Modern businesses operate in a world of too many options with too little unbiased advice, and this is especially true for the wide variety of marketing tools and technology available for purchase (see graphic below of the ocean of available marketing tools). Before you invest in technology that promises to promote your brand and drive sales, it’s important to clarify your goals and evaluate which tools will actually help achieve them.

Have you written your goals down? Don’t proceed until you do. Having clear goals that you can share with others and understand at a glance will make this process much easier. If you struggle writing goals, try making them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Based)? Using this structure gets you writing strong goals quick instead of overthinking.

Once your goals are crystal clear, it’s time to collect your options. Doing an online search will turn up hundreds of possible marketing solutions that can make anyone’s head spin. Don’t get overwhelmed. A different approach that might help guide your search is to inventory the technology that other companies already use. Choose a few companies that you admire from other industries. Choose a few of your direct competitors. Choose a few competitors from other regions. Now it’s time to do a little snooping. Although some marketing technology is hidden within an organization’s IT structure, many technologies that companies use can be seen easily using the tools and tips that follow.

Ghostery: Ghostery is a plugin you can install on most browsers that allows you to identify and block annoying technology while browsing the internet. The main benefit from Ghostery is faster and more private internet browsing (I use it while browsing online recipes, which always seem to be cluttered with ads and popups), but you can also use it to see what technology other companies have embedded in their sites, including targeted advertising, social media connections, site analytics, and more. Do you find a particular pop-up technology annoying? You can now avoid the same experience for your customers.

ICANN WHOIS: Domain Name System (DNS) listings allow browsers to quickly find the right server when you go to a specific URL. This process takes milliseconds and happens behind the scenes while we browse, but using ICANN WHOIS lets you see DNS information about where a competitor site lives, specifically in the NAMESERVERS section. You might find, for example, that one competitor with a slow website uses a common hosting platform you can now avoid while another competitor with lightning-fast loading speeds uses a specific CDN network that you might want to consider.

Pingdom: Mentioned in a previous Corbae Creative tip about improving website speed, Pingdom can also provide insight about the underlying design and technology of a site, especially in the waterfall-style section called FILE REQUESTS. This section lists all the resources the website loads in order to function, which could include videos, social media connections, analytics, chatbots, etc. For sophisticated websites, the list can become quite long. Sort by LOAD TIME to see which features take the longest to load. Sort by RESPONSE TOTAL SIZE to see which features require the most bytes. This insight can help you make choices about which features are worth the effort, money, and extra loading times.

BuiltWith: Similar to Pingdom, BuiltWith exposes the underlying technology of a site but lets you identify the brand names much easier. Type in your website, click LOOKUP, and BuiltWith gives you a list of all recognizable technology being used on that site. Click on the DETAILED TECHNOLOGY PROFILE tab, and you can see when the company first adopted the technology. This can help you understand what technologies are reliable and which are brand new, and potentially unproven.

After you review the technology that other companies use, don’t run out and adopt it all. Adding technology uses your resources and complicates your regular maintenance. As you compare your options, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does this tool achieve the goals I originally wrote?
  2. Does this tool give me all the features I need? Does it deliver more than I need?
  3. If I adopt this tool, will I be able to measure that it delivers on its promises?
  4. Do I have the money, time, and other resources to maintain this tool longterm?
  5. Does this tool improve my own capabilities, provide more value to my customers, or give me an advantage over my immediate competitors?
  6. How long does it take to implement this new tool? When will I start experiencing the benefits?

Tools that give positive answers in all these questions are worthy of your money and time. It takes effort to sort through the hundreds of marketing tools available, but finding the right fit will save you frustration later.