We can all agree that 2020 has been a stressful year. Things are different – particularly the need for remote collaboration. So what can your company do to survive (and thrive) in the 2021?
First of all, it’s important to understand that most companies will probably never go back to having every single person in the same room at the same time. The #WFH movement is here, and it’s not going away anytime soon.
That’s why it’s going to be very important to use digital transformation to stay together while we’re six feet apart.
And that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about the B2B marketing apps you can’t live without in 2021.
There are two common themes here. One is connectivity. And we don’t mean that in the sense of having a connected device. We mean keeping your team and workflows on the same page – particularly while you’re partially remote.
The other key component is automation. B2B marketers have always worn a lot of hats, and they probably always will. Once upon a time, basic marketing automation was such that we could automatically send an email back to someone. That was a huge deal 15 years ago.
Remember those days?
Today, things have progressed significantly. The democratization of technology has put top-notch tools in the hands of the masses. You don’t need to know how to code. You don’t need a ton of money.
You just need the motivation to make your marketing tech stack better.
So with that in mind, let’s dive into the five B2B marketing apps that you shouldn’t be without in 2021.
App #1: Zapier
Zapier landed on the Forbes Cloud 100 for a reason, despite being a relatively small company compared to the rest of that list. They’ve changed the game when it comes to automation.
It’s just not us hyping them up – people rave about Zapier. It lets you automate … pretty much anything.
The sky’s truly the limit with Zapier. Basically, any significant web app is going to have a tie-in with Zapier. The real beauty of the system is that you can build your integration however you want in a matter of a couple of minutes – with zero code skills required.
We literally couldn’t imagine not having Zapier. It’s a complete non-starter to not have this game-changing app in your B2B marketing toolkit for 2021.
Sure, there are other automation platforms out there, but Zapier is super top-notch … and they can notify you whenever Mercury is in retrograde.
How many other companies do you know that can do that? (Zero. The answer is zero.)
App #2: Shotzr
We all know that one of the biggest pain-points for any creative is picking images. Especially if you’re using stock images.
What the heck are you supposed to do when you need an image of two people shaking hands?
But Shotzr has really changed this tiresome process through automating creative selection.
They have built an AI and a set of machine learning models that, at scale, can tell you the image that best matches what you’re looking for. They’ve basically taken all of the grunt work out of sifting through the needle-in-the-haystack of stock images to find the least generic image that’ll perform the best.
By looking for images the smart way – using AI and machine learning tools – you’ll save a heck of a lot of time. Again, automation, people.
App #3: Unbounce
If you asked us five years ago, we would have said Unbounce is a great landing page builder.
But now, they’re a full-on conversion platform. That’s what their community is focused on, that’s what their product team is focused on, and that’s what their product is focused on.
In particular with Unbounce, their Smart Traffic feature is nothing short of amazing.
In the old days of A/B testing, you would spin out 2-3 variants of a landing page and send it out randomly. You would then manually adjust the pages to give the better performing one more traffic. There’s really no intelligence behind it – it requires big traffic sizes and you don’t get too much out of it.
Smart Traffic, by contrast, uses AI to look at behavioral and demographic signals and send the right person to the right page.
It learns as it goes. It takes about 50 visits for it to have a decent sample size, and after that, you’re smooth sailing.
Do we know what’s in their magical algorithm? No. But does it show real results? Heck yes.
We’ve seen cases of over 15% increase in conversion rates by using automation rather than manual A/B testing. If you care about making money, Unbounce is a killer B2B marketing app.
App #4: Airtable
Airtable is a true Silicon Valley unicorn.
And there’s a reason for that.
They have functionality that is so far beyond what you get in any other spreadsheet solution. It’s basically the perfect blend of Access and Excel. You can add attachments, records – even build entire CRMs in Airtable. Impressive, right?
Airtable is whatever you want it to be. It’s blank canvas you can build apps on (and beyond). You can even integrate third-party apps to deliver true full-stack functionality.
Remember we mentioned connecting your team? Airtable’s got your back. You can build apps for your entire team, and work together in real time.
For the record, there’s nothing wrong with a plain ol’ spreadsheet … but Airtable definitely goes one step further.
App #5: Slack
Everyone knows Slack. It’s a completely ubiquitous B2B marketing app. Basically, if you’re virtual (or partly virtual), you can’t live without it.
Slack replaces a ton of internal email. But don’t get us wrong – it’s more than just an IM system. You can store files, folders, pass them back and forth with ease, and even tie-in third-party apps for extra convenience.
(Zapier powers that now, by the way!)
Need access to a Google Spreadsheet? No problem. You can grant access right through Slack – no need to open your browser. And there are a million other things you can do with it.
If you need to collaborate with your team, you need Slack. If you need to connect with other teams, you need Slack.
You need Slack.
As the cluster-eff we call 2020 comes to a close, we’re going to have to start shifting our marketing gears towards the new year.
2021 is going to be:
- Hopefully a better year than 2020
- All about the maturation of the transitions we’ve seen in 2020
It’s going to be all about automation and connectivity in the upcoming new year. We need robots to do as much work for us as possible so we don’t have to. We need crisp, clean workflows in times that are a little more chaotic that we’re used to.
And we need to keep our heads up when entering the new year.
If you integrate all or any of these five B2B marketing apps into your toolkit for 2021, you’ll be with-the-times of the marketing world … and way ahead of the competition.