Written by Mike Colombo, CMO, Cloudwords
Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit and its devoted fan base met in San Francisco last week, and while this was my first time attending the Marketo Summit, I’ve certainly attended my fair share of user conferences. With over 6,500 attendees, the energy of the Marketo Summit and the high quality of conversations our team had with customers and prospects underscores the fantastic level of engagement that can be generated at an in-person event.
Keeping with the conference theme, Marketo CEO Steve Lucas declared in his opening keynote that we are in an “Engagement Economy.” He advised the audience to “stop marketing and start engaging,” and offered advice for how marketers can evolve to become leaders in the Engagement Economy.
The way we measure engagement has not changed dramatically over the years. It was, and still is, a function of how well you are able to deliver memorable experiences. What has changed is that with so many channels now available, we all expect our digital experiences to be consistent with and as enjoyable as our in-person experiences. To accomplish this, marketers need a combination of the right marketing technology, a modern go-to-market approach, and an intention to spend less time talking to buyers and more time listening.
3 Pillars Required to Support Marketing’s Engagement Economy
After watching the keynotes and sessions, and speaking with Cloudwords customers and prospects, my main takeaway is that there are 3 pillars critical to supporting success in the Engagement Economy:
A complete and connected MarTech Stack to engage with speed, and at scale
An Account-based Marketing strategy that focuses on value, not volume
An Authentic and genuine talk track
1. The MarTech Stack
Having an underlying foundation of a fully functioning and connected MarTech stack is one of the most critical enablers for driving engagement. If functions are missing or your stack has manual connections, you clearly won’t be able to operate at the global speed and scale now required of marketing leaders.
During the conference, in sessions, and on the exhibit floor, I heard one topic of conversation repeated over and over, and it was all about the stack: What's in it; how do you manage it; and what’s working well?
In their session titled, “LEGO My Tech Stack: How to Build the Ultimate Enterprise MarTech Set,” Jennifer Clegg and Jill Ragsdale from CA Technologies shared how they built and maintain a world-class MarTech stack, comprised of nearly 70 technologies. What I found most interesting is the very intentional approach CA has to maintaining their MarTech stack.
Credit: CA Technologies tech stack as presented at Marketo Marketing Nation Summit
Because the operational success of their marketing stack is so important to the company, CA doesn’t leave the management of it to one individual or department. Instead, they have developed a cross-functional Board that oversees the technology components to ensure they are fully supported, utilized, and properly integrated into their overall MarTech strategy.
The advice provided by Marketo’s own customers stress that a company's MarTech stack has become a strategic asset, and the days of departments operating in silos and purchasing stand-alone marketing technologies are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
2. Account Based Marketing
The number of sessions covering account-based marketing (ABM) is testament to the fact that ABM is well beyond the latest buzzword or marketing trend. Rather, ABM is a key go-to-market strategy for many B2B organizations, Cloudwords included.
My takeaway from these sessions is that ABM is a key driver of a value over volume strategy. ABM is a critical element to generating engagement and requires a very focused marketing approach. Marketers need to spend time understanding their target customer; creating content specific to them; and keeping the volume of communications reasonable. As Steve Lucas proclaimed on the main stage, “There was a day when you could outspend the voice of the buyer - those days are gone.”
To this point, Joe Chernov of InsightSquared shared a good comparison between “Inbound” and “ABM.” Chernov’s advice: Don’t start with volumes of content hoping to attract an unsuspecting individual; start by understanding your target and building the components of your strategy to engage them.
Credit: Joe Chernov of InsightSquared, ABM presentation at Marketo Marketing Nation Summit
3. Be Authentic (Or, What Marketers Can Learn from James Corden)
Building authentic and original B2B content is the most difficult part of an engagement strategy, something speaker James Corden playfully highlighted to host Steve Lucas when he deemed a good 35% of the morning’s main stage content a bore.
Corden is a guy who is as authentic as it gets. He has a wealth of original content that keeps his audiences ridiculously engaged. He also recognizes that the majority of his potential audience won’t stay up to watch the “Late Show with James Corden,” so he purposely builds his content in 5-minute segments that are easy to watch, but more importantly, are easy to share. In other words, he meets his audience where they are and engages them with great content on their terms. While we may not be James Corden, we can create content that is easier to consume and employ a talk track that leads to engagement over estrangement.
Focus on Your Stack
According to Lucas, engagement equals curating a personal and authentic experience at every stage of the buyer journey. Thus, the Engagement Economy will be driven by the interconnectedness of marketers and marketing technologies that come together to provide meaningful interactions. Your Martech Stack is critical to this endeavor. Focus on the technologies and the management of those technologies. Focus on value over volume with ABM, and most of all, prioritize an authentic talk track. Even if this means telling the CEO that his conference presentations are just not that interesting.