Seattle Marketing Operations Roundtable Recap


By Brian Hansford, client services director and marketing automation practice lead for Heinz Marketing

Earlier this month Heinz Marketing hosted a Marketing Operations Roundtable, sponsored by Oracle Marketing Cloud and Usermind.  The Seattle B2B marketing automation and operations community is loaded with innovative and incredibly talented people. Getting 30 of them in a room for an open discussion provided insights into challenges and goals for 2015.  Here are some of the highlights from our discussion.

Overwhelming Options

The Marketing Technology landscape has nearly 1,000 tools and platforms, according to Scott Brinker.  The options are overwhelming at times, even when most of our efforts focus on utilizing marketing automation platforms.  The key element is ensuring Marketing focuses on the overall demand generation strategy and objectives.  How will new platforms help us achieve our objectives?  While many of the technologies are compelling, they can be very distracting as well.

Detailed and Accurate Revenue Analytics

What has Marketing done for me lately? Marketing Ops and Demand Generation pros get this pressure daily to provide analytics that clearly show influence and attribution.  A critical area non-marketing execs get hung up on is “sourced revenue” opportunities. While sourcing is important, a more reliable and meaningful process is measuring the influence and attribution over time.  Marketing Automation Platforms don’t make this easy and Salesforce certainly doesn’t help.  Tools like Full Circle CRM and Brightfunnel are options to help in this analytics challenge.

Predictive Analytics – Will The Hype Deliver – It’s up to Sales

Predictive analytics is the latest shiny object in the marketing tech stack.  The promise is compelling.  However the organizations that use predictive platforms often encounter two significant challenges – complex implementation and sales adoption. Many predictive targeting and scoring solutions require a lot of administrative and manual set up “behind the curtain” and aren’t a pure plug and play technology. Predictive platforms are often very complex because of the hundreds of data sources they can pull from to identify and score opportunities.  These sources take time to build into models and test. Some of the solutions require offshore help in gathering and compiling the data so vendor’s data scientists can fine tune the scoring. If organizations adopt predictive lead analytics platforms, the sales organization must do their part to pursue opportunities, engage correctly, capture data, and provide feedback. This entire process can take several months and marketers need to understand this to set expectations.

Legacy Sales Behaviors Impede Marketing Success

The best marketing engine and demand generation programs in the world won’t succeed if Sales doesn’t do their part to consistently pursue leads and improve practices.  Several organizations described legacy sales behaviors that clearly don’t fit how customers engage today. It’s interesting that with the pressures on Marketing and advancements in programs, Sales doesn’t doesn’t show the same level of evolution.

Content Challenges Persist

Marketing organizations still struggle with content strategy, development, execution, and measurement. Many of the challenges include identifying what to develop and how to use technology to help engage customers and measure effectiveness. Mapping content to personas and customer journey stages is difficult, but the results are worth the effort.  Many companies don’t invest in content because the benefits aren’t easily measured. Customer audiences are consuming content in many different ways and want vendors that show empathy and understanding.  Yet B2B companies still rely almost entirely on whitepapers.  Marketers want to use different formats but often are clear how to measure the benefits and value to justify the investment.

Measuring Marketing Effectiveness

Marketing Automation and CRM all collect massive amounts of data. But tracking the right data that provides meaningful analysis is incredibly difficult.  Marketing influence and attribution are two of the most valuable categories of measuring effectiveness, yet they require the skills to configure systems correctly and even other platforms to measure. Using spreadsheets as the main tool for data collection is inefficient and often unreliable.  Companies need to invest in the right platforms and skillsets to measure effectiveness.

To wrap-up up the session, we asked the group for their 2015 Marketing Stack Wish List. Here are some of the ideas:

1. Improved and Consolidated Data Analytics – capturing the right data and reporting reliably

2. Consolidated analytics – too many platforms create too many inconsistent snapshots

3. API’s that work – Integrations are critical for a marketing stack to work. Vendors can do better with their API’s

4. Lead Process Management – easier and effective ways to implement a closed-loop lead management process

5. Content Strategy and Execution – marketers want to diversify the content they develop, focused on customers in their buying journey, and managed with an integrated platform

Heinz Marketing will conduct another Marketing Operations Roundtable in Q1 2015.  All Marketing Ops and Demand Gen Pro’s are welcome.

What are some of the topics you would like to discuss with your peers?