If you work in the SaaS industry, you obviously know how important software is to the growth of your business. But with so many software to choose from, how do you know which ones are right for your business? We know how intimidating it can be to sort through the long list of software you can leverage to boost your demand generation efforts. And unfortunately, software reviews can sometimes be misleading — not every company has your same perspective or standards.
If you're looking for a truthful answer in your quest for the perfect software stack, here it is: The best tech stack you can choose for your demand generation efforts will depend on your specific company. In this post, we'll outline some of the foundational types of software you'll need in order to execute successful demand generation initiatives, provide you with some suggested software for that purpose and give you some options for other types of software that are worth your investment as you grow your business. Let's dive in!
The Foundational Demand Generation Tech Stack
- Content Management System
- Customer Relationship Management
- Marketing Automation Software
- Conversational Marketing
- Video Hosting
- Reporting and Analytics
- Sales Enablement
- Search Engine Optimization
- Search Engine Marketing
- Account Based Marketing
- Project Management
- Content Operations
- Graphic Design
To put it plain and simple, you really cannot accomplish anything without a website. Content management systems should be the first software on your list to enhance your demand generation efforts. Creating a clean website with well-laid-out conversion paths is key to executing a strong demand generation strategy. While there are a ton of options out there you could take into consideration, here are a few of the top CMSs we suggest:
- WordPress: WordPress is definitely a standout CMS. Users say one of the top benefits of WordPress is that it is extremely user-friendly. WordPress started out as a blogging software but now allows users to create and host their website too. One of the biggest drawbacks of WordPress is its frequent updates, causing changes to your website without warning. But overall, many WordPress users would highly recommend it. We created our website on the HubSpot CMS, but frequently work with WordPress users and see the draw of this product.
- HubSpot: The HubSpot CMS gives you the ability to expand your efforts beyond website development. HubSpot is a one-stop shop for all your marketing, sales and service needs. HubSpot provides simplicity for users and allows them to design templates, schedule blog posts and create email campaigns all from one central location. The biggest problem we've found through out use of HubSpot is the limitations of the analytics tools. While you have the ability to track your website performance, the extensiveness to which you can develop deeper insights remains somewhat limited.
- Wix: Wix is another CMS that has gained a lot of traction recently. It is a great option for those who are new to web development and know little about HTML. Wix is one of the cheaper options, which could be great for people who are testing the waters with website creation. The downside many users have found with Wix is their customer service. If you are facing a problem or have a question, there is not an actual person there to help you. Instead, you have to go through help forums.
Another foundational software you'll need in your demand generation tech stack is a CRM software. Gone are the days when people successfully tracked their leads through an Excel spreadsheet. CRMS helps you manage relationships with your customers and prospects. But more than that, CRMs enables you to simplify your outreach methods through workflows and reminders. Here are a few CRM options we recommend considering:
- HubSpot: The biggest draw to HubSpot CRM is the fact that it is user-friendly and integrates seamlessly with other marketing initiatives to promote better marketing and sales alignment. If you are looking to get the most bang for your buck for all your demand generation efforts, HubSpot seems to be the obvious choice. But while HubSpot caters to all your marketing and sales needs, it is a bit more basic than other CRMs. Customization and flexibility are less prominent with HubSpot than other options.
- Salesforce: Salesforce has long been the leader in the cloud-based CRM industry for pretty solid reasons. With its ability to tailor, schedule and individualize reports, the flexibility with this CRM software is one of its key attributes. The setback with Salesforce is its lengthy implementation process and the fact that it is definitely better suited for enterprise companies rather than small-to-medium businesses.
- Microsoft Dynamics: Dynamics is another solid option for larger companies who are seeking deeper insights regarding business intelligence. The problem Dynamics faces is integration capabilities. Because it is a Microsoft product, it is optimized for integration with other Microsoft products such as Sharepoint, Outlook and Office 365, but if you are looking to implement other types of demand generation software, your options are limited.
- Zoho: The last CRM software we'll mention is Zoho. This software is suited for those smaller companies who likely have little experience with CRM software. Zoho is a great option if you are looking for something cheap. However, Zoho is basic in that it lacks a good share of the advancements other CRMs offer.
The final must-have tool in your demand gen tech stack is a marketing automation software. Marketing Automation platforms play a pivotal role in campaign execution and have been proven to be key growth drivers for businesses. Marketing automation platforms are flexible in that they provide users with the ability to run their email marketing campaigns, social media campaigns and nurture campaigns all from one central location. If you are considering a marketing automation software, we recommend looking into:
- HubSpot: If it wasn't already evident, we are definitely HubSpot fans. HubSpot is the world's #1 inbound marketing platform. From blogging, social media monitoring and publishing, SEO, email marketing and analytics, HubSpot provides their customers with a user-friendly and well-rounded marketing experience. However, their analytical tools could provide a bit more depth in terms of the insights they provide.
- Pardot: Pardot is owned by Salesforce, and with a good share of the market leveraging Salesforce as their CRM software, the fact that Pardot integrates with it rather seamlessly is a huge advantage for this software. Unlike some of the other options though, Pardot is not the most user-friendly of marketing automation platforms according to its users.
- Marketo: Unlike HubSpot or Pardot, Marketo tends to serve the enterprise-level businesses due to its scalability. Users say their favorite part about Marketo is that the customers have a strong voice. Marketo takes their customer's recommendations on features into consideration on a frequent basis. The biggest issue with Marketo is its speed. It can be slow, particularly when creating smart lists, which tends to be one of the more frequently used features in marketing automation.
- Mailchimp: Mailchimp is probably less notable than the previously mentioned software but could be a great choice for companies who have little experience with marketing automation. It is affordable, easy to use and provides users with a wide variety of templates. Unfortunately, Mailchimp provides users with little customization and flexibility and would not be a great choice for those who are experienced with marketing automation platforms.
Other Demand Generation Software to Consider Adding to Your Tech Stack
The foundational software we mentioned above are critical elements to your demand generation strategy. If you don't already have a CMS, CRM and Marketing Automation platform then those should be your top priority. But if you already have the foundational software and are looking to expand your demand generation tech stack even further, here are some other types of software we would suggest.
The use of conversational marketing in demand generation strategies has increased significantly in 2018 and will continue to become more prominent in 2019. Here are some of our top suggestions for software to implement your conversational strategy:
- Drift: Drift is the world's lead conversational marketing and sales platform. Its diverse set of sales enablement tools and playbooks make it a great choice for those looking to implement a powerful conversational strategy.
- HubSpot: HubSpot's conversations tool is new, and because it is so easy to use, it provides the less experienced users with a smooth transition into conversational marketing.
- Conversica: Conversica is known for its ability to engage with leads through all stages of the marketing and sales funnel without the need for human interaction. Depending on your stance regarding the need for human interaction, this could be a blessing or a curse.
Video marketing is another trend from 2018 that is here to stay. If you aren't already leveraging video in your demand generation efforts, we highly recommend you start. Here are some platforms to get you started in video marketing:
- HubSpot: At their annual INBOUND conference in 2018, HubSpot released HubSpot Video. HubSpot Video gives you the ability to create, host, manage, customize and measure video inside of HubSpot. It comes free for all pro and enterprise customers.
- Vidyard: The great thing about Vidyard is that they aren't just a marketing tool, they are a sales enablement tool. Their new feature GoVideo is providing sales teams with a creative and interactive way to reach out to prospects through video.
- Wistia: Wistia is known for being an all-in-one platform for video creation, hosting and management. The easy-to-use software provides users with a wide variety of tools to enhance video creation.
- YouTube: Youtube is free, and while it is most known for its social and B2C usage, the tool also has customizable business channels. Because Youtube is a search engine, it can help spread awareness of your brand and your video. The downside is that there's a lot of non-business related content on the platform as well, and you can't control what other videos are featured around your content.
In today's data-driven world, it's no surprise that reporting and analytics tools are on our list for software you should adopt. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Bizible: Bizible is marketing attribution software that helps unify marketing and sales team by measuring marketing initiatives in terms of revenue.
- InsightSquared: InsightSquared helps simplify sales operations with actionable, real-time intelligence. It is a great software for sales forecasting and pipeline management.
- Grow: Grow is a great option for smaller businesses looking to leverage a business intelligence software. It is simple to use and helps businesses report on key metrics.
After you've successfully executed your marketing initiatives, you'll want to make sure your sales team is set up for success when you pass off your qualified leads. Sales acceleration and enablement tools are where your sales reps will live in order to work the database. Here are some sales enablement tools we recommend for sales acceleration and enablement:
- HubSpot: The HubSpot Sales Hub provides users with a variety of sales enablement tools to automate and simplify the selling cycle.
- SalesLoft: SalesLoft is a sales engagement platform that enables an easier flow of communication between a salesperson and a lead.
- Gong: Gong is a conversation intelligence platform that allows sales teams to analyze their sales calls.
- Outreach.io: Outreach is a sales engagement platform best known for its efficiency in moving opportunities through the pipeline.
Organic traffic plays a huge role in your lead generation efforts. Aligning your website content with a solid SEO strategy is a great way to make people more aware of your brand. Here's a list of what we consider to be the best options for SEO software:
- SEMrush: SEMrush is a great tool for those who want the full scope of their SEO efforts. Not only is it great for looking into your own keyword rankings, but it provides you with competitor research as well.
- Moz: If you're a beginner in terms of SEO, Moz provides a good basic tool for SEO research and analytics set at a reasonable price.
- Google: With Google being the top search engine by far, leveraging their own SEO tools is kind of a necessity. Google doesn't provide the extensive insights of SEMrush, but considering their extensive market share of web search, we recommend becoming familiar with Google Search Console, Google Ads and Google Analytics.
While SEO is a huge driver of website traffic, it typically takes a while to gain some traction. We suggest doing some paid advertising to get some quick wins while working toward improving your SEO strategy. Our top SEM platforms are:
- Google Ads: Google Ads is great for paid search and can help you generate some quick leads.
- BingAds: Bing is not as popular as Google, depending on your customer base, but BingAds is another great option for paid search.
- Social Advertising: Social media is a huge player in the B2B space. Leveraging Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram with display advertising is another great way to reach your audience.
- WordStream: WordStream allows you to manage your paid advertising efforts and even grades the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Unlike inbound marketing, account-based marketing focuses on identifying good-fit companies prior to identifying their interest. This marketing strategy typically works well for smaller companies with a smaller audience. Here are some suggestions for platforms that would be beneficial to you if your company leverages account-based marketing:
- Terminus: Terminus is the industry's first account-based marketing platform that enables users to accelerate the velocity of its users' sales pipelines.
- Madison Logic: Madison Logic focuses on the unification of display advertising and lead generation. This full-funnel solution provides comprehensive data to track efforts.
- Demandbase: Demand base is a subscription-based software that focuses on Ad Targeting and Web Personalization.
As marketers and salespeople, we wear a lot of different hats. Sometimes, it's difficult to keep up with all the projects we have going at one time. We suggest using a project management software not only to keep yourself up to date with ongoing projects but to keep the rest of your team up to date as well. Some great project management platforms include:
- Accelo: Accelo is a cloud-based service operations automation that includes features for project management, email integration, retainer management and sales tracking.
- Basecamp: Basecamp is an effective, real-time communication tool that allows various teams to stay in the loop with project delegation and completion.
- Asana: Asana project management software allows teams to easily coordinate projects and assign deadlines.
- Mavenlink: Mavenlink is unique in that it hosts project management and time tracking abilities under the same platform.
Content marketing has become incredibly important in a successful inbound marketing strategy. Having a strong content strategy is a key driver in what differentiates the successful companies from the unsuccessful. Here are some ideas for content creation and collaboration software:
- GatherContent: GatherContent provides users with an easy and flexible content collaboration platform to manage your content pipeline.
- Google Docs: With many people using Gmail, Google Docs provides users with an easy content creation platform that is integrated with their email account.
- Ceros: Ceros is a content creation and collaboration platform that allows users to create interactive and engaging content.
We've talked a lot about software that provides you with a lot of data, making sure your content is designed in a visually appealing, readable way can majorly improve its effectiveness. Here are some tools we recommend for graphic design:
- Adobe Creative Cloud: Adobe Creative Cloud is a clear standout for graphic design. Whether you are creating icons in Illustrator or enhancing the look of your e-book in InDesign, Adobe can be leveraged in a variety of ways.
- Sketch: Sketch is great for marketers who are newer to graphic design. On the plus side, it's pretty easy to use, but on the downside, it doesn't provide users with nearly as many features as Adobe.
- Canva: Canva is another great choice for people with little graphic design experience. For those looking for something simple and quick, Canva is a great choice.
As you can see, there are A LOT of software tools out there that would be beneficial to your demand generation tech stack. And while we've mentioned quite a few in this post, there are way more out there that could be an asset to your business. Ultimately, the best piece of advice we can give when it comes to creating your tech stack is to really do your research and figure out which software will work best for your firmographics and your business model. But if you are completely lost on what types of software you should be using in the SaaS industry, this blog post is a great place to start!