Expensive wines taste better. That was the conclusion drawn by Freakonomics authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner after reviewing a series of studies that asked wine drinkers to rate wines when presented with price points that were intentionally misleading. While that makes for an interesting study in sociology, it’s not quite enough information with which to base product and brand determinations. Does that mean that Two Buck Chuck should be priced at $20? Or are the rules for pricing situational, depending on the buying environment? Do grocery store shoppers really want great tasting wine, or do they really want to buy average wine at great values?
Business leaders are asking us to provide information that can help them make more money. This is where evidence-based marketing comes in, and that’s why we need as many great tools as possible. These are the 12 best tools for evidence based marketers as we see them today. Don’t see your favorite tool on our list? Let us know. We’ll update the list quarterly.
IfByPhone: Can your company’s SEOs report on which organic search keywords drive phone calls? When you hand out brochures at a conference, are you measuring which calls are coming from which piece of collateral? Phone tracking software is nothing new, but IfByPhone’s implementation and setup is among the most intuitive we’ve ever used.
Klout: There are lots of products attempting to measure social “authority” based on things like the quality of a brand’s followers, the amount of fresh content they put out on Twitter and other channels, and how much reach their messages really have. So far, none of them have the algorithm quite right, and that includes Klout, which we’re calling one of our best marketing tools even though they haven’t completely figured out how to become “the standard for influence.” But Klout seems to be headed in the right direction, and they’ve got an intuitive, appealing product with a kick-ass name.
Salesforce for Google AdWords (SFGA): If you’re one of the 92,000 companies that use Salesforce.com as your CRM solution, and you have any ads running on Google AdWords, you’d be a fool not to use SFGA. While most of the folks using Google AdWords are content to merely base ROI on “conversions” (sales, signups, views, etc), metrics-minded Salesforce users can actually see which keyword combinations lead to sales. I don’t know about you, but if lots of customers are clicking on an ad about “Syrah,” but most of those people end up buying Malbec, I want to know.
Radian6: Now that Salesforce.com has acquired Radian6, the social listening/broadcasting product seems destined to become a leader in social CRM, which will further enable it to tell marketers how social channels are influencing customer service, lead generation and sales. Since Radian6 was never priced at a level that appealed to small businesses anyway, its match with the enterprise cloud computing giant seems perfect.
Logo Tournament: This would be just another design crowdsourcing site (think Crowdspring or 99 Designs), except for one amazing feature – design rankings. Just like those other services, Logo Tournaments enables you to engage a bevy of designers to attack a single project, but you then have the option of sending those designs to your steering committee, board, project group or any group of influencers you’d like feedback from. Those influencers then rank the best designs as they seem them. This is not only incredibly useful; it’s also fun.
Marketo: To understand how amazing this marketing automation product is, all you need to know is that when DemandResults first began working with Marketo, they had 25 customers, and last time we heard, they had over 800 and were having trouble finding places for all their employees to sit. It’s a shame that Salesforce integration isn’t always the slam dunk that you would expect, but if you’re looking for a single product to make your sales team more productive, this is it.
Unbounce: If you’re not yet using some fancy-pants marketing automation software (see Marketo) to create great landing pages, try Unbounce. It’s incredibly easy to create, launch and A/B test PPC landing pages, book sale pages or what have you without ever needing a Web developer. Our team did have some compatibility issues with Salesforce for Google AdWords, but apart from that, we’re a fan.
IdeaScale: Another tool that falls under the category of crowdsourcing, Ideascale allows you to quickly set up intuitive sites for idea proposing, collaboration, voting and moderating in just minutes. Think Salesforce Ideas, but without needing (or wanting) CRM integration. Use it with a small team of influencers or with your entire customer base. Just add water and voila, you’re crowdsourcing ideas!
SEOMoz: Since you can’t get sales or lead data through organic search from using SEOMoz, the product doesn’t qualify as a closed-loop reporting system that can greatly influence broad sales and marketing strategies. That doesn’t stop it from being one of the most powerful SEO platforms on the market. SEOMoz can influence your tactics through its competitive analysis tools and diagnostics, and most importantly, through the brilliant knowledge base. SEOMoz is absolutely a company full of evidence-based analysts that appear to value testing and data above all else.
Google Site Optimizer: Marketing tests are a normal part of evidence-based culture. Everything from keywords, ad types, page layouts and tweet messaging times are tested. But if you’re just testing site elements – images, calls to actions, button styles – against waves of incoming Web traffic, it’s hard to beat the still-free Google Site Optimizer. C-level execs may not care about test results, but they care about the ensuing increases in sales.
Google Analytics: Remembering that Google Analytics was about ten years behind its competitors in the analytics software game gives you some sense of appreciation with just how much has been achieved. Google Analytics is already the meat and potatoes of any strategic Web analyst, and if they can ever get the overlay analytics feature to work properly, it’ll be the soup of the day as well.
Wufoo: The company’s mantra is this: “Wufoo strives to be the easiest way to collect information over the Internet.” Fortunately for us, they have succeeded. We stumbled across Wufoo in an attempt to make MailChimp email subscriptions a single opt-in process, and ended up with a fantastic form-building tool that is ideal for data collection. So much of business is about analyzing large amounts of data for lots of stakeholders. But sometimes, the opinions of a small group of influencers still matter. Like Google Forms, Wufoo is a free, simple and effective tool for those times. Creating surveys and gathering reporting data is nearly as easy as using a solid paid tool like Survey Monkey (which acquired Wufoo), only it actually seems to be more flexible.