A fool with a tool is still a fool.
There are no silver bullets.
The best technology will fail without a strong strategy or business process.
Technology without vision, strategic plan, or compelling use case is a wasted investment.
Do these phrases sound familiar? They should! I know my team and I have acquiesced to these notions after a derailed martech deployment or two. They sound familiar because there is truth to the idea that a new tool or technology on its own isn’t going to mean the difference between outperforming and preserving the status quo. The “golden rule” has always been strategy before technology.
But I’m starting to believe that the old rules (golden or not) no longer apply.
Each day, point tools are creating markets by shining spotlights on business problems and painting pictures of a better way. Today’s martech landscape is like a women’s magazine, advertising countless get-in-shape fixes and miracle hacks – and marketers are desperate to show a digital capability that outpaces their peers.’ With a pace so frenetic – how can you reconcile a strategy-first approach every time?
The answer? You don’t. Because technology has critical role in informing your strategy.
In the same way that Account-based marketing and revenue has dissolved the linear progression of lead qualification from marketing to sales, so too has the “strategy before technology” requirement been made irrelevant. In both scenarios, sequential activities have been replaced with cross-function and collaboration. The digital transformation’s agile imperative is being acknowledged both in how we go to market, how we sell, and how we select the technology to support those activities.
It’s not a wise or efficient use of time to plan effective strategy without simultaneously considering the technology that’s available to support it.
If you refuse to consider both in concert, you’ll end up with two scenarios:
- The “Now What?” Have you ever spent 3-6 months developing a strategy for how you’re going to meet the following year’s goal? Usually, after slide 127 finishes its animation and the screen goes dark, you’re left with a lot of head scratching. Now what? How do we begin? Who needs to be involved? How will my job change? The “Now What?” scenario doesn’t think about activation, and when the rubber meets the road, there’s usually reduced budget, reduced time to implement, and little direction on where to begin.
- The “Tunnel Vision:” Sometimes the sizzle of a new technology is too loud to ignore. The train to Innovation Town is leaving, and you’ve cut a check for a first-class seat. Fast forward 3 months after your initial deployment and you’re having trouble rationalizing your investment. You begin to use the technology reactively. It’s Thor’s hammer, and everything is a nail. The tool’s functionality alone is driving your strategy, making you unable to see the forest for the trees. Your tunnel vision has prevented you from being able to differentiate from your competitors.
As marketing and sales leaders, you have a mandate to be aware of what the current tech landscape can offer you as you plan for how you’ll meet your revenue targets.
Here are some ways to stay ahead of the curve:
- Nominate someone on your team to run point on martech education, and ensure they create a regular process of information sharing and feedback collection. Check out this podcast with Jason Hekl and Megan Eisenberg, CMO of MongoDB on how she stays current with her own martech education.
- Commit to and prioritize internal education. Have vendors demo products at weekly meetings or have them join a quarterly offsite.
- Attend industry conferences. MarTech, Marketo Summit, SiriusDecisions, Oracle MME – these shows offer extensive sponsor case studies and exhibition halls. Create a shortlist of technology categories (AI, Buyer Intent, ABM, Sales Enablement, etc.) and set up meetings before you head out to the show. Ask for customer referrals, and be prepared to ask them how they would tackle your organization’s specific use cases.
- Find a trusted partner to help you sift through the landscape. At Inverta, we provide regular advisory to our clients on how to think about their stack, and will have more tips and tricks in the coming months. As always, if you’re looking at an area that we don’t cover, we’ll try our best to connect you with someone who can help.
Happy martech events season, friends! Hope to see you out there!
If I had to assign a theme to this article’s 2019 predictions, I would need to call upon Michael Corleone and dust off his famous line, “It’s not personal, it’s strictly business.”
Now, I offer no offense to Michael (I have a good idea what happens to those who fail to respect the youngest Corleone), but many of the predictions made below are in service of making business more personal.
In fact, a lack of tolerance for the generic or the contextually inaccurate further supports marketing technology’s focus on leveraging large data sets to create more relevant interactions in real time.
And while this article is about marketing technology, there’s a special craft to message, content development, and storytelling in a data-driven world that’s pulling the marketing pendulum back to “art” after being squarely lodged in the “science” position for five to seven years. That shift is giving light to an emerging skillset: the marketer who understands the value of content uniqueness, empathy and humor as well as the strength and availability of data, and thinks about each in the context of one and other.
Inverta 2019 Martech Predictions
- More Customer Data Platforms (CDP): Disparate, non-standardized data sets continue to be a challenge, and CDP is offering a solution. CDP gained conceptual adoption in 2018, but there’s still a knowledge gap between what the CDP can do for big businesses and how best to justify the investment. The doubling down on content quality or quantity is going to require better, more precise delivery. 2019 is going to bring more widespread adoption and investment in CDP and with it, a better foundation for real-time marketing and sales.
- When it comes to AI: Less talking, more doing: Much like you’ve come to expect a steamed milk fleur de lis in your $10 latte, most marketers will expect some type of machine learning or inferences based on existing data built into their large martech investments. Look for a focus on skills that know how to best deploy these functions for the purpose of enhancing the digital arm of programs and campaigns.
- Data Transparency is the new black: The widespread adoption of GDPR coupled with the introduction of AI into marketing has many companies discussing their corporation’s ethical stance on data transparency. Privacy issues remain, and it’s causing companies to ask: What does ethical data use mean? How does business need to change and comply? This are questions that marketing and IT leaders will begin to tackle in 2019.
- New Applications of Chatbots: While customer service and sales inquiries are the first and most common applications we see today, some B2B marketers are piloting chat as part of their event marketing strategy, supplementing (or replacing!) the dreaded app download. Other organizations are using chat to prequalify inbound inquiries.
- The Rise of Revtech: Happy (early) Holidays, I’ve gifted you new jargon. Revtech is used to describe technology that is used collaboratively by the marketing and sales function. At Inverta, we began using it to describe account-based play orchestration tools. However, it can now be extended to other point tools that are integral to the orchestration of marketing and sales toward a shared goal.
But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what our clients had to say:
“AI-based analytics is going to be the new norm, as organizations move away from traditional, static reports.”
Compliance-based marketing and Preference Management:
The onset of GDPR has ushered in a new age of permission-based marketing. The “old ways” of acquiring leads like list purchases are becoming obsolete. Organizations are going to double down on gaining explicit opt-ins for different marketing channels.
Content marketing channel management:
We’ll see a bidirectional flow of communication for content consumption preferences, and delivery mechanisms adapting on the fly. If we can deduce that you prefer video, you’ll receive information in video form and vice versa.
AI-based analytics is going to be the new norm, as organizations move away from traditional, static reports. Engines that are looking at large data sets, learning, and trying to predict outcomes based on historical behavior will be the new direction in analytics.
Account-based Customer Profiles:
While ABM continues to be critical, we’ll see more time and effort put into gathering insights for the individual profiles in the buying center to ensure that individual messages within the ABM play are relevant to each role.
“It is time to “peel the onion” when it comes to a technology and really understand its true potential.”
Enabler, not a Solution:
Marketers will start considering Marketing Technology more as an enabler than as a solution (not as a be-all end-all). This will shape how they implement and leverage it to solve business problems and drive outcomes.
Do more than Less:
It is time to “peel the onion” when it comes to a technology and really understand its true potential, the different aspects/components/applications that the business can leverage it for. It will be a lot less about buzzwords.
Specific Applications for AI:
AI will be broken down into how it can solve different yet very specific problems or optimize certain applications in marketing. It will create its own niche. Marketers will approach AI-driven technologies with a lot of maturity as to whether their organization truly needs it or is even ready for it rather than “we need AI just because others are using it or everyone is talking about it.”
Think about how during the less-technology days, we used to approach marketing. What data do we have or need, to understand customer needs or challenges or feedback, then how do we apply a marketing framework layer to it (like mapping buying stages to personas and in turn to content and strategy) and add on an execution and finally a measurement layer. This will be a common language or approach across differential business domains.
Marketing Measurement will become complicated, but much more aligned with business goals and not just vanity metrics. This will also feed into product/technology evolution in the measurement/attribution space.
Data Management (cleansing, enrichment, consolidation etc etc, really going granular with data) will become critical to scale marketing initiatives led by plethora of technologies.
“It’s hard to justify the [marketing automation platform] spend when the platform is only doing a fraction of what you need it to do.”
The death of the standalone marketing automation platform:
The investment in a marketing automation tool is a costly one and is accompanied by certain executive-level expectations for functioanlity and ROI. It’s hard to justify the spend when the platform is only doing a fraction of what you need it to do. We’re seeing digital engagement platforms combine forces with marketing automation platforms to ensure the inbound, outbound, and customer marketing requirements are met within the martech ecosystem.
The single pane of glass:
You see a lot of cross-functional effort to stitch systems together, crunch data, then add a visualization layer to the top of it. This effort to turn insights into a story is very time consuming for a mid-level marketing manager. Martech needs to bake more confident, accurate out-of the-box reporting into their platforms. The strength and robustness of the out-of-the-box reporting is going to become a bigger decision driver because marketing professionals are looking for a single pane of glass that they can trust, that is going to help them improve their efforts and gain executive buy-in.
Now I want to hear what YOU think! Hit us up on LinkedIn or Twitter and share your thoughts.
Welcome to the Team:
A guide for getting up-to-speed in your new marketing leadership role
Part One: Introduction
Mostly, our Google Home is a glorified timer who occasionally tells me how long, and at what temperature I can roast chicken breasts in the oven. However, this morning:
“Hey, Google: Define, Consultant.”
“According to Dictionary.com, a Consultant is defined as a person who provides expert advice, professionally.”
I thought about that definition over coffee and in preparation for this piece of writing. Expert advice. Professionally.
I’ve been working in marketing strategy consulting for about five years, and one of the most critical inputs to being able to provide expert advice professionally is the ability to learn about an organization: quickly, and without encumbering a new client with a lot of tedious information sharing.
As a consultant, you’ve likely been brought into an organization through a specific engagement, but there are many factors that affect how that engagement should be approached: culture, lead management process, technology, organizational structure, skill sets, and go-to-market model to name a few.
Being brought in as a consultant is not unlike being new to a leadership role in an organization. You’ve been hired because of your expertise, and you’re going to be imparting operational “advice” to your teams throughout your tenure in that job. Further, as a new hire, you too need to get up-to-speed quickly so you can start to make your mark and deliver results.
With that in mind, I thought I would share Inverta’s framework for getting to know new marketing organizations. I’ve developed framework to help me organize what I’m looking to learn so I can quickly understand how business is done today within my client’s environment. It also helps to uncover areas where the organization isn’t as strong as it could be, thus laying the groundwork to build a prioritized plan of attack.
Stay tuned for part two of this article series, Leadership: Understanding the Culture of your new Organization. I’ll describe what you need to learn from your peers at the new company. I’ll provide a list of roles you should talk to as well as an interview guide to make sure there’s nothing you forget to ask about.
It was the best of times for Eloqua and Marketo users who were looking forward to convening over their respective marketing automation platforms at the two largest marketing automation industry events in the country: the Marketo Marketing Summit (hosted in San Francisco) and the Oracle Modern Marketing Experience (hosted in Las Vegas).
It was the worst of times for the technology vendor and partner community who were forced to play a game of planes, trains, and automobiles between the Bay area and the City of Sin. Due to some unfortunate scheduling: both shows overlapped by a day. For those trying to attend both, the networking opportunities and invaluable chances to catch up with industry friends (who feel like family) were cut short.
This lady would like to propose a gentleman’s agreement between the Marketing Nation and the Marketing Experience: let’s create some space between the shows next year, huh?
The Good, the Bad, and the Random from Marketo Marketing Nation Summit 2017:
Good: James Corden.
Anyone who has sat through a celebrity appearance at a conference knows how badly they can go. These conference delegates are savvy, and their affinity for a celebrity will always take a backseat to the pride they have for marketing technology and the modern marketing discipline.
Corden’s authenticity and the candid way he described the Internet’s role in his show’s success brought many of us back to digital content creation fundamentals.
I would be remiss not to offer some kudos to new Marketo CEO Steve Lucas who held his own amidst Corden’s gentle jibs and jabs, allowing us to laugh without feeling uncomfortable.
Good: The Balance of Sessions.
ABM took a backseat to AdTech, along with case studies, social, content creation, martech, leadership and change management. The Marketo team did their due diligence of packing the breakout session agenda with relevant topics for all (a challenge, no doubt, when the conference description boasts best practices for marketing, advertising, IT and services). There were also some motivational sessions on day 3 (if you had to go to #MME17, sorry, you missed them) delivered by Andrew Davis and Jay Acunzo that allowed marketers to step away from their essential functions, think big, and enjoy a couple colorful tales of innovation and success.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Moscone Center. Its hugeness reminds me of how my beloved industry has exploded in the last ten years, but when you have up-to 11 simultaneous breakout sessions set for 700 each – many of them are going to be less-than-half full. Empty chairs are like black holes, sucking energy from the room.
Bad: Confused culture.
Many Marketo-faithful expressed to me some disappointment in the level of energy and buzz at this year’s show. Not surprising, as Marketo is no longer the scrappy underdog who corners the small and mid-market. Founders Jon Miller and Phil Fernandez no longer hold leadership positions in the company, and last year saw additional role changes in finance, administration, and operations. Boasting clients like CA Technologies and Citrix – Marketo has grown up: a firmly entrenched enterprise player with seasoned executive leadership. I suspect Marketo will double-down on customer experience in an effort to reestablish the loyalty and passion of its user base – something that its competitor Eloqua failed to do following the acquisition by Oracle.
You know more songs by the band “Train” than you think – go figure.
The Good, the Bad, and the Random from Oracle’s Modern Marketing Experience 2017:
Good: Intimate Breakout Format:
In effort to create some more conversations, Oracle offered “Breakouts from the Breakout:” Mini-theater setups for thirty or so people in the partner expo area and around the conference center in hallways. They ran these during the two hour lunch breaks, during the keynote, and breakout sessions times.
Good: Focus on Best of Breed:
Despite the conference host, and the universal vendor predilection toward integrating acquisitions and patenting new “clouds” – there was a prevailing interest in exploring products outside of Oracle (or any other marketing cloud suite for that matter). It’s no surprise: marketing technologists are becoming more savvy and skeptical of too-good-to-be-true integrations.
The Bad: Product-focused Sessions:
Take note vendors: Delegates want case studies, not product pitches! There were early exits from sessions when it became clear that the product, not the user, was the focus. Similarly, it’s critical to know your audience whether or not you’re presenting a breakout or keynote. While Mark Hurd had the challenge of setting the tone for the conference with his keynote, some of his examples of bad customer service with car rental and airline companies fell a bit flat.
The Bad: Marketers are not ready for AI:
After viewing the case studies, several marketers confessed to us that they felt behind with AI (artificial intelligence, machine learning, you-name-it) – even the fundamentals. AI, while exciting and visionary, still feels out of reach and especially out of budget.
For Eloqua-long-timers, the most valuable meetings and networking events were informal: most commonly held in cabanas by the pool. The original marketing automation generation is finding the content for MME less and less relevant.
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done;”
Both clients and vendors are beginning to acknowledge the immenseness of the digital transformation, and how technology and tools intersect with each part of a digital-first organization. Both Marketo and Oracle Eloqua have seen their annual shows grow in size and subject matter, trading specificity for breadth. Most organizations won’t deny that “customer experience,” or “leading in the engagement economy” are important, but neither Marketo or Oracle have succeeded in creating 3 days of relevance for the many audiences they attract.