Marketo Goes Private: A New Epoch in Marketing Software May Have Just Begun

Lead-to-revenue management automation player Marketo has certainly been in the news recently. First, in May, it held its annual Marketing Nation Summit in Las Vegas and announced plans to provide a marketing automation system, powered by a new architecture, which will enable marketers to engineer a great customer experience across the entire customer life cycle. 

Clearly, this was a financially ambitious plan, reviving age-old speculation about a potential acquisition of the vendor. Candidate Marketo suitors included SAP, which has a glaring marketing automation hole in its portfolio as enterprises increasingly compete on customer experience, not operational excellence; Microsoft, which has a large base of CRM customers ready for the "prequel" of marketing automation; and even Google, which could boost its reach with midmarket business customers and enhance its overall cloud software and infrastructure business.

But Principal Analyst Lori Wizdo provided another point of view, saying: “Executing on that ambitious vision would take some investment. A private equity investment could provide the equity and the sight screen to enable that steep investment.”

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Planning Your Digital Reboot For A Go-To-Customer Strategy - Upcoming Webinar

There has been quite a response to my comment in the last blog on planning a technology-focused track at our October B2B Marketing Forum. Thanks for your inputs. I am glad you are looking forward to it. I have the luxury of being able to invite many different experts to the Forum, not just the B2B Marketing analysts; so that track in Miami will focus on how to deal with the current marketing-technology offerings as an enterprise: how to architect, compare and procure, and manage the business case – through the full life cycle.

I’ve recently enjoyed Ajay Agarwal’s article in TechCrunch “Marketing Tech’s Bumpy Road”. Ajay talks about the trends from the investor point of view of course; but his comparison of B2C being weighted 10:1 in marketing and sales resources compared to B2B being the other way around is succinct -- that is why sales enablement is so important in our B2B Marketing research portfolio. But that ratio of 1:10 will swing more and more across to marketing each year of the Age of the Customer, as empowered buyers engage with suppliers digitally and redefine their expectations of face to face meetings.  Andy Hoar is just starting his new survey of business buyers, a project he does with eRetailer each year, so expect to see us updating our sales archetypes forecast, as reported here by Mary Shea, later this year.

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Look Forward To The B2B Marketing Forum In October

For the past six years, Forrester has held its Sales Enablement Forum for B2B marketing professionals in March, the first two years in San Francisco and then down in Scottsdale (see here for my debrief from the successful 2015 event). I've already had a few calls and emails asking me about this year’s Forum: What is the agenda? Where and when is it being held?

So, here is a timely reminder that we have reconfigured our events calendar this year and the 2016 B2B Marketing Forum is now scheduled for October 18 and 19 in Miami, Florida. Planning is well underway: We are recruiting guest speakers and planning the track sessions. Without giving too much away, I can report that our current thinking is to set the overall agenda across these five themes:

1.  Go-To-Customer  - How to inform and configure your marketing, channel, content and sales plans so that they are customer obsessed.

2.  Blending Art And Science - Use data to set sales and marketing activity based on the ultimate predictive metric: propensity to buy.

3.  Contact In Context - Use voice-of-the-customer/social listening/predictive analytics to be able to speak to customer issues more directly and authentically.

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Content Marketing Rules, But We Should Not Call It “Marketing Content”

At Forrester, Research Directors do many things around the research process. We help analysts to establish a research agenda and keep them current for the next 12 months – we negotiate the report outlines, edit the drafts, and share the research and reports around other parts of Forrester to ensure consistency. Then, we often create or edit “blurb” text for promotional efforts (tweets, blogs, newsletters). I was sent a proposed blurb (written by our own marketing group) announcing our new report “Make Sales Conversations An Integral Part Of Your Content Marketing Plans”. The blurb said

“Getting Sales to be the content concierge for marketing content.”

I stared at the sentence for a long time. Is that we mean? Do we want to force-feed marketing content to our sales colleagues? Calling it “marketing content” sounded demeaning and confusing; is that Sales’ job – distributing what marketing wants them to distribute? No, of course not. But their job is certainly to share and provide content to their conversation partners that is compelling and interesting and useful – stuff that helps the buyer to proceed down their journey. And the content is usually created by marketing (unless the salesperson cannot find it in which case it is made up on the fly).

So the blurb that ended up in next week’s “Forrester 5” promotional email to be sent to all clients is:

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Vendors: Take Advantage Of European Marketers' High Propensity To Buy Technology

Wake up, B2B marketing and sales enablement automation vendors — especially those of you in North America. Many of you have not yet seriously set up shop in Europe because you consider firms there to be late adopters of marketing and sales automation.

Well, they are perhaps late from your point of view, but they have now caught up. Forrester’s Global Business Technographics® Marketing Survey, 2015 reveals the proportion of B2B companies intending to buy or expand their automation projects for, among other things: content management; sales; online marketing; and marketing automation. In each case, European firms’ propensity to buy is actually much higher than that of their North American counterparts. For example, 53% of European firms plan to adopt or expand their use of marketing automation software, compared with 37% of North American firms.

But remember, the marketing and sales disciplines are also markedly different in Europe than in North America, with local differences apparent within Europe as well. In our survey, 64% of European marketers described their organization as federated compared with just 40% in North America. This reflects the fragmentation of the target markets that European firms sell to: They need to use many more channels, languages, and messages to be effective.  

European B2B sales organizations are also more complex: 33% see their channel partners as their primary sales channel, compared with 11% in North America; in contrast, 34% of North American firms see direct sales as their primary sales channel, but just 10% of their European peers do. The result? Sales enablement projects are quite different.

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B2B Marketing Professionals — Prepare For 2016 By Considering These Predictions

The B2B marketing research team has just published its 2016 predictions report, outlining four shifts that B2B marketing professionals can expect by December 31 of next year. This report is aligned with and part of a series of Forrester predictions reports — each discussing the effects on specific roles in a company, but all part of the greater picture: The Age Of The Customer.

Forrester clients can read the full report here, they can also attend this webinar on December 10th.

B2B buying has changed: Buyers prefer to do research themselves rather than rely on vendors’ sales reps. Our report highlights several major changes coming in 2016 as a result of this shift and organizes their implications into four realms: go-to-customer strategy, the accelerating shift from art to science, tech investments, and B2B messaging. In the report, we explain these changes, with data and research substantiation, and also outline what they mean for B2B marketing professionals. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • As funnel becomes life cycle, marketing will need to manage a new dynamic with sales.
  • Marketing’s role as steward of the customer relationship will surge.
  • Buyers will expect B2B suppliers to be at the right (digital or physical) place, at the right time.
  • Big data will help manage sales and marketing activities.
  • Through-channel marketing will become a critical success factor for many B2B companies.
  • Adoption of through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) will even affect the success of enterprise marketing automation vendors.
  • Mobile will become the primary target for all systems.
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Find Out And Remember Who Your Buyers Are At Each Stage

Last month, I enjoyed working with my colleague TJ Keitt as he prepared his report “B2B CX Professionals: Find The Full Range Of B2B Customers”, now published for customer experience professionals who are Forrester clients. As he writes, “Despite the clear benefits of improving B2B customer experience, there's a hitch: Before B2B CX professionals can help their customers, they have to identify them. But at most of the B2B firms we spoke to, it’s hard for CX professionals to locate and engage customers other than the complex groups of decision-makers with whom sales personnel interact in client organizations.”

An interesting point. It is definitely difficult to identify all the CX touchpoints between businesses when striving to optimize the customer experience, because the B2B interaction is long and complex:

  1. Successful B2B marketing causes (or overlaps with) sales interactions . . .
  2.  . . . initiating contacts with order processing, legal, shipping, and receiving . . .
  3. . . . leading to exchanges with accounts payable, service, and support . . .
  4. . . . and so on (hopefully to advocacy and retention).
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Sales Enablement Sense Of Urgency Applies To Buyers And Vendors Alike

My report “Develop Your Sales Enablement Charter Or Run Into A Perfect Storm” for Forrester clients, and the associated blog for all, has prompted many inquiries — from business decision-makers in B2B marketing or sales management; from technology decision-makers; and, of course, from the sales enablement vendors themselves. Some have questioned my sense of urgency — “Will things come to a head in sales enablement so quickly?” Well, here is an email that I received from Forrester’s own VP of sales operations that echoes most every sentiment I’m hearing from the sales enablement buying community:

I get contacted multiple times per week with vendors who have technology around streamlining and/or improving some part of the B2B sales process. I (and my team) have taken a number of these calls, and there certainly is some interesting technology out there, however it feels like there is a huge market inefficiency going on that is manifesting itself in two different ways:

  • There are many vendors that are attacking a small piece of the B2B selling process — i.e., forecasting, or gamification, or content distribution, etc. Because of this, each of these vendors [is] somewhat of a niche player, and it becomes harder to justify the ROI of any specific player. In addition, you have to go through a separate sales cycle with each one, with a separate procurement process, and if we do decide to purchase, completely separate integrations that likely leverage the same [scarce] Forrester tech management resources.
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Don’t Plan A Go-To-Market Strategy For 2016; Create Your Go-To-Customer Plan

It’s that time of the year again: The UK has had its August bank holiday; the US is on its Labor Day weekend; the Germans are coming to the end of their summer vacation period (which seems to go on for months because it is staggered by state to minimize holiday traffic); and even the Dutch have stopped towing their caravans up and down the German autobahns!

What now happens is that businesses start their budgeting/strategy cycle for the coming fiscal year. This is often a sort of “call my bluff” game, in which the chief R&D or manufacturing executive promises to invent/make as much great stuff as possible; the chief sales executive accepts the challenge to sell as much stuff as possible; and they negotiate to a common number that culminates in a revenue forecast (ideally one which assumes some percent of growth), which then informs the spending budget for the year.

And, invariably, the sales leaders (with perhaps the marketing leaders) then go offsite and agree on their “go-to-market strategy” for the coming year.

B2B marketers: Beware of this habit!

Your sales organization is now only one of your channels, so it no longer makes sense that it defines your go-to-market strategy. Your company can’t just sit back and decide that you will sell direct to, say, “these 100 (or those 1,000) accounts directly”; the rest will be served by “the indirect channel”; while your eCommerce website continues for those customers who insist on using eBusiness to transact with you. Why?

Because you are no longer in control of your market (heh! were you ever?)!

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eCommerce Is Another Channel That Your Buyers Can Choose

Elephant in the room:

“An English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed.” (Cambridge Dictionaries Online)

I like working with my colleague Tim Harmon, our coryphée on channel enablement on the B2B marketing research team, one reason being that he works from his home office in Half Moon Bay, Northern California, and I can visit him for meetings. I know the area well because I lived there myself for three years back in my HP days. In 2000 and 2001, I had an exciting project managing several experimental joint ventures with companies like Ariba, Bank of America, Broadvision, and Yahoo. We wanted to offer an enterprise version of Yahoo.com to be integrated into company intranets and, in addition to planning the technology, I was also recruiting providers interested in being part of the “corporate yahoo” pages; for example, firms offering HR services such as retirement savings plans, executive wealth management plans, and health insurance to the corporate employees. The idea was that HP would take a cut when the provider sold something through the site. I guess we were somewhat ahead of our times; the technology, the status of Internet adoption, and the accountants in all the companies were definitely not ready for that business model back in 2001.

Which made me smile ruefully when I edited Tim’s latest report, “The Clash Of The Partner Channel And eCommerce,” last month.

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