• Design Thinking,  News,  Vendor Selection

    Some Background to my Vendor Research

    If you are reading this, then I assume that you’ve looked at a couple of my Vendor Selection Matrixtm reports and are thinking … they look like magic quadrants or waves but they seem to be different… Well, they certainly are – in more ways than one !

    I do this work with my business partner Research In Action and mine are written for marketing software buyers who need to automate one or more important marketing processes and are researching which vendors COULD provide the software their business will require for optimal functionality and strategy. 

    They’re likely to be calling the project something close to the process(es) being automated and improved, but there is no guarantee that the vendors will be using that terminology when describing their products.  

    I design my projects around the process name I think Marketers would use and survey businesses on their experience. Often, that collects a landscape of vendors using different technology labels but that is the reality.

    All in all, there is a multitude of vendor report types out there. On one end of the spectrum, you have the Analyst Reports with industry analyst expertise and in-depth research. On the other end, we have Crowd-Sourced Reports in which rankings are driven by the quality and quantity of user reviews. 

    Analyst Reports

    Pros: The “Tier One” industry analysts doing this work are experts in their field and seriously know their stuff. They sit through strategy and product presentations/demos and some even get feedback from referenced customers. Vendors must invest days of time and resources to provide the right information to the analyst. Of course, many also sign up as clients and engage with the analyst on an ongoing basis to optimize the relationship. 

    Spoiler Alert: In my time as Research Director at Forrester, I had an analyst in my team who consulted specifically on how to execute the process of Analyst Relations (it’s part of B2B Marketing after all) – including how to get yourself placed in an optimal position in a quadrant or wave analysis.  

    Cons: The Analyst Report is written for the research firm’s clients, usually large enterprises – which influences the list of vendors include, of course. These are smaller audiences than is often assumed. Usually, the readership of each report behind their paywall is perhaps in the hundreds – one vendor client told me that the latest two reports where his product was featured had 480 and just 58 views on the research website.

    That can be a little depressing not only for the vendor but also for the analyst – all that work and so little attention! Of course, the brand power, and resulting product-marketing ego, of being in a “Magic Quadrant” or “Forrester Wave” means that some vendors buy reprint-licenses and offer a download of the report through their website. And they book the analyst to make speeches/webinars about the research – a little show business that compensates for the initial disappointment perhaps. 

    Crowd-Sourced Reports

    Pros: It’s always helpful to seek out feedback from other users; peers who share the good, bad, and the ugly about a product. There are several such feedback websites now up and running for all types of software applications, including marketing. 

    Cons: Have you ever looked up your favourite restaurant on Yelp, noticed a few one-star reviews, and wondered how they could come to such contrasting conclusions? A single review (good or bad) shouldn’t dictate your software-buying decision, just like with any other product. Remember: User opinions have varying levels of actual marketing automation understanding – just because someone writes a review does not make them an expert in the field.

    Additionally, report rankings are driven by the quality and quantity of user reviews. If a company has a few hundred reviews with a high rating average, and another has a few thousand reviews with above-average ratings, it is likely the latter will position better in the report due to the sheer number of reviews. This is a huge advantage for larger vendors that have been on the market for a long time, and it’s likely they have review incentive programs to boost their ranking.

    Research In Action Reports Have Both Perspectives

    The methodology at Research In Action is that we first survey 1,500 practitioners about THEIR view of automating the process(es) in questions. And then we ask them to name one or two vendors they associate with the project and give us feedback on the vendor’s product, service, value-for-money, and ability to innovate. The vendors who score highly enough in the survey get into the Vendor Selection Matrixtm report in the first place (usually 15 to 20 vendors). 

    Then, that curated market feedback is seasoned with a touch of industry analyst’s (that’s me) expertise to provide a more well-rounded recipe for successful vendor selection. In fact, much more than the quadrant or wave reports, these reports are embellished with several pages of trends insights that inform both buyers and vendors alike about what is most important when investing in the upcoming project. 

    Research In Action Reports are Widely Read  

    When Research In Action publishes its reports, they are made available to several communities:

    • Survey respondents. The 1,500 marketing software decision-makers who answered the survey questions are provided with the full report as feedback
    • Survey panel. Research In Action maintains an active survey panel on a global basis with contact details and topics of interest: a current total of 125,000 IT Automation decision-makers and 90,000 Marketing Automation decision-makers. These panel members are informed of the report and can download it if desired
    • Website visitors. Any viewers of the Research In Action website sees a “public version” without the exact scores and matrix placements of each vendor (to save their embarrassment) but with all insights and the most important facts on each vendor.  
    • Vendor reprints. Research In Action does also license reprints, where a vendor can distribute a copy of the report, with their detailed profile, to interested parties. 

    On average, each report gets tens of thousands of clicks on our website. Personally, I am quite proud that so many people now get to see my work. And, when I am booked to do speeches and webinars, I know they are booking me personally, not the brand power. 

    Our work really does fill that gap between an industry analyst report focused on large enterprise needs, and the “trip-advisor” type of review websites. They also reach and assist a broader community of software buyers. Lastly, the community reading the reports is probably a whole order of magnitude higher than the audience able to access the “Tier One” research reports.  Here is our latest Market Impact statistics chart.

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • ABM,  Marketing Lead Management,  News,  Vendor Selection

    Martechopia exhibits event vendors

    On my first business trip since years, I attended B2B Marketing’s Martechopia event in London earlier this week. As usual, it was a mix of insightful presentations and discussions by the rich team of experts that the organization is always able to collect for their events. Also, my latest Propolis research report for B2B Marketing entitled ”Riding the Wave of Martech Change” was launched at the event.  

    But I was even more intrigued by the sponsors that exhibited. This was traditionally a mix of a few marketing automation platform vendors, various other software vendors, plus a few agencies – typical providers that target B2B marketing executives as prospects. Well, the big names were not there but a new rising star, the Californian analytics and account engagement platform vendor, 6sense, was present in recognition of their new office in London. Spoiler alert: the day before, I had recorded a video/webinar for them about Account-Based Marketing in Europe to be published in the next weeks.   

    The intriguing thing was that there were THREE marketing event management (MEM) vendors with booths – I also met event attendees representing two further MEM vendors during the day. It looks like I was right in my prediction in the December 2021 Vendor Selection Matrixtm on Marketing Event Management – that investments for marketing event platforms is going to become part of the B2B marketing budget in the next years.  

    In their stage presentation, MEM vendor Cvent even admitted that they had totally ignored Marketing as a target buyer till now, they were only focused on event managers (who are not in marketing). That is true; when I contacted them for the MEM research last September, they declined to brief me because I (only) write for marketers. Well, now they are playing catch-up to address exactly that audience. 

    The other two MEM vendors displaying at Martechopia were in the Top Five in my December report:  ON24 and SpotMe. My colleagues at B2B Marketing are now even using SpotMe as their event platform – I had shared my research with them last year, of course. Another spoiler: there is a webinar with ON24 and myself in the works. 

    My perception was that the staff at both vendors were very good about talking about marketing topics to the delegates instead of event management stuff like registration processes and ticketing. I see MEM becoming an integral part of the customer engagement lifecycle monitored and orchestrated by marketers – from initial kicking-the-tyres curiosity through to offering a Netflix-style library of videos and webinars, most of it collated out of the event calendar. As I write in the report:

    • The crisis has accelerated the inevitable. Large Virtual Events are now SOP and many businesses will plan these as routine in their marketing calendars. Webinars are now an accepted marketing tool across most sectors and geographies.
    • Over one half of companies used between six and ten vendors this year – most did not have a centralized procurement strategy for this topic. Expect his to change for 2022.
    • Nearly three quarters of companies have serious difficulties monetizing their events efficiently. Over half have issues with supporting international audiences, managing presentation content, event registration and ticketing.  

    I suspect the vendors probably did not collect that many “leads” this year, but they have certainly put their stake into the ground and will be top-of-mind when the strategic MEM projects get budgeted this and next year.

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • Marketing Lead Management,  News,  Vendor Selection

    MAP Research Nearly There

    I am almost finished with my next Vendor Selection Matrixtm on Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP) – the draft is with the vendors for fact checking. Here are some highlights that will, hopefully, make you more curious about the full report. 

    Our method of asking business managers to name software vendor(s) they associate with a certain topic collects the list of all vendors that are currently top of mind on the practitioner side. In this case we provided a definition and asked about their “Marketing Automation Platform” and the vendor landscape discovered will surprise some people and vendor staff will see new competitors they had not yet considered. Perception is reality. Most vendors were also scored highly, a sign of a mature market, but the survey results also

    make it clear that expectations from marketing executives of MAP vendors have now changed dramatically.

    More and more companies are now focusing on digital marketing programs as society and business reacts to the COVID-19 crisis. In parallel, the focus of digital marketing itself is moving from the simple realization of new business leads to a more engaging and relationship model, raising questions on MAP functions now needed, questions such as: is lead management or engagement management the main function required now? 

    Nearly three quarters of companies are using the MAP more than previously with over half of those companies are leveraging it for more products and services than before and/or for greater market coverage. The crisis has accelerated the inevitable and the increased dependency on digital marketing has exposed weaknesses in many MAP installations. So, it is no surprise that our survey found that 83% of the companies who have a MAP are actively reassessing the suitability of their current installation. 11% are already replacing their MAP. Another 24% of the respondents know they must migrate to something new and 50% know this will be the case for them soon. 

    63% claim that they are not getting the promised return from their MAP (46% citing that as a BIG problem). 91% have issues integrating the MAP to other systems with, again, the share citing that issue as a BIG challenge is well over 40%.

    The re-assessment wave varies across the key regions of the world with North American enterprises already well into the replacement phase. Although there are 12 market leaders, ONLY 13% of companies are satisfied with their current MAP functionality – or just 10% in North America and in Europe.

    Two thirds of companies lack the time/resources to use their MAP effectively while a similar proportion complain about lack of support, or over-promising, from the vendors (40% call this is a BIG challenge). 

    So, watch this space at the end of this month for more data and insights. 

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • News,  Vendor Selection

    Der Marketing Event Management Bericht ist fertig

    Glücklicherweise werde ich als Branchenanalyst immer noch häufig als Redner für Webinars und Konferenzen gebucht. Einige Vorträge waren Standard-Webinars mit etwa hundert Teilnehmern, jeweils mit einer Handvoll Rednern oder einer Podiumsdiskussion. Andere Vorträge fanden im Rahmen von Großveranstaltungen oder Konferenzen mit Tausenden Teilnehmern, Dutzenden Sponsoren/Ausstellern und einer Vielzahl von Rednern statt. In den letzten 18 Monaten wurden all diese Veranstaltungen aufgrund der eingeschränkten Reisefreiheit virtuell organisiert und durchgeführt.

    Da jede Plattform ein wenig anders zu bedienen ist, habe ich gelernt, flexibel zu sein. An einem Tag befinde ich mich beispielsweise als Avatar in einem 3D-simulierten Konferenzzentrum (Ich habe immer noch Zugriff auf einen virtuellen Konferenzraum dieser Website). An einem anderen Tag sitze ich in einer Microsoft Teams Videokonferenz und werde dann von den Organisatoren live in eine große Konferenz “gebeamt” (Das war ein ziemlich großer Aufwand, denn ich brauchte drei Geräte: Desktop/Laptop, um in Teams zu sein; ein Tablet, um zu verfolgen, wie die Show live gestreamt wurde; und schließlich mein Smartphone, welches als Clicker eingerichtet war, um die Präsentationsfolien zu steuern).  

    Eine der wichtigsten Herausforderungen für CMOs bei der Planung der Budgets für 2022 liegt darin, zu antizipieren, wie ihr Veranstaltungskalender für das kommende Jahr aussehen sollte oder könnte. Mit Live-Veranstaltungen? Aber wie? Als hybrides Event? Und was ist das genau? Plus: Welche Marketing Event Management (MEM)-Plattform(en) wird (werden) im bevorstehenden Jahr 2022 am besten für sie geeignet sein. 

    Meine ersten Gedanken zu dieser Thematik habe ich bereits hier in diesem (in englischer Sprache) Blog niedergeschrieben. Der Bericht ist nun vollständig und hier sind einige der Highlights…

    • Die aktuelle Corona-Pandemie hat das Unvermeidliche beschleunigt. Große virtuelle Veranstaltungen gehören mittlerweile zum Normalbetrieb und viele Unternehmen planen sie nun routinemäßig in ihre Marketing-Kalender ein. Auch Webinare sind in den meisten Branchen und Regionen bereits zu einem bewährten Marketinginstrument geworden.
    • Fast ein Drittel der Unternehmen sorgt sich um die Skalierbarkeit. Die nächstgrößere Herausforderung für Unternehmen liegt im Kosten- und Ressourcenmanagement.
    • Mehr als die Hälfte der Unternehmen nutzte dieses Jahr zwischen sechs und zehn Anbieter. Die meisten verfolgten hierfür keine zentrale Beschaffungsstrategie, was sich im Jahr 2022 voraussichtlich ändern wird.
    • Beinahe 75% der Unternehmen haben ernsthafte Schwierigkeiten bei der effizienten Monetarisierung ihrer Veranstaltungen. Mehr als die Hälfte berichtet von Problemen mit dem Support von internationalem Publikum, bei der Verwaltung von Präsentationsinhalten, der Registrierung und dem Ticketing.  

    Der Bericht enthält mehrere Seiten mit weiteren Erkenntnissen, welche auf Interviews mit Anwendern und Anbietern basieren. Unsere weltweite Befragung von 1.500 Fachleuten für Geschäftsveranstaltungen konnte folgende Wettbewerbslandschaft der Top MEM-Anbieter aufdecken. Die Market Leaders (Strategie und Execution Bewertung mehr als 4 von 5 Punkte) waren: 

    • 6CONNEX, ACCELEVENTS, AIRMEET, BIZZABO, CERTAIN, CVENT, KALTURA, MEETYOO, NOTIFIED , ON24, RAINFOCUS, SPOTME, VFAIRS, und ZOOM.

    Es ist gut, einen deutsche Anbieter, MEETYOO, in diesen Liste zu finden. Gratuliere nach Berlin. 

    Sie können den veröffentlichte Report hier weiterlesen. Zögern Sie nicht mich zu kontaktieren, falls Sie mehr über diese Forschung erfahren möchten. 

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • News,  Vendor Selection

    Marketing Event Management Report Out Now

    One of the most important questions marketing executives are asking is about how their events calendar should, or could, develop for the next planning phase. Are live events totally dead now, or will they return? What is a hybrid event and how do they choose which format to offer? 

    Plus, which Marketing Event Management (MEM) platform(s) will be the most suitable for them going forward. Through 2021, many MEM providers released new, dedicated software to better support virtual events of all sizes, accelerated, of course, by massive injections of venture capital. The classical webinar vendors now all support larger events, while existing virtual event providers added functionality for webinars and meetings to their portfolio.  

    Here is our report on MEM which is based upon a global survey of 1,500 business decision-makers about their MEM experiences in 2021 and plans for 2022, which discovered the software vendors that are most known, as well as what the businesspeople think about those products and services. Over half of the 1,500 companies used between six and ten different MEM vendors this year and most did not have a centralized procurement strategy for this topic. We expect this to change for 2022 and going forward.Here are the survey highlights and my insights from the many conversations I had on the topic:

    • Partner COVID accelerated an already-inevitable move to virtual. Virtual is part of a new marketing paradigm where events will be more numerous, impactful, and measurable than before. Expect all digital marketing plans to include events as standard in customer engagement programs; to collect market/customer insights at scale and to maintain a buyer/customer relationship over a longer period than just a buying cycle. Marketers used to see events as nice-to-have vanity-driven exercises of corporate PR. No longer  
    • Hybrid event strategies will prevail, but the definition changes. Marketers see “hybrid” as more than just mobile apps for on-site attendees. It is a mix of on-site with virtual attendance, with all attendees treated equally; a program of on-site and virtual events within a hub and spoke engagement strategy; plus, importantly, the ability to switch to virtual at short notice if necessary.  
    • To immerse or not to immerse, that is the question. Many virtual event vendors have 3D, CGI-like, avatar-driven, conference environments. But a good share of marketers will opt for a more pragmatic experience – something like a Netflix interface, with a content hub/streaming platform where recordings can be leveraged in campaigns or even just be discovered through good SEO. 
    • Virtual events encourage further globalization. Most virtual events attract and discover new attendance from international audiences. This raises new challenges for event organizers (and the platform they select) around localization, supporting synchronous and asynchronous presentations and meetings, as well as compliance issues such as using attendee and engagement data.     
    • The MEM vendor landscape bewilders, vendors must tell better stories. The over-100 MEM vendors out there have a variety of roots. Some have just repackaged traditional offerings through new product positioning. Others are meeting platforms good for meetings, but not necessarily larger events, or vice-versa. Most are challenged, however, to communicate the benefits of their technologies to business-oriented marketers.
    • Who came out on top? As most businesses were experimenting, the general level of satisfaction with the vendors is higher than usual, so there is an unusually long list of Market Leaders (having both a Strategy and an Execution score of over 4 out of 5) in the Vendor Selection Matrix™ – Marketing Event Management 2021 as scored by the survey and myself (listed alphabetically): 

    6CONNEX, ACCELEVENTS, AIRMEET, BIZZABO, CERTAIN, CVENT, KALTURA, MEETYOO, NOTIFIED, ON24, RAINFOCUS, SPOTME, VFAIRS, and ZOOM 

         Time will tell if that list remains so strong. The full list of vendors in the Top 19 vendors scored in the survey is completed by: CADMIUMCD, CIRCA, HOPIN, SPLASH, and MICROSOFT.   

    Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.   

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • ABM,  Marketing Lead Management,  News,  Vendor Selection

    I asked about Marketing Automation Platforms and Got These Answers

    My research production cycle has me working on many projects at once, so, even though I’m still 

    … I am already looking at the data from a new survey on Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP). Plus, I am now approaching the vendors to arrange briefing so that I can publish in February 2022.  

    The MAP report is planned as an update to my previous reports on Marketing Lead Management. I’m seeing so many marketing organizations maturing from being a mere supplier of leads to Sales to a more strategic orchestrator of full lifecycle customer engagement, that I thought MLM was no longer suitable as the process title for this research. “MAP” was always the alternative term for MLM, though traditionally used only in N America and in the tech industry (I remember at Forrester we used the term “Lead-to-Revenue-Management”).  

    But … what is a Marketing Automation Platform nowadays?

    You may be perhaps surprised to hear I used “MAP” in the survey because I always stress that my research is about how businesses automate a marketing process or family of processes – as opposed to a product category. Well, in my many interviews, marketing people always talk about their “marketing platforms”, but I have noted they often mean different things in terms of which technology and processes. So, I was curious to see what marketers mean by MAP and which vendors turn up in the vendor landscape from our global survey of 1,500 business buyers. Well, here is that list of vendors (unprompted) that were associated with MAP by the survey respondents:

    • ACT-ON SOFTWARE, ADOBE, CREATIO, DEMANDBASE, EMARSYS (SAP), HUBSPOT, INFOR, MARKETO, ORACLE, PEGASYSTEMS, RIGHT ON INTERACTIVE, SALESFORCE, SAS INSTITUTE, SELLIGENT, and SUGAR MARKET
    • For completeness, also named in the survey, but not included in the report are ACTITO, ACTIVECAMPAIGN, ADESTRA, KEA, MAILCHIMP, UPLAND SOFTWARE, and ZOHO         

    So, the usual suspects but also a variety of product categories, as the classical industry analyst would say: Traditional MAP plus MRM, ABM, Low-Code Generation, and even some “Marketing Cloud” (whatever that is) providers. 

    But HERE IS THE MORE IMPORTANT POINT ….

    Expectations of a MAP have changed in the last 18 months. Look at these highlights from the survey questions:

    • 87% of the respondents said they were re-assessing their current MAP
    • One of the top drivers for MAP investment was “Measuring marketing ROI and performance”
    • 46% said “not getting the promised return from our MAP” as a BIG challenge (not just a challenge)

    There is much more data like that for me to chew over in the next weeks. The respondents also scored the vendors they know about based on criteria around product, satisfaction, innovation, vision, etc.  After the briefings, I get to add my POV for some criteria and then profile them in the context of meeting the needs of a MAP project. 

    I am looking forward to my briefing meetings with all the vendors over the next months. As usual, feel free to contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research. It will come out in February 2002. 

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • News,  Vendor Selection

    Event Report almost Ready

    As an industry analyst, I am still, thankfully, often booked to speak on webinars and conferences. Some speeches have been standard webinars with a handful of speakers, or a panel discussion, and perhaps a hundred attendees. Other speeches have been within large events or conference with thousands of attendees, dozens of sponsors/exhibitors and scores of speakers. For the last 18 months or so all of these events have been managed and presented virtually because nobody has been travelling.    

    I’ve learned to be flexible because each platform is a little different to use. One day, I am set up as an avatar within a 3D-simulated conference center (in fact, I think I still have a conference room on one site where I can still invite people for a meeting). On another day, I sit in a Microsoft Teams videoconference and then get “beamed” into a conference by the organisers (that was quite a day as I needed three devices: the desktop/laptop to be in Teams; a tablet to monitor how the show was being broadcast/streamed live; and lastly, my phone which was set up as the clicker to advance the slides).  

    When planning their 2022 budgets, one of the most important challenges that CMOs now face is understanding how their events calendar should, or could, look for the coming year. With live events? And how? As a hybrid, and what is that exactly?  Plus, what Marketing Event Management (MEM) platform(s) will be the most suitable for them in 2022. 

    My first thoughts on this topic were written up here in this blog. The report is now complete, and the draft text is with the vendors for their fact-checking review. Here are some of the highlights…

    • The crisis has accelerated the inevitable. Large Virtual Events are now SOP and many businesses will plan these as routine in their marketing calendars. Webinars are now also an accepted marketing tool across most sectors and geographies.
    • Nearly one third of companies worry about scalability. The next most important challenge is cost and resource management.
    • Over one half of companies used between six and ten vendors this year – most did not have a centralized procurement strategy for this topic. Expect his to change for 2022.
    • Nearly three quarters of companies have serious difficulties monetizing their events efficiently. Over half have issues with supporting international audiences, managing presentation content, event registration and ticketing.  

    The report has several pages of insights as well based upon my conversations with both users and vendors. Our global survey of 1,500 business event practitioners discovered this vendor landscape of the Top MEM vendors as scored by the 1,500 survey participants: 

    • 6CONNEX, ACCELEVENTS, AIRMEET, BIZZABO, CADMIUMCD, CERTAIN, CIRCA, CVENT, HOPIN, KALTURA, MEETYOO, MICROSOFT, NOTIFIED , ON24, RAINFOCUS, SPLASH, SPOTME, VFAIRS, and ZOOM.

    Watch out for the published version in December. Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.   

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • BCM Research,  Brand Content Management,  DAM,  News,  Vendor Selection

    Buyers must see offerings presented in their context

    Imagine: One Product, with Many Different Buyers 

    Your challenge: How can you present the drill so that it appeals (and is bought by them) to each of these audiences? How can you ensure that your products are even displayed wherever these quite different buyers are looking for their tools? 

    You are a maker of machine tools such as a high-end power drill, a real heavy-duty one with high torque and impact wrench. A tool needed by various professionals such as construction workers on the building site, car mechanics in a garage or repair shop, or even carpenters in their workshop or onsite installing something. 

    Or: One Website, with Many Different Visitors 

    You’re a large retailer of pet accessories with thousands of products for all types of pets, and most of your customer traffic is digital and international these days. One day, your website could be visited by a US-based owner of a somewhat unusual pet, say, a skink lizard. Another visitor, from Asia, has a more standard family pet like a cat. Yet another visitor lives in South Africa and disabled with a service dog. 

    How well can you present your offerings to each digital visitor in the context of their per-related needs and their environment? How can you even personalize the content as much as possible for each of those visitors? 

    Customer Centricity moves from Analog to Digital Interactions

    The final translation from standard product to customer-specific solution used to be accomplished by great sales conversations hosted by field sales staff visiting or hosting customers. Or by showroom sales staff who ask the right questions before presenting and pitching the products they would recommend. Great product companies would even distribute printed sales materials where the seller selects the correct illustration and use cases to match the customer’s profile. Customer-centricity was essentially analog and people-driven.

    However, the world is now digital and global. Most buyers browse across multiple channels and websites to inform themselves on solutions they would like to leverage, not visiting showrooms or taking visits from salespeople. That customer-centricity that was provided by well-informed sellers now needs to be part of the digital processes and systems that support an eCommerce world. 

    Manufacturers like the power drill supplier above want to present product information in every potential customer’s exact context. Plus, in this digital world, they also need to render that product presentation through their trading partners or retailers and probably on their own website. The pet-goods retailer cited above has a multi-language eCommerce site that must cope with product files sent by thousands of different suppliers – but it also wants to maintain consistency of its own brand and provide added value services like educational content and promotional bundles that are customer-centric. 

    Digital Buyers Expect THEIR Experience

    Digital breeds impatience. The challenges faced by marketers involved in the above scenarios, and all similar, is increasing in intensity, as buyers quickly click-away from any e-commerce site that does not make them feel welcomed and understood. Whether a consumer or a professional B2B buyer, they are unimpressed with digital experiences that imply that the business they’ve visited knows little, or cares nothing, of their needs and background. Conversely, they will stay longer on a site which does present relevant and contextual information. 

    Ideally, those marketers want to be able to anticipate and meet all buyer expectations. Not only when displaying helpful content, but when presenting the products themselves. Much of this data is available in modern digital marketing systems and can be used to tune content.  

    To go back to the example of the power drill manufacturer, their marketers need a platform that would allow the same tool to be rendered (one picture of a common product) within different picture backgrounds depending on the context of the website visitor: a building site, a garage, and a carpentry workshop. It would also provide a suitable text copy matching the picture directly into the digital channel, regardless of which digital experience system is used. Similarly with the pet products retailer. 

    Brand AND Product Content Provides the Customer Experience  

    In each case, this requires more than just “tuning” a digital asset though, many traditional Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems are just that, asset management systems. The brand experience must be managed as well as the product experience. The brand experience is sustained through digital assets like educational or thought leadership content, including rich media such as pictures and videos. Many manufacturers even create a memorable brand experience through innovative packaging, creating emotions for consumers when they unpack their products. 

    Managing the total of all brand and product content is also much more than the traditional definition of “content marketing” or what is done by most content management systems (CMS). That is because brand content is part of all communication that any business distributes, so the management processes therefore involve working in tandem with many other parts of the company and external partners. It is also a balance of enablement and governance. I have started to use the term Brand Content Management (BCM) in my research and I recently surveyed 1,500 companies about their BCM needs and the vendors they work with – here is that report. Note that nearly one quarter of the respondents have more than six different systems in place (and we asked “vendors”, so the number of systems could be even higher) and that this has increased dramatically since our 2018 survey.

    Most of the vendors named in the BCM report still prefer to call their offering an enterprise DAM platform, but companies like Sitecore, Censhare and Wedia are, indeed, helping organizations to manage, customize and deliver all marketing assets for more relevance, impact and overall business success. They also power personalized customer experiences on a global scale and gathers insightful data from the customer journey to fuel content production and better engage audiences. 

    This blog was commissioned and sponsored by Wedia. I was particularly impressed with how Wedia’s Digital eXperience module supports the rendering of personalized and engaging content across all channels. Their clients can truly deliver a personalized customer experience.

    ———————————————————————  

     

  • ABM,  News,  Vendor Selection

    ABM is now Fundamental

    This week, the B2B Marketing team published my sixth Premium Report. Through the year, I research and write a report for each of the eight hives within Propolis, their community platform, which launched in January this year and has well over 1,000 members.

    Propolis is a digital community for B2B marketers, and one which we all believe will become the new home for the B2B marketing industry. By design, Propolis has a diverse membership; not just executives but often entire teams of marketers from leading global organisations based across the globe because it deals with so many aspects and facets of B2B marketing.  

    The naming is also quite elegant. Propolis is a resin that bees use to both build and protect their hives –  a perfect metaphor for a buzzing, vibrant and productive community. Within Propolis, there are eight separate Hives, built around the core pillars of B2B marketing, where members can explore and expand their knowledge on their chosen areas of interest. 

    Here is the opening page of the report. If you would like to see more, you need to join the B2B Marketing community, where you will see an abridged version of the report, subscribe to Propolis for the full version. …. Or talk to me (see below). (The British English spelling is deliberately so.)

    ABM is now fundamental

    The last two years have seen a series of shifts in B2B marketing: a shift to more digital marketing channels; a shift to more customer-centric or even personalised content marketing; and a definite shift to more marketing programmes based upon the needs of accounts, as opposed to individual contacts. In parallel, because of the growing popularity of ecommerce in B2B buying, some elements of the selling process have undergone a tectonic shift in B2B businesses, away from the sales organisation and towards digital programmes.

    During the disruption caused by Covid-19, business buyer profiles were changing within organisations, with new members increasing the size and composition of buyer teams.

    Marketers were having to target different persona configurations, and adjust to the increasing importance of digital channels. Those companies who did not have an established ABM strategy found that they were not quick enough to pick up changes in the behaviour and preferences of their target customers.

    So, there is a clear reaction across many B2B sectors to planning new investments in ABM technologies, such as predictive analytics, advertising retargeting and account-profiling. The most-early adopters of ABM, and therefore the most experienced practitioners, are to be found in the services and software industries. But now these technologies can also be found in the B2B financial services and healthcare companies and, increasingly, across the manufacturing sectors.

    Most B2B businesses will continue to reform to a post-Covid world driven by societal change, resulting in new working practices and economic and market shifts – all of which have dramatically altered both customer behaviour and their expectations. The overall importance of customer relationships based upon deep insights into the specific needs of each target account has become an overriding critical success factor for marketing and sales. This will continue to accelerate additional ABM investments in new processes, education and technology.

    The focus for this Growth Hive report is to complement the ABM Census and document a series of best practices and lessons-learned from more experienced ABM practitioners. It will also provide actionable advice on improving ABM programmes, using the B2B Marketing Maturity Assessment for ABM as a basis. This year’s Growth Hive report has a clear focus on ABM for the reasons described above.

    In order to build this report, we held long interviews with several senior B2B marketers for deep insight into the topic. All are highly experienced ABM practitioners, so we have taken the liberty of setting the report title accordingly: “Mastering ABM – Lessons Learned from Several Masters of ABM”. As you will see, these executives delivered a wealth of advice, so they will take the main stage throughout the report. ………

    B2B Marketing also held its ABM Forum in London; a hybrid event with a mix of conference center presence and online experience. I presented an overview of the vendor landscape and sourced both my own Vendor Selection Matrixtm report from April and other analyst reports. I must say, I have been kept busy since April talking about ABM. The pandemic has done two things to accelerate interest in the method:

    1. Expose to those marketing organisations without ABM, that they do not know enough about their customers to be relevant and helpful
    2. Helped sellers and sales executives how useful their colleagues in Marketing can be with good customer research and insights

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • News,  Vendor Selection

    Marketing Event Management – Which Platform(s)?

    In my discussions with marketing executives about their investments in digital marketing programs, one of the most important challenges they are currently facing is understanding how their events calendar should, or could, develop for the next planning phase. 

    — Are live events totally dead now, or will they return? 

    — What is a hybrid event and how do they choose which format to offer? 

    Plus, most importantly, what Marketing Event Management (MEM) platform(s) will be the most suitable for them in 2022.  

    When many companies ran virtual events in the first months of the COVID-19 crisis, the immediate goal was to cover an already-planned live event with an online alternative or work-around. Many executives made short-term decisions about the platform — optimization wasn’t yet part of their strategy, just getting it done. 

    And the event participants were so-easily pleased to be able to log in to any platform and be able to connect with business topics at all. As they were usually juggling the new world of working from home, the near presence of other family members to their home office desk, possibly the parallel process of also teaching/caring for their children; they were not too discerning about the event platform and willing to put up with a lot of kinks. That was certainly true for myself as I learned to make presentations on dozens of new platforms, all of which used different language and methods to even the basic functionality of screen-sharing or presenting.  

    Whether organizing an event or presenting at one, our overall experience was that most of event platforms deployed were not purpose-built for virtual events; they were originally designed to provide other services—such as webinars, e-learning course management, or event registration. However, through 2021 many Marketing Event Management (MEM) platform providers have been releasing new, dedicated software, to better support virtual events of all sizes. This has been fuelled, of course, by massive injections of venture capital into several of these vendors. The most famous story in this market sector was probably Zoom with its successful IPO valuation, but there were numerous other financial transactions that stayed under the radar.   

    I have now applied our Vendor Selection Matrixtm research methodology to this topic and the survey results are in. Companies have been working this year with multiple MEM solutions as most did not have a centralized procurement strategy for this topic – the survey showed that nearly 70% of the respondents were working with more than six MEM vendors. 

    But as we enter the next wave (routine?) of virtual events, businesses will want to collect the relevant information and guidance to be able to optimize the experiences they offer to prospects, partners and customers. I expect investments in MEM platforms to be a major investment category in 2022 and marketing executives will want to be well informed about the choice of platforms. 

    The survey discovered this vendor landscape of the Top Twenty MEM vendors as scored by the 1,500 survey participants, and I am currently setting up a briefing program to talk to them and then add my scores. This is the list of vendors discovered in our global survey across many industries: 

    • 6CONNEX, ACCELEVENTS, AIRMEET, BIZZABO, CADMIUMCD, CERTAIN, CIRCA, CVENT, HOPIN, HUBB/INTRADO/NOTIFIED, KALTURA, MEETYOO, MICROSOFT, ON24, RAINFOCUS, SPLASH, SPOTME, VFAIRS, and ZOOM.

    If all goes well and the vendors listed above talk to me, we will publish the report in November. Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.   

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter