other tools?
Emily: Nothing more from me. I just log in and do my writing.
Mike: Yeah, a lot of GatherContent.
Emily: A lot of words, every day.
Stefan: I could mention one more, which is Trello. I think Trello, you’ve either heard of it or you haven’t. I know, I was chatting to one of our sales guys at lunch, and he said before I started at Akkroo, never heard of Trello.
Stefan: I’d heard of it before, for project management, but it seems to be one of those tools, company wide, that’s used a lot. In different shapes and forms, whether it’s the product meeting and how they structure that, or, for me, it’s definitely all our audio visual projects.
Stefan: They go in as ideas, then they turn into briefs. Then, they go into production, then into deployment. That’s really good. Working with Pip, our designer, any creative demands. It’s that pipeline of work. It’s just one of those tools. For a free tool, as well, it’s pretty solid.
Stefan: I think anyone can jump into it and get something out of it.
Emily: Yeah, it’s one of those tools that I use it outside of work, as well. Everything from planning holidays to I got married in the summer. I’ve got these are the places I need to change my name.
Mike: A whole Trello board dedicated to name changing.
Emily: A whole Trello board dedicated to life admin.
Stefan: You know what, for a SaaS product, that’s probably the holy grail, surely? That you’ve created something that is not just for B2B, it’s for B2C. It’s for weddings, it’s for sales pipelines, it’s for product meetings. Wow. They’re onto a winner, there.
Stefan: Yeah, how did I find it? Well, I joined Akkroo and they were using it.
Mike: It’s a tool that I’ve used in a few different companies. I can’t remember how I found it. Maybe that’s a compliment to Trello itself, that it’s ingrained. I couldn’t imagine not logging into Trello and checking projects and project managing, making sure things are done. The fact that you can get a lot done with the free version is pretty amazing.
Stefan: Yeah. We’ve got it plugged into Slack, for comments and stuff.
Emily: That’s one of my favorite ways, actually, that we use Trello here. So, we’ve got it integrated with Slack and we’ve set it up so that anyone within Akkroo can submit ideas to the marketing team. Events to exhibit at, articles we should read, anything like that. They can just go in Slack, type #idea, and whatever they then type will get pulled into a Trello board with the ideas and suggestions we can go and review.
Stefan: Yeah. That a pretty huge Trello board, the ideas one. We sorted through for days. It’s great. Lots of things to go through. We’ve definitely got a pipeline of ideas for the podcast, for videos, for blogs, guides, events, all sorts.
Mike: That combination of Slack and Trello has given the whole company a voice within marketing. I would imagine in every business, people have marketing ideas, whether it’s trade shows, campaigns, they bought a pair of trainers because they saw and advert on the tube, and they thought the copy apply, or we could do something similar.
Mike: That simple combination of Slack and Trello has enabled the whole company to have a voice. Off the back of that, we’ve implemented ideas that have been submitted.
Mike: So, Martech East … There’s obviously a lot of trade shows we could do within the tech and event space. One of our sales reps submitted the idea of exhibiting at MarTech East, in Boston. That put it to the front of the agenda, top of the agenda. We reviewed that and we ended up going to that show. I think it’s one of our most successful trade shows ever.
Stefan: Yeah, great fit. Great fit show.
Mike: It’s good to open marketing up and give it a wider voice.
Stefan: That’s a good example, there. I reckon we would have spotted it, one of us would have. But, it might have been a little bit too late to get the most out of it. Do the pre-marketing before the event, make your stand look great, get the right stuff to give away. All that sort of thing. It would be more like, probably, one of their sales people calling us going, look, we’ve got some spaces left, do you want to come along? Then it would be like, ahh, headless chicken, delivering it that way. Well done, that person.
Stefan: Cool. So, that was tools we’re currently using.
Stefan: Open question to end with. Anything you’re evaluating at the moment, or anything you like the look of? Maybe it’s not quite right for Akkroo, but anything you’ve seen before that’s a pretty cool tool?
Mike: We use this tool already. Zapier. Or, as I’ve been pointed out, incorrectly saying before, Zapier.
Stefan: I’ve always called it Zapier.
Stefan: Then, I saw their company strap line recently, and it was makes you happier. I thought, Zappier makes you happier, that doesn’t rhyme?!
Mike: I think there’s a lot more we could be doing with that.
Mike: We use it already for certain integrations. Their integrations list is just growing, and growing, and growing. I’m sure there’s a lot more we can do there, and I’m excited to see what tools we can get speaking to each other that don’t natively speak to each other or have native integrations.
Mike: Really enjoy that.
Emily: I don’t think I’ve managed to successfully do a Zap.
Stefan: I’m sure … Did you not, with your … You made an analytics board?
Emily: It worked for a bit then something’s changed and it’s broken. I just don’t have the willpower to go back and find out what’s wrong.
Mike: I think it’s you that mentioned, when you get a Zap to work, you feel like the best engineer developer ever.
Stefan: I’m a developer now. I’m invincible. And then it breaks. But, that’s part of the fun, I suppose.
Emily: For about a month, I was … Yeah.
Mike: Head of Engineering and content!
Emily: Then, for whatever reason, something broke. Now, who knows? I’ll never get that engineering job.
Mike: A lot of powerful stuff in there. That’s something I’ll definitely be spending a lot more time in. There’s a lot more value to be had there.
Stefan: You can plug loads into it. Definitely.
Stefan: Emily, anything you’re thinking about?
Emily: One tool that I keep telling Mike that we should get is Ahrefs. It’s an SEO tool. I’ve looked at a few, I think we use Moz? Do we use-
Mike: We’ve used Moz before.
Emily: We’ve used a few, here at Akkroo.
Mike: we’ve had licenses before.
Emily: Yeah. Ahrefs has been the best that I’ve used to date. I really love all the content that they produce, anyway. It’s one of the blogs that I read regularly. So helpful. The tool just has so much information in there. Just, putting it out there Mike. New budget.
Stefan: We’re going to get a call from a sales person now.
Mike: If you’re an Ahrefs sales person, give me a call.
Stefan: I don’t actually have anything that I’m evaluating at the moment. Which I think is a good thing. I’m happy with the stack I’ve got. I’ve got a folder. I’m looking at my folder now in Chrome. I can’t count how many are there, so many. There are just so many, so many tools.
Stefan: I feel like, recently, we’ve been a lot more focused on what each of us are working on rather than being generalist marketers. We’ve all got our own areas now. Actually, I don’t feel like I need to bring on any new tools.
Mike: Not right now. I think the most … We’ve talked about this before. The most used slide last year in presentations at marketing events must have been the MarTech 5000. It’s good, there’s a tool for everything. Things are getting more specialized. It’s worth looking into if you have a challenge or problem that you’re face in a marketing role, there’s probably something out there to help you, which is exciting.
Emily: So, the three of us, obviously, sat around now, talking about the two or three we really like using. I’ve also sat down with the rest of the marketing team, and put together a list of the top 10 tools that we like using. Not the boring ones. We’re not going to shout about how we use Gmail. But yeah, best tools for video, what our events manager likes to use. Put together a top 10 list on our blog.
Stefan: I’m going to read out the URL here. Correct me if I’m wrong. https://blog.akkroo.com/best-martech-tools.
Stefan: That’s it.
Stefan: The easiest thing to do, though, is if you want to read that, they’ll be a link in the show notes. You can go and click that and go through to our blog, have a read.
Stefan: Look, we’re a SaaS company, aren’t we? We love software. If you’ve got a favorite tool you use to optimize your time, make your life easier, why not let us know? Drop a message on LinkedIn, or Twitter, on this post. Tell us what you’re using and you never know? Might do a podcast about that at some point. Cool.
Stefan: Guys, thanks for joining again today.
Emily: Thanks, Stef.
Mike: Thank you.
Stefan: Yeah. We’ll leave it there. Cheers.
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