I’ve been working with the B2B Marketing organization contributing research-based reports and presentations at their events. Recently, calling on my 10 years of experience in the research industry, I’ve also been able to contribute to their planning for a new community platform, which launched in January this year and already has over 1,000 members.
Propolis is an exclusive new digital community for B2B marketers, and one which we all believe will become the new home for the B2B marketing industry. By design, Propolis will have a diverse membership; not just executives but entire teams of people in leading global organisations based across the globe. The global expansion is real: I noticed that myself last March, when presenting at GetStacked 2020, all of a sudden I had listeners from around the world, not just from the UK.
The naming is quite elegant. Propolis is a resin that bees use to both build and protect their hives. That makes it a perfect metaphor for the buzzing, vibrant and productive community that we will be generating. 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.
If that were not enough, there are also areas dedicated to individuals of different areas of seniority, as we know CMOs have different community needs to marketing directors or line managers.
I am the resident “Lead Analyst” for Propolis and get to write one research report for each of the hives during 2021, working with the designated Hive Expert, each of them a recognized B2B marketing expert. We usually run a survey and interview other practitioners to inform the report. The first report, Moving Forwards with Marketing Operations, is now available; the second survey, on customer experience is in the field; and the third survey, about campaigns and execution is being finalized.
I think that Propolis has the potential to be nothing less than a game changer for B2B marketing as an industry, as a profession, and most of all as a community. The way that business professionals want to consume and discuss industry and disciplinary trends is changing to become much more:
- Digital. Meaning that there is interactivity, not just website documents
- Democratized. Where all job levels can afford to benefit from the information
- Discussion-based. Where peer inputs are valued just as much as the so-called experts.
As an industry analyst, I am proud to be able to offer my wisdom in this community but realize that I am learning from every interaction as well.
It is strange: about 7 years ago, I had an argument with Joel Harrison, Editor-in-Chief of B2B Marketing because he claimed that they and Forrester Research, where I worked then, were competitors. I did not believe that a journalism-based site was in that position, though I did agree that they probably captured budgets that could have been spent on my stuff.
NOW, we will see what happens. I look forward to our interactions in Propolis.
Always keeping you informed ! Peter
One of the challenges working as an independent analyst is explaining what I do now – especially in a private environment. When you work for a company, people associate your work easily with whatever that firm is famous for. Now I need to much more explaining about the potential outcome of my work.
I actually considered adopting the persona of a “B2B Marketing Influencer” when I started out … but got nervous of people seeing me as some sort of blogger testing perfumes, clothes or something else.
But that role is, slowly but surely, becoming important in our business world. When I hear myself describe the “market impact” of our Vendor Selection MatrixTM reports to software vendors (“We work with a panel of 100,000 marketing decision-makers”; “Our reports get 15,000 clicks on average”), perhaps that is the role that I fulfilling now. These reports are “influential” because we combine real feedback from 1,500 practitioners and with a seasoned Analyst’s point of view and experience.
The software vendor Onalytica offers an influencer marketing software platform that connects brands with topical influencer communities and helps them to scale and structure influencer programs globally. Many of the brands working with this software are B2B vendors and providers. This is what they have to say in their 2019 The Complete Guide to Industry and B2B Influencer Marketing :
Influencer Marketing is now at a point where we no longer feel the need to explain why it is important, it has become an integral strategy for Industry and B2B Marketing. Influencer Marketing was voted the 2nd
most important trend for B2B Marketing according to research released by Raconteur in July 2019 interviewing 214 senior B2B Marketers across North America and Europe.
Add to this that WOMM (Word of Mouth Marketing) has been around for as long as humans have. When we have a positive or negative experience with a brand, we are inclined to share that with our peers.
WOMM results in 5x more sales than paid media and people are 90% more likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s recommendation. Influencer Marketing is no longer the “nice to have”, but rather the “must have” strategy.
Onalytica cleverly beats their own drum by periodically publishing a Who is Who report for a certain topic where they discover the most influential experts using Onalytica’s 4 Rs methodology (Reach, Resonance, Relevance and Reference) based upon quantitative data pulled through LinkedIn, Twitter, Personal Blogs, YouTube, Podcast, and Forbes channels, plus qualitative data pulled by their insights and analytics team to capture offline influence. All these influential experts are categorised by influencer persona, the sector they work in, their role within that sector, and more from a curated database of 1m+ influencers.
That sounds like powerful stuff. Which is why I was so pleased to be included in their latest report on Data Management. My Vendor Selection MatrixTM on Customer Data Management came out in December and I seem to have hit on a hot topic at exactly the right time. As well as the more harmless self-publicity thrusts I make via Twitter, LinkedIn, and the Research in Action and marchnata websites, there is a hive of dialogue going on with both vendors and buyers, which their tools picked up. I also published a report on Digital Asset Management in January which is having a similar impact. Somehow, that got me into the Analysts category of the top Influencers for the topic. I am listed there among illustrious full-time experts (remember, I cover various topics within marketing process automation during the year) working for the giants of my industry.
I have never briefed Onalytica, not even talked to them. When they published the report, they could not even email me but had to send out a Twitter post.
Here below is the page where I feature. The full report (free but gated) is available here.
Always Keeping You Informed ! Peter
Diese Monat co-moderierte ich die Keynote der GetStacked Konferenz, welche von der B2B Marketing Organisation erstmalig auf einer virtuellen Plattform ausgerichtet wurde. Ich war damit beauftragt die Highlights unseres neuen Forschungsberichts mit dem Titel „How is Marketing’s Technology Stacking Up?“ zu präsentieren. Wir haben über 300 B2B Marketing Spezialisten zu Martech Investments und Einsatzplänen befragt und zusätzlich einige Marketing Manager interviewt, um tiergehender Hintergründe und Erkenntnisse zu erfahren. Der entstandene Bericht, verfügbar bei B2B Marketing, enthüllt manches Betriebsgeheimnis, eine Fülle an Statistik und peer-to-peer Begutachtungen — wobei das Hauptziel des Berichts bleibt, eine Konversation durch die Bereitstellung von umsetzbaren Ratschlägen zu entflammen.
Die Studie brachte einige ziemlich verblüffende Statistiken hervor. Beispielsweise konnten die Teilnehmenden mit Hilfe einer Selbstauskunft den Zustand ihres Martech Bestands angeben – Die Beantwortung war denkwürdig: Lediglich 13% konnten bestätigen, dass ihr Martech Bestand aktuelle und zukünftige Bedürfnisse zufriedenstellend abdecken kann. Fast ein Drittel betrachten ihren Martech Bestand als unzureichend und sehen akuten Bedarf einer Erweiterung. Der Rest gab an, ihr Bestand sei aktuell adäquat zu ihrem Bedarf, brauche jedoch für zukünftige Bedürfnisse weitere Erweiterungen. Dies wirkt tröstlich … jedoch nur auf den ersten Blick.
Also ….. Wie kann man dieses Feedback erklären?
Nun hat die ungezügelte digitale Transformation in der allgemeinen Geschäftswelt zwei klare Veränderungsmuster für uns B2B-Marketer hervorgebracht. Zuerst mussten wir uns daran anpassen, dass wir nun durch viele neue digitale Channels mit dem Markt kommunizieren. Darüber Hinaus mussten wir eine Reihe von neuen Technologien adaptieren, welche unsere neuen Geschäftsprozesse unterstützten. Ich vermute die Geschwindigkeit der Veränderung hat uns in beiden Bereichen etwas überwältigt.
Marketing Organisationen haben unterschiedlich auf diese Herausforderungen reagiert.
- Einige haben rasch Marketing-Automatisierungs Plattformen adaptiert, teilweise mit vordefinierten Prozessen, welche die ausgewählte Software bereitstellt. Jedoch wurde häufig kein Veränderungsmanagement bei der Installation des Prozesses angewandt. Dadurch wurden die Mitarbeitenden oft nicht angemessen vorbereitet.
- Andere haben eifrig selbst, oder mit Hilfe von Beratern, ein idealisierten Zielbestand (Stack) von Martech erarbeitet (Eine Art Architektur), um daraufhin verschiedenste Software Abonnements abzuschließen bis ihr Bestand aufgefüllt ist. Das Ergebnis ist meist eine Sammlung von abweichenden und unkoordinierten Systemen, welche nur schwer zu handhaben sind.
- Eine weitere Gruppe von Unternehmen erreichte das gleiche Resultat dadurch, dass sie alle Vermarkter in ihrer Organisation befähigen, ihre eigenen Tools auszuwählen und als Betriebsaufwand zu lizenzieren. In meiner Tätigkeit habe ich bereits einige Male beobachtet, dass sich die verwendeten SaaS-Programme über Marketing Abteilungen hinweg divers gestaltet. Dies zeigt, dass viel mehr Technologie angewandt wird wie ursprünglich angenommen oder geplant.
Insgesamt hat der Handlungsdruck im Bereich des digitalen Marketings eine Art Aufrüstung hervorgebracht, bei der viel Technologie taktisch angeschafft wird, oft als Reaktion auf die teils dreisten Versprechungen der Marketing Software Anbieter.
Unsere Studie zeigt außerdem, dass meist keine großartige Zufriedenheit mit den installierten Technologien oder Plattformen besteht. Die niedrigste Zufriedenheit in der Studie wurde bei CRM festgestellt, welches als unbeliebtestes System für Marketer gilt. Für die meisten Marketer ist CRM ein externes System: installiert bevor Sie digitalen Marketing betrieben und gebaut für die Bedürfnisse von Vertrieb nicht Marketing.
Die größte Martech Herausforderung oder Erfolgshemmer war
“Zeitknappheit und Mangel an Ressourcen, welche effektiv genutzt werden können.”
Offensichtlich kaufen und nutzen viele Unternehmen Software ohne eine Erwägung der erforderlichen Ressourcen, um von dieser Software zu profitieren.
Also, ein bedauerlicher Stand der Dinge. Eine Kombination aus kurzfristigem Denken, Ego-Käufen und unkontrollierten Anbieter Verhalten hat einen Martech Jungle für die meisten B2B Organisationen erschaffen. Erlauben Sie mir an dieser Stelle einen Gedanken hinzuzufügen, um eine Diskussion anzuregen. Wir haben eine weitere Frage in der Studie gestellt, eine welche ich häufig im Rahmen meiner Verpflichtungen stelle: “Haben sie eine Martech Strategie vereinbart und dokumentiert?”
Ich bin fortlaufend daran interessiert, das aktuelle Dokument zur gesamten Martech Strategie meines Klienten zu sehen. Meine Erfahrungen weisen Ähnlichkeiten zu den Studienergebnissen auf, lediglich einer von fünf ist in der Lage mir ein solches Dokument zur Bewertung bereitzustellen. Immerhin 57% gaben an, aktuell daran zu arbeiten. Wir fragten auch nach dem erstrebten Zeitrahmen und ein Viertel der 57% erklärten, die Strategie sei für 6 oder auch 3 Monate vorgesehen. Nun ist jeder Zeitrahmen unter einem Jahr für eine Strategie unzureichend – schließlich dauert jedes große Martech Beschaffungsprojekt typischerweise 6-9 Monate von der ersten Festlegung bis zur Anbieterauswahl, mit einer darauffolgenden ähnlich großen Periode für die Implementierung.
Ich erwarte von einer Martech Strategie, dass sie einige Elemente der Planung, Richtlinien und Rahmenbedingungen enthält. Wie der Titel impliziert, schließt dies den Technologieplan mit einer Beschreibung des aktuellen Zustands mit ein (gestützt von einer kürzlich stattgefunden Technologie-Audit) und eine Liste/Kalender der Technologieprojekte für die bevorstehende Period (aufgeteilt nach Investment-Bereichen, Make-or-buy-Entscheidungen, Status des Technologieerwerbs und einem integrierten Projektplan). Es sollte außerdem ein Prozess-Überarbeitungsplan enthalten, welcher diskutiert wie eine neue digitale Marketing Methode mit adäquatem Veränderungsmanagement adoptiert werden kann. Darüber hinaus ist ein Ressourcenplan mit Dokumentierung von Personalbestand, Rekrutierung, Externer Assistenz und Trainings unverzichtbar.
Marketing wird zunehmend digital und erfordert Technologie und eine geeignete Martech Infrastruktur von jeder Marketing Abteilung, um effektiv zu agieren. Gleichermaßen benötigt digitales Marketing entsprechende Organisation und Rahmenbedingungen, um effektiv in der Anwendung zu sein und die Infrastruktur wirksam einzusetzen. Eine klare strategische Herangehensweise an den Martech Bestand ist nun essentiell um sicherzustellen, dass die Ausgaben im gesamten Marketing Budget optimal investiert sind.
Der CMO oder Marketing Direktor muss die Verantwortung eventuell an einen erfahrenen Vermarkter übertragen, eine Art Chief Marketing Technology Officer. In größeren Organisationen kann eine separate Gruppe für Marketing Betriebsabläufe gegründet werden, um die Technologie zu verwalten – die Führungskraft dieser Gruppe könne der Verantwortliche für die Martech Strategie sein.
Eine Martech Strategie wird als Rahmenbedingung für alle Marketing Mitarbeitenden und die beteiligten IT Fachleute benötigt. Digital bedeutet, dass es viele Kategorien von Marketing Fachleuten gibt, welche intern und extern involviert sind (Als Digitale Marketing Dienstleistungserbringer):
- Marketing Programm End-Nutzer
- Marketing-Aktivitäten Staff
- Vorstände, welche Berichte benötigen
- Entwickler von digitalen Erfahrungen oder externen Marketing Programmen
- All die potentiell Anwender-Käufern von Marketingsoftware für individuellen Nutzen (z. B.: Analytics)
In einem modernen demokratischen Geschäftsumfeld gibt es keine Möglichkeit individuelle Investments zu verhindern. Man kann jedoch Rahmenbedingungen für alle schaffen, welche potentielle Schaden begrenzen (Integration, Sicherheit, Non-Compliance, Datenschutzverstöße).
Der wahre Wert einer Martech Strategie liegt nicht im dokumentieren und archivieren. Es geht vielmehr um die Meetings, Kommunikation und Verhandlungen, welche für die Entwicklung des Strategie unabdinglich sind. Der fortlaufende Dialog hilft allen die Wichtigkeit der Planung zu verstehen, sich an diese Strategie anzupassen und Ressourcen- sowie Integrationsprobleme rechtzeitig zu erkennen und anzugehen. Eine Martech Strategie sollte kontinuierlich weiterentwickelt werden und für alle Marketing Fachleute zugänglich sein.
It’s the Process That Counts!
Always keeping you informed! Peter
This week, I co-presented the keynote at the GetStacked conference, hosted by the B2B Marketing organization on a virtual platform for the first time. My brief was to present the highlights from our new “How is Marketing’s Technology Stacking Up?” research report We had surveyed over 300 B2B marketers about Martech investment and development plans and we interviewed several marketing executives for in-depth background and insights. The resulting report, available from B2B Marketing, reveals some industry secrets, plenty of statistics and peer-to-peer review – though it’s main aim is to ignite a conversation by providing actionable advice
Our survey collected some quite startling statistics. For example, the respondents could self-assess the state of their Martech stack and the response was extremely thought-provoking: only 13% of them could confirm that their Martech stack was performing well for current and future needs. Nearly one third even consider their stack as poor and in dire need of expansion. The rest reported that their stack was currently adequate but needs developing for future needs, which sounds comforting … but only at first.
So ….. How can we explain this feedback?
Well, rampant digital transformation in the general business world has raised two distinct patterns of change for us B2B marketers. Firstly, we’ve had adjust to communicating to market through many, new digital channels; and secondly, we ourselves have had to adopt a realm of new technologies to support our new business processes. I suspect that the pace of change in both areas has overwhelmed us somewhat.
Marketing organizations have reacted to these challenges in different ways.
- Some quickly adopted marketing automation platforms, sometimes with processes pre-defined by the software they selected. But often they were bought and installed without process change management and employees were left unprepared.
- Others eagerly drew up, or had it drawn for them by consultants, an idealistic target Martech “stack” (a sort of architecture) and embarked on a buying binge of software subscription after software subscription to fill out their stack. The result is mostly a collection of disparate, uncoordinated systems which is a headache to operate and manage.
- A further set of businesses ended up with the same result, not through a stack approach, but because all marketers in the organization were empowered to license their own tools as an operating expense. I have seen many times in my engagements, that a SaaS-Apps audit across the marketing departments invariably shows much more technology being used than originally assumed or planned.
In summary, a sense of urgency around digital marketing created a sort of arms race where much technology was being acquired tactically and often in response to brash promises made by marketing software vendors.
Our survey also shows that there is no great satisfaction from anybody in marketing with the installed technologies or platform types. Highest of this diss-satisfaction was CRM – it is the most-hated system for marketers in general. It scored most negatively in the satisfaction question. For most marketers, the CRM is an external system: installed before they were doing digital marketing and built for the needs of Sales not Marketing.
The most major Martech challenge or success inhibitor was
“Lack of time/resources to use effectively”
Evidently, companies buy and set up software without considering whether they have the resources to take advantage of it.
So, a sorry state of affairs. A combination of short-term thinking, ego buying, and uncontrolled vendor behavior has created a martech jungle for most B2B organisations. At this point, please allow me to provoke some thought into the discussion and suggest what is really missing in this story. You see, there was another question we posed in the survey – one that I often ask in my engagements as well – when helping marketers select the right technology vendor for a project: “Do you have an agreed and documented martech strategy ?”
I am always curious to see the current document on my client’s overall martech strategy. And my experience is similar to the survey result – only one out of five can even give me such a document to review. Now, 57% did say they are currently working on it, but we also asked what timeframe these plans were being laid out for – and a full quarter of the 57% responded that their strategy plan is for 6 or even just 3 months. Well, any strategy timeframe under a year is not a strategy at all – after all, any major Martech acquisition project will typically take 6-9 months from initial specification to vendor selection and that time period is followed by a similar block for project implementation.
I would expect a Martech Strategy to include several elements of planning, guidelines and frameworks. As the title implies, it includes the Technology Plan itself with a description of the current status (backed up by a recent technology audit) and a list and calendar of technology projects for the coming period (broken down into investment areas, make or buy decisions, status of technology acquisition, and an integrations project plan). It should also have a Process Re-Engineering Plan, discussing how it is planned to adopt the new digital marketing methods with the associated change management projects addressing migration and skills acquisition. And a Resources Plan (documenting staffing, recruitment, external assistance, and training).
Marketing has become primarily digital and requires technology to operate effectively and a suitable Martech infrastructure is required by every marketing department to achieve that goal. But equally, digital marketing also requires the appropriate organization and framework of business processes to be effective in operating and leveraging that infrastructure. A clear, strategic approach to the Martech stack is now critical to ensure that, ultimately, spending across the whole marketing budget is optimally invested.
The CMO or Marketing Director must assign this responsibility to a senior member of the marketing staff – a sort of Chief Marketing Technology officer perhaps. In larger organisations, a separate group for Marketing Operations is created to manage the technology – the leader of that group could be the owner of the Martech Strategy.
A Martech Strategy is needed as a framework for all marketing staff, and IT staff, who are involved with the technology. Digital means that there are many categories of marketing staff now involved internally and externally (at Digital Marketing Service Providers):
- marketing application end-users
- marketing operations staff
- executives who need reports and dashboards
- citizen developers of digital experiences or external marketing apps
- all those potential rogue buyers of marketing software (such as analytics) for individual use.
In a democratic modern business environment, there is no way to stop the individual investments, but establishing a framework for all will limit any potential damage that is caused (integration, security, non-compliance, privacy breaches).
The true value of a Martech Strategy is not that it is documented and placed on a booked shelf. It is in the meetings, communications and negotiations that are need to develop the plan. That continuous dialogue helps everybody to understand the importance of planning and then aligning to that plan and will probably limit resource and integration issues in the future. A Martech Strategy should be a continuous work-in-progress and openly accessible to all of the marketing staff as listed above.
It’s the Process That Counts!
Always keeping you informed! Peter
I’ve now published the new Marketing Lead Management (MLM) vendor selection matrix via my business partner Research in Action. Our global survey of 1500 business decision makers found that 72% of business will be investing in new MLM software – over half for their first time. This area of marketing automation is a critical backbone for most marketing organizations but I also know from my recent research with another partner, B2B Marketing, that only 60% of existing users are satisfied with their current solution, citing issues like lack of time/resources to use it effectively and integration – that report comes out in a few days for B2B marketing premium subscribers.
That is probably why the report has discovered a vendor landscape for MLM which is an interesting mix of Email Service Providers, Marketing Automation vendors and even some Customer Data Platform vendors, showing the range of MLM project maturity across organizations (see my MLM S-Curve Maturity Model).
Congratulations to Marketo, who were named and rated the highest of all under that brandname, even though the company was acquired and absorbed by Adobe several years ago. In contrast, the other early market leader and innovator, Eloqua, has somewhat disappeared under the Oracle brand; though it’s customer satisfaction scores have improved greatly since last year’s survey. An interesting brand highly-rated for MLM process automation continues to be Creatio (previously known as bpm’online). Act-On and Hubspot also appear in the Top 5 as rated by the survey respondents.
As well as the ratings, we now also ask respondents whether they would recommend the vendor to their peers, the percent of affirmatives is documented as the Research In Action Recommendation Index; it ranges in this landscape from 83% to 96%.
Our survey also returned that organizational issues are the most significant success inhibitors – 20% cited executive buy-in is a serious barrier and, evidently, some CMOs still struggle to even get a role in the lead management process and must argue with sales about “turf“.
The report states that functions provided by lead management systems are also of increasing importance to other departments and programs in a business: internal communications, customer satisfaction initiatives, customer service or support, and channel management. That increases the installed footprint for MLM providers but also expands the user profiles that they sell to and work with.
If you would like to see more of the report, such as the individual vendor profile sheets and full scoring schema, please contact me.
Always keeping you informed! Peter
I’m coming to the end of my first year back as an industry analyst and thanks to all of you who recognized me from previous contacts and worked with me in 2019. Through my collaboration with Research in Action GmbH, I’ve interviewed thousands of marketers on their business processes automation. And I’ve also talked to some 120 marketing software vendors and some have told me that I’ve set a new standard for market analysis. Here are a few general impressions from the year.
- Business POV is the right approach. My research reviews MarTech from the business practitioners’ point of view and names their most important business process, or perhaps family of processes. Why? Well, that’s how business people plan their automation projects and look for suitable software or SaaS suppliers. In our interviews, we discuss the process first and then the vendors they work with to improve that process in their company.
Many vendor CMOs tell me that this approach has been an eye-opener to them and some have even debated changing their messaging. On the other hand, quite a few still respond that they prefer to see themselves in a different technology category (than where customers named them?) and that I am therefore “wrong”. Others gladly take note of competitors they’d underestimated.
- Tech marketers still misunderstand the significance of brand. I’m amazed at how many MarTech vendors still only talk about themselves and their products, relying on product-based differentiation to be noticed. They don’t get that their customers are now expecting every aspect of their experience with a vendor to be as sophisticated, consistent, and frictionless as those they have with the most admired B2C brands.
Many vendors object to the weightings of selection criteria I use. But Customer Satisfaction and Price/Value Ratio feedback does far overweigh what people think of the product itself. The emotions that buyers experience when they consume a vendor’s content and engage with its employees define a company’s brand more than the product or service.
- Perception is reality and so important. We ask survey respondents to rate the vendors they know well – but that doesn’t mean that they’re customers or users necessarily, so it’s also an awareness and perception survey. Business professionals care about whether a vendor is innovative or if it has a partner ecosystem rich enough to reach their needs (geographic or industry), and they form those impressions based upon what information is available.
Incredibly, I have heard counter-arguments from several vendors that they only reveal their innovation and go-to-market strategy to anybody under non-disclosure terms. These day, so many vendors are eliminated from a list by buyers doing their own initial research – and the vendor doesn’t even know about it.
Next year, I will continue the same research process and revisit most of the topics covered in 2019. It will be interesting to see how the vendor landscapes change.
I will also be doing other research in collaboration with the B2B Marketing.net organization, based in London and Chicago. My first project is to prepare the keynote research, and a premium report, for the next GetStacked conference in March 2020, where I will report how B2B companies are planning and developing their marketing technology stacks. This is nice extension of the work described above and is determined by their conference schedule. Later in the year, I will explore other topics across B2B marketing.
Always keeping you informed! Peter
A few years ago, we began to hear a curious cacophony around ABM. ABM stands for “account-based marketing,” a marketing concept that’s been around for decades. Now, it is being used in reams of promotional copy distributed by marketing consultancies, data service providers, and software automation vendors alike.
Marketing-led prophesies can sometimes be self-fulfilling. So now, B2B marketers everywhere are busy researching, launching, and conducting ABM initiatives — ostensibly to engage prospects at target accounts with personalized messaging, content, and offers. And as a growing number of product vendors, service providers, and event organizers enter this gold rush, B2B marketers are in danger of falling for the “fool’s gold” of unrealistic revenue windfalls and investment returns.
‘Tis time to take stock and sieve this topic more effectively. The musicians among us would prefer to hear more harmony than discord. But the truth is that ABM means different things to different people; a recent survey of 120 B2B marketers on their strategies and tactics shows:
“73% agreed that ABM is a term that lacks specific meaning and is used inconsistently today.”
The same survey showed that four out of five found ABM effectiveness falls short of their expectations. So much for years of marketing spend by all those vendors!
My research, in comparison, can be somewhat boring: I talk about the age of the customer and the need for customer obsession, and, of course, I tell my B2B marketing clients that customer obsession should be account-based if that aligns with their business strategy. This summer, I did some extensive research into the experience of B2B marketers with their ABM projects, and their ABM vendors, for my latest Vendor Selection Matrix report.
The Cacophony Continues! ABM continues to be the most-used promotional acronym by marketing software vendors with well over 90 software vendors claiming to provide ABM-specific functionality. And there are probably several dozen more with no ABM claims but also being used by B2B companies to market to specific accounts with target-market segmentation and content personalization. The software market is estimated at around $750 million in 2019 with a current annual growth rate of some 12%.
ABM is just B2B marketing done properly. I was presenting a webinar on this topic yesterday together with Jon Miller of Engagio and we both agreed that the current mire of confusingly-positioned vendors will converge to a couple of dozen platform providers supporting all, or most, of the ABM-related processes such as account and contacts selection; analytics and insights, content personalization, customer engagement orchestration, and performance assessment. Many survey respondents reported deploying two, three or even four ABM vendors, with integration an issue. 30% plan to migrate to a more suitable system, unusually large compared to other vendor selection matrix surveys.
And the Top 20 ABM Vendors are….. The top five vendors rated by the users are (all listed alphabetically) 6sense, Engagio, InsideView, Jabmo, and MRP. The vendors Demandbase, Kwanzoo, Madison Logic, Marketo, and Zoominfo complete the top ten. In positions 11 thru 20 are vendors Agent3, D&B Datavision, Lattice Engine, LinkedIn, Radius, RollWorks, TechTarget, Terminus, Triblio, and True Influence. Here is the report in its public version.
Always keeping you informed! Peter
I’ve been researching the topic of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and find that 57% of businesses plan to invest in ABM software in the next 1-3 years. Business marketers in every industry must add ABM functionality to their marketing tech stack because their buyers only want communications relevant to their current business issues.
The ABM process is actually a long-established marketing/sales methodology in business services companies, where success depends so much on personal empathy and the relationship. So, they research the interests and needs of their target audiences and provide that “market intelligence” to their sellers or account managers.
The advent of digital marketing, tooled by technology advances in website and data analytics, now allows all B2B businesses to do ABM by leveraging collected behavioral and profile data on companies (accounts) or even individual buying decision-makers. ABM software enables marketers to channel personalized content to potential buyers. But first and foremost, ABM is a strategy and is applicable to all marketing channels.
ABM is currently the most-used promotional acronym by marketing software vendors with well over 90 software vendors claiming to provide ABM-specific functionality. There are probably several dozen more with no ABM claims but also being used by B2B companies to market to specific accounts with target-market segmentation and content personalization. Still, I estimate the software market at around $750 million in 2019 with a current annual growth rate of some 12%.
The term ABM is actually a misnomer, it should be Account Based Marketing and Selling (ABMS). The ABM process will only succeed if marketing collaborates with its sales counterparts to select the target accounts; share the important contact data; coordinate content distribution and distribute intent alerts. My survey found the second most important driver for ABM investment to be “enable sales to better understand their customers”. Some interview respondents pointed out that they have always done ABS but this is now supported better by their ABM project.
My prediction is that the current mire of confusingly-positioned vendors will converge to a couple of dozen platform providers supporting all, or most, of the ABM-related processes such as account and contacts selection; analytics and insights, content personalization, customer engagement orchestration, and performance assessment. Many survey respondents reported deploying two, three or even four ABM vendors, with integration an issue. 30% plan to migrate to a more suitable system, unusually large compared to other vendor selection matrix surveys.
As usual, I will publish a Vendor Selection Matrix showing the ratings for the 20 most cited ABM vendors across our survey of 1500 practitioners. That will be on October 8th. The top ten vendors rated by the respondents are (all listed alphabetically): 6sense, Demandbase, Engagio, Kwanzoo, InsideView, Jabmo, Madison Logic, Adobe (Marketo), MRP, and Zoominfo. In positions 11 thru 20 are vendors Agent3, D&B Datavision, Lattice Engine, LinkedIn, Radius, RollWorks, TechTarget, Terminus, Triblio, and True Influence
I’m almost ready with my third research project across the major marketing business processes. As organizations acquire more insight into the buyer journey, Marketing is playing an increasingly active role in selecting and funding enablement software for the sales team, often collaborating with their colleagues in Sales Operations (if that organization exists).
Marketers usually start off their project by seeking a system to distribute content to sellers; while sales-ops wants to provide on-demand coaching plus support the day-to-day operational processes that sellers must endure. Ideally, these projects should be combined into one robust set of sophisticated tools, on the seller’s device of choice, in order to engage productively with their knowledgeable prospects and buyers. So, I see Sales Engagement Management as one of the fastest growing Martech markets and focused on equipping Sales Representatives, Sales Managers, and Marketers with the necessary tools to engage with prospects in an all-digital fashion.
I found nearly 30 active software and SaaS vendors generating an estimated total revenue of around $ 1 billion in annual software licenses, maintenance and SaaS and I know of many companies budgeting well over $100 per seller per month for solutions in this area. Most of the vendors I talked to are enjoying annual growth rates of over 100%.
In our survey of 1500 business executives, 48% said that they will be investing in Sales Engagement Management software for the first time soon and 37% of those who have current solutions will be replacing their existing system for various reasons. The market is in the early-adopter phase; in our survey, the users scored most vendors quite low on perceived differentiation, tending to buy from the first vendor that calls. We anticipate considerable vendor consolidation or churn in 2019/2020 as smaller vendors with point solutions lose their customers to a more complete sales engagement management provider.
The top twenty vendors who were mentioned the most by the 1500 executives appear in the Vendor Selection Matrix, which will be published the first week of March. They are (listed alphabetically): Accent Technologies, Apparound, Bigtincan, Brainshark, Clearslide, Client Point, CustomShow, DocSend, Fileboard, Highspot, Insite Software, Journey Sales, Mediafly, Octiv, Pitcher, Prolifiq, SalesLoft, SAP, Seismic, and Showpad.
Always keeping you informed! Peter