Alex Butzbach

2014 is already in the books, and brands should have started looking toward 2015 content marketing months ago. Those that have established plans and set aside funding for various marketing projects know one thing: They’re going to increase spends on marketing technology.

Conductor published a survey of 182 marketing executives about the funds being set aside for technology this year. The biggest takeaway is that over two-thirds (65 percent) expect to increase their marketing technology budgets in 2015. Only about a quarter (26 percent) will maintain 2014 levels, and 3 percent will cut their marketing tech budgets

What’s driving this uptick? According to the execs, it’s data. When asked about granular information, 61 percent of marketers said data is much more important than it was 12 months ago.

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Saying “data is important” puts a name to the problem many brands are facing, but it doesn’t describe what marketers should do. What kind of data – and which tools – will make for a better 2015? A few particular approaches come to mind:

Email software: Email marketing is around 40 times more effective at gaining new business than social media, and a big part of that comes from customization and segmentation. Brands should consider vendors like Marketo, Constant Contact or MailChimp to manage contact lists and release marketing sends.

Social listening: Marketing on Facebook, Twitter and other channels is only as good as the content brands post on any given network. A tool like BuzzSumo allows companies to understand what kinds of online conversations are taking place and how they’re being conducted.

Google Analytics: Marketing tech investments don’t necessarily have to be on software tools themselves. For example, brands might find significant value from training a staff member in the art of Google Analytics – or contracting with a third party partner that offers the same service.

Content marketing has become something of an arms race, and depending on a brand’s audience, great content can only go so far. Design, integration and data analysis are increasingly what put businesses over the top in 2015, which is why companies are dedicated more funds to their strategies this year.