Note: RBA is a BMA Minnesota Sponsor
This month I had the pleasure of attending the BMA Minnesota event focused on marketing technology. The topic especially resonated with me in my role as marketing manager for digital and technology consultancy, RBA, since we’re in the business of equipping our clients with a variety of marketing technologies.
From their favorite marketing tools to what they’ve seen work (or not work), the panelists – four local marketing leaders – candidly shared first-hand experience.
Several folks mentioned marketing tools I use at RBA, such as ZoomInfo, Sprout Social, and BuiltWith, but there were many others that were new to me.
Ramsden brought this point to life at the beginning of the event by bringing it back to 2011. It was the year Apple founder Steve Jobs passed away, when Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, and the time when Adele was 'rolling in the deep.’ The year 2011 was also when the Marketing Technology Landscape infographic was born. At the time, ChiefMarTec.com chronicled just over 100 companies in the marketing technology space from HubSpot to Adobe and Salesforce.com to Microsoft Dynamics.
Fast-forward to 2015: The new version of the infographic charts more than 1,876 vendors in 43 categories! Marketers now have access to many tools from marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) to content management systems (CMS) and digital marketing, some of which were featured in the RBA customer journey handout at the event. Download the full “Technology to Power Up Your Customer Journey” infographic for key statistics, ROI metrics and marketing tools for the six-phase customer journey.
2. It’s Not All About the Technology
Marketing technology is important, yes, but it is not the end-all-be-all. You still need human-powered strategy. Technology must be strategically and successfully implemented with a strong team to support it.
Nyhus says Digital River, which serves everyone from “Microsoft to a one man and a cat business,” uses Marketo to nurture leads. But, he called it “just a tool that unifies.” It doesn’t give Digital River the disciplines to surround it.
Fortunately, after being inspired by the book Predictable Revenue, his organization created an “ideal customer profile” that led to allocating 100% of the marketing budget on 1,500 highly targeted customers.
3. Marketing Automation Doesn’t Mean Automatic Success
Franciscus explained how her division used to store sales data in Excel (and the brains of her sales staff), which made it hard to create marketing strategies and communicate to consumers. Wanting to do more with data, they now use Salesforce.com as a technology piece and Miller Heiman (MHI) for strategic selling.
While the new way of doing things is “robust and time consuming,” she declared it a game changer. They now understand who influences decisions and the degree of influence, plus buying influences (for example, if you’re talking with a CEO, using financial messaging might influence them). Her division also has insight into the competitive landscape, dynamics in companies, as well as personal connections (such as alumni school or past position). Franciscus says this solution has “strengthened our ability to meet customers’ needs.”
Ultimately, you can do all you can to have complete automation, but you’ll still be dependent on ensuring your tool is filled with great data. There’s no way to export thought leadership out of your experts’ or sales team’s brains. Effective marketing automation – even when enabled by technology – can be time consuming.
4. Know Your Customer
Keith-Fox talked about how she can get to know her customers by reaching them throughout the buyers’ journey. For her organization this journey might include: PPC advertising, SEO, tradeshow appearances, direct mail, emails, and nurturing.
Nyhus added that his team ensures its marketing content has on-point messaging to meet buyers’ emotional needs. He mentioned a Google study citing how emotions are more influential in B2B decisions than in B2C decisions. This tends to make sense; B2B decisions can be bigger and have a bigger effect on one’s job or life.
5. Personalization is Paramount
To that point, another important aspect of marketing technology is to leverage personalization. Franciscus shared how it was important for her sales team to have access to the history they have with their clients. In their business model – where their products and services are sold through a broker network – the sales process is based on personal experiences. Knowing their buyers’ preferences, interests and even past interactions with Medica created a level of trust that helped dramatically boost their sales results. Thus, amid all of the technology discussion it still comes down to the fundamental truths that buyers buy from people they know, like and trust.
6. Sales Enablement is Key
The whole topic of sales enablement was mentioned several times by Keith-Fox. With a 50% turnover rate, she said her sales team slowly adopted the new CRM, but her company is now changing from an operations-driven company to a sales and marketing-driven company. She continually asks herself, “How are we going to make our sales team more successful?”
Franciscus said Medica uses its marketing technology to ensure leaders have important information at their fingertips, and Ricke admitted, “If it’s not in Salesforce.com, it didn’t happen.”
Basically, make your marketing technology efforts easy for sales.
There are so many options amidst a proliferation of services. So many that Nyhus predicts mass consolidation. An example he gave was B2B marketing automation product Pardot that was acquired by email marketing program ExactTarget and then ultimately acquired by Salesforce.
As marketers, I think we will continue to see lots of change on the marketing technology landscape. Leaders may merge with one another, making for potential headaches when integrating channels. Fortunately, technology can help us work smarter, so long as we stay curious and strive to continuously improve. Ricke hit it home when he said, “marketing isn’t a cost; it’s an investment.” Make sure you’re driving results.
Jenna Soule is Manager of Marketing and Corporate Communications at RBA where she is responsible for driving RBA’s national go-to market and brand strategy, as well as managing the company’s internal and external communications, online presence and content marketing campaigns. She has more than 20 years of B2B marketing management experience gained at high-growth technology companies.