If you want to know marketers' secrets to success, try asking them.

If you want to know marketers’ secrets to success, try asking them.

We’re about to reveal some amazing information about today’s hottest marketing tools. We’re also going to analyze the marketing trends that are driving the demand for those tools.  

And it’s probably not what you’d expect—a bunch of Silicon Valley jargon. Because while some blogs try to guess what’s coming up next, there’s a better way to get your intel. Instead of asking marketers for their predictions, try asking what they’re already doing to achieve their best results.

That’s why we love the Mirren-RSW/US 2016 New Business Tools Annual Report. It surveys pros to learn what they’re actually doing in their offices day-to-day—and provides realistic insights about the results. As you can guess from the title, it’s also very technical. So we’re going to save you some time and break down the most interesting information from this year’s Annual Report:

HUMANS: Human labor is a valuable resource, which is why marketers are using less of it to monitor social media and SEO. Only 46% of marketers reported using social media tools in the past year (despite social media’s continued popularity overall). And only 55% said they used SEO management tools—a significant drop from 71% in 2015, attributed to the human labor involved.

WORKFLOW: Uh-oh, Basecamp has got some competition. The project management software is still a favorite with marketers, but it’s down 11% in popularity from 2015. Meanwhile, Workamajig is 11% more popular (hmmm). It may be telling that only 54% of marketers said they still use project management and collaboration tools these days—a big drop from 70% last year.

EMAIL: MailChimp remains the No. 1 most popular email marketing service, though survey respondents revealed that they’ve been shopping around. While 73% of agencies reported using email marketing services in 2015, only 65% said they did in 2016. It makes you wonder—are marketers looking for a new provider, or something new altogether?

INBOUND: This year, only 37% of marketers say they’re using inbound marketing tools to pursue leads. The Annual Report suggests that marketers may be missing opportunities. It will be interesting to see if the industry gets back on the ball or finds a new solution for 2017.

CONTENT: For the first time in 2016, the Annual Report asked marketers where their content comes from. It’s not great news for freelancers: 83% create it in-house. But freelancers do remain the top source of outside content—and they’re well-reviewed in terms of overall satisfaction.

MEETINGS: Being able to hold a meeting remotely can make all the difference when you’re trying to build your client base. It’s also vital for time management. Marketers are mostly using GoToMeeting and Skype for remote meeting management. The latter has a surprisingly low satisfaction rating, though, and the Annual Report speculates that poor audio and video is to blame. GoToMeeting is rated first in both categories.

One of the coolest parts of the Annual Report is when it asks participants what they think is going to be important in the year ahead. Interesting answers included the need for a single platform where all of the tools we already use can be consolidated, and the desire to be more efficient with the tools we already have. Marketers also wanted better lead generation software and, on that same note, “more fun” or “easier” ways for prospective clients/customers to share information about themselves with marketers.