As the number of days in 2016 winds down, my own days at Forrester are adding up. I recently joined Forrester as a new B2B marketing research director, working alongside Peter O’Neill. I appreciate how your appreciation of the insights and guidance from our team led to the need for more leadership, and I am thrilled to be here. So as I’ve been immersing myself in the team’s work, I thought that it would be as interesting to you as it was to me to see what our top 10 B2B marketing blogs of the year were. There were more than a quarter of a million reads of the team’s blogs in 2016, and I wanted to share the top 10 with you by readership.
Steve Casey, principal analyst, shared a fundamental truth of the post-digital world in this blog post. B2B buyers now strongly prefer to conduct their own research, without ever speaking with a sales rep. He recommends that marketers embrace this uncomfortable truth and spend more time considering how to make information readily available to these self-service buyers.
This blog by Peter O’Neill provided perspective on Marketo’s acquisition by Vista Equity Partners, which it announced inMay 2016. Lori Wizdo, principal analyst, also predicted this kind of move in April 2016 during an interview with CMSWire.
By breaking the marketing technology landscape into two basic categories -- systems of insight and systems of engagement -- the report both organizes an increasingly complex technology landscape and gives concrete examples of the types of solutions available to marketers today.
Why Read: After bagging impressive early wins, lead-to-revenue management (L2RM) pioneers find it hard to sustain ongoing improvement. Our findings indicate that many B2B marketers launched their L2RM initiative by simply scaling and standardizing their legacy marketing practices. They have not undertaken the fundamental changes needed to transform the lead-to-revenue process to deal with today's digitally empowered buyer. Here’s what many B2B marketers find:
L2RM creates significant organizational stress and disruption. Many L2RM pioneers jumped into L2RM initiatives without a full understanding of the potential disruption. In practice, L2RM exposes siloed marketing, introduces process rigor that frustrates creative marketing minds, taxes marketing bandwidth, exposes skills gaps, and challenges the traditional dynamic between sales and marketing.
If you are, like me, deeply involved with digital advertising, one of the industry mantras of the last few years was anything with a taste of “PROGRAMMATIC.”
Yes, you can say it with me now: “PRO·GRAM·MAT·IC.” Ahhhh.
In reality, I think that we are only starting now to truly see programmatic methods and techniques adopted by ad sellers and buyers. Finally, in 2014 we have seen marketing leaders driving their digital media buying practices forward by combining rich customer data with algorithmically driven buying platforms to make digital advertising dollars more effective in reaching target audiences. And, while there is a long road ahead of us before the robots become self-aware, there are some key trends shaping the industry that point to a more sophisticated future for media buying:
1) Budget increases - Major brands and massive holding companies have huge goals for programmatic spending. With P&G striving to buy 70% to 75% of digital ads programmatically by the end of the year, Google striving for 60% of digital marketing budget on programmatic, and what seems like an arms race amongst the holding companies to see who can spend more programmatically, the future of software-driven media buying looks bright.
2) Growth in TV-land - As marketing leaders have started to up the ante for programmatic, sellers have taken notice, specifically across video and TV. The buzz about programmatic TV is taking hold, and we are seeing a new generation of ad tech commit to solving that problem for advertisers.
But here's the kicker; managing leads to revenue shouldn't end with a signed contract but should continue across the entire customer life cyle. It's about turning leads into long-term loyal customers. After all, a revenue event is a revenue event; it doesn't matter if it happens from engaging with a prospect or with an existing customer.
Why do I feel so strongly? Because the business case for lead-to-revenue management delivers credible improvements in marketing program and sales productivity and can no longer be sidelined or ignored.
In research published earlier this month (subscription required), I talked to marketers, technology vendors, and marketing service providers deep into transitioning from competent campaigners to owners of the new customer relationship. Those involved in marketing automation today recognize that these systems not only affect revenue generation efficiency but also deepen the bonds between buyers and the firms that serve them.
For B2B marketers, June 30th can have a ‘last day of school’ feel about it. It’s a chance to catch our breath after a full slate of Q1’s kick-offs and launches and Q2’s promotions, tradeshows and roadshows. But, like today’s kids, who no longer while away the summer playing in the woods or frolicking in the pool, today’s B2B marketers need to use the summer to improve: to build new skills, expand our horizons, and prepare for the new adventures that await us in the fall. Think of it as Marketing Summer Camp.
If I were the Activities Director at Camp B2B, I’d build a program of reflection, assessment, and improvement with a focus on::
People: Make learning a priority.
Pipeline: Take a hard look at marketing’s contribution to the revenue pipeline.
Process: Identify your conversion weak spots and remediate.
Today, Oracle announced that it will acquire Eloqua, a marketing automation firm. Oracle positions the deal as a comprehensive customer experience cloud that enables business to create an integrated, end-to-end process of marketing, sales, service, and support. I look forward to insight from my colleague Lori Wizdo on what the Oracle-Eloqua deal means for a marketing and sales alignment.
I think the deal has larger ramifications for the future of all customer relationship marketers and marketing vendors. Here’s my take on the deal:
Demonstrating the revenue return on marketing investment is the No. 1 issue for B2B marketing executives. In Forrester’s Q4 2011 B2B Marketing Organizations And Investments Survey, when we asked marketing execs to identify the most important metrics for their marketing organization, 56% identified a revenue-related metric — compared with 44% for customer satisfaction and 40% for brand awareness. So, it’s no wonder that marketing automation solution vendors vociferously tout the ability of their solutions to track the revenue performance of marketing campaigns and programs.
But, looking at marketing automation solutions solely through the value lens of revenue performance management masks a more fundamental benefit. Marketing automation can transform a company’s marketing operations. These solutions deliver scalability, root out excess cost, improve marketing execution, and provide the basis for continuous incremental process improvement.
Still many marketing execs hold back on investing in marketing automation. They fear the concurrent assimilation of new tactics, processes, and automation will unduly stress their marketing organization. But the transformation is necessary, and the stress unavoidable. Marketing execs need to proactively address the “people part” of their lead-to-revenue transformation.
ExactTarget today announced plans to acquire two companies: Pardot and iGoDigital. The acquisitions signal that ExactTarget, only recently public, intends to use its cash reserves to grow aggressively against the competition in revenue, market segments, and features. So what does it mean?
Are the two acquisitions related?
No, the dual acquisitions are a quirk of timing, allowing ExactTarget to drive the marketing technology conversation in advance of Connections, its user conference in Indianapolis next week. I’ll separate my comments to better address each.
Still, I’ll risk a theme for these two acquisitions: Marketing automation without predictive analytics is blind, but analytics without automation is empty.
Why did ExactTarget make the acquisitions now?
The acquisition is unlikely to make a big impact in the short term. Recommendations are a small part of the marketing software mix for retailers. ExactTarget can cross-sell online recommendations into its significant B2C base, but in the end, ExactTarget is acquiring the firm for a longer-term move.