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Startup marketing is all about leverage – finding ways to reach new audiences and spread your company’s message, with limited resources in a world full of noise.
Marketing teams, especially at startups, are enthusiastic adopters of new tools. In fact, when we searched for the most popular functional team name in Asana (across our database), “Marketing” topped the list. It makes sense – marketing is often an unstructured type of knowledge work, with many moving parts and vendor relationships. Staying organized as a marketing team is tough – and if done right, a competitive advantage.
Like other startup marketing teams, our team at Asana has been an enthusiastic adopter of new products. In this post, I’ll share with you some of the tools and systems that power our team.
Analytics: Google Analytics + Optimizely + Swiftype
Effective marketing is data-driven, and the best tools help teams not just capture data, but drive insights and action. We use Google Analytics extensively, and we have customized it to help us segment visitors, capture events, and measure the success of campaigns. When we want to A/B test different content and messages, we use Optimizely, which is one of the best tools we’ve found for driving actionable insights (and is insanely simple to use, even for marketers not comfortable with code).
Our support and learning site, the Asana Guide, features site search by a company called Swiftype. Somewhat unintentionally, we’ve found Swiftype to be a goldmine of analytics data – seeing what people are searching for, finding, and not finding. We share these reports with the product team to illuminate user confusion and pain points, and we use the data to add support content and make product changes. Additionally, Swiftype lets us adjust search rankings, so we can point the most popular searches to the most relevant content.
Collaboration: Asana + Github + Dropbox + Google Docs
Unsurprisingly, we use Asana extensively here at Asana, and marketing is no exception. We put all of our team’s ideas, tasks, projects, and notes in Asana, and we can easily see what the rest of the marketing team is working on, plans to do, and has finished. The rest of the Asana team can also see what we’re working on, and cross-functional collaboration is as easy as adding multiple projects to a task. We have projects for high-level goals, and we have functional projects such as PR or Content Marketing. We also create projects for weekly meetings, where we queue up our agendas in advance and assign action items as we discuss things. Asana works extremely well with outside contractors such as web devs or consultants – we just add them as guests to the projects and teams they are involved in.
We host our marketing site Git repository on Github, and everything, including our content, is version controlled with Git (it’s not just for code!). We’ve linked Asana and Github using Github’s Service Hooks, so each time we push a change (a commit), we can see in Asana what work has been completed.
Finally, Dropbox and Google Docs are invaluable and drive most of our collaboration outside of Asana and Github. We host most static assets and images on Dropbox (connected to Asana tasks, of course), and we use Google Docs for internal documents.
Website: Statamic + Bootstrap + Elastic Beanstalk
We recently launched a redesigned marketing site. We built it using a new file-based CMS called Statamic, which enables us to maintain the flexibility of a simple LAMP stack, but get the structure of a Content Management System. We can churn out new landing pages really fast. Our support site is updated and maintained entirely in markdown, allowing non-technical teammates to contribute. Our only minor complaint about Statamic is speed – but we were able to implement a simple caching layer that makes our site faster than it was before we had a CMS.
For design, we rely heavily on Bootstrap, one of the most exciting open source projects on the web today. With Bootstrap, virtually anyone can implement a gorgeous (and responsive!) design for their website, and customization is easy. Bootstrap powers many of the best-looking websites on the internet, and we are indebted to the contributors who make this project possible.
For hosting, we use AWS Elastic Beanstalk, a service that provisions servers and load balancers automatically, and scales them for you. It is extremely easy to use, and the only problem we’ve had with it is that in the case of a sudden spike in traffic, elastic scaling is too slow.
Other: Dotmailer, Wistia, Codekit
A few of our best tools didn’t fall into one of the above categories, but deserve a shout out:
– Dotmailer is our email automation system. It is based in the UK and has limited penetration in the United States, but we’ve found it to be a simple, flexible system to run email campaigns. It allows us to create drip email campaigns, without the complication of a marketing automation tool like Marketo. They also have a strong API.
– Wistia is our video hosting service, and it is one of the most innovative startups we interact with. We love that we can customize our players and get detailed analytics about our videos.
Internal: Business Intelligence
There are some marketing requirements where we haven’t found suitable solutions and have been forced to build our own systems. The biggest has been a business intelligence system: a simple tool that sits on top of our internal database. While there are many tools available that claim to solve this problem, the idiosyncrasies of our data and requirements have prompted us to build our own system, using MySQL and Sinatra.
With all the new tools and innovation in the field, it’s never been easier to make and measure your impact as a marketing team. Does your team use other tools that give you leverage? Please tell us in the comments.
Are you interested in joining the marketing team at Asana? We’re hiring a content producer.
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