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.

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

From Mechanical to Meaningful: How to Optimize B2B Case Studies

Optimized half-human half-android woman figure image.

Optimized half-human half-android woman figure image.

When was the last time a B2B case study made you feel something? 

I mean, something besides mild interest or boredom. 

I ask because, in theory at least, B2B case studies should be exciting stories. There are millions of dollars at stake, people’s livelihoods and professional reputations hanging in the balance. Each one is a three-act story arc of overcoming adversity and solving a problem. 

That sounds like a riveting read, right?

Or at the very least, they should be useful stories. They should help someone with a similar problem be able to find a solution. Yes, even a solution above and beyond “buy our product.”

Here are a few ways that B2B marketers can make their case studies more human, more compelling, and ultimately more effective.

How to Optimize B2B Case Studies

Granted, case studies exist for a business purpose. They’re meant to persuade people to choose your solution. But that doesn’t mean they have to be purely sales-minded and feature-driven, rather than customer-minded and story-driven. We should be treating case studies with the same care that we give to all of our content.

1: Bring in the Broader Context

The traditional structure of a case study is Problem-Solution-Results. The “problem” part generally refers to the specific problem your customer was having. But you can make your case study more relevant to similar companies by bringing in an industry-wide problem as well.

Take this case study for our client Prophix, for example. In this study, we wanted to show the process we went through with the customer — why we chose to create the content we did. The content was meant to address an emerging problem in the finance profession. So it makes sense to start the study with an overview of that problem.

Looking at the broader industry picture can help grab the attention of executives in the finance industry, but also those who are seeing a similar problem in their particular vertical. In other words, it makes the whole study more relevant to potential customers.

2: Add Value Beyond Your Solution

TopRank Marketing is a marketing agency. Our processes, strategies and tactics are some of our most valuable assets. So, it would be easy for our case studies to say, “client hired us and we ran a campaign that got these results.” We could easily gloss over the details of how we got from point A to point B.

If we did that, though, our case studies would be little more than commercials. It’s hard to convince someone they should read a 500-word commercial. Instead, we like to give readers practical examples of how we get the results we do.

Could someone read our Tech Unknown case study from client SAP and run a similar campaign for themselves? Perhaps. We have a step-by-step list of the tactics we used. But we’re confident that we can do the work better than our clients could do for themselves, so we’re not shy about sharing our tactics.

When prospects finish reading the Tech Unknown case study, they will have a solid idea of what it takes to create and execute a podcast, in addition to seeing that TopRank Marketing is good at creating successful podcasts. That extra value adds credibility and readability to the case study.

3: Bring in the Customer Voice

We often write about businesses or brands as though they are people: “Coca-Cola decided to…” or “Siemens made the difficult decision to…” But in reality, it’s actual people who make these decisions. And these people should show up in your case study.

LinkedIn* Marketing Solutions is good at centering the customer voice in their case studies. Take this one from Salesforce, for example. Salesforce’s Director of Content & Social Media, Marissa Kraines, is quoted throughout. She talks about why they chose LinkedIn as a platform, how they developed best practices for the content — and, yes, how happy they are with the results.

Most importantly, Marissa offers advice to the reader that goes beyond “Use LinkedIn for marketing”:

 “Have a game plan that consists of at least five pieces of content that you plan on putting out,” she suggests. “That way you can test, look at results against each other, and really see what’s working. And so after those five segments, you can create something based on those learnings that’s even more meaningful for your audience.”

The quotes throughout this case study help the reader feel connected and invested in the story being told. Speaking of which…

4: Tell an Emotional Story

As I said in the introduction, there’s a simple story structure at the heart of all case studies. You almost can’t help but tell a story: Problem/Solution/Results. The trick, though, is to make your narrative emotionally engaging. 

Bringing in the customer voice is a good start. For even better results, trade your corporate voice — with its passive construction and dry, detached tone — for a more journalistic one. Find the human interest in the story and write about it with passion.

This ACLU case study from Pantheon brings in drama from the beginning: 

“In 2016, Marco Carbone, Associate Director of IT at ACLU, monitored the website intently as presidential elections drew thousands of times more traffic than normal. Although he had anticipated a surge in traffic, it was hard to imagine just how big it would be.”

Notice how this paragraph:

  • Places us at a moment in time
  • Introduces a protagonist
  • Creates tension

You can see Marco sitting at his computer, staring at the dashboard, hoping his site isn’t about to go down. It vividly illustrates that Pantheon doesn’t just sell web hosting — they sell peace of mind, too. 

Now imagine a typical intro for a case study like this:

“The ACLU needed a solution to make sure their site was robust enough to endure anticipated traffic spikes during the 2016 election. The organization had evaluated several services but was uncertain that their projected needs could be met. Their existing solution was underperforming.”

The same basic information — yet a world of difference in its emotional heft.

[bctt tweet=”“There’s a simple story structure at the heart of all case studies. You almost can’t help but tell a story. The trick, though, is to make your narrative emotionally engaging.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

5: Get Specific with Results (And Benchmark!)

The ideal case study ends with two things: Advice from the customer, and specific enumerated results. It’s not enough to say your solution shortened sales cycles, or reduced waste. It’s better to say, “Our customer shortened sales cycles to three weeks” or “reduced waste by four tons.”

But the best way to give results is with customer and industry benchmarks to compare to. Shortening sales cycles to 3 weeks is okay if the industry average is four weeks, but phenomenal if the average is three months. If the customer usually generates five tons of waste, reducing it by four tons is unbelievable progress — but far less impressive if they generate 400 tons. Providing these benchmarks gives your reader a clearer picture of what your results mean, and sets expectations for working with your company.

That’s why in our Tech Unknown case study we include industry benchmarks for podcast downloads, as well as brand averages for traffic and views. 

[bctt tweet=”“Providing benchmarks gives your reader a clearer picture of what your results mean, and sets expectations for working with your company.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

Customer Stories Don’t Have to Be Boring: Case Closed

Content marketers are empathetic, creative, dynamic writers. I pride myself on being able to find human interest in content for any client, whether its financial services, software-as-a-solution, or supply chain logistics. But when it comes to writing case studies, too often we fall back on that staid, bloodless corporate voice.

To keep your case studies compelling, make sure you’re writing for a reader, not just a potential sale. Be passionate, tell a human story, and offer value beyond just proving your product’s benefits. A journalistic eye and genuine empathy for your reader will make your case studies more readable, relatable, and ultimately more effective.

* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post From Mechanical to Meaningful: How to Optimize B2B Case Studies appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Break Free B2B Marketing: Latane Conant of 6sense on Reinventing the CMO Role

Latane Conant

What’s in a job title? In my tenure as a marketer, I’ve met gurus who don’t live on mountaintops, ninjas who don’t know martial arts, and evangelists who don’t preach on Sunday. 

At worst, these creative job titles are pure puffery. But at best, they serve as a statement of purpose. I’m thinking of titles like Shep Hyken’s Chief Amazement Officer, or Ann Handley as Chief Content Officer: They tell us something about what the person — and their organization — values.

Latne Conant from 6sense has a subtly unusual job title: Chief Market Officer. She dropped the ‘ing’ from ‘Marketing,’ and that tiny change signals a major shift in the way she approaches her job. Instead of focusing on the verb of marketing — what tactics to deploy to reach an audience —  her job is to deeply understand the market, the people her brand is trying to reach.

For Latane, getting rid of that ‘ing’ makes all the difference in turning marketers into revenue-generating dynamos. In her Break Free B2B interview with our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis, Latane elaborated on how 6sense’s approach is unique, what technologies they use, and how they’ve achieved some truly impressive results.

“If I am engaging accounts more effectively than my competition, I will generate more pipeline, I’ll win more often, I’ll have bigger deals, and I will set my relationship off with those customers better.” #B2BMarketing @LataneConant… Click To Tweet

Break Free B2B Interview with Latane Conant

Timeline and Highlights

:58 – How can CMOs better understand customer insight in the age of the “dark funnel?”

2:52 – Changing focus from the tactics of marketing to knowing your audience

4:00 – The Chief Market Officer – losing the “ing”

6:45 – Not accepting limitations in pursuing a career

7:29 – Getting what you want is easy; knowing what you want is hard

8:30 – The Fun Factor in managing a team

9:00 V2MOM and organization

10:15 – If you’re not effing up, you’re not pushing the envelope hard enough

12:21 – Inverting the org chart — leading from the bottom

13:45 – Leads are not the primary measure of success

16:10 – Marketing is a revenue team

17:25 – Engagement is the new oil

18:45 – The new standard for marketing executives

Susan:

You were recently quoted saying that today’s CMOs need to be the masters of understanding customer insights and putting them to use. So are CMOs progressing in this area of insights, or is it just still a massive black hole, and that’s why you’re preaching? 

Latane:

Well, first of all, I hope I would never seem preachy, because we are all in this together, we’re all in the black hole together. I think the challenge that we have is only 13% of sales and marketing teams have any confidence in their data, because it’s primarily opportunity data in CRM, or it’s map data, which is basically lead-based. 

And if you think about the buying journey, most of it happens anonymously, or what we at 6sense call your “dark funnel.” So that’s where all the rich research is really happening. 

No one’s coming to your website and downloading your content anymore. It’s also a buying team. It’s not a lead or contact, and buyer journeys aren’t linear. So you think about this new modern buying journey, which is anonymous. It’s a buying team, not a leader contact, and it’s not linear. And you look at the tools that we have at our disposal as CMOs, and it’s sort of like we are a Model T trying to get to the moon. 

And so thinking about the black hole, it’s really looking for platforms that are AI and big data based. Because at the end of the day, even if you’re amazing, your data is gonna suck, and it’s okay. So I think admit that all our data sucks. Yeah, we’ve got to marry our data up with a much bigger platform and be able to understand that anonymous activity so we have a true picture of this nonlinear buying journey. Once you have that, you can start to re-imagine a better what I call prospect experience.

Susan:
How do you manage your teams and get them motivated? How do you hold the bar where you hold it?

Latane:
I would say the first thing is I’m clear that my expectations are high. And I’m very clear in the interview process, that my expectations are going to be very, very high. And you have to want that! Some people don’t want that. So the first thing is, do you want to do good work or do you want to do great work? And it is okay if this is not the gig for you. So I think that’s the first level of it.

The second level of it is, I really believe in having fun. So my old CEO, Chris Barban, taught me this: He said, eight out of 10 working days, you must be having fun. And that’s we call the fun factor. And so everyone on my team, what’s your fun factor? And if it’s not an eight, what’s going on, but it’s also up to me to bring the fun, right? To say, hey, let’s go grab a soulcycle class or let’s go for a run or let’s — you know what, we’re all strung out — let’s do something fun together. So, I think having fun and enjoying each other is allowed. We laugh a lot. We joke around a lot. 

And then the third really key thing for me is a strategic planning process that I use called V2MOM. And it originated with Salesforce. But it’s now really popular — a lot of tech companies use it and I’ve used it at two companies now, and two of the boards that I work on have adopted it, and it’s all about prioritization. 

I don’t know if I can cuss on this show, but I consulted The CMOs that I work with, from an advisory perspective, I say you have to know what you give an F about. And know what you don’t give an F about, because you can’t give an F about everything. So what V2MOM forces is everything is time-bound, and everything is prioritized. 

So I have high expectations for these things. I don’t care. Don’t wait. Like, if you’re spending one second over there — that’s not going to be an excuse for missing on this. And we all agree to those priorities every single quarter. So it’s very clear what we’re doing and we’re gonna do it right.

Latane:
I actually just changed my title to Chief Market Officer. And it’s an important distinction that a lady who was actually on our board — who’s amazing, her name is Christine Heckard, And she’s been a CMO. And now she’s the CEO. And she’s talked a lot about the role of the CMO. And we have gotten ourselves really mired down in ‘ing.’ “I did a blog, I did webinars, look at all these MQLs I pass to sales, here’s my funnel, here’s my tech stack.” That is all ing ing ing. 

Her challenge to CMOs is to redefine that. We are the seat at the table that needs to understand the market. That is customers today and customers tomorrow. That’s why this audience-first approach and understanding the market, then you can apply the ing. But it’s not a cheap financing offer sir or cheap selling officer. We sort of diminished our role by not taking that seat at the table. 

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few more highlights from this season:

Break Free B2B Marketing: Latane Conant of 6sense on Reinventing the CMO Role

Latane Conant

Latane Conant

What’s in a job title? In my tenure as a marketer, I’ve met gurus who don’t live on mountaintops, ninjas who don’t know martial arts, and evangelists who don’t preach on Sunday. 

At worst, these creative job titles are pure puffery. But at best, they serve as a statement of purpose. I’m thinking of titles like Shep Hyken’s Chief Amazement Officer, or Ann Handley as Chief Content Officer: They tell us something about what the person — and their organization — values.

Latne Conant from 6sense has a subtly unusual job title: Chief Market Officer. She dropped the ‘ing’ from ‘Marketing,’ and that tiny change signals a major shift in the way she approaches her job. Instead of focusing on the verb of marketing — what tactics to deploy to reach an audience —  her job is to deeply understand the market, the people her brand is trying to reach.

For Latane, getting rid of that ‘ing’ makes all the difference in turning marketers into revenue-generating dynamos. In her Break Free B2B interview with our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis, Latane elaborated on how 6sense’s approach is unique, what technologies they use, and how they’ve achieved some truly impressive results.

[bctt tweet=”“If I am engaging accounts more effectively than my competition, I will generate more pipeline, I’ll win more often, I’ll have bigger deals, and I will set my relationship off with those customers better.” #B2BMarketing @LataneConant @6senseInc” username=”toprank”]

Break Free B2B Interview with Latane Conant


Timeline and Highlights

:58 – How can CMOs better understand customer insight in the age of the “dark funnel?”

2:52 – Changing focus from the tactics of marketing to knowing your audience

4:00 – The Chief Market Officer – losing the “ing”

6:45 – Not accepting limitations in pursuing a career

7:29 – Getting what you want is easy; knowing what you want is hard

8:30 – The Fun Factor in managing a team

9:00 V2MOM and organization

10:15 – If you’re not effing up, you’re not pushing the envelope hard enough

12:21 – Inverting the org chart — leading from the bottom

13:45 – Leads are not the primary measure of success

16:10 – Marketing is a revenue team

17:25 – Engagement is the new oil

18:45 – The new standard for marketing executives

Susan:

You were recently quoted saying that today’s CMOs need to be the masters of understanding customer insights and putting them to use. So are CMOs progressing in this area of insights, or is it just still a massive black hole, and that’s why you’re preaching? 

Latane:

Well, first of all, I hope I would never seem preachy, because we are all in this together, we’re all in the black hole together. I think the challenge that we have is only 13% of sales and marketing teams have any confidence in their data, because it’s primarily opportunity data in CRM, or it’s map data, which is basically lead-based. 

And if you think about the buying journey, most of it happens anonymously, or what we at 6sense call your “dark funnel.” So that’s where all the rich research is really happening. 

No one’s coming to your website and downloading your content anymore. It’s also a buying team. It’s not a lead or contact, and buyer journeys aren’t linear. So you think about this new modern buying journey, which is anonymous. It’s a buying team, not a leader contact, and it’s not linear. And you look at the tools that we have at our disposal as CMOs, and it’s sort of like we are a Model T trying to get to the moon. 

And so thinking about the black hole, it’s really looking for platforms that are AI and big data based. Because at the end of the day, even if you’re amazing, your data is gonna suck, and it’s okay. So I think admit that all our data sucks. Yeah, we’ve got to marry our data up with a much bigger platform and be able to understand that anonymous activity so we have a true picture of this nonlinear buying journey. Once you have that, you can start to re-imagine a better what I call prospect experience.

Susan:
How do you manage your teams and get them motivated? How do you hold the bar where you hold it?

Latane:
I would say the first thing is I’m clear that my expectations are high. And I’m very clear in the interview process, that my expectations are going to be very, very high. And you have to want that! Some people don’t want that. So the first thing is, do you want to do good work or do you want to do great work? And it is okay if this is not the gig for you. So I think that’s the first level of it.

The second level of it is, I really believe in having fun. So my old CEO, Chris Barban, taught me this: He said, eight out of 10 working days, you must be having fun. And that’s we call the fun factor. And so everyone on my team, what’s your fun factor? And if it’s not an eight, what’s going on, but it’s also up to me to bring the fun, right? To say, hey, let’s go grab a soulcycle class or let’s go for a run or let’s — you know what, we’re all strung out — let’s do something fun together. So, I think having fun and enjoying each other is allowed. We laugh a lot. We joke around a lot. 

And then the third really key thing for me is a strategic planning process that I use called V2MOM. And it originated with Salesforce. But it’s now really popular — a lot of tech companies use it and I’ve used it at two companies now, and two of the boards that I work on have adopted it, and it’s all about prioritization. 

I don’t know if I can cuss on this show, but I consulted The CMOs that I work with, from an advisory perspective, I say you have to know what you give an F about. And know what you don’t give an F about, because you can’t give an F about everything. So what V2MOM forces is everything is time-bound, and everything is prioritized. 

So I have high expectations for these things. I don’t care. Don’t wait. Like, if you’re spending one second over there — that’s not going to be an excuse for missing on this. And we all agree to those priorities every single quarter. So it’s very clear what we’re doing and we’re gonna do it right.

Latane:
I actually just changed my title to Chief Market Officer. And it’s an important distinction that a lady who was actually on our board — who’s amazing, her name is Christine Heckard, And she’s been a CMO. And now she’s the CEO. And she’s talked a lot about the role of the CMO. And we have gotten ourselves really mired down in ‘ing.’ “I did a blog, I did webinars, look at all these MQLs I pass to sales, here’s my funnel, here’s my tech stack.” That is all ing ing ing. 

Her challenge to CMOs is to redefine that. We are the seat at the table that needs to understand the market. That is customers today and customers tomorrow. That’s why this audience-first approach and understanding the market, then you can apply the ing. But it’s not a cheap financing offer sir or cheap selling officer. We sort of diminished our role by not taking that seat at the table. 

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few more highlights from this season:

 


Source: SEO blog

Break Free B2B Marketing: Sruthi Kumar on Creating Memorable Experiences

Break Free B2B with Sruthi Kumar

Break Free B2B with Sruthi Kumar

Marketers are in the business of attracting attention. All of our tactics, our strategies, our goals boil down to: Did we get someone’s attention and inspire them to take action?

The key to modern marketing is that we have to earn that attention. There will always be someone on who is louder, funnier, more talented, or just less shameless than your brand is willing to be. The only way to truly capture and sustain someone’s focus is to earn the right to their time. 

How do you earn attention? By providing remarkable experiences. By showing you care about your audience, you know who they are, and that your brand is here to help and to entertain them. 

For our latest Break Free video, we talked to a marketer who is helping marketers offer more memorable experiences. Sruthi Kumar is the Senior Marketing Manager at Sendoso, a platform that coordinates direct mail and gifting campaigns for personalization at scale.

Sruthi and I sat down to talk about experiential marketing in all its forms: Event marketing, direct mail, content and beyond. We also dig deeper into the philosophy of marketing. Should marketers specialize in a certain aspect of marketing, or should we be taking a more holistic approach? Can left-brained content folks and right-brained strategy folks get along… and really, is it that simple of a divide? Sruthi has some inspiring thoughts on all of the above.

Oh, and along the way, Sruthi shares how she built a marketing department from the ground up, taking Sendoso from a small start-up to competing with the big brands.

 [bctt tweet=”I think what we’re really trying to do is bridge that online and offline experience. @sruthikkumar” username=”toprank”]

 

Highlights:

1:00: Direct mail plus digital marketing for unforgettable experiences

5:45: Marketing to delight your audience

7:40: Building a marketing department from the ground up

11:05: Tactics for earning attention at marketing events

18:15: Marketing requires creative and analytical thinking 

 

Josh:

So tell me a little bit about Sendoso. What is it? What do you do?

Sruthi:

We’re a sending platform, so we really help our customers reach their customers and prospects in a meaningful way by sending company swag, direct mail, sweets and treats, handwritten notes, the whole nine yards, in order to make really human connections with their prospects and customers.

Josh: 

Do you feel like this going back to a more simpler form of marketing compared to digital marketing? Do you feel like that’s more effective as our world gets more digital?

Sruthi:

So I actually think they go hand in hand. What we’re trying to do is really bridge that online and offline experience. So not to say that digital marketing does not work. I’m a marketer. I run our field marketing team, we use digital heavily, but it’s just about bringing all the channels together to create that seamless experience for the end user, and that person that you want to book a meeting with or have a signed contract with or whatever else you need from them.

[bctt tweet=”It’s about bringing all the channels together to create that seamless experience for the end user, that person who you want to book a meeting with or have a signed contract with. @sruthikkumar” username=”toprank”]

We are moving to an ABM approach when we are doing our events, because sometimes you get to large audiences and it’s hard to really get in contact with anyone. The beautiful thing about our product is that anyone can use it in any vertical. It’s direct mail: If you’re selling, you can use it. If you’re trying to reach an audience, you can use it. 

We do the double funnel approach at Sendoso. We do have demand gen tactics while we also have ABM tactics as well. 

I had an interview that was my first internship as a marketer. The CMO asked me, ‘Are you analytical? Or are you creative?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know, I feel like I’m a little bit of both.’ 

And she said, ‘You can’t be both.’ And I just want to call her now, because you have to be both. I may not be the most analytical person on my team. But I get to work with this marketing ops manager. We built our team together, and she’s very analytical. I get to learn from her and understand how would my MOPS person do this. And that’s the cool stuff that you get to take with you. 

As a marketer, you should be well rounded — you’re a content marketer, but you could put a demand gen campaign together.

Josh:

 We just love this binary of left brain versus right brain. But then you get this idea that oh, well, the creative types are just sitting up there in their beanbag chairs with the lava lamps going, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if we did this?’ And then on the other hand is a bunch of robots who are crunching numbers. For some people, those things are going to overlap into a circle and some are somewhere on the continuum, but you can’t be just one or the other. 

[bctt tweet=”People ask, ‘Are you analytical or are you creative?’ But you have to be both… As a marketer, you should be well rounded: You’re a #contentmarketer, but you could put a demand gen campaign together. You’re not just writing. @sruthikkumar” username=”toprank”]

Sruthi:

With all those marketing activities that we’re supposed to do, some people are just doing the check-boxes. That’s totally fine, but I think you should bring your personality into it. I think so many of us are so scared. Like having our corporate voice, but I think our personal voice should be in there too. 

I think the only reason why Sendoso did stand out in the early days is because we got to incorporate so many of our early founders’ and members’ own personalities into the brand. And even the way we pitch our product today is by the voices of our sales team and our marketing team, our co-founders and c-suite. So I think it’s just about being okay with being yourself and incorporating that into your whole corporate brand.

[bctt tweet=”I think the reason Sendoso did stand out in the early days is we got to incorporate so many of our early founders’ own personalities. It’s about being okay with being yourself and incorporating that into your corporate brand. @sruthikkumar” username=”toprank”]

 

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel and podcast for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few to whet your appetite:

The post Break Free B2B Marketing: Sruthi Kumar on Creating Memorable Experiences appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Classic Marketing Insights to Celebrate the Internet’s 50th Birthday

High-tech image of Earth from space with connected communication lines.

The collection of technologies that make it possible for you to read this are now 50 years old, as the Internet recently celebrated its first half-century milestone, and we wanted to mark the occasion by sharing a selection of top digital marketing and tech insights from the 1960s to 2020 and beyond.

Starting with the 1960s and working our way through the 2010s, we’ll explore some of the classic technology and marketing that has become synonymous with the Internet, and we’ll also look ahead to an unknown but surely fascinating future.

Decade 1 — The 1960s

The 1960s.

On October 29, 1969 the first online message was sent, between computers at UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute, using ARPANET — which would eventually morph into the Internet we know today.

The first message was planned to be the command “login,” however the system crashed upon typing in the second letter.

A second attempt at sending “login” was made — this time successfully, infamously cementing “LOL” as the first three characters ever sent online, combining the “lo” from the first failed message and the “l” from the start of the successful second message.

via GIPHY

Early researchers and users of the ARPANET and the computers it eventually linked paved the way for what would become the Internet and — decades later — the Web, and some had keen insight into the possibilities of the new online technology.

In the 1968 publication “The Computer as a Communication Device,” Internet pioneers Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider (1915–1990) and Robert W. Taylor (1932–2017) wrote:

We believe that we are entering a technological age in which we will be able to interact with the richness of living information-not merely in the passive way that we have become accustomed to using books and libraries, but as active participants in an ongoing process, bringing something to it through our interaction with it, and not simply receiving something from it by our connection to it.” (Kurzweil Library)

The Web and the rise of social media revolutionized and globalized the type of ongoing online interactions Licklider and Taylor predicted more than 50 years ago, and they also went on to change the face and future of marketing.

Hewlett-Packard co-founder David Packard offered up an early technology industry marketing quote that’s still relevant today:

“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” — David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Click To Tweet

Marketing departments are vastly different today than when the first “LOL” was sent in 1969, however, utilizing ever-growing numbers of digital and traditional channels and techniques, and offering expanded methods such as content marketing that even Packard may have admired.

An even earlier visionary in predicting online possibilities is philosopher and sociologist Ted Nelson, who coined the term “hypertext.” In 1960 his Project Xanadu sought to create a global computer publishing system using hypertext linking to build a universal library, an idea that was a forerunner to what would become the Web.

Decade 2 — The 1970s

The 1970s.

The 1970s brought the first e-mail, e-commerce systems, secure online transaction processing, and the bulletin board system (BBS), the true precursor to the Web.

Ward Christensen is the father of the BBS, programming the CBBS software during a Chicago blizzard in 1978, and also the creator of the XMODEM protocol that made early file transfers easier.

“CBBS was certainly the most fun programming project ever,” Christensen has said. “My original idea of a message system was to have users contribute articles for our [computer] club newsletter, but as it formed, a message system seemed more interesting,” he added. (Slashdot)

Christensen’s BBS technology grew to connect personal computer users around the world in a way that had never been seen in people’s own homes, freeing information exchange from the often-exclusive hold that educational, military, and government computers had previously held.

An early e-commerce patent was filed in 1972, while 1976 brought secure online transaction processing for financial institutions, and in 1979 the first online shopping system was demonstrated. Here’s a 1977 ARPANET logic map, showing popular computer nodes of the day such as the PDP-11:

1977 ARPANET Map

In the world of marketing, the 1970s brought the creation of so-called synergy marketing, and the amount of ads consumers saw daily grew.

“The more you tell, the more you sell.” — David Ogilvy Click To Tweet

The American Association of Advertising Agencies has estimated that in the 1970s the average U.S. consumer was exposed to some 1,600 daily ads, with just 12 of those generating a reaction.

The 1970s also saw the rise of  “positioning” as a top marketing strategy, and 7UP’s famous “Un-Cola” campaign sought to take market share away from industry leader Coca-Cola, eventually doubling 7UP’s sales. (AdAge)

The campaign went on to become one of the most famous campaigns of the twentieth century, as Duke University explored in “Uncola: Seven-Up, Counterculture and the Making of an American Brand.”

Here’s one of the Un-Cola videos:

The “un” theme is still used today, as 40 years later marketer Scott Stratten published his “UnMarketing” and “UnSelling” books, as our CEO Lee Odden explored in a 2014 interview here.

“Focus on the stories behind the logo — create current positive experiences and long-lasting ‘wow’s to delight and move your market into comfort and loyalty.” — Scott Stratten @unmarketing Click To Tweet

Decade 3 — The 1980s

The 1980s

The 1980s saw the first development of database marketing, the precursor to the powerful customer relationship management (CRM) and social media marketing systems we have today.

The ‘80s also saw the emergence of relationship marketing, guerrilla marketing, desktop publishing, and the first computer-oriented spam — although some claim to have encountered spam in the late ‘70s.

In 1983 the film “Wargames” came out, and for teenagers like me it was an early mainstream exposure to home computer modems and online hacking. A year later I bought a Commodore 64 computer and a modem and started my own BBS, which I operated until 1990.

via GIPHY

Here’s a screen-shot from my old BBS:

BBS Login Screen

Marketers often point to Apple’s Macintosh-debut television commercial as not only one of the top ads of the 1980s but of all time, having been selected by both Advertising Age and TV Guide as the greatest commercial ever.

Perhaps one of the best commercials and marketing strategies of all time was the Orwellian Apple Macintosh advertisement entitled ‘1984,’ which launched the Macintosh revolution. The one-time airing of the 60-second spot during the 1984 Super Bowl became a watershed of American advertising.” (AdAge)

Here’s the commercial, which ran during the 1984 Super Bowl:

In the briefing for the commercial, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said, “I want to stop the world in its tracks.” (Adweek)

“I want to stop the world in its tracks.” — Steve Jobs Click To Tweet

Decade 4 — The 1990s

The 1990s

With the 1990s came the launch of the World Wide Web and its first webpages, the incorporation of Google and Amazon, the first forays into SEO (Search Engine Optimization), viral marketing, CRM, and Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC).

When Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web, one of his biggest goals was to make it easier for people to find information on the Internet — an ambition that has undoubtedly seen tremendous success perhaps beyond any other technology in history.

The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past. — Sir Tim Berners-Lee @timberners_lee Click To Tweet

Decade 5 — The 2000s

The 2000s

The decade of the 2000s saw the emergence and meteoric rise of social media, as LinkedIn (client) and MySpace launched in 2003, Facebook in 2004, and Twitter in 2006. It also brought the widespread use of integrated marketing.

One Internet pioneer who has worked at the forefront of online technology since the 1960s is Vinton Cerf, who in 1973 co-developed the TCP/IP protocol that the Internet uses, and who has worked for Google since 2005 as a vice president and chief Internet evangelist.

With such a lengthy history in technology, Cerf still finds time to look ahead. “I’d like to know what the Internet is going to look like in 2050. Thinking about it makes me wish I were eight years old.” (Esquire)

“The closer you look at something,the more complex it seems to be.” — Vinton Cerf @vgcerf Click To Tweet

Decade 6 — The 2010s

The 2010s.

The 2010s have so far seen the continued development of influencer marketing, the founding of Instagram in 2010, Pinterest in 2011, and TikTok in 2017, the latest in a history of marketing that stretches back over 1,000 years.

“Make your customer the hero of your stories.” — Ann Handley @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet

Happy 50th birthday, Internet, and here’s to a marketing and tech future filled with continuing innovation, meaningful storytelling, and even more powerful connections.

We’ve also taken time this year to look ahead to the trends and tactics that will unfurl in 2020 and beyond. Here are five recent articles to help your marketing efforts as we take online marketing into its next 50 years.

Break Free Series: Amanda Todorovich on Creating Content that Pays Off

Amanda Todorovich is the Senior Director of Health Content at Cleveland Clinic. That title kind of undersells what she did over there. She turned a neglected blog into a revenue stream. That’s right –  something that is generating money and is getting over 7 million visitors a month. Now Amanda is a true believer, like our agency, in the power of audience-centered content.

She is living proof that investing in this kind of content pays off. Join us in learning more from Amanda. She is one of the leading lights and is at the vanguard of next-generation content marketers, and we are thrilled to speak with her. View the entire interview below.

Below are a few of our favorite snippets from the interview.

Sue: Recently on your Twitter channel, you retweeted that Cleveland Clinic has monetized its blog successfully. Can you share details?

Amanda: Sure. So we actually started monetizing the site in 2015. We started really small – experimental at that point. We were getting about 3 million visits a month. And we started with a Google pilot, like, let’s just slap up some Google ads and see what we get. If we get any kind of negative reaction internally, or we see a drop in traffic, which we didn’t basically, we got no reaction because people are so used to seeing ads, I think that they just accepted it.

So that was fine. But it’s a lot of work. And as a nonprofit, there were a lot of rules around what we couldn’t have as advertising on our site, and managing that was a lot of work and for not a very high payoff. So we knew that we could do it, we knew that it wouldn’t really affect our traffic much. But, we knew that we needed to think about it a little differently, so we partnered with another publisher very well. They sell and manage all of our inventory. Since then, we’ve tripled our ad revenue and we definitely have evolved and expanded our monetization efforts outside of just our health center’s blog into our constant PT physician blog, as well as our health library content. So it’s revenue that comes directly back into our marketing division, and supports a lot of the work that we’re doing now.

Sue: In terms of SEO, where’s your focus in terms of your really big concepts.

Amanda: SEO has evolved a lot for us over the years and honestly, I just formally took responsibility for our overall SEO strategy this year. It used to be a whole separate thing. So we were trying to work through that and, you know, it had its challenges. Plus, it wasn’t a real big focus for us. Over the years, we’ve shifted from where 60% to 70% of our traffic was coming from social media. Today 80 to 90% comes from organic search. Our SEO strategy today is extremely data-driven, the way that we prioritize the work and the way that we look at what we’re going to focus our time and effort on is really around a couple of things – competitive analysis and content gaps that we have, as well as the difficulty for ranking. Where do we have an opportunity with existing content to potentially climb the ladder a little easier with some tweaking? Now, it’s also a little bit more around assembling a comprehensive, integrated team, and not just from an editorial writing perspective, but from a multimedia perspective. What animation, illustration, and video imagery can we bring to that page to make it the best experience on the internet.

Sue: You retweeted this from one of your team members, and I love this- “Yes, content campaigns are the devil.” So your integrated marketing campaign, it’s focused on selling to customers?

Amanda: I think it’s really important content marketing is not a campaign, it’s not a project, it’s not a one-off. We like to talk about our content channels and process like products, you know, you really need to invest in them. It’s a long-term strategy. It’s something that you really have to think about how you build a long-term committed relationship with that user – it’s not a one-and-done. There’s never really an end to it. It’s continuous and iterative.

It’s imperative that people understand that content marketing isn’t a fling, it’s not a blip, it’s not done and move on to the next. Again, we talk a lot about optimizing existing content, reaching the right people with your content, being hyper-relevant, making it amazing. That’s the focus. That’s how you have to think about it. Because the start and ends and start and stops and buying for a campaign – all these different people and departments slow you way down, and your audience sees through it. People are savvy and smart. They know when something is meant to sell. You really have to be careful with that. Most kinds of marketing programs are about relationships and trust-building. And every time you take a step or stab at that, it dilutes again, your results and your ability to be successful.

Be sure to listen to the full interview above to get all of Amanda Todorvich’s insights as we B2B marketers “Break Free”.

The post Break Free Series: Amanda Todorovich on Creating Content that Pays Off appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog