While the official theme of the summit was, “Tomorrow’s Marketer,” four underlying currents seemed to reappear everywhere I turned: account-based marketing (ABM), predictive marketing, Marketo as a data hub and digital transformation. Let’s examine each together.
Put ABM on It
However, as Kristen Malkovich said in her session on ABM and RTP, account-based marketing is not for every organization. Depending on your model, ABM can be very expensive. This has me worried that a lot of organizations are going to be misapplying this technology and approach as they try to fit it into their budgets or margins.
Marketo is rolling out an ABM product, which by the looks of it covers all the bases while integrating nicely into the sale team’s workflow. There are plenty of other products on the market, many of them also exhibiting at the summit, and many of them offering integration with Marketo. Today, most third party solutions are far more mature. It will be fascinating to watch as Marketo’s native solution improves, what happens as they are forced to compete.
There were six individual sessions on account-based marketing and it was a focal point in Marketo’s keynote. In the long term, I’ll be watching to see if ABM, which is not a new concept, fades back into the recesses of enterprise-focused companies or if it becomes more widely adopted by a broader spectrum of B2B marketers.
Predicting Short-Term Success
These solutions range from simple lookalike audience tools to full-scale predictive modeling, using both a brand’s first-party data and behavioral data from a wide variety of sources. To be honest, I found it very hard to see much difference between each vendor’s style of black magic. None were transparent with their data sources, nor did any one vendor stand out for ease of use or feature set.
While predictive technology was equally represented as ABM in vendor sessions, Marketo hardly referenced it at all in their own sessions. This was surprising, considering Marketo’s announcement of a coming feature using predictive technology to align content with audiences.
My take? If you’re not along for the ride with the prospect at the beginning of the journey, then showing up at just the right moment, even with just the right product, won’t work. Especially if your competitor was there with the prospect from the beginning. With so many digital-first marketers focused on the “Do” stage or bottom of the funnel activity, there is a clear advantage for marketers who can build an affinity with their audiences before they’re ready to buy. I predict smart marketers will use predictive technologies sparingly across a well orchestrated customer experience.
Marketo: From Marketing Automation to Data Hub
Marketo has been working on improving their infrastructure under a project called Orion. Orion is a rebuild of the engine that accepts signals from web, mobile and integrated systems and catalogs them against your known audience.
These improvements will enable Marketo to process a much larger volume of data, setting the stage for this marketing hub vision.
I think this is the right move. Many organizations already use Marketo as the central hub to their marketing stack. However, one key obstacle lies in Marketo’s path: Marketo makes it easy to get data in, and challenging to get data out. While solutions exist to sync Marketo data with a data warehouse or business intelligence tool, they need to use the Marketo API to access the data. This system quickly breaks down under the strain of large data sets, so increasing the amount of data in only exasperates the issue of getting insights out.
Marketo is working on amping up their reporting, and new reports will make it easier to get insights out, but an ability to wire up a more robust business intelligence tool would be helpful.
Tomorrow’s Marketer is a Digital Transformation Agent
As media fragments and technology disrupts the most basic business models, more is being asked of marketing leadership and marketing technology than ever before.
The c-suite is turning to Marketing professionals not only to fill the funnel but also to step up and lead the digital transformation of their organizations.
Marketing automation systems, like Marketo, are becoming central to that effort, managing and enhancing the buyer’s journey before, during and after the sale. This digital stewardship is not limited to owned channels like a brand’s websites and email, but also remote outposts like social and display advertising.
I see these demands in the work we do, and Marketo is seeing it with their customers. The mandate is coming down, straight from the CEO. It’s evolve or perish. Consumers, both B2B and B2C, demand authentic, personalized experiences. The imperative is real, and marketers and marketing automation systems are leading the charge.