Brand marketers at multi-location brands have a long history with marketing software. Back in the days of the dot-com boom, it was the brand managers, marketing directors and franchise liaisons who led the development of the software that enabled their brands to launch into the 21st century with more marketing firepower than ever before. Now, the fragmented media and marketing technology landscapes are leading more and more companies to look for SaaS marketing software, meaning brand managers are able to focus on marketing projects instead of software development issues.
The SaaS revolution is now taking over local marketing automation just like many other categories. In this post, we'll not only explain why brand managers benefit from this new trend, but show why SaaS local marketing automation is essential to effectively control distributed marketing.
The Benefits of SaaS Local Marketing Automation
In local marketing automation, and in enterprise software more generally, veteran IT specialists sometimes treat SaaS applications with skepticism. These naysayers often claim that only a customized solution will meet all of the brand's particular needs (and the desired level of IT funding).
But SaaS applications are able to deliver value in ways custom software never could. For brand managers, SaaS local marketing automation systems provide three very clear benefits:
• Day-to-Day Flexibility
• Easy System Integrations
• Better Cost-Effectiveness
These benefits are a major reason why enterprise companies are turning to SaaS platforms for their marketing technology. Multi-location brands now see these promises of SaaS as essential qualities in all of their marketing software.
#1 The Flexibility of Self-Service
If Customer Experience Innovation is the trend dominating the world of marketing, User Experience Innovation is dominating software.
From the car service you use to instantly hail a cab to the messaging app that makes IMing at work easier, the software industry is building the standards of excellent UX into everything we do. This means that people no longer accept software that confuses and frustrates them, or that takes a year-long planning committee to get right. They expect it to work for them the way they want, and if it's no longer working that way they want to change it – now.
That demand for self-service software which delivers a great user experience doesn't stop at the apps we use for personal tasks. It's just as strong for the tools we use at work, and for enterprise marketers that applies to their marketing software as much as anything.
Franchisees, dealers and other local marketers expect to be able to get relevant, personalized marketing materials that don't take ages to create or require a run-around with the corporate design team. Marketers at headquarters want to make workflow updates without asking their account manager to call in a favor with the development team. And designers want software that works seamlessly with the design tools they already depend on.
Custom software struggles to deliver this kind of simplicity. But SaaS products can satisfy even the most demanding user experience snobs. Where customized systems need dedicated development resources and internal champions to remain viable, SaaS products are flexible without any development at all.
With more brands using SaaS platforms, their hallmark self-service configuration has become essential staying competitive. Even major international enterprises are finding that the agility these platforms enables is indispensable for their marketing programs.
#2 An Integrated, All-in-One Machine
If self-service configuration is what makes SaaS seem an attractive product for enterprises at first, the power to integrate with other enterprise applications is often what seals the deal.
With marketing technology spending to exceed $32B in 2017 and CMOs using even more budget for technology than CIOs, ensuring that every mission-critical system is able to work together is more important than ever. Yet again, enterprises are finding that SaaS products are often more capable in this department than custom ones.
Built on scalable frameworks, often with open-source APIs available for various functions, a SaaS marketing platform isn't limited to code that's been written exactly to spec. Instead of the painful process of downloading data from one place and uploading it in another, or trying to "hack" systems with workarounds, SaaS platforms let brands set up seamlessly integrated data feeds between different applications.
For brands, especially enterprises with many applications for many different purposes, the result is a CRM system that can connect directly to the MRM system, and a local marketing automation platform that can integrate with both of them.
#3 Sacrifice-Free Cost-Effectiveness
Bottom-line efficiency is often a priority for marketing leaders at major brands – and here, too, SaaS platforms deliver a major advantage.
Right from the jump, SaaS vendors are more willing to be transparent about the costs associated with their products and will frequently list standard pricing packages on their websites.
This commitment to transparency is based on the fact that SaaS products have predictable underlying costs, like the infrastructure and R&D costs that a vendor puts into the product.
But SaaS platforms are also more cost-effective because they're more efficient.
By taking input from dozens of customers instead of just a single stakeholder, these products spread the work of innovation across a broader community. Brands no longer have to spend valuable internal resources sourcing ideas and feedback on product performance and future enhancements – something that often isn't even feasible given that dealer and franchisee stakeholders are often too remote for reliable feedback mechanisms.