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15+ Must-have SaaS Tools for Startups in 2022

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15+ Must-have SaaS Tools for Startups in 2022

According to a recent McKinsey & Company report, the SaaS market is expected to grow to nearly $200 billion by 2024.

Time marches and technology evolves. Gone are the days when all business operations required manual intervention. Being a part of a technologically advanced business era, Automation is no more a buzzword, but a necessity for businesses to succeed.

And when we talk about the automation of business processes, ‘’Software as a service’’ SaaS needs no introduction. Any business that wants to make the most out of technology and favors cost-effective solutions for their IT needs, opts for SaaS tools to automate processes.

Like any SaaS consultant will tell you, Investing in the best-suited SaaS tools can not only remove any kind of friction from work and user flow but also give businesses a competitive edge. Thus, if you haven’t thought of a SaaS stack for your business, you are missing out on a lot of tech advancements that can take your business to the next level.

Now before we learn about the must-have SaaS tools to create your business SaaS stack, let’s look at some important insights about SaaS tools and their perks.

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An Introduction to SaaS Tools

Software as a service (SaaS) tool in simpler terms is a software distribution model in which a software provider hosts their software applications on the cloud and makes the copy of that software available to end-users over the internet while charging a fixed subscription fee. These tools are easily accessible on any device’s web browser with an active internet connection and don’t require any physical installation.

Moving on, let’s look at some key features and benefits of SaaS tools along with some key SaaS terms that you should know.

Benefits of using SaaS tools for Business

  • Easy to access, use and maintain
  • Lower cost associated
  • Continuous Functional Improvements
  • Highly Scalable & Flexible
  • No Hardware Investments
  • Enormous System compatibility

Key Features of SaaS Tools

  • Remote Access: The most useful feature of SaaS tools is that they are easily accessible on any device with just a few clicks and taps, the only requirement is an active internet connection.
  • Subscription-based Payment: SaaS tools are the most cost-effective way of automating business processes. As with most SaaS tools you only have to pay for what you use, billing is done on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis based on what feature you choose to utilize.
  • Easy to implement and use: SaaS tools don’t require any physical setup or much time to get started with the software. All it takes is easy signup, subscription, and you are all set to start leveraging the respective SaaS tool.
  • Highly Scalable: The best part of having a SaaS tool is that with the continuous functionality advancements the software keeps on improving. And as your business grows you’ll always have an upgrading option.
  • Security: Any business irrespective of its size prioritizes the security of its data first, and with SaaS tools, security is ensured with encryption and restricted user access.

Common SaaS Terms you should know

  • Vertical SaaS: SaaS solutions render a target to a specific industry only. This software is created specifically for a particular industry catering to their needs, goals, and pain points. For example, Guidewire software, a SaaS tool that specifically caters to the Insurance business.
  • Horizontal SaaS: SaaS solutions that are intended to cater to the benefit of people across different industries with varied needs and end targets. For example, Slack – a communication software that can be used by anybody irrespective of their industry.
  • Packaged SaaS: SaaS product that is designed for certain business goals and processes. For example, Salesforce is an all-in-one CRM software.
  • Collaborative SaaS: SaaS tools that help teams collaboratively work together without hassle. For example, Basecamp is a renowned project management tool.

Now that you have a fair idea of SaaS tools, let’s get on to exploring the must-have SaaS tools for your business according to the business processes.

Must-have SaaS Tools in 2021

Project Management SaaS Tool

Businesses often juggle with multiple clients, projects, and tasks. Managing and catering to multiple clients and projects single-handedly at some point and time can lead to a lack of team collaboration, missed deadlines, chaos, and disorganization, which certainly is not acceptable for any business that aims to succeed.

Especially with the work from the home era setting its pace, working remotely, and collaborating with the team has become a hassle. Often due to lack of management and collaboration, deadlines are missed, work is hampered and all it leads to is a lost client and negative reputation.

Having an all-in-one project management tool that can streamline the management and collaboration processes for multiple projects can be an asset that yields commendable customer experience.

Benefits of Project Management Tool:

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  • Efficient Resource Planning
  • Project Planning and forecasting
  • Improved Team Collaboration
  • Enhanced Productivity
  • Improved Planning, scheduling, and risk mitigation

With that said, you might have an idea of what exactly is a project management tool and how it can benefit a business. Now moving forward let’s look into the best project management tools that you can utilize and streamline the management of multiple projects and tasks.

1. Basecamp

With 3.5 Million accounts and 22 years of service, Basecamp is a renowned project management tool. The reason behind Basecamp ruling the project management realm is that basecamp centralizes all the processes making it easy for every individual in the organization to look, understand and play their part in each project.

Having a centralized way of communicating, keeping files, handling project approvals, deadlines, feedback, and streamlining projects is all it takes to cater to multiple project clients while offering them a greater experience working with you.

Features:

  • Easy to manage
  • Responsive Interface – can be accessed on the Web, Android, or iOS
  • Effective team collaboration with employee tags
  • Centralized approvals and feedbacks
  • Easier project communication with group chats
  • Message boards, schedulers, To-do lists
  • Secure and effortless document sharing
  • Free 30-day trial

Pricing: $99/Month

2. Zoho Projects

Another well-known project management tool is Zoho Projects. Similar to basecamp, Zoho projects streamline business processes right from project planning up to the execution of the project.

Catering to all the needs of a business, Zoho projects play a major role in planning multiple project activities, assigning work, managing balanced resources, and collaborating with the team members.

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Features:

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  • Impressive UI
  • Task Automation & Management
  • Project Time Tracking
  • Effective Team Collaboration
  • Gantt Charts and Reports
  • Project Administration & Tracking
  • Responsive Online Software
  • Easier Integrations

Pricing: $10 per user/Month

3. Narrato Workspace

Narrato Workspace is a content creation and workflow management tool that helps streamline your content creation process. The software provides a powerful content editor that offers suggestions for improving content quality. Collaboration on content tasks is also very convenient, with the entire team coming together on the platform.

Assigning tasks, organizing content projects under folders, tracking task status and delivering projects to clients on the platform are simple too. The “Client” user role on the platform lets you share work with clients and gather feedback, which can be quite useful for content and web design agencies.

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Features:

  • Grammar and readability suggestions + AI assisted writing
  • Customizable content templates
  • Guidelines repository for reusable project guidelines
  • Folders, content calendar and Kanban boards for organizing/ tracking projects
  • Customized roles and access for managing team members, freelancers and other stakeholders
  • In-line comments on tasks and messaging on platform for easy collaboration
  • Publicly shareable links and WordPress publishing for easy content delivery

Pricing: Presently, you can create a free account and try out the platform at no cost for 6 months.

4. ProofHub

ProofHub is an all-in-one project management and team communication solution for teams of all sizes in a variety of industries. It assists project managers in breaking down complicated projects into small, achievable tasks and subtasks. You can create and assign tasks, set estimated time, track progress, and work with other team members easily in one location.

15 Must have SaaS Tools for Startups in 2022

Create custom fields, check your workflow in multiple views, chat with individuals or groups, conduct real-time discussions, save and proof digital files using the proofing tool, review project reports, and much more. ProofHub is a simple, cost-efficient, and effective project management tool.

Features

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  • Effective task management with start and due dates
  • Efficient team collaboration features like discussion boards and notes
  • Easy to use Custom fields to sort and manage information
  • Robust Time tracker
  • Online proofing to streamline reviewal process
  • In-built chat application
  • Kanban boards and Gantt charts
  • Detailed Project reports
  • White labeling

Pricing: $89 per month (Flat price)

CRM – Sales Automation SaaS Tool

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a system intended to streamline and improve the relationship and coordination with businesses’ existing customers, help find new prospects, and retain the former customers.

A CRM SaaS tool in simpler words encompasses all the activities, strategies, and technologies to cater, communicate and manage both the existing as well as the potential customers.

Benefits of CRM SaaS Tool:

  • Improved Customer Relations
  • Increased Customer Revenues
  • Maximized Productivity and organizational performance
  • Better Informational Communication
  • Efficient Analytical Documentation and reporting

Now that you have an idea of what a CRM is and how helpful it can be for your business, let’s move on to explore the best CRM SaaS Tools available for businesses to leverage.

1. Salesforce

When it comes to CRM, salesforce is a renowned name. It offers a centralized platform to streamline, organize and manage marketing, sales and customer support.

Salesforce enables businesses to target different audiences, with the help of smart automation intended to cater to every lead and customer activity, while also helping internal teams work collaboratively while delivering consistent results in the best interest of customers.

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Features:

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  • Intuitive UI/UX
  • Robust and flexible security architecture
  • AI-augmented analytics
  • Enterprise-level collaboration
  • Intelligent search feature
  • Metadata Architecture

Pricing: $25 per user/month to $300 per user/month

2. Zendesk Sell

Another well-known CRM SaaS tool is Zendesk. Similar to Salesforce, Zendesk also offers an intuitive centralized platform to manage and nurture every lead prospect that you want to cater to.

Zendesk Sell is well-equipped with robust sales prospecting functionality that intends to leverage an untapped market of over 200 million professionals. Businesses irrespective of their sizes prefer Zendesk Sell to identify prospects and nurture the lead until it becomes a customer.

1641981257 371 15 Must have SaaS Tools for Startups in 2022

Features:

  • Email tracking and automation
  • Sales dashboard and reporting
  • Responsive CRM with Intuitive UI
  • Automatic dialer with text capability
  • Out-of-the-box integrations and analytics
  • Contact and Lead management, discovery, and verification

Pricing: $99 per user/month (Billed Annually)

Marketing Automation SaaS Tool

Now that we have done learning about sales automation tools, the next important automation tool that needs consideration is the Marketing Automation tool.

Marketing Automation Tool primarily is intended to centralize the various marketing activities including emails, blogs, social media, web pages, etc, and deliver the right content, at the right time, to the right customers, in turn nurturing their trust for the brand. Investing in a competent marketing automation tool can help businesses focus on what matters, i.e., an overall marketing plan and lead generation.

Benefits of Marketing Automation Tool:

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  • Balanced Resource Allocation
  • Save Time & Effort
  • Improved Customer experience
  • Increased Productivity
  • Multi-channel campaign management
  • Increase ROI
  • Automated Detailed Reports
  • Improved customer retention

Moving forward, let’s look at the best marketing automation tools that you can leverage for your business.

1. Marketo

Marketo is the best-in-class automation software available for businesses to generate, nurture and grow leads.

Owned by Adobe, Marketo is a renowned SaaS tool built to help businesses automate and manage their marketing engagements and workflows.

Marketo empowers businesses to engage the right customer by leveraging rich behavioral data of potential customers, build and scale the best-suited brand marketing campaign and finally paving way for business opportunities and an uplifting customer experience.

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Features:

  • Identifying, Nurturing & Managing Leads
  • Bi-directional CRM Integration
  • Email & Consumer Marketing
  • Web Activity tracking
  • Marketing Calendar
  • Campaign Dashboards and Reporting
  • Save Time, Costs, & Efforts
  • Increased Productivity

Pricing: starts at $1,195/month

2. Eloqua

Known as Oracle Eloqua Marketing Automation Tool, this is another renowned name when Marketing automation is concerned. Primarily Eloqua helps in strategizing and implementing closed-loop marketing and sales activities while managing cross-channel B2B marketing campaigns.

This centralized platform leads to seamless nurturing of leads across each stage of the buying process with competent campaign design, advanced lead scoring, real-time analytical data, and integrated sales tools.

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Features:

  • Dynamic Campaigns
  • Real-time activity tracking
  • Increased productivity
  • AI-enabled Lead management
  • Seamless Revenue analysis
  • Compatible workflow

Pricing: starts at $2000/month

Business Communication SaaS Tool

When we talk about business communication, numerous aspects come into consideration. First of all, business communication can be vertical and horizontal. When we say vertical, it means internal lateral communication between the employees and superiors. Whereas horizontal communication is the communication between employees and teams.

Transparent communication in an organization can lead to a much-streamlined workflow and collaboration between teams as well as individuals. Especially in the work from home era, organizations must maintain an effective channel of communication to continue business functioning without any hassle. And this is why business communication tools have seen an increase in demand.

Benefits of Business Communication Tool:

  • Real-time communication
  • Productive meetings and conversations
  • Improved employee engagement
  • Easy data sharing
  • Effortless task Management
  • Increased productivity

In today’s time, business communication tools need no introduction. So, let’s get to explore the best business communication tools that are available for businesses.

1. Slack

It is a renowned business communication SaaS tool with more than 12 million daily active users and around 7,50,000 organizations leveraging this enormous communication tool.

The primary aim of Slack is to cut down the hustle of communicating through longer mail trails by offering a synchronized platform for the entire organization to communicate, share files, plan projects, have discussions, and maintain a track record of tasks and strategies.

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Features:

  • Messaging, Voice & Video calls
  • Organized channels for specific conversations
  • Can Pin messages and links to channels
  • Easy Access, Management, and tracking of documents
  • Advanced search options
  • To-do list and notes facility
  • Streamlining your sidebar
  • Subscribing to RSS feeds
  • Robust reminders and navigations

Pricing: Free to $12.50per active user, per month (billed annually)

2. Flock

Flock is one of the best business communication tools that enable seamless communication between superiors and associates.

Flock offers a robust online platform that works on all devices and OS, and acts as a virtual workplace enabling direct messaging, group messaging using smart channels, voice, and video calls, screen sharing, file sharing, etc.

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Features:

  • Direct messaging & Video conferencing
  • Integrated search & Guest Users
  • File sharing & To-dos
  • Reminders, Text & Voice Notes
  • Light & Dark mode theme
  • Multiple App integrations

Pricing: Free to $4 per licensed user/month

SaaS-based Workforce  Management Platform

HR departments often find themselves overloaded with a huge set of employee-related responsibilities, which increases with employee strength. Moreover, in this highly competitive era, it is crucial to effectively administer all the workforce activities to give them the best experience.

Handling it alone with manual practices becomes more time-consuming and tedious work to perform, which proved to be more mind-numbing in the remote working environment. This approach brings nothing more than chaos, inefficiency, unproductivity, high cost, data manipulation, data inaccuracy, and burden to HR managers.  

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A unified human resource management tool streamlines all the daily tasks and gives freedom from the spreadsheet-based workflow to all the companies. Also, this automated solution is preferable for the tech-savvy workforce to perform their work in this digitally evolving era.    

Benefits of Human Resource Management Software:

  • Reduces paperwork
  • Improvises employee management
  • Boosts communication
  • Streamlines administrative tasks
  • Centralizes all the critical data
  • Generates error-free results

Let’s now move forward and look at the highly used Human Resource management tools to adopt in your business to build a more empowering and effective workplace.

1. factoHR

1642039653 460 15 Must have SaaS Tools for Startups in 2022

factoHR is a famed identity in providing cloud-based human resource management solutions to small, medium, and large-sized companies for automating their daily HR operations with its simplified solutions.  

It is a perfect plug-n-play, mobile-first solution for every company seeking assistance in handling the overall HR tasks. Beginning from recruitment to FnF (Full and Final) settlement, every stage is handled well and more effectively with this solution. Companies can better administrate talent management, enhance employee engagement and productivity, ensure compliance management, and many more with this SaaS tool.  

Its easy and quick implementation functionality in a budget-effective manner makes this solution usable for 1500+ companies with 1.5 million employees onboard.    

Features:

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  • Simplified dashboard functionality
  • Hierarchical & configurable approval workflow
  • Assisted by separate mobile application
  • ESS portal for employees
  • Performs mood analysis to keep employees engaged
  • A single source of truth for your data
  • Detailed report generation capabilities
  • Provides analytical insights

Pricing: Starting at $40.80/month

2. Keka

Keka is an employee centric SaaS platform that combines HR, payroll, ATS and performance management in a single suite of tools. With Keka’s robust platform companies can seamlessly manage human resources processes.

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Features:

  • Payroll Management
  • Performance Management
  • Project Management
  • Recruitment Management
  • Reimbursement Management
  • Shift Management
  • Attendance management
  • Bonus, Loan & Advances Management
  • Document Management
  • Email Integration

Pricing – Starting at $ 94/ month

Social Media Automation SaaS Tool

Now that we’ve looked into the SaaS solutions for 4 main pillars of the business i.e. Project Management, Sales, Marketing, and Communication, it’s time to explore SaaS solutions for the fifth most important aspect of a business – Social Media.

It is no news that Social Media Marketing is one of the most important parts of any business’s marketing strategy. And being time-consuming, Social Media Automation has become one of the integral parts of business processes. No marketer prefers to spare time every day to post content on different social media channels, and that is when they choose to opt for social media automation tools that make their content creation and sharing a seamless experience.

Benefits of Social Media Automation Tool:

  • Saves Time & effort
  • Improved Engagement
  • Increased online presence
  • Real-time Analytics
  • Increased brand reputation

The best social media automation tools that you can leverage are:

1. HootSuite

The most renowned social media automation tool is HootSuite. Being an incredibly useful social media tool, Hootsuite enables marketers to syndicate as much content as they wish to share with their audience.

With advanced scheduling features, businesses and marketers can leverage this platform to share content, read responses, schedule messages, view statistics, and a lot more.

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Features:

  • Content Scheduling
  • Content sharing across all major social platforms
  • Insightful Analytics
  • Social Media Listening
  • Team collaboration

Pricing: $17 per user/Month to $610/Month

2. SocialPilot

SocialPilot is one of the best websites like Hootsuite that any business can leverage. SocialPilot offers businesses a seamless social media marketing journey that results in a greater ROI and brand recognition by empowering them with competent features that help them plan and implement their marketing strategy without hassle.

Along with social media automation and social media calendar, SocialPilot offers two unparalleled features: the in-built content curation tool and the White label solution. SocialPilot’s content curation tool helps you maintain the constant flow of relevant yet engaging content while with their White label solution, a business can personalize the experience they want to offer to their client. They can also market SocialPilot as their own social media software creating a flow of extra income.

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Features:

  • Content Curation
  • Social Media Scheduling across all major social media channels
  • Social Media calendar
  • Bulk Scheduling
  • RSS Feed
  • Real-time Analytics
  • Detailed Quantification of Social Media initiatives
  • Personalized dashboards and emails
  • Team & Client Collaboration

Pricing: $30/Month to $130/Month

Accounting SaaS Tool

Accounting is a crucial aspect of every business irrespective of its size or industry. Every business requires accurate data analysis. Investing in having a centralized SaaS tool that will help manage finances has become a common practice.

These accounting tools can range from being simple single-entry programs used for storing individual records, to more advanced accounting systems that enable business owners to effectively track finances, have detailed reports, and mitigate risks.

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Benefits of Accounting SaaS Tool:

  • Cost Saving
  • Optimized business financial operations
  • Easy to use
  • Secured Database
  • Automated record-keeping
  • Simplified tax compliance
  • Seamless expense management

Moving forward, let’s look at the best accounting SaaS tools you can utilize for the benefit of your business.

1. QuickBooks

With more than 7 million active users across the globe, Quickbooks is the #1 accounting software for businesses. A centralized platform where all of the business accounting data can be organized, sales can be tracked, invoices can be created and shared, finances can be tracked and planned. What else does a business need?

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Features:

  • Cloud Accounting
  • Invoicing
  • Online Banking
  • Accounting Reports
  • Cash Flow Management
  • Time Tracking
  • Accounting Reports
  • Data Security
  • Automatic Backups

Pricing: $12/Month to $90/Month

2. FreshBooks

Another efficient accounting software is FreshBooks with over 24 million users across the globe. Enabling businesses to experience seamless billing and tracking expenses this software is one of the most preferred account Saas tools.

One of the best features of FreshBooks is payment schedule time tracking. This one-of-a-kind platform enables businesses to set reminders for the unpaid invoices and keep a track of all the missed payments along with a detailed account of specifics.

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Features:

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  • Invoices
  • Payment Reminders
  • Personalized invoicing
  • Multi-currency billing
  • Automatic Tax calculations
  • Expense Tracking

Pricing: $7/Month to $25/Month

SEO SaaS Tool

Search engine optimization is no more a buzzword. Businesses today invest in SEO aiming to increase brand visibility and to attract new customers. Utilizing a SaaS Tool to automate business’s SEO is one of the smartest ways to pave the way for results and ROI.

Benefits of using SEO SaaS Tool

  • Attract quality traffic to your website.
  • Enhance conversion rate.
  • Generate quality backlinks.
  • Establish brand awareness.
  • Drive traffic to website
  • Improves website loading speed.

One of the best SEO SaaS Tool that you can leverage is:

Sitechecker

It is an all-in-one SEO platform. Get a full SEO analysis report on your website to develop the best SEO strategy and, as a result, improve your search engine visibility. You can easily analyze and fix SEO mistakes with Sitechecker’s practical tips. Site validation gives you a complete picture of all the SEO flaws of your site. Once you recognize them and fix them, you will have a chance to improve and increase your site’s ranking in search engines.

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Features:

  • Site Audit
  • Site Monitoring
  • Rank Tracker
  • Backlink Tracker
  • SEO Chrome Extension  

Pricing: $23/Month to $79/Month

Bottom Line

We are a part of an extremely competitive business era, where a business can become big overnight and hit a rough patch the other day.

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Staying well-versed with the advancements, trends, and updates is a necessity and time is the most precious commodity. Businesses are trying their best to level up with the industry leaders and among such cut-throat competition, if you are still investing time and resources in business operations that can be automated, then you’re certainly losing the pace.

Do not overthink, now that you know what all business processes can be automated. Upgrade yourself to a SaaS stack and see how your business thrives through the competition.


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MARKETING

Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand

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Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand

While many brands talk about focusing on the customer, few do it. Less than a quarter (24%) of global brands are mapping customer behavior and sentiment, according to Braze’s 2024 Customer Engagement Review. What’s worse, only 6% apply customer insights to their product and brand approach.

“At the end of the day, a lot of companies operate based on their structure and not how the consumer interacts with them,” Mariam Asmar, VP of strategic consulting, told MarTech. “And while some companies have done a great job of reorienting that, with roles like the chief customer officer, there are many more that still don’t. Cross-channel doesn’t exist because there are still all these silos. But the customer doesn’t care about your silos. The customer doesn’t see silos. They see a brand.”

Half of all marketers report either depending on multiple, siloed point solutions to cobble together a multi-channel experience manually (33%); or primarily relying on single-channel solutions (17%).  Only 30% have access to a single customer engagement platform capable of creating personalized, seamless experiences across channels. This is a huge problem when it comes to cross-channel, personalization.

The persistence of silos

The persistence of data silos despite decades of explanation about the problems they cause, surprised Asmar the most.

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Screenshot 2024 02 27 140015
Source: Braze 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review

“Why are we still talking about this?” she said to MarTech. “One of the themes I see in the report is we’re still getting caught up on some of the same stumbling blocks as before.”

She said silos are indicative of teams working on different goals and “the only way that gets unsolved is if a leader comes in and aligns people towards some of those goals.”

These silos also hinder the use of AI, something 99% of respondents said they were already doing. The top uses of AI by marketers are:

  • Generating creative ideas (48%).
  • Automating repetitive tasks (47%).
  • Optimizing strategies in real-time (47%).
  • Enhancing data analysis (47%).
  • Powering predictive analytics (45%).
  • Personalizing campaigns (44%). 

Despite the high usage numbers, less than half of marketers have any interest in exploring AI’s potential to enhance customer engagement. Asmar believes there are two main reasons for this. First is that many people like the systems they know and understand. The other reason is a lack of training on the part of companies.

Dig deeper: 5 ways CRMs are leveraging AI to automate marketing today

“I think about when I was in advertising and everybody switched to social media,” she told MarTech. “Companies acted like ‘Well, all the marketers will just figure out social media.’ You can’t do that because whenever you’re teaching somebody how to do something new there’s always a level of training them up, even though they’re apps that we use every day, as people using them as a business and how they apply, how we get impact from them.”

The good news is that brands are setting the stage for the data agility they need.

  • 50% export performance feedback to business intelligence platforms to generate advanced analytics.
  • 48% sync performance with insights generated by other platforms in the business.

Also worth noting: Marketers say these are the four main obstacles to creativity and strategy:  

  • Emphasis on KPIs inherently inhibits a focus on creativity (42%).
  • Too much time spent on business-as-usual execution and tasks (42%).
  • Lack of technology to execute creative ideas, (41%).
  • Hard to demonstrate ROI impact of creativity (40%).
Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952

Methodology

The 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review (registration required) is based on insights from 1,900 VP+ marketing decision-makers across 14 countries in three global regions: The Americas (Brazil, Mexico, and the US), APAC (Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea), and EMEA (France, Germany, Spain, the UAE, and the UK).

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MARKETING

Crafting Effortless Sales Through ‘Wow’ Moments in Experience Marketing

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Crafting Effortless Sales Through 'Wow' Moments in Experience Marketing

Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing

In an era where consumers are bombarded with endless choices and digital noise, standing out as a brand is more challenging than ever. Enter experience marketing – a strategy that transcends traditional advertising by focusing on creating immersive, memorable interactions. This innovative approach leverages the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity to forge strong emotional connections with customers, making the sale of your core product feel effortless. But how can businesses implement this strategy effectively? This guide delves into the art of crafting ‘wow’ moments that captivate audiences and transform customer engagement.

The Basics of Experience Marketing

Experience marketing is an evolved form of marketing that focuses on creating meaningful interactions with customers, aiming to elicit strong emotional responses that lead to brand loyalty and advocacy. Unlike conventional marketing, which often prioritizes product promotion, experience marketing centers on the customer’s holistic journey with the brand, creating a narrative that resonates on a personal level.

In today’s competitive market, experience marketing is not just beneficial; it’s essential. It differentiates your brand in a crowded marketplace, elevating your offerings beyond mere commodities to become integral parts of your customers’ lives. Through memorable experiences, you not only attract attention but also foster a community of loyal customers who are more likely to return and recommend your brand to others.

Principles of Experience Marketing

At the heart of experience marketing lie several key principles:

  • Emotional Connection: Crafting campaigns that touch on human emotions, from joy to surprise, creating memorable moments that customers are eager to share.
  • Customer-Centricity: Putting the customer’s needs and desires at the forefront of every marketing strategy, ensuring that each interaction adds value and enhances their experience with the brand.
  • Immersive Experiences: Utilizing technology and storytelling to create immersive experiences that captivate customers, making your brand a living part of their world.
  • Engagement Across Touchpoints: Ensuring consistent, engaging experiences across all customer touchpoints, from digital platforms to physical stores.

Understanding Your Audience

Before diving into the intricacies of crafting ‘wow’ moments, it’s crucial to understand who you’re creating these moments for. Identifying your audience’s pain points and desires is the first step in tailoring experiences that truly resonate.

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This involves deep market research, customer interviews, and leveraging data analytics to paint a comprehensive picture of your target demographic. By understanding the journey your customers are on, you can design touchpoints that not only meet but exceed their expectations.

  • Identifying Pain Points and Desires: Use surveys, social media listening, and customer feedback to gather insights. What frustrates your customers about your industry? What do they wish for more than anything else? These insights will guide your efforts to create experiences that truly resonate.
  • Mapping the Customer Journey: Visualize every step a customer takes from discovering your brand to making a purchase and beyond. This map will highlight critical touchpoints where you can introduce ‘wow’ moments that transform the customer experience.

Developing Your Experience Marketing Strategy

With a clear understanding of your audience, it’s time to build the framework of your experience marketing strategy. This involves setting clear objectives, identifying key customer touchpoints, and conceptualizing the experiences you want to create.

  • Setting Objectives: Define what you aim to achieve with your experience marketing efforts. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, boosting sales, or improving customer retention, having clear goals will shape your approach and help measure success.
  • Strategic Touchpoint Identification: List all the potential touchpoints where customers interact with your brand, from social media to in-store experiences. Consider every stage of the customer journey and look for opportunities to enhance these interactions.

Enhancing Customer Experiences with Surprise, Delight, and Reciprocity

This section is where the magic happens. By integrating the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity, you can elevate ordinary customer interactions into unforgettable experiences.

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  • Incorporating Surprise and Delight: Go beyond what’s expected. This could be as simple as a personalized thank-you note with each purchase or as elaborate as a surprise gift for loyal customers. The key is to create moments that feel special and unexpected.
  • Applying the Principle of Reciprocity: When customers receive something of value, they’re naturally inclined to give something back. This can be leveraged by offering helpful resources, exceptional service, or customer appreciation events. Such gestures encourage loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
  • Examples and Case Studies: Highlight real-world examples of brands that have successfully implemented these strategies. Analyze what they did, why it worked, and how it impacted their relationship with customers.

Best Practices for Experience Marketing

To ensure your experience marketing strategy is as effective as possible, it’s important to adhere to some best practices.

  • Personalization at Scale: Leverage data and technology to personalize experiences without losing efficiency. Tailored experiences make customers feel valued and understood.
  • Using Technology to Enhance Experiences: From augmented reality (AR) to mobile apps, technology offers myriad ways to create immersive experiences that surprise and engage customers.
  • Measuring Success: Utilize analytics tools to track the success of your experience marketing initiatives. Key performance indicators (KPIs) could include engagement rates, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction scores.

Section 5: Overcoming Common Challenges

Even the best-laid plans can encounter obstacles. This section addresses common challenges in experience marketing and how to overcome them.

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  • Budget Constraints: Learn how to create impactful experiences without breaking the bank. It’s about creativity, not just expenditure.
  • Maintaining Consistency: Ensuring a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints can be daunting. Develop a comprehensive brand guideline and train your team accordingly.
  • Staying Ahead of Trends: The digital landscape is ever-changing. Stay informed about the latest trends in experience marketing and be ready to adapt your strategy as necessary.

The Path to Effortless Sales

By creating memorable experiences that resonate on a personal level, you make the path to purchase not just easy but natural. When customers feel connected to your brand, appreciated, and valued, making a sale becomes a byproduct of your relationship with them. Experience marketing, when done right, transforms transactions into interactions, customers into advocates, and products into passions.

Now is the time to reassess your marketing strategy. Are you just selling a product, or are you providing an unforgettable experience? Dive into the world of experience marketing and start creating those ‘wow’ moments that will not only distinguish your brand but also make sales feel effortless.


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The Current State of Google’s Search Generative Experience [What It Means for SEO in 2024]

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The Current State of Google's Search Generative Experience [What It Means for SEO in 2024]

SEO enthusiasts, known for naming algorithm updates after animals and embracing melodrama, find themselves in a landscape where the “adapt or die” mantra prevails. So when Google announced the launch of its Search Generative Experience (SGE) in May of 2023 at Google/IO, you can imagine the reaction was immense.

Although SGE has the potential to be a truly transformative force in the landscape, we’re still waiting for SGE to move out of the Google Labs Sandbox and integrate into standard search results. 

Curious about our current take on SGE and its potential impact on SEO in the future? Read on for more.

Decoding Google’s Defensive Move

In response to potential threats from competitors like ChatGPT, Bing, TikTok, Reddit, and Amazon, Google introduced SGE as a defensive maneuver. However, its initial beta release raised questions about its readiness and global deployment.

ChatGPT provided an existential threat that had the potential to eat into Google’s market share. When Bing started incorporating it into its search results, it was one of the most significant wins for Bing in a decade. In combination with threats from TikTok, Reddit, and Amazon, we see a more fractured search landscape less dominated by Google. Upon its launch, the expectation was that Google would push its SGE solution globally, impact most queries, and massively shake up organic search results and strategies to improve organic visibility.

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Now, industry leaders are starting to question if Google is better off leaving SGE in the testing ground in Google labs. According to Google’s recent update, it appears that SGE will remain an opt-in experience in Google Labs (for at least the short term). If SGE was released, there could be a fundamental reset in understanding SEO. Everything from organic traffic to optimization tactics to tracking tools would need adjustments for the new experience. Therefore, the prospect of SGE staying in Google Labs is comforting if not entirely reliable. 

The ever-present option is that Google can change its mind at any point and push SGE out broadly as part of its standard search experience. For this reason, we see value in learning from our observations with SGE and continuing to stay on top of the experience.

SGE User Experience and Operational Challenges

If you’ve signed up for search labs and have been experimenting with SGE for a while, you know firsthand there are various issues that Google should address before rolling it out broadly to the public.

At a high level, these issues fall into two broad categories including user experience issues and operational issues.

Below are some significant issues we’ve come across, with Google making notable progress in addressing certain ones, while others still require improvement:

  • Load time – Too many AI-generated answers take longer to load than a user is willing to wait. Google recommends less than a 3-second load time to meet expectations. They’ll need to figure out how to consistently return results quickly if they want to see a higher adoption rate.
  • Layout – The SGE layout is massive. We believe any major rollout will be more streamlined to make it a less intrusive experience for users and allow more visibility for ads, and if we’re lucky, organic results. Unfortunately, there is still a decent chance that organic results will move below the fold, especially on mobile devices. Recently, Google has incorporated more results where users are prompted to generate the AI result if they’d like to see it. The hope is Google makes this the default in the event of a broad rollout where users can generate an AI result if they want one instead of assuming that’s what a user would like to see. 
  • Redundancy – The AI result duplicates features from the map pack and quick answer results. 
  • Attribution – Due to user feedback, Google includes sources on several of their AI-powered overviews where you can see relevant web pages if there is an arrow next to the result. Currently, the best way to appear as one of these relevant pages is to be one of the top-ranked results, which is convenient from an optimization standpoint. Changes to how attribution and sourcing are handled could heavily impact organic strategies. 

 

On the operational side, Google also faces significant hurdles to making SGE a viable product for its traditional search product. The biggest obstacle appears to be making the cost associated with the technology worth the business outcomes it provides. If this was a necessary investment to maintain market share, Google might be willing to eat the cost, but if their current position is relatively stable, Google doesn’t have much of an incentive to take on the additional cost burden of heavily leveraging generative AI while also presumably taking a hit to their ad revenue. Especially since slow user adoption doesn’t indicate this is something users are demanding at the moment.

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While the current experience of SGE is including ads above the generative results now, the earliest iterations didn’t heavily feature sponsored ads. While they are now included, the current SGE layout would still significantly disrupt the ad experience we’re used to. During the Google I/O announcement, they made a statement to reassure advertisers they would be mindful of maintaining a distinct ad experience in search.  

“In this new generative experience, Search ads will continue to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page. And we’ll continue to uphold our commitment to ads transparency and making sure ads are distinguishable from organic search results” – Elizabeth Reid, VP, Search at Google

Google is trying to thread a delicate needle here of staying on the cutting edge with their search features, while trying not to upset their advertisers and needlessly hinder their own revenue stream. Roger Montti details more of the operational issues in a recent article digging into the surprising reasons SGE is stuck in Google Labs.

He lists three big problems that need to be solved before SGE will be integrated into the foreground of search:

  1. Large Language Models being inadequate as an information retrieval system
  2. The inefficiency and cost of transformer architecture
  3. Hallucinating (providing inaccurate answers)

 

Until SGE provides more user value and checks more boxes on the business sense side, the traditional search experience is here to stay. Unfortunately, we don’t know when or if Google will ever feel confident they’ve addressed all of these concerns, so we’ll need to stay prepared for change.

Experts Chime in on Search Generative Experience

Our team has been actively engaging with SGE, here’s a closer look at their thoughts and opinions on the experience so far:

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“With SGE still in its early stages, I’ve noticed consistent changes in how the generative results are produced and weaved naturally into the SERPs. Because of this, I feel it is imperative to stay on top of these on-going changes to ensure we can continue to educate our clients on what to expect when SGE is officially incorporated into our everyday lives. Although an official launch date is currently unknown, I believe proactively testing various prompt types and recording our learnings is important to prepare our clients for this next evolution of Google search.” – Jon Pagano, SEO Sr. Specialist at Tinuiti

“It’s been exciting to watch SGE grow through different variations over the last year, but like other AI solutions its potential still outweighs its functionality and usefulness. What’s interesting to see is that SGE doesn’t just cite its sources of information, but also provides an enhanced preview of each webpage referenced. This presents a unique organic opportunity where previously untouchable top 10 rankings are far more accessible to the average website. Time will tell what the top ranking factors for SGE are, but verifiable content with strong E-E-A-T signals will be imperative. –Kate Fischer, SEO Specialist at Tinuiti

“Traditionally, AI tools were very good at analytical tasks. With the rise of ChatGPT, users can have long-form, multi-question conversations not yet available in search results. When, not if, released, Google’s Generative Experience will transform how we view AI and search. Because there are so many unknowns, some of the most impactful ways we prepare our clients are to discover and develop SEO strategies that AI tools can’t directly disrupt, like mid to low funnel content.” – Brandon Miller, SEO Specialist at Tinuiti

“SGE is going to make a huge impact on the ecommerce industry by changing the way users interact with the search results. Improved shopping experience will allow users to compare products, price match, and read reviews in order to make it quicker and easier for a user to find the best deals and purchase. Although this leads to more competitive results, it also improves organic visibility and expands our product reach. It is more important than ever to ensure all elements of a page are uniquely and specifically optimized for search. With the SGE updates expected to continue to impact search results, the best way to stay ahead is by focusing on strong user focused content and detailed product page optimizations.”  – Kellie Daley, SEO Sr. Specialist at Tinuiti

Navigating the Clash of Trends

One of the most interesting aspects of the generative AI trend in search is that it appears to be in direct opposition to other recent trends.

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One of the ways Google has historically evaluated the efficacy of its search ranking systems is through the manual review of quality raters. In their quality rater guidelines, raters were instructed to review for things like expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT) in results to determine if Google results are providing users the information they deserve. 

In 2022, Google updated their search guidelines to include another ‘e’ in the form of experience (EEAT). In their words, Google wanted to better assess if the content a user was consuming was created by someone with, “a degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person has experienced. There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has firsthand, life experience on the topic at hand.” 

Generative AI results, while cutting-edge technology and wildly impressive in some cases, stand in direct opposition to the principles of E-E-A-T. That’s not to say that there’s no room for both in search, but Google will have to determine what it thinks users value more between these competing trends. The slow adoption of SGE could be an indication that a preference for human experience, expertise, authority, and trust is winning round one in this fight. 

Along these lines, Google is also diversifying its search results to cater to the format in which users get their information. This takes the form of their Perspectives Filter. Also announced at Google I/O 2023, the perspectives filter incorporates more video, image, and discussion board posts from places like TikTok, YouTube, Reddit, and Quora. Once again, this trend shows the emphasis and value searchers place on experience and perspective. Users value individual experience over the impersonal conveyance of information. AI will never have these two things, even if it can provide a convincing imitation.

The current iteration of SGE seems to go too far in dismissing these trends in favor of generative AI. It’s an interesting challenge Google faces. If they don’t determine the prevailing trend correctly, veering too far in one direction can push more market share to ChatGPT or platforms like YouTube and TikTok.

Final Thoughts

The range of outcomes remains broad and fascinating for SGE. We can see this developing in different ways, and prognostication offers little value, but it’s invaluable to know the potential outcomes and prepare for as many of them as possible.

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It’s critical that you or your search agency be interacting and experimenting with SGE because:

  • The format and results will most likely continue to see significant changes
  • This space moves quickly and it’s easy to fall behind
  • Google may fix all of the issues with SGE and decide to push it live, changing the landscape of search overnight
  • SGE experiments could inform other AI elements incorporated into the search experience

 

Ultimately, optimizing for the specific SGE experience we see now is less important because we know it will inevitably continue changing. We see more value in recognizing the trends and problems Google is trying to solve with this technology. With how quickly this space moves, any specifics mentioned in this article could be outdated in a week. That’s why focusing on intention and process is important at this stage of the game.

By understanding the future needs and wants SGE is attempting to address, we can help you future-proof your search strategies as much as possible. To some extent we’re always at the whims of the algorithm, but by maintaining a user-centric approach, you can make your customers happy, regardless of how they find you.

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