B2B Marketing News: Demand Gen Adapts, B2B Buyers Taking Longer, Microsoft Digital Marketing Center Beta

Gartner Hype Cycle AI

The Gartner Hype Cycle for Artificial Intelligence, 2020 – Chatbots are projected to see over a 100% increase in their adoption rates in the next two to five years and are the leading AI use cases in enterprises today. Forbes

Bing is now Microsoft Bing as the search engine gets a rebrand – Microsoft doesn’t go into detail about why it added the company’s name to the Bing brand, other than it reflecting “the continued integration of our search experiences across the Microsoft family. The Verge

68% of B2B buyers say the length of their purchase cycles has increased over last year – The COVID-19 pandemic has led many B2B firms to lengthen their purchase cycles and to expect more personalized attention from vendors, according to recent research from Demand Gen Report. MarketingProfs

How B2B Demand Generation Has Adapted. Despite the impact of COVID-19, budgets for demand generation are holding up more than B2B marketing as a whole. Fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) B2B marketers say that they expect their budgets for demand generation to decrease, whereas 3 in 10 (31%) say their overall marketing budgets will fall. MarketingCharts

2021 B2B Content Marketing: What Now? [New Research] – Find out what content marketers are thinking, doing, and not doing when it comes to content creation and distribution, metrics and goals, team structure and outsourcing, budgets and spending. Content Marketing Institute

Study: Comparing the data from 8 SEO tools – The numbers you’ll find don’t match up. SEO metric tools are for general trend analysis and competitor benchmarking, not on specific numbers. Search Engine Land

Snapchat is pitching high-frequency, high-reach ‘Platform Burst’ ad campaigns – The new offer is a media buy advertisers can use to ensure their campaigns reach a certain amount of people in the app frequently over three or five days, according to three agency execs who are considering it. Digiday

Always On Influencer Marketing Statistic

Nearly half of consumers will try new brands if the ad is relevant – Consumers are spending more time at home with online content, especially connected TV (CTV) and social media. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the average time interacting with online content has doubled globally. Marketing Dive

Video ads drive a 48% higher sales rate than static ads, study says – WARC forecasting an 18.3% global increase for e-commerce ads this year even as overall ad spending drops 8.1% Mobile Marketer

Facebook Announces Integration of Messenger and Instagram Direct, Adds New Messaging Features. When complete, WhatsApp will also join Facebook’s messaging integration upgrade. Social Media Today

Google, The Trade Desk, MediaMath, Amobee, Adobe and Adform Lead The Pack In Gartner’s 2020 Ad Tech Magic Quadrant – New entrants include Beeswax, Centro, Mediaocean and Zeta Global.  Ad Exchanger

Microsoft Digital Marketing Center is now available in open beta in the U.S Microsoft’s Digital Marketing Center for search and social management adds features, opens beta. The free platform is now open to U.S. small businesses. Search Engine Land

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Psychographics
“In trying to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time, it’s important for marketers to draw a line between cool and creepy.” by Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Home Depot’s Sold-Out Giant Halloween Skeletons Creep Into Brand’ Social Feeds – Budweiser, Slim Jim, Natty Light and others are getting into the Halloween spirit—but might just turn people green with envy. AdAge

TOPRANK MARKETING IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — What’s Trending: Getting Better All the Time — LinkedIn (client)
  • Lee Odden – The Norse God, Lee Odden on Fitness and B2B Influencer Marketing – CoronaRadio 8.18
  • Lee Odden – 365 Marketing Quotes to Keep You Fired Up All Year – Skyword

Have you found your own top marketing stories from the past week of industry news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for taking the time to join us for the weekly B2B marketing news, and we hope you’ll return again next Friday for another look at the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news.

Dave Gerhardt of Drift Outlines the 10 Commandments of Modern Marketing

Drift is widely regarded as a pioneer in modern marketing, and their Vice President of Marketing Dave Gerhardt has been instrumental in establishing this reputation. 

Taking on his first role as a marketing leader, he helped grow the chatbot platform from a startup with no market recognition to a $10 million company in less than two years. He also co-authored the book Conversational Marketing along with Drift’s founder David Cancel

While his company has experienced powerful growth and attained status as a leading innovator, the journey hasn’t always been smooth and seamless. Dave says there are a number of things he wishes he would’ve known before getting started, and he shared them on Tuesday at B2B Sales and Marketing Exchange in Boston, dubbing them his “10 Commandments for Modern Marketing” (with a stated emphasis on the word modern).

The 10 Commandments of Modern Marketing

1. It’s never too early to start marketing, ever.

Ever see a construction site for a residence that won’t be finished for four more years? Did you notice the sign advertising the future apartments or condos? Dave references this as an example of getting out front with generating awareness. 

“There’s too much noise and competition,” he argues. “You can’t think you’re just gonna show up and think people are gonna buy. Start as soon as you can.”

My advice for you is: start marketing yesterday. @davegerhardt #B2BSMX Click To Tweet

2. You must build an audience. 

And you should do it in a way that has nothing to do with your product or service. This is a fundamental aspect of content marketing that unfortunately tends to get overlooked. People don’t want to subscribe to a podcast or YouTube channel that’s just trying to sell them something. Create things for people who are at least somewhat related to your business, and make sure it provides them with real value. 

3. You have to use social proof anytime you do anything in marketing. 

Customers are growing more skeptical and leery of brand promotions all the time. Even case studies don’t have the impact they once did, because – as Dave puts it – “they know a marketer wrote it, and then got approval from a customer.” Today’s audience wants to see what people are buying and using, so leverage your customers’ own words in the form of screenshots from review sites such as G2 Crowd, or posts on Twitter and LinkedIn. Drift’s social proof repository exemplifies this approach. 

4. Copywriting is everything. 

Dave, you’re a man after my own heart. As an avid proponent of the written word and its enduring value, it was nice to hear such adamance of Mr. Gerhardt on the matter. If you haven’t, he suggests picking up a copy of Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins. It was originally published in 1923, but remains entirely relevant today. Why? Because it’s about writing influentially for human readers.

Copywriting is so powerful because it gives you the ability to sell without ever having to pick up the phone. @davegerhardt #B2BSMX Click To Tweet

5. There’s a story behind everything. 

“There’s no boring products,” Dave opines. “There’s only boring marketers.” We as people are wired to engage with and remember stories. Not only is this format highly compelling, but as I’ve written before, storytelling also builds trust.

6. It won’t stick unless you name it. 

Even the most interesting concept or idea will likely fail to gain traction if you don’t give it a name that people can associate with it. This is especially critical to creating a category. Dave emphasizes that you shouldn’t get too caught up on what the name will be – just make sure you have one. For instance, he says his team went back and forth endlessly on what to call “conversational marketing,” until they finally settled on the simple and straightforward eventual choice, which has since become an integral part of Drift’s brand. 

7. You have to stand for something as a brand today. 

The safe, conservative route of leaning toward neutrality and avoiding controversy no longer flies. In some cases, your brand’s stance can tie to more serious societal and political issues; Salesforce announced earlier this year that it would no longer do business with retailers selling semi-automatic weapons. But it can also be something less touchy, and more directly pertinent to your industry. Drift famously took a stand against lead forms and gated content, which were viewed at the time (and still are viewed by many) as mandatory elements of a results-oriented content strategy.

8. Creativity is a competitive advantage. 

The rush amongst marketers to develop the most proficiency with tools and the biggest tech stack is misguided. “Marketing technology is table stakes,” Dave says. “Creativity is the variable for success today.” He adds that while many functions of these technologies will become automated, if they haven’t already, AI and machines will never replace creativity.

Your differentiator isn’t your tech stack. It’s creativity. @davegerhardt #B2BSMX Click To Tweet

9. Personal brand is the new company brand. 

This makes some executives uncomfortable. There’s a prevalent concern that encouraging employees to develop their personal brands will make them more likely to get noticed and poached by competitors, or that these employees will say something that doesn’t jibe with the brand positioning. But Dave believes these are the necessary risks a modern marketing operation needs to run. “We all want to work with real people, we don’t want to work with logos.” Effectively engaging your team will make them more likely to be aligned with your company’s voice, and less likely to leave.

10. When they go left, you have to go right. 

Or zig when they zag, if you will. Constantly trying to outdo or outspend your competitors in the same channels and tactics is a losing strategy, Dave says. “The best way you can compete in marketing is to stack the deck. Find the gaps. Go to where people are not today.” 

Heed this Marketer’s Creed and Prosper

I’ve had the privilege of sitting in on many informative, eye-opening sessions at B2BSMX, but I think Dave’s will go down as my favorite. From the moment he took the stage, informing his audience that he didn’t have any slides and would be reading off a piece of paper because he had a baby eight weeks ago and has barely had a free moment since, the Drift marketer oozed genuine authenticity, and every one of his commandments resonated with me personally. 

More objectively, given what he and his team have accomplished, it’s tough to argue with this set of guiding principles for the new age.  

If you enjoyed this recap, make sure to check out the rest of our coverage from B2B Sales and Marketing Exchange 2019: 

The Future (& Present) of Marketing: Collaboration, Technology & Innovation

What do you get when you combine an enterprise CMO and a partner at one of the world’s largest professional services firms?

I can’t speak for all scenarios but at B2BMX in Scottsdale this week, it led to an entertaining and insightful conversation, from two different perspectives.

Jeanniey Mullen, CMO of Mercer and Vince Walden, Partner at Ernst and Young led an engaging discussion on the importance of innovation within organizations (large and small) as well as opportunities for better operationalizing your marketing department. Below are three ideas for how to future and present-proof your marketing.   

3 Ideas for Future-Proofing Your Marketing

Encourage Cross-Functional Collaboration

Often when brands talk about collaborating with others, it’s in the context of their own departments. Marketing teams look for insights from other marketers, salespeople look to a top seller and so on.

However, as more and more marketers are facing tough questions about ROI, revenue and business impact, it’s time to push the boundaries of collaboration.

If you look at the makeup of your leadership team, it’s likely that there are different individual objectives, that ultimately should role up to major business goals. To create alignment within your WHOLE company (not just your department) start seeking insights and advice from other departments.

Ensuring that your strategies are aligned with your C-Suite and other departments will:

  1. Improve the quality of your output
  2. Spark new ideas
  3. Build credibility and trust with leadership

The marketing content that we develop should always keep our customers in mind. We should also ensure that what we’re creating can be absorbed by the rest of our internal teams as well. In fact, passing marketing materials through other departments before launching is a good way to gain additional perspective. Moral of the story: Don’t make decisions in a silo.

Always make sure your marketing materials are written in a way that anyone in the organization can understand and identify quickly. @jeannieymullen Click To Tweet

Embrace AI and Machine Learning

Sorry folks, the robots are here, and they’re here to stay.

Companies that are successful with digital transformation have worked these new(ish) technologies into their marketing in order to scale. So, instead of feeling threatened by these technologies, marketers have an opportunity to embrace them and make AI and machine learning work for their team.

Still need proof?

  • 83% of early AI adopters have already achieved substantial (30%) or moderate (53%) economic benefits. (Deloitte)
  • AI will boost profitability by 38% and generate $14 trillion of additional revenue by 2035. (Accenture)
  • 20% of the C-Suite is already using machine learning. (McKinsey)

A recent report from Salesforce also found that by 2020 (that’s next year people!), 57% of buyers will depend on companies know what they want before the first interaction. So, if we don’t begin embracing these technologies (and soon), it’ll be nearly impossible to live up to the expectations of our customers. Which means, we’ll lose them.

Data wizard Chris Penn has speaking and writing about AI what seems like forever. And when it comes down to it, AI will enable marketers to BETTER utilize the data we have, more quickly.

We have a data fever, and the prescription is cognitive marketing. @cspenn #AI Click To Tweet

If you’re looking for a jumpstart, be sure to check out Chris’ new book: AI for Marketers: An Introduction & Primer. 

Develop A Process for Innovation

Brands invest a significant amount of time in developing a series of processes for how they sell, how they execute, how they improve the quality of their work. Most brands, however, do not have a documented way to approach innovation. And unfortunately, this can lead to a couple of scenarios:

  • Innovation is slow moving or non-existent
  • Too much time is spent on innovation, but misguided and not successful

But how can you overcome this hurdle and make innovation a part of your documented process?

Vincent suggested following an innovation model like the one below that will not only keep your team aligned in how to innovate but will help you identify if a particular innovation is worth investing in further.

Technology alone does not drive innovation. @VincentWaldenEY Click To Tweet

Are You Ready to Embrace the Present & Future of Marketing?

Marketers, the future is here and ultimately, teams that work better together, embrace new technology and innovate in a more predictable way will win the hearts, minds and wallets of target customers.

Thank you Jeanniey and Vincent for the great advice on how marketers can begin to operationalize in a more successful way.