A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a few days at the B2B Marketing Exchange conference. Though I was excited to spend time almost exclusively with my marketing peers, my emotions ranged from being eager to try new things out to, “What are they talking about?” It was great to spend so much time with other marketers and finally after 3 days realize we all wrestle with the same challenges no matter the size of the company.
I learned a lot and here are some of my best takeaways from the conference.
MarTech: Which marketing technology tools should you be using?
I inadvertently went to the wrong session on the first day and ended up talking MarTech (Marketing Technology) with the likes of GoDaddy and Microsoft. Turns out some of the large tech companies have so many technology tools they don’t know how to use them or don’t use them at all (nice problem to have, right?). It certainly got me thinking about what technology stack OUR clients should be using. When thinking about how to invest already scarce marketing dollars into technology tools, I really like the following framework:
At minimum, every company should actively be using:
- Google Analytics
- A marketing automation tool
- Social media
You may need to start small or ‘almost free’ and then slowly invest in tools until you have a marketing technology stack you’re comfortable with.
Real Marketing Success Stories
The conference was largely centered around showcasing success stories and best practices. The sessions were ‘sponsored’ by the exhibitor but each of them outlined a success story. Here are some of my favorites:
Uberflip & Snowflake: Snowflake used Everstring to identify targets and engagement data to model for their best customer. Marketing worked with sales to identify who the best customers are and then used Engagio to measure success. The sales added firmographic data (each sales person identified their top accounts) and helped marketing build the list. The marketing team used Terminus to do 1:1 advertising via Google Analytics and Salesforce to target these customers with sales/marketing curated content. They included custom auto signatures, using Sigstr, to drive to specific calls to action based on the target customer. Uberflip helped Snowflake tailor the content destinations for their targets to scale personalization and share timely and relevant content.
CenturyLink & Conversica: This one was really interesting and was around conversational artificial intelligence (AI) to help support the sales team. CenturyLink used Conversica to create two robots, Angie & Ashley. One of them is geared towards small businesses and the other towards medium-sized and enterprise organizations. The marketing team programmed the robots to respond to specific questions from the website.
The robots were created in Salesforce as members on the sales team. They are able to conduct 1:1 conversations on the website at scale and respond dynamically. Based on the information obtained, the ‘call’ is routed to the appropriate live sales person to follow up. It’s been such a rip roaring success that the entire sales force is now begging for Ashley & Angie.
CenturyLink got started with a very limited pilot to test the technology and now that all the messages are crafted, there is very little required from marketing other than fine tuning or handling exceptions. One of the biggest learnings was that visitors are not opposed to chatting with a robot; in fact, they prefer it to a phone call.
Folloze and Riverbed: I was recommended to Folloze by a peer so I stopped in on this session before visiting the booth. Folloze helps you execute account based marketing in a 1:many format. The software uses the concept of marketing ‘digital boards’ which allows marketing and sales teams to see what content a prospect has engaged with and for how long. Riverbed focused on their top ‘want to have’ accounts and created boards they thought prospects would be interested in reading. Marketing created the boards, customized the message and either sent them directly to a set of accounts or allowed the sales individual to add a personalized message.
Account Based Marketing with Jellyvision & PFL: We, as marketers, tend to gloss over the value of the dimensional or direct mailers. This session with Jellyvision and PFL (Printing for Less) highlights how effective the tactic can really be.
The Jellyvision marketing team compiled a list of accounts they wanted to go after and sanitized it using LinkedIn, web crawling and other tactics to obtain email and physical mailing addresses. Using a direct tri-fold mailer (initially sent via USPS mail), they dropped their first batch of mails. They soon found they couldn’t track who had received their mailer. The next set of tri-fold mailers included a viewfinder (with their messaging in the slides) and was sent via FedEx (where they could track recipient data and signatures).
Jellyvision followed up the initial mailer with a kit that had something wearable (hat), shareable & edible (snack bars, etc.). They found that the good old-fashioned viewfinder engaged their audience, demanded attention and got the message to right person. The learning here is that you need to use the ‘right technology’ for the tactic, and make sure you attribute all the steps in your marketing so you know what works.
2018 Marketing Trends
While I attended many more sessions, one that stood out for me was the keynote by Brian Solis with Prophet. The messages he delivered highlighted trends that are demanding attention from marketers right now:
- Prospects are looking for more personalization. Amazon has set the bar in how this is done and buyers are now expecting it as part of the customer/buyer journey. While we operate in a B2B world, we need to be cognizant of the fact that we’re really selling Human to Human. Our messages need to focus on the personas we’re trying to reach and personalizing the experience for them. ‘Attention’ is the new marketing currency.
- Personalization includes ensuring websites are optimized for mobile – mobilize your whitepaper, use Facebook carousel, video, etc. Make sure you know the path to purchase for the customer. If it’s mobile, make sure your mobile experience is the best.
- There is a resurgence in community engagement – especially around events. Use trailers for events to help drive interest and attendance.
- And in conclusion, we need to be marketing where our audience is. If our audience is younger, marketers should be embracing Instagram and Snapchat; if our audience is older we may want to explore more traditional platforms. And don’t ever think that messaging and chatting with bots is off the table.
There you have it! I wish I had time to share more of what I learned at the conference from a fantastic group of speakers and sessions. If you’re considering attending the B2B Marketing Exchange conference, I highly recommend it. Until next year, I’m working on implementing what I’ve learned for The Partner Marketing Group and our clients!
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