B2B Marketing Technology in 2021: 5 Key Focuses

2021 MarTech Image

Marketer Using Laptop Keyboard

If the 1982 movie Blade Runner and its dystopian depiction of what the world would look like in 2019 were accurate, this is what we’d have been living through last year:

via GIPHY

Needless to say, our predictions of society’s future state, and technology’s long-term evolution, are not always on the money. While certain aspects of Blade Runner’s vision might’ve been frighteningly accurate, Los Angeles is not yet inhabited by flying cars or giant video advertisements projected onto the entirety of skyscrapers.

With that said, today’s marketers can much more easily look ahead to 2021 — suddenly only a few short months away — and make educated guesses about what the year will hold. Many of the marketing technologies that will transform business and drive strategies are already on the rise, if not gaining mainstream traction.

Martech 2021: 5 Trends to for B2B Marketers to Watch

Businesses and marketing departments might be facing spending restrictions and budget cuts amidst the turmoil of 2020, but marketing technology is not an area that’s widely being affected. On the contrary, in fact: The latest Pulse Survey from ClickZ found that marketing technology budget shares rose from 32% to 42% between May and late July.

Where are organizations investing, and which technologies will rule the roost in the coming year? Here are five evidenced trends I’ll be following:

1 — Content experiences are at the forefront

In ClickZ’s research, this is the category that was leading marketing technology’s growth here in 2020.

“People being indoors and looking for new ways to educate themselves about the current climate and consumer content can safely be considered as one of the reasons businesses are tirelessly looking to enhance their target audiences’ experience,” wrote Kamaljeet Kalsi.

ClickZ Image

(Source)

This isn’t such a novel concept — TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden was among those preaching experiences as the future of content marketing many years ago — but technology is continually improving our ability to deliver content in ways that are more interactive, immersive, and impactful.

I think back to last week’s blog post on storytelling, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s assertion that video games offer the most promise on this front. Technology will continue to bring more capabilities to the table in terms of gamification, interactivity, and innovation.

Making content consumers feel like participants rather than onlookers holds the key to heightened engagement.

2 — Facilitating a socially distant world

Will there be in-person events in 2021? It’s possible but doesn’t feel very likely right now — certainly not at the scale of annual conferences and summits we’ve come to love. As brands keep working to build relationships with prospects and customers from a distance, technology will need to do much of the heavy lifting.

We’ve already seen some great new tools and capabilities arise this year in terms of teleconferencing, live-streaming, and virtual events. What else might emerge, with a litany of tech companies now centering their focuses on what has suddenly become a ubiquitous need?

In a way, this development helps to level the playing field for smaller businesses. While it may not be feasible for a startup sales enablement shop to organize a massive gathering like Dreamforce, bringing people together through interactive virtual events is a different story. In fact, this format can actually make it easier to follow up, convert, and attribute results concretely.

It’s not just about technology that helps engage customers from afar. It’s also about technology that helps marketers collaborate and work together in distributed settings. And adopting these tools will benefit companies and agencies long-term, because the remote work trend was already on the rise long before COVID struck.

In 2021, marketers will truly equip themselves for the future of work. We’re already well on our way; according to a recent survey, “companies reported that responding to the new circumstances of the pandemic accelerated their digital communications strategy by 6 years on average.”

[bctt tweet=”“As brands keep working to build relationships with prospects and customers from a distance, technology will need to do much of the heavy lifting.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

3 — Data privacy and cybersecurity gain urgency

Data exploitation became a huge story after the 2016 election, and I regret to inform you it’s likely to bubble up again this fall. Even outside of that, cybersecurity has been a growing concern for many years and becomes all the more pertinent as customer data is increasingly decentralized and cloud-based.

While these matters have often fallen under the purview of IT in the past, marketing needs to have a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion. Sending a convincing message that it’s safe to do business with your brand — sensitive data won’t be shared, lost, stolen, or misused — and backing it up is essential to building trust in the new world of business.

4 — Simplicity and synchronicity are vital 

In its latest marketing technology landscape visualization, Chief Martech charted some 8,000 different solutions in the wild. Eight thousand!

ChiefMartec Image

The beauty of this vast landscape is that marketing technologies now exist to address almost any need imaginable. The downside, of course, is that the sheer volume and range of options can feel completely overwhelming. The balance between not enough martech and too much martech is a delicate one.

In the near future, streamlining will be the name of the game. How can you carve down your tech stack to the true essentials? Which solutions can cover multiple needs for your team? How can you solicit a continuous feedback loop so users are able to openly communicate when a tool isn’t working for them, and action is taken rapidly?

Finding the answers to these questions will help marketing organizations find greater efficiency and effectiveness with martech in 2021.

[bctt tweet=”“The balance between not enough martech and too much martech is a delicate one.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

5 — Artificial intelligence keeps growing and embedding

The buzz around marketing technology seems to vary from month to month, with a new category or niche entering and then exiting the spotlight. One that never seems to lose its luster, however, is AI. This is because the technology is powerful and endlessly applicable.

We already see AI being widely leveraged in modern marketing strategies — chatbots, predictive analytics, deep learning, etc. — but the potential remains so much greater, and I believe we’ll continue to see it realized in the coming year. One threadline I’ll be keeping a close eye on is formative AI, cited as a trend driving Gartner’s hype cycle of emerging technologies in 2020.

“Formative AI is a type of AI capable of dynamically changing to respond to a situation,” according to Gartner. “There are a variety of types, ranging from AI that can dynamically adapt over time to technologies that can generate novel models to solve specific problems.”

How could formative AI come into play for marketing in order to drive more personalized and memorable B2B marketing experiences? Go ahead and dream on it. That’s what separates us from the machines, after all. (Or at least one of the differences pondered by Blade Runner and its source material.)

Marketing Technology Will Always Have Its Place

This chaotic year of 2020 has served to reinforce the immense value of technology in my day-to-day. Without having easy access to chat apps, video-conferencing platforms, shared documents, and other digital tools, a day in the life of a content marketer during the pandemic would be far more challenging and inefficient. Instead, I’m basically able to do my job seamlessly without much disruption, other than the lack of seeing my coworkers’ faces IRL.

I do miss that very much, and for all the talk about technologies to watch in 2021, I’m most hopeful for a return to semi-normal human interaction and physical proximity. Up until then, and after, martech will help us continue to keep audiences (and ourselves) educated, entertained, engaged and connected through the digital space.

I don’t know about flying cars or skyscraper billboards, but I can say with confidence that the future of marketing and its technologies is going to look a lot more like 2020 than any years preceding.

For more insight into what the next year may hold, click over to our post from Lane Ellis on 8 Things B2B Marketers Need To Know About Reddit in 2021.

The post B2B Marketing Technology in 2021: 5 Key Focuses appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

B2B Marketing Technology in 2021: 5 Key Focuses

Marketer Using Laptop Keyboard

If the 1982 movie Blade Runner and its dystopian depiction of what the world would look like in 2019 were accurate, this is what we’d have been living through last year:

via GIPHY

Needless to say, our predictions of society’s future state, and technology’s long-term evolution, are not always on the money. While certain aspects of Blade Runner’s vision might’ve been frighteningly accurate, Los Angeles is not yet inhabited by flying cars or giant video advertisements projected onto the entirety of skyscrapers.

With that said, today’s marketers can much more easily look ahead to 2021 — suddenly only a few short months away — and make educated guesses about what the year will hold. Many of the marketing technologies that will transform business and drive strategies are already on the rise, if not gaining mainstream traction.

Martech 2021: 5 Trends to for B2B Marketers to Watch

Businesses and marketing departments might be facing spending restrictions and budget cuts amidst the turmoil of 2020, but marketing technology is not an area that’s widely being affected. On the contrary, in fact: The latest Pulse Survey from ClickZ found that marketing technology budget shares rose from 32% to 42% between May and late July.

Where are organizations investing, and which technologies will rule the roost in the coming year? Here are five evidenced trends I’ll be following:

1 — Content experiences are at the forefront

In ClickZ’s research, this is the category that was leading marketing technology’s growth here in 2020.

“People being indoors and looking for new ways to educate themselves about the current climate and consumer content can safely be considered as one of the reasons businesses are tirelessly looking to enhance their target audiences’ experience,” wrote Kamaljeet Kalsi.

ClickZ Image

(Source)

This isn’t such a novel concept — TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden was among those preaching experiences as the future of content marketing many years ago — but technology is continually improving our ability to deliver content in ways that are more interactive, immersive, and impactful.

I think back to last week’s blog post on storytelling, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s assertion that video games offer the most promise on this front. Technology will continue to bring more capabilities to the table in terms of gamification, interactivity, and innovation.

Making content consumers feel like participants rather than onlookers holds the key to heightened engagement.

2 — Facilitating a socially distant world

Will there be in-person events in 2021? It’s possible but doesn’t feel very likely right now — certainly not at the scale of annual conferences and summits we’ve come to love. As brands keep working to build relationships with prospects and customers from a distance, technology will need to do much of the heavy lifting.

We’ve already seen some great new tools and capabilities arise this year in terms of teleconferencing, live-streaming, and virtual events. What else might emerge, with a litany of tech companies now centering their focuses on what has suddenly become a ubiquitous need?

In a way, this development helps to level the playing field for smaller businesses. While it may not be feasible for a startup sales enablement shop to organize a massive gathering like Dreamforce, bringing people together through interactive virtual events is a different story. In fact, this format can actually make it easier to follow up, convert, and attribute results concretely.

It’s not just about technology that helps engage customers from afar. It’s also about technology that helps marketers collaborate and work together in distributed settings. And adopting these tools will benefit companies and agencies long-term, because the remote work trend was already on the rise long before COVID struck.

In 2021, marketers will truly equip themselves for the future of work. We’re already well on our way; according to a recent survey, “companies reported that responding to the new circumstances of the pandemic accelerated their digital communications strategy by 6 years on average.”

“As brands keep working to build relationships with prospects and customers from a distance, technology will need to do much of the heavy lifting.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

3 — Data privacy and cybersecurity gain urgency

Data exploitation became a huge story after the 2016 election, and I regret to inform you it’s likely to bubble up again this fall. Even outside of that, cybersecurity has been a growing concern for many years and becomes all the more pertinent as customer data is increasingly decentralized and cloud-based.

While these matters have often fallen under the purview of IT in the past, marketing needs to have a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion. Sending a convincing message that it’s safe to do business with your brand — sensitive data won’t be shared, lost, stolen, or misused — and backing it up is essential to building trust in the new world of business.

4 — Simplicity and synchronicity are vital 

In its latest marketing technology landscape visualization, Chief Martech charted some 8,000 different solutions in the wild. Eight thousand!

ChiefMartec Image

The beauty of this vast landscape is that marketing technologies now exist to address almost any need imaginable. The downside, of course, is that the sheer volume and range of options can feel completely overwhelming. The balance between not enough martech and too much martech is a delicate one.

In the near future, streamlining will be the name of the game. How can you carve down your tech stack to the true essentials? Which solutions can cover multiple needs for your team? How can you solicit a continuous feedback loop so users are able to openly communicate when a tool isn’t working for them, and action is taken rapidly?

Finding the answers to these questions will help marketing organizations find greater efficiency and effectiveness with martech in 2021.

“The balance between not enough martech and too much martech is a delicate one.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

5 — Artificial intelligence keeps growing and embedding

The buzz around marketing technology seems to vary from month to month, with a new category or niche entering and then exiting the spotlight. One that never seems to lose its luster, however, is AI. This is because the technology is powerful and endlessly applicable.

We already see AI being widely leveraged in modern marketing strategies — chatbots, predictive analytics, deep learning, etc. — but the potential remains so much greater, and I believe we’ll continue to see it realized in the coming year. One threadline I’ll be keeping a close eye on is formative AI, cited as a trend driving Gartner’s hype cycle of emerging technologies in 2020.

“Formative AI is a type of AI capable of dynamically changing to respond to a situation,” according to Gartner. “There are a variety of types, ranging from AI that can dynamically adapt over time to technologies that can generate novel models to solve specific problems.”

How could formative AI come into play for marketing in order to drive more personalized and memorable B2B marketing experiences? Go ahead and dream on it. That’s what separates us from the machines, after all. (Or at least one of the differences pondered by Blade Runner and its source material.)

Marketing Technology Will Always Have Its Place

This chaotic year of 2020 has served to reinforce the immense value of technology in my day-to-day. Without having easy access to chat apps, video-conferencing platforms, shared documents, and other digital tools, a day in the life of a content marketer during the pandemic would be far more challenging and inefficient. Instead, I’m basically able to do my job seamlessly without much disruption, other than the lack of seeing my coworkers’ faces IRL.

I do miss that very much, and for all the talk about technologies to watch in 2021, I’m most hopeful for a return to semi-normal human interaction and physical proximity. Up until then, and after, martech will help us continue to keep audiences (and ourselves) educated, entertained, engaged and connected through the digital space.

I don’t know about flying cars or skyscraper billboards, but I can say with confidence that the future of marketing and its technologies is going to look a lot more like 2020 than any years preceding.

For more insight into what the next year may hold, click over to our post from Lane Ellis on 8 Things B2B Marketers Need To Know About Reddit in 2021.

Break Free B2B Series: Zari Venhaus on How to Scoot Your Way to Martech Transformation Through Storytelling

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Zari Venhaus

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Zari Venhaus

When it comes to securing buy-in from key stakeholders for marketing technology investments, are you preparing to deliver a pitch or to woo your audience through story?

According to Zari Venhaus, Director of Corporate Marketing Communications at Eaton, the latter is essential if you want to create understanding and gain approval from stakeholders at all levels—something she knows from experience.

“If they’re not marketers, they don’t understand what we do every day and the impact it has,” Zari told TopRank Marketing’s Susan Misukanis in a recent Break Free B2B interview. “So, we had to learn how to storytell. We had to take our roles as marketers and turn it internally and really do that for our senior leaders.”

[bctt tweet=”If they’re not marketers, they don’t understand what we do every day and the impact it has. @zvenhaus on getting stakeholder buy-in for #martech” username=”toprank”]

Zari and her team essentially developed a content marketing campaign in partnership with the IT team to weave the martech transformation story web. By doing so, Zari said that, “when we went to the CIO, it wasn’t, ‘Marketing’s coming to me with this new shiny penny.’ It was ‘Hey, our teams have worked together to build a strategy that really speaks to how we can move the business forward.’”

By making content marketing part of the internal process, there has been less pushback when it comes to resource allocation. So, while Zari claims she doesn’t have all the answers, it’s clear that she’s definitely scooting towards martech transformation. What advice and insight does she have for you? Listen to the full interview below.

Break Free B2B Interview with Zari Venhaus

Anxious to hear where this story goes?  Use the following to flip ahead to the juicy parts.

  • 00:39 – Zari’s career journey
  • 02:52 – Setbacks in Eaton’s martech journey
  • 05:03 – The need for storytelling tailored to internal decision-makers
  • 07:30 – How to impress the CIO
  • 10:44 – Digital transformation requires a big step back and baby steps forward
  • 12:00 – Why marketing and IT need to be best buds
  • 12:47 – Winning in martech
  • 13:57 – Is the future of content marketing text, video, or audio?
  • 15:34 – Using metrics and more to show the ROI of content marketing 
  • 17:41 – Creating the infrastructure to demonstrate marketing ROI
  • 18:31 – The untapped value of customer marketing platforms
  • 20:43 – The future of martech
  • 22:25 – How can marketers ready themselves for the future?
  • 22:54 – Scooting towards inspiration
  • 23:32 – Breaking free in B2B

Susan: In terms of marketing technology buy-in, what is the journey that you have gone through?

Zari: I think one of the things that we learned really early on when it came to martech, is that we couldn’t come to our leaders and just talk about the next shiny new thing we wanted. We were starting to get no’s, and too many no’s. 

So we really had to take a step back and think more strategically about our technology stack. What I’m actually going to be speaking here at Content Marketing World about is how to build that business case for marketing technology, how to get your senior leaders to say, “Yes.”  

[bctt tweet=”We learned really early on that we couldn’t come to our leaders and just talk about the next shiny new thing we wanted… We really had to take a step back and think more strategically. @zvenhaus on #martech transformation” username=”toprank”]

And that’s a process that took us quite some time. So my hope is, I’ll be able to teach the people in the audience, how not to go through the same mistakes that we went through at Eaton.  We were picking the technology and just thinking that if we said the right thing, our leaders were going to sign off on whatever dollar amount we wanted them to sign off on. 

And that just wasn’t the case. We really had to take the steps to teach them what it was we do every day. If they’re not marketers, they don’t understand what we do every day and the impact it has. So, we had to learn how to storytell. We had to take our roles as marketers and turn it internally and really do that for our senior leaders.

Susan: You’re using content marketing internally in order to get approval on a content marketing platform? That’s great. Tell us a little bit more about that CIO approval, because I imagine a lot of marketers are dealing with this.

Zari: I see the IT space and the marketing space are starting to come together so much more—particularly when you think about martech. But you need to be able to convince your IT partners that bringing in another tool is a good thing. 

And a lot of that comes down to working on the strategy with them. So one of the things we really learned was it wasn’t enough to just be marketing coming to IT with an answer. We really needed to involve our IT partners upfront in the process. So to convince our working team, that included both marketers and IT, of the technology direction where we needed to go, and then really have them build the business case with us. 

[bctt tweet=”We learned that it was it wasn’t enough to just be marketing coming to IT with an answer. We really needed to involve our IT partners upfront in the process. @zvenhaus on partnering with IT for #martech transformation” username=”toprank”]

So that when we went to the CIO, it wasn’t, “Marketing’s coming to me with this new shiny penny.” It was “Hey, our teams have worked together to build a strategy that really speaks to how we can move the business forward.”…It’s built a really great partnership between our marketing and IT organizations, which is really exciting to see.

Susan: Where are the “wins” happening in martech? What is working really well?

Zari: There are two things that for us are starting to work really well. And, I wouldn’t say that we’re at the pinnacle of success yet—we are still very much on the journey.  

We’ve recently onboarded a new web management platform. And I think really thinking strategically about website content is really important. 

And, what are all the connections that you need to that system? … So making sure that you’ve got a website that can scale globally … How do you have one website that works globally where you can take your content, and you can translate it, and you can move it through the translation process.  You can have it accessible in any country… How you think about writing content is different. And we’re really, I think, starting to wrap our arms around that in a really exciting way.

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Previous interviews include: 

The post Break Free B2B Series: Zari Venhaus on How to Scoot Your Way to Martech Transformation Through Storytelling appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Break Free B2B Series: Tom Treanor on Perfecting B2B Marketing Personalization

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Tom Treanor

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Tom Treanor

In any conversation about customer experience, the topic of personalization is bound to come up. After all, 91% of customers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations. 

However, personalization isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. If poorly executed, personalized marketing campaigns can alienate potential buyers and customers. And, it’s not just a matter of making sure your email to Dapper Dan isn’t addressed to Fancy Nancy. 

As Tom Treanor, Global Head of Marketing at Arm Treasure Data*, affirms: Perfect personalization requires the right data to create the right content and deliver it at the right time. Be too familiar, too soon, and your customers are looking for every digital restraining order they can find. 

For the last four years, the team at Arm Treasure Data has been helping enterprise brands like Subaru, Wish, and Shiseido forge deeper relationships with customers through their customer data platform (CDP) solutions. In this episode of Break Free B2B, Tom chats with TopRank Marketing President Susan Misukanis about minimizing the personalization creep factor, developing a customer data strategy, and so much more.

Break Free B2B Interview with Tom Treanor

Use the following to jump ahead to specific insights about personalization, martech, and proving the value of your marketing efforts. Also, check out a few interview highlights included below. 

  • 00:31 – Where have marketers been winning? 
  • 01:14 – Integrating teaching into content
  • 02:18 – Personalization without the creepiness
  • 04:11 – How do privacy laws impact personalization? 
  • 04:50 – Winning at personalization
  • 05:28 – Developing a customer data strategy 
  • 06:50 – Mobile gaming company breaks down data silos to level-up success
  • 08:15 – What is a customer data platform (CDP)?
  • 09:42 – The martech landscape of the future
  • 11:32 – The difference between a CDP, CRM, and DMP
  • 12:58 – A 5-year forecast for personalization
  • 14:00 – Preparing your organization for personalization
  • 15:27 – The disconnect between executives and marketers
  • 16:43 – Proving your worth to business leaders
  • 19:49 – Why Arm Treasure Data rocks personalization
  • 21:04 – How can a B2B marketer break free

Susan: In terms of personalization, how does a marketer avoid the creepy factor?

Tom: Yeah, the creepy factor is when you try to personalize too quickly in the relationship. At the very top of the funnel—initial engagements—you don’t want to come out and say too much and share too much data back to them [to the point] where they go, “Well, how the heck did you know that?”

[bctt tweet=”At the very top of the funnel—initial engagements—you don’t want to come out and say too much and share too much data back to them. @RtMixMktg #BreakFreeB2B #MarketingPersonalization” username=”toprank”]

…As people get more engaged with your company and provide you some informationmaybe they become a customer or do a trialthen it flips. And they expect you to know something about them and not to be speaking anonymously… So at the top of the funnel, keep it very basic and personalize at a high level. So maybe geography or where they found you—that kind of thing. And then as you get deeper, you have more and more understanding. 

And also, there’s a difference between millennials and boomers. Millennials are much more willing to share data and to have personalized messaging, while boomers are a little bit more reticent. So you might want to think about your demographics as well.

Susan: Do you think marketers are veering into that creepy factor? Or is that the least of our problems? 

Tom: Well, I think they’re experimenting with a lot of things and doing what’s easy. I think the biggest problem is that they actually don’t know that much about their customers. So they have a hard time personalizing because they don’t have a foundation that provides the data all in one place from a bunch of different silos… Not many people have that holistic three customer 360-view; that’s the foundation for personalization.

Read: The Truth About Marketing Personalization, According to Arm Treasure Data’s Tom Treanor

Susan: Where do you see the market going in the next three to five years?

Tom: There’s such high demand from companies to really get that foundation of customer understanding. Have they contacted support? Are they actually using our product? How many times do they use our product? How many of the people in that account are logging into the product? Have they visited the website lately? Have they visited our pages a lot? 

Having that customer 360 understanding—whether it’s a single customer or an account view—I think that probably will be mostly solved in about five years. 

So that provides the foundation for then the marketers and content marketers, etcetera, to do more interesting personalization because they have that foundation. So that’s where the market is going to change. So I think we’re on that path to solve that. You can’t solve personalization before you solve customer understanding. It doesn’t make sense.

[bctt tweet=”You can’t solve personalization before you solve customer understanding. @RtMixMktg #BreakFreeB2B #MarketingPersonalization” username=”toprank”]

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Previous interviews include: 

*Disclosure: Arm Treasure Data is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Break Free B2B Series: Tom Treanor on Perfecting B2B Marketing Personalization appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Zari Venhaus’s Framework for Gaining Executive Buy-In for Marketing Technology #CMWorld

I had the pleasure of sitting in on Zari Venhaus’s session at the second day of Content Marketing World 2019 where she laid forward a process to present martech business cases to senior leadership. She entered the room with a high level of energy and passion for the topic, making her an engaging speaker from the second she took the stage. 

After a quick bit about the company she works for, Eaton, which is a $22 billion power management company, she dove into a marketing technology business case she undertook as their Director of Corporate Marketing Communications. 

She insists she was not successful her first time creating a martech business case. It took living through many failures and successes to reach the process she uses today. Now, she feels ready to share those lessons with an audience like us so we do not have to suffer through the same trial and error. 

Getting Started

Throughout her presentation, Zari peppered in powerful quotes and statistics, starting off with a strong stat that illustrated the marketing technology landscape of today: 

“29% of marketing budgets are spent on Martech” Gartner CMO Spend survey 2018-2019

After letting that statistic sit with the room, she conveys yet another statistic, showing that not far behind marketing technology spend, is that of labor. Zari implores those in the room to consider how the two work together as we begin our own journey of building a business case, seeing as the best business cases often address both.

Then, she takes a step back, encouraging us to ask ourselves three questions before we begin building our cases, noting that all great strategies start with insightful questions. 

  1. How can I demonstrate to senior leaders, who are often removed from the day to day activities in which marketers are enveloped, how integral technology is to our job performance?
  2. What are the objections they are likely going to need to have addressed as we present our case?
  3. How can I tell a story that is not only educational but also compelling, to bring them to a place where they are comfortable and confident signing on the dotted line. 

Once these questions have been mulled over by key people involved in building the case, it’s time to apply the answers. Here’s how to do it.

Setting the Stage

Start by painting a picture of how marketing teams use technology. Use that picture to ensure your senior leaders understand the significance technology has on the efficiency and effectiveness of your team. 

Then, put it in language that resonates with them. Whether it’s drawing on quotes from industry thought leaders or using tried and true marketing vocabulary, use language that is going to help you get the point across that, “marketing without technology is not marketing at all”.  

Once that point is conveyed, prepare for potential objections. Common ones include: 

  • “The cost is too high.”
  • “I don’t understand the value.”
  • “ I don’t see the ROI.” 
  • “It’s too hard to measure.”
  • “We can’t afford it.” 

Know the audience and document answers for a wide range of questions that incorporate their respective areas of interest.

“34% of CMO’s said that their company’s resistance to embracing and investing in innovation and digital is the number one thing that keeps them up at night.” – Korn Ferry, CMO Pulse survey 2017

It’s our job, as marketers, to get to the roots of that resistance. If you can understand the cause, you’re going to be able to better address the objection. Often, Zari has found, the root of that hesitance is a lack of technology knowledge that makes the decision-making process overwhelming for senior execs (we’ve all seen the graph of the marketing technology landscape…). It’s up to us to simplify it for them.

Ensuring your business case explains, in a very thorough and detailed manner, how and by who the technology is going to be leveraged is of the utmost importance. If senior leaders understand how a core, competent team is going to be using the technology to achieve particular goals within the larger marketing strategy, you’ve given them a tangible reason to support your case.

Crafting Your Story

After the stage has been set and the importance of technology has been conveyed, it’s time to begin crafting your martech story. Here’s how Zari recommends you do it:

1. Map your marketing process

Create a process flow showing the steps it takes for your team to complete a particular task, pre-technology implementations. Illustrate the complexities. Emphasize the time on task. Point out potential data pitfalls. At the end of the day, this is the process you are recommending needs fixing, so show why it needs fixing.

2. Identify the opportunity 

Once the process flow has been built, identify the gap within it to open up the stage for your recommendation. Draw out a comparison of what that process will look like post tech implementation. Articulate the reduction of steps needed to complete the task. Equate the number of hours saved throughout the process. Show the decreased complexity in the workflow. 

This is your chance to demonstrate how the implementation of this new technology will increase the efficiency of your processes. Use it wisely to tell your story of opportunity.

3. Intro the technology platform

Now, it’s time to show what your technology can do. This is when you grab from other companies with similar challenges, to show how the technology helped them achieve their goals. Use proof points and specific data to demonstrate to senior executives at your company the power of the tool. Then, to take it to the next level, show how that same story could be applied to your own challenges.

4. Quantify the value with financials

Lastly, it’s time to gather financial data. Although this may be some marketers’ least favorite step in the process, it is certainly the most important. Zari stressed two points as she explained how to go about this.

  • Identify and stick to what you can actually measure. This often comes down to the efficiency of your team and the effectiveness of the tool. 
  • Always be conservative with your predictions. Now is not the time over-promise. Be realistic with your forecasts so that leadership does not have hesitations for renewal down the line.

Close the Martech Business Case

A business case built with the steps Zari laid out can help incite confidence in the creator. It ensures marketers are doing their due diligence to prepare for potential obstacles, paint a picture of success and ultimately, show the cost-benefit to your organization, which is of utmost importance to your senior exec team.  

Need more Content Marketing World in your life? Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog for more tips, tricks, and live coverage. And follow our team: @leeodden, @NiteWrites, @azeckman, and @toprank on Twitter for real-time insights.

The post Zari Venhaus’s Framework for Gaining Executive Buy-In for Marketing Technology #CMWorld appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


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The Real Value of Martech & Automation? The Humanization Potential, According to Liz Cope

Liz Cope at B2BMX

Liz Cope at B2BMX

Standing before a room of eager-to-learn marketers at B2B Marketing Exchange, Liz Cope, Director of Marketing Technology and Operations at Ingersoll Rand, was an open, honest, vulnerable … human.

“This is so embarrassing,” she said, admitting that some fundamental marketing functions were missing the mark at her multi-billion-dollar company.

Liz’s candor helped audience members feel right at home and not alone. After all, we’ve all been disappointed to learn that one of our core marketing functions or strategies needed to be reworked, rebooted, or reimagined entirely. Her candid approach also tied well into her session’s theme: Martech, Process and People: Humanizing the Journey to Channel Transformation.

Liz’s presentation was robust, detailing key technologies, processes, and the organizational structure she and her team have put in place to transform their channel marketing strategy. But her message was simple: Automate to humanize.

And in a time where marketers are being challenged to deliver more personalized, customer-centric experiences to create connections and drive results, this premise deserves consideration.

The Real Value of Martech & Automation is Human

Marketing technologies exist to automate time-consuming processes; to eliminate and alleviate the level of human touch necessary to complete a task or series of tasks, while also delivering more intelligent insights. So, how can automation be a gateway to humanization? The answer is quite simple, for Liz and her team.

“We can use martech to automate work for our internal employees and channel partners to free them up to engage in valuable human interactions with customers,” she stated. “We can automate to humanize our brands.”

And they’ve put this mantra in action.

The Humanizing Journey

Ingersoll Rand, a manufacturing company that’s been in business for more than 130 years, gets most of its sales and revenue through indirect distribution channels—meaning the company has to manage a global network of distribution partners.

To arm those channel partners with the tools they need to be effective and successful, Liz and her counterparts have been working hard to ensure the right marketing technologies, processes, and people are in place.

Another major driver of their hard work is the desire to build a customer-focused business. According to Liz, a new batch of research shows that companies that are perceived as easier to do business with will have three-times more share-of-wallet in the future. And Ingersoll Rand wants to capture that share.

“When we’re genuinely invested in our customers—invested in putting them first—we can gain their trust. And we can earn their confidence and mindshare to increase our market share and share-of-wallet,” Liz declared.

So, where are Liz and her team at on their “automate to humanize” journey and what results have they seen?

While Liz admits they’re just getting started, they’ve begun by focusing on two improvement opportunities:

  1. Improving lead management. On average, it was taking at least three days for leads to get routed to the right partner.
  2. Enhancing accessibility to marketing collateral. According to Liz, there were several different systems being used to provide resource materials, each requiring a separate login and password.

Here’s what they’ve done:

  • When it comes to technology, they’ve implemented a partner relationship management (PRM) system to automatically route leads to partners and house an asset library. As for initial results, the ability to automatically route leads has reduced internal effort by an impressive 30%. In addition, they now have more visibility into how partners are consuming content, so they can personalize communications and support on the go-forward. Finally, they’re in the midst of a martech stack evaluation to understand where there is overlap, gaps, and the most value to be gained.
  • When it comes to process, they’ve identified key priorities to keep them focused and enhance their ability to scale efforts across the organization. For example, they’re building out a “marketing standard work” framework to ensure employees know what steps to take when executing work.
  • When it comes to people, they’ve constructed an organizational structure that allows collaboration and visibility at multiple levels. For example, they’ve established a Marketing Leadership Council to act as a steering committee.

The B2B Marketer’s Takeaway

If your organization wants to become truly customer-focused and deliver more personalized experiences, you need to enable your internal team, partners, and customers to be successful.

While Liz’s insights came from work to transform a channel strategy, any B2B marketer has the opportunity to ensure the right people, processes, and marketing technologies are in place to deliver content and experiences that empower their audiences, humanize their brands, and create efficiencies at scale.

For more insights from the conference, you can follow @toprank, @leeodden@azeckman, and @CaitlinMBurgess on Twitter. Stay tuned for more by following the blog here.

The post The Real Value of Martech & Automation? The Humanization Potential, According to Liz Cope appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


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