Modern Marketing Experience 2017

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Fantastic conference, as usually!  This year, the emphasis on “people” aspect of the business and organizational alignment, introduced last year, became more clear.

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CMO track was also discussing who are right people for the organization, where they can be found, and how they can be trained and retained.  Modern marketing organizations (and, probably, not only marketing organizations) are working on creating their perfect teams.  Technology is evolving, and new opportunities can fall apart if not supported by human part of the enterprise.

Ron Corbisier (Relationship One), shared an interesting slide during his AI session, where he outlined primary topics of last decade.

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I was fortunate to attend seven of these conferences, and observed a progression of a different dimension – organizational evolution of marketing.

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Starting from 2010 (a year when I attended my first conference), and through 2011, 2012, 2013 “Marketing and Sales” was an important topic, and a few years later, London 2014, the emphasis shifted to “Marketing and IT,” even if challenge of working with sales continued to persist.  Juniper presented it progress as Technology > Process> People…  and, after a thoughtful pause, the presenter mentioned, “we should have started from people.”  Modern Marketing Experience 216 emphasized importance of “people and process” before “technology and data,” what, sometimes, takes a central stage to the detriment of the final outcome.

One more organization, La-Z-Boy, built its leadership team with CIO reporting to CMO.  From another side, one of mar tech vendors noticed that several projects went on-hold as IT was gaining more influence in organizations of his customers.  I guess, next year topic could be the organization itself.  By that time marketing teams will be in place and process within the company will be examined and questioned.

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Building a team: we are observing a usual progress from generalists to specialists, as companies grow and technologies mature.  The new objective of building a team: people who can learn.  We need people who can imagine the possibilities and live them: adaptive, flexible, learning and be open to the change.  Dropping what does not work is important.  Managers are trying to match skills to passion; if people are passionate, they will find a way.  Hiring to the culture is even more important as it was before and and hiring passion is critical.

Building a team of today and tomorrow: team should include partners, coaches, etc., and extend beyond company’s boundary.  CMOs are looking for people who can look ahead and collaborate.  “Your digital transformation brings people and ideas together.”  “We need to breach the silos!”

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Over the years the images of organizational silos persisted, but the number of the silos in the pictures increased – marketers have to interact with more business counterparts to be successful, and companies in general have to work together to innovate.

Innovation was another interesting point of the conference: Oracle presented an “Innovation Journey” wall, with well thought-through steps (from my perspective) of introduction and managing innovation.  The innovation process assessed business in general, rather than marketing or sales – conference attendees.  It was a pleasure to see that marketing “arrived” as an integral part of the business, rather than an independent component with questionable business value 🙂

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The most interesting part of the “innovation wall” was the detailed process steps paper – a list of seemingly ubiquitous points collected in one process.

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Interesting: test is included as part of the innovation, and though test includes agile components, the overall process is a typical example of a waterfall.

Combination of waterfall and agile approaches in project management was also suggested in another session “How Proper Project Management Can Make You a Change Hero.”

  • Only 25% of change management initiatives are successful
  • Top reasons for failure:
    • lack of consistent communication
    • overlooked stakeholders (excellent point!)
    • lack of executive support
  • As additional stakeholders and requirements will be revealed during the requirement gathering phase, it is important to re-identify objectives at this stage of the project.  “With a full understanding of requirements from each group, review your initially outlined objectives and adjust if needed.”  Objectives can change, and it is normal!
  • After the project:
    • review the objectives with stakeholders – were they met?
    • schedule “post launch check” a few months after the launch of the project to check if the change has been implemented successfully
      • During the check speak with stakeholders to make sure that the objectives are still met

Mixing waterfall and SCRUM is beneficial: overall project can be handled as waterfall, and development components can be run as scrum.

Interesting example of a project that faced an obstacle: in the beginning stages of lead nurturing project, executives questioned the need for the initiative.  The team suggested to do a 3 months test for a specific product or region and review results.  The result: time to sale has been cut in half for pilot-affected leads.  After the result was clear, the project has been extended to its original scope.

Beyond the Hype – Keys to Achieving ABM Success (Demandbase)

Beside well-known ABM advantages (better performance and increase of ABM benefits over time), and well-established process (sales and marketing alignment on account selection, etc.), the presentation had a few new (from my perspective) insights.

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Interesting : ABM is also considered an evolution started from new technology and merged into organizational approach.

  • When ABM is started, number of leads will go down, what is not comfortable for the organization, and needs to be communicated in advance
  • Many organizations will pilot ABM on a group of sales reps or a region to see results

ABM leadership team now includes operations (lovely!) – and it is not “IT,” but rather marketing operations function itself (highlights – VB)

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Another interesting point: ABM maturity progression also includes operational alignment, and progression beyond digital channels.  (Highlights – VB)

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Changes ABM is bringing to marketing and operations are generally re-orientation of existing (people, process, and, in this case, technology) to ABM – a more efficient business approach.

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A practical example from the session: a company wanted to increase sales in the enterprise sector.  Before a major advertising push, the organization evaluated the data (basic ISP source of site visits).  Result was revealing: enterprise visitors did come to the company’s site, but were more likely to bounce.  The company adjusted site messaging to appeal to enterprise prospects before advertising push.

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The presentation also addressed marketers’ concern that too much content was required for ABM; it is not entirely true.  Image above is an example of using the same asset (the same white paper), with different description targeted to four different companies.

The result: 200% increase in white paper downloads.

Hot topic of the conference – AI.  Ron’s session “Blowing Past the Buzzword of AI” put the topic into perspective.

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AI is not a “rules engine” or an algorithm, though it is a fantastic buzzword and an excellent excuse for funding.

AI is not a “thing” – it is a collection of things – AI is an “enabler.”

However, AI has requirements of constant data feed to be effective.

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Marketers also need to have a strategy how to feed enough data into their AI aps.  Now we are at the day one of a multi-year run.

We need to go to basics:

  • what is our strategy?
  • what are we trying to do?

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One of the AI application (or, rather, Intelligent Augmentation) mentioned during another session of the event was chat bots.

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Though targeted currently to b-to-c marketers, chat bots are “trained” to connect to the database and answer or even anticipate questions from the user.  Oracle representatives demonstrated an interface allowing to “instruct” chat bots to recognize topics accurately by correcting initial topic “guess” done by the system.

A few more curious points from the event:

  • “Content cul-de-sac” – opened PDF… and now what?
  • “Innovation is creating the best possible match between a solution and a problem (context: using analog experience as part of overall customer experience even if “printed brochure” is not as popular in the industry 🙂
  • Medtronic: achieved a significant improvement in lead conversion when samples (or printed materials) were sent to the target audience.  Target audience were nurses, who did not spend their day in front of the computer.
  • Medtronic: experience matters; physical experience matters more.  Sales can say: “What do you think about the […] we sent you?”
  • Video can be used throughout an entire customer journey, and creates lift in engagement and conversion.  However, it is not practical to use video everywhere.
  • Video case study: account managers recorded personal videos for the accounts they support.  “Hi, I am an account manager…  how can I help you get started?”  Videos have been sent to companies – customers of BrightCove; target audience – people who may be unaware that their organization was a BrightCove customer.  Emails used to deliver the video link received 200% total open rate!
  • Starting points for a video: website!  Gated product demos is #1 conversion point.  Then, customer testimonials is a popular and useful application for video content.
  • Video-focused question: what do I already do and can be converted to the video to be used in the future?
  • YouTube channel: “video retirement home.”  Keep viewers on your site!
  • People are more likely to watch 3 one-minute videos rather than one three-minute video.  Chapters help!
  • What is the biggest barrier for adoption in a large corp – not tech!  Make sure stakeholders are OK, understand who all stakeholders are to make progress.  It helps to have a video champion.
  • DXP – digital experience platform
  • New European privacy regulations are coming in 2018 http://info.mimecast.com/gdpr-prepare.html
  • Test and pilot – opportunity cost is too high to wait for perfection!
  • Transformation tips: break down large projects and make them available to somebody to get quick feedback
  • “Customer experience is a journey, not a destination”
  • What we could have been done better?  Would have started digital education of executives earlier…
  • Organizational challenge: how silo’s owners can be motivated to work across silos..
  • “Data is not a department – data needs to be everyone’s job…”
  • If the person “qualifies” to be nurtured in two topics, which one is first?  This is a business decisions – the topic that makes more sense for the company.
  • B-to-c email list grow: “give people something, usually a coupon…”

BMA – Using Customer Data for B2B Growth

Data in business (and human society in general) plays a interesting role.  Kiyoto Tamura started the presentation with a note from his experience in finance: data plays a huge role, but most of money loss is based on emotions.

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In many cases customer data “lives” in different databases.  Traditionally, marketing automation vendors tried to “own” this database, what created limitations on which data can be used.  Marketing automation vendors should not “take marketing data hostage” and work with all available data.

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Kiyoto recommended to make rectangles typically used in PPT slides octagons – the chart will look more “scientific”  🙂

A very interesting point on AI-based predictive lead scoring.  Identification of a correct lead is difficult.  To make predictive lead scoring useful, the company have to have enough of good data, what may not always be the case.  “Don’t get caught in AI craze.”

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Very insightful presentation, as can be expected from BMA events.