5 cloud computing tools that have influenced marketing

Want proof that cloud computing has completely revolutionized the way every industry operates? Try this out -- go to Google.com and type "Impact of Cloud Computing on." You will see the autocomplete feature listing out a bunch of different industries, from education to healthcare, telecom, and information technology. As a person who advises companies on their technology deployment strategies, nothing has excited me more than the growth of cloud computing and the impact it has had in the way different businesses function. Here are a few tools that have brought about the greatest impact.

Cloud ERP

There used to be a time when ERP was a software solely deployed by the Fortune 500s. The average cost of implementing ERP used to be as high as $500,000 on average and still, there was a probability for the deployment failing the objectives. Cloud has brought ERP to the masses. SMBs today regularly turn to ERP systems to help them bring greater efficiency into their system. The sales module of ERP, called the Customer Relationship Management (CRM), is a massive business in itself today with companies like Salesforce leading the pack. Cloud ERP providers like NetSuite and Epicor own large chunks of market share in the ERP market.

Marketing automation

Digital marketing has been around for a while. Despite the advantages that it offers, the process still involves laborious tasks which are time consuming. Marketing automation is a cloud based service that massively reduces the time that business owners need to spend on such routine tasks, thereby ensuring precision and optimization of business resources. Some of the leading marketing automation services include Eloqua (acquired by Oracle) and Marketo.

Inbound marketing

Traditional marketing has always been outbound -- advertising, trade shows, cold calls, etc. But with the advent of the cloud, inbound marketing has taken off exponentially. Blogging, Video tutorials, social media marketing, and self-published books are all examples of inbound marketing techniques that have been possible due to the ease of use of cloud based tools. HubSpot, YouTube, CreateSpace, and Facebook are all examples of cloud hosted services that have enabled the rise of inbound marketing.

Lead tracking

It seems like a long time ago, but there used to be a time when all visitor tracking on websites needed to be done using server log files. Over the past decade, cloud based analytics services have virtually eliminated the need to have hosted solutions. Google Analytics is without doubt the most popular service for businesses to track leads on their website platform. But that aside, there are also services like Omniture and Adobe Marketing Cloud that are extremely popular among B2B as well as B2C companies.

Sales cycle management

Managing a sales cycle is one of the most tedious aspects of a business. Depending on your industry and the product you sell, the sales cycle can be anywhere between days and several months. Managing multiple prospects that are in various stages of the cycle can be a pretty painful and complex process. Before the advent of cloud computing, sales managers used regular spreadsheet documents like MS Excel to keep track of this information. But for a profession that requires people to constantly be on the move, this is hardly the optimal solution. Sales cycle management today is done primarily through cloud-based tools starting with Office 365 (MS Office on the cloud) to dedicated tools from Zoho and Salesforce. It's also now possible for sales professionals to constantly track leads from anywhere using these cloud based tools.

What other aspects of marketing do you think have been impacted by cloud computing? Tell us in the comments below.

Ian McGrath is chief consultant at Bridge Consulting.

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