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4 Cloud Tools to Kickstart Your Marketing Team's Productivity It's critical for marketing teams to be equipped with the tools required to ensure maximum productivity and transparency.

By Andrew Medal

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Are forces beyond your control putting your marketing team under the microscope, with severe pressure to remain ROI-positive, despite being spread across an increasing array of customer acquisition channels?

You're hardly alone. A recent report from Ascend has found that more than 80 percent of marketing professionals believe that data helps them arrive at "more accurate decisions" and/or "more cost-efficient decisions." As a result of this phenomenon, organizations are becoming smaller and more agile, which means more people are multitasking, with heightened pressure to perform.

It is therefore critical for marketing teams to be equipped with the tools required to ensure maximum productivity and transparency. There are plenty of powerful enterprise tools that are optimized for flexibility among large teams, and you can always go the build-your-own route, but these options are unnecessary when you're first getting started.

Related: 4 Free Small Business Marketing Tools

You might find it worthwhile to temper costs and try some affordable and free tools that can help with boosting marketing productivity. Here are four of the best to choose from.

1. Workflow management with WorkflowMax.

Whether you are ticking off small accomplishments or working toward some bold business targets, your marketing team needs to keep track of tasks, assets, discussions, assignments and projects. A workflow management platform can help you consolidate tasks into one integrated service, but there are plenty of apps that can do this. Ideally, the system you opt for should work seamlessly with other aspects of your business.

WorkflowMax offers an integrated platform to manage the major tasks involved with marketing and beyond, with modules that cover key functionalities like customer relationship management, timekeeping, documents, invoicing and payments. This way, marketing works in tune with the rest of your operational units, such as sales and accounting.

With more businesses opting for remote work or even hiring employees on a remote basis, then cloud-based project management tools play an even more important part in the organization. WorkflowMax has a no-risk 14-day trial.

2. Database hygiene with Trifacta Wrangler.

To an increasing degree, your marketing strategy is only as good as the data upon which you're basing your choices.

Take content personalization as an example. Your audience may not be so careful filling out your lead capture forms -- some people might use all lowercase letters and others all caps. So when the time comes for you to use that data for your email campaigns, you might end up alienating people more than endearing them.

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It's up to you to clean up and sanitize your database. Trifacta's Wrangler tool lets you work on databases quickly and has functionalities such as removing or merging duplicate entries and backups. Best of all, Wrangler has a free edition and can be run on a desktop, which is especially useful if you want to work with confidential information before uploading it to the cloud.

3. Social media measurement with Cyfe.

Social media makes it extremely easy for you to directly engage with prospects and existing customers. The average user has about five social media accounts and spends nearly two hours daily on social media, with around 45 minutes of their workday checking social feeds. For marketers, that is a huge opportunity that is not to be underestimated.

Your business likely needs to be active on a handful of major social networks. Depending on what kind of company you're operating and where your audience is most active, you might be on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google Plus. As a result of this diversity, keeping track of the big picture of your brand's reach, engagement and audience growth can seriously compromise your productivity.

Cyfe is an integrated business dashboard tool that lets you keep track of performance analytics across touch points -- not only social. Among its pre-built tools are social media widgets that let you track post statistics, likes, traffic sources and audience demographics on Facebook, as well as view latest tweets and follower counts on Twitter.

Cyfe has a "forever free" plan that is reasonably powerful, while the $19 a month premium plan gives you full access to all functionalities.

4. Qualitative insights with SurveyMonkey.

Keep in mind that there's only so much you can learn from your various analytics tools. Your marketing data may be able to tell you that a video you posted to a sharing community is getting thousands of upvotes, but these figures cannot readily tell you the reasons why people like it. Surveys can provide the stories behind the numbers.

Related: 10 Free Online Tools Every Entrepreneur Should Know About

SurveyMonkey provides cloud-based survey services and is the go-to polling tool for some 25 million users, including large companies such as Facebook and Samsung. SurveyMonkey offers templates for well-crafted surveys that can be modified or used as-is in order to gain additional insight about your brand and the people who might or might not be interested in it.

The app includes a basic free service, although you can also pay for premium enterprise-grade features. You can even pay for a targeted audience to fill out your surveys, if you are performing exploratory studies. This kind of groundwork may be antithetical to today's "fake it 'til you make it" startup culture, but truly maximizing productivity calls for in-depth, data-driven strategies.

Improving your marketing workflow does not need to be expensive. With affordable cloud-based solutions, you can start enhancing your marketing team's productivity and efficiency without the burden of committing to a large investment.

Andrew Medal

Entrepreneur & Angel Investor

Andrew Medal is the founder of The Paper Chase, which is a bi-weekly newsletter. He is an entrepreneur and angel investor.

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