Sales & Marketing Technology for Investment Attraction: 4 Tools for Consideration
March 7, 2017
Across nearly all industries and job functions, our lives are simply getting busier. The white knight swooping in to save us is most often technology that can automate processes and rescue hours from the day. That’s why marketing technology, aka MarTech, is one of the hottest sub-sectors among tech VCs nowadays. But not all technology is created equal, especially in economic development and investment promotion, where the price tag doesn’t always justify the ROI. As marketing strategist Leslie Cocco Alore of Iron Mountain put it at the B2B Marketing Exchange (B2BMX) in February, “technology is an enabler, not a driver.” For the relatively low-volume, low-engagement environment that EDOs and IPAs deal with, many software applications are either obsolete entirely or fit for only a few organizations with the marketing cache and matching budget.
Having just returned from B2BMX alongside marketing executives at GE Healthcare, Oracle, FedEx, Microsoft, Rockwell Automation, Host Analytics and hundreds of other sophisticated marketing machines, here’s our view of the most relevant marketing technology for investment attraction customized for EDOs and IPAs (who don’t typically have the same multi-10s of millions of dollars in their marketing budgets). Note that we excluded CRMs for the simple fact that everyone is already using those (if you aren’t, you should be).
Email Personalization & Tracking
Most organizations use an email platform like Emma, Constant Contact or, our favorite, Campaign Monitor for mass newsletter distributions and CRM integration. Unfortunately, they’re all made for design-rich newsletter distributions rather than one-to-one communications, which we’ve found the best driver of meaningful interactions in a straight sales environment.
For those conducting more proactive business development outreach, ToutApp allows you to develop a variety of easy-to-customize templates, integrates tracking functions for measurement insights, and sends them in an Outlook-like format rather than the newsletter alternatives named above. Perfect for one-at-a-time emails you can track, and matching the convenience of templates with the impact of personalization.
Pardot, Marketo and HubSpot are the popular names in this category among EDOs and IPAs. At B2BMX, the corporate crowd had a strong preference for Marketo, with Eloqua (an Oracle company) coming in second place. The prices for such products tend to run at least $2,000/month just for the technology, with options ranging much higher than that depending on the added features. Careful consideration must be given to ROI for these products, as their benefit comes from automating interactions with thousands (or millions) of frequent and engaged visitors, something the site selection industry tends not to produce for a majority of organizations. Frankly, we view this as a viable investment for two potential organizations: large, sophisticated state EDOs or international IPAs with robust B2B marketing machines, and those with aggressive talent attraction programs that are committed to maximizing the complex workflow automations.
IP Address Recognition
If marketing automation is a family of tools, then IP address recognition is the bread-winner with the PhD. DCI’s Web-to-Leads service, which uses San Francisco-based KickFire as our software backbone, will match a website visitor’s IP address to the name of the entity to which it belongs, allowing you to go a step further than Google Analytics and see how individual visitors are interacting with your website—the entity name, visitor location, time spent and pages visited. Additional firmographic data is also available.
IP matching is at the core of how marketing automation solutions operate but is much less expensive on its own. Community Systems and GIS Planning both offer similar solutions, all priced and packaged slightly differently. For larger regions, states and countries, this is a must-use tool with or without automation. Many mid-sized communities will also find significant value in it. Smaller regions can struggle with visitor volume, which makes it less cost effective, but we’ve still seen cases where diamonds in the rough are uncovered. DCI offers a complimentary two-week trial to interested organizations to ensure the tool is right for you.
Executive Contact Databases
We still hear about Hoovers a lot, but feel it’s among one of the poorer quality executive contact databases out there (that said, for companies, it’s arguably the top tool). At DCI, we use Avention/OneSource, which incidentally was recently purchased by Hoovers’ parent, Dun & Bradstreet. However, for executive contact information, we’ll give our vote to Zoominfo, another DCI favorite, as the top tool relative to cost. Nowhere—including outsourcing it to third-party firms—have we found more accurate information at such an affordable cost, including the largest number of direct dials. For those with deeper pockets, DiscoverOrg maps out company hierarchies and includes the top collection of human-verified data on the planet, although its data sets fall mostly within the marketing, technology and finance job functions (they’ve recently rolled out C-Suite and HR datasets as well). Of course, that type of Grade A data comes with a cost—roughly $2,000/month per data set (yes, $24,000 annually for just one segment of your target audience).
There are dozens of other technology companies in predictive or intent analytics (Lattice), video (Brightcove), Account-Based Marketing (DemandBase, Terminus), and more that are doing incredible things, but we just haven’t witnessed the proper cost-benefit ratio for the software that would suggest EDOs or IPAs need to spend such a significant amount of money.