Over the last few days, more than 8,000 marketing professionals and industry leaders gathered in San Francisco for the Marketo-hosted Marketing Nation Summit. Three exciting expo days, over 100 sessions, numerous of meetings later, the Summit has come to a close.
- Connecting with customers through engagement marketing
- Nurturing audiences across channels
- Structuring experiences through technology
- Embracing the top of the funnel
- Doing more with less to increase the value of content marketing
- Leveraging predictive intelligence for B2B marketing
I got a chance to sit down with Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing towards the end of the show to talk about what he saw, trends he observed, and where he thinks B2B marketing is headed in the upcoming year.
6sense: What are some of the main observations that you’ve made at this year’s Summit?
Matt Heinz: It’s easy to come to a conference like this and assume that everyone is doing [these marketing best practices]. The reality is most companies are behind. Even things like marketing automation – if you’re doing it well you still have a competitive advantage over most companies in your industry. Marketing automation and CRM; they’re clearly table stakes for modern marketers.
I fundamentally think that the stool has four legs right now: it’s CRM, it’s marketing automation, it’s predictive intelligence, and it’s multi-attribution reporting. Those four things are going to separate the world-leading marketers from the ones who are falling behind. And when I say falling behind, I mean they’re spending money that they don’t need to. They’re marketing imprecisely. They’re not getting the right message in front of the right person. It drives me nuts that we can’t nurture a lead until we’ve captured it.
We should be able to identify SQLs before they fill out our forms, and we are getting there. 6sense is leaps and bounds in terms of getting us there. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but eventually it’s going to stop being enterprise and be something that everybody can use.
There’s still a lot of room to grow in here; we’re nowhere near saturation, and it’s exciting.
6s: Could you expand on the attribution piece?
MH: There are a couple things about that. First, if you’re selling a complex enterprise product, it’s not realistic to say that a white paper generated a sale. It’s not realistic to say that something was a “marketing sale” or a “sales sale;” it’s not one or the other. Salesforce has good campaign reporting – but it’s good for just one campaign. If you think about it, when people are coming to a show, whether you collect their information or not, they walk by your booth and the next time you send them an email, you’re recognizable, right? Who gets credit for that, the team that put together the booth or the team that sent the email? The answer is yes.
It gets complicated here because not everything is measurable or attributable, but more and more things are able to be seen. We can see when someone opened an email, and when someone came to our site. The idea of being able to put all of that together and understand what’s having an impact on getting the lead into the opportunity; on driving the velocity of the deal. It’s not either sales or marketing, but it’s influence. I want to know that the things I’m doing in marketing are having an impact.
6s: What do you recommend for measuring impact across different channels?
MH: In Salesforce and Marketo you can track those channels (social, email, content) in isolation. When it comes to trying to see the impact of a combination of these variables, there are tools like Full Circle. You can measure X combination versus Y combination versus Z sequence and see which one seems to be driving leads. There is still a causality question behind all of that that isn’t really easy to answer, but it does allow us to make better decisions and to better value pieces of marketing that weren’t trackable before.
Understanding which prospects have seen what and what types of content have propelled them forward is very valuable.
6s: You mentioned that there is still opportunity for companies and marketers to step up to the plate because there isn’t much saturation yet. What would you recommend to both vendors and marketers to embrace these up-and-coming trends?
MH: You’ve got to make sure the strategy comes first. It’s really easy to come to one of these shows and get enamored with all of these different technologies – and there’s a lot of cool stuff that sounds great – but beware of ending up with the tail wagging the dog. A lot of companies end up buying technology and trying to stitch it together into something cohesive, and that might work but usually you’ve bought either too much, not enough, or duplicates.
It’s important to start with the simple questions: What are our numbers? What is our sales process? How does that relate to the way people buy? What is the technology that will facilitate that for us; what pieces of that can we automate and scale?
Take a look at what sales and marketing processes you have in place today and find the gaps; find the places that are too expensive, too time consuming, and figure out how technology can support that. Starting with what you want and need as well as the strategy behind the technology you’re going to be implementing is a little harder but it’s worth it. You’ll end up saving a lot more money that way.
6s: What tips would you provide for integrating new technologies into existing structures?
MH: I think it’s important to make sure you understand who’s going to implement it, who’s going to manage it, and who’s going to use it. Those groups need to be on board with what you’re doing. There aren’t enough companies that think about the cost of maintenance for these tools. You can’t just set and forget marketing automation, for example. A lot of companies are underestimating the resources needed to implement new technologies as well as the content needed to feed the beast and make it work really well.
The more willing you are to understand and commit the resources in necessary to make a new technology work, the more you’re going to get out of it. Being very clear up front of this requirement, as well as the costs associated with it, helps make sure everyone is on board with the resources needed to do that.
6s: What do you think the one thing is that B2B marketers are going to have to master within the next year?
MH: Revenue responsibility. Too many marketers are what I’d call, “arts & crafts marketers.” Every other organization comes to a management team meeting and reports on results. Marketing comes and reports on activities.
Sales reports on hitting their numbers, product teams talk about road maps, finance talks about their numbers, and marketing comes in and says, “Well, we have a trade show next week and we’re working on redoing the logo and there’s an email next Tuesday…” All of these things are happening and they are all important, but they’re a means to an end. What I mean by revenue responsibility is being accountable for the numbers and for the pipeline; sharing the terror that sales has at the end of the quarter when they’re worried about hitting their numbers.
Ultimately, marketers need to align themselves better with sales. Going back to the four pillars I mentioned earlier, all of those things need to align with the sales pipeline.
Feeling inspired? Learn more about marketing technology from Matt and other B2B marketing leaders in this webinar recording.
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