ABM, CDP, Intent and AI – Oh My!
One of the perks of being part of the Marketing Center of Excellence at Insight is the exposure we get to marketing tech trends and solutions.
In 2018 we talked to industry analysts, attended tech conferences, met with countless MarTech companies (both during due diligence and to introduce to portfolio companies), and saw new types of tech being effectively used by marketing teams throughout our portfolio.
As we begin the year, we wanted to share some of our learnings and what’s on our radar for 2019.
1. Account Based Marketing Platforms
As you read in our prior post on What’s Top of Mind for Onsite in 2019, account based marketing (ABM) is still top of mind. We feel strongly that highly personalized, seamlessly orchestrated interactions – which is the core of ABM – will be an important part of B2B marketing going forward.To do this at scale, technology is a key component. ABM tech vendors are rapidly evolving – whether through tight integrations, new capabilities, or acquiring other vendors – towards the dream of a true consolidated ABM platform. And why stop there? Why not build out email functionality and go head-to-head with marketing automation platforms (MAPs) to become the centerpiece of the MarTech stack? This makes ABM platforms one of the top tech areas to watch in 2019. But, let’s not get to ahead of our skis here. While the promise of an integrated platform is compelling, we still encourage companies to figure out their ABM strategy first before over-investing in tech. It may be the case that specific point solutions or utilizing capabilities in existing tools (note: MAP vendors aren’t sitting idly by) may make more sense, especially in the initial stages of an ABM roll-out.
2. Website Personalization
While nothing beats a comprehensive and tightly orchestrated ABM strategy … that’s not exactly easy to pull off. Many companies who aren’t quite ready to go full-ABM get immediate benefits from a website personalization strategy that leverages custom images, call-to-actions, and content. This personalization can be driven by any number of factors, the most common ones being industry, persona, stage of buyer’s journey, or topics of interest (note: be weary of crossing into “creepy” personalization). Website personalization can help drive higher engagement and conversions by immediately presenting visitors with highly relevant information, making them feel truly understood and increasing their confidence in the company and solution. In short, for those who can’t quite pull off a full ABM strategy yet, website personalization offers an initial step towards the dream of highly personalized, 1:1 engagement with prospects and customers. Some form of website personalization is offered by many existing solutions, including website optimization tools, marketing automation platforms, and ABM platforms. There are also numerous point solutions that have more robust offerings and interesting features, especially around content personalization. If you aren’t doing website personalization yet, this would be a good time to start. And chances are, you already have a tool in place that can do it (for an extra fee, of course).
Like ABM, you can’t write an article on marketing tech in 2019 without mentioning AI. While AI is being embedded in almost all new MarTech and sales tech applications, the one that stands out as providing immediate, tangible ROI is conversational AI for lead management and engagement. This can be a chatbot sitting on your website triaging leads or booking appointments or an AI sales assistant that is indefatigable in its lead follow-up (leaky funnel no more!). These tools are not meant to be a replacement of your existing team but rather an extension of your team – taking on repetitive, low-value, morale killing tasks and providing your sales team with the bandwidth to focus on higher value activities. Not to mention helping marketing ring every, last dollar out of their investments by ensuring that all leads are touched. Key benefits of these tools: Always on, persistent, and scalable. Oh, and multi-lingual. Sounds like the perfect addition to the team.
Speaking of increasing sales efficiency, let’s talk about intent data. There’s internal intent data, which is user activity on your website or interactions with your marketing channels (e.g., email opens, ads clicked), but more interesting, external intent data, which is user activity on 3rd party sites. This activity can include the types of articles they read, the content they download, or the keywords they search on – which together can give a strong indication of where they are in their buyer’s journey and the topics they’re interested in (e.g., specific competitors). Putting intent data to use can help companies drive revenue and increase ROI by prioritizing leads that are in-market, increasing conversion rates with personalized content/touchpoints, and identifying net new customers that may not be currently touched. While there are standalone vendors of external intent data, this data is often incorporated or accessed via other tools, including ABM platforms and marketing automation platforms. That said, one of the biggest challenges with intent data is still around accessibility. We’ll be watching this area closely in 2019 and anticipate seeing intent data being incorporated into more applications and seeing companies get creative in how they leverage intent data in their sales and marketing motion.
5. Customer Data Platforms
Last, but not least, underlying all this tech is data. Thus, it should be no surprise that customer data platforms (CDPs) are on our radar. For those not familiar, the goal of a CDP is to combine your data across multiple data sources to create a unified view of your customer. Nothing new right? On the surface no – many tech solutions have claimed to provide a single customer view. However, CDPs are distinct in being easier to use and deploy, with a key goal of ensuring that the data is accessible to delivery systems including email, SMS, and your website. The CDP space is currently a bit murky; many companies are calling themselves CDPs (often for a limited use case) while others are building out, or acquiring, CDP functionality into a broader solution. We expect to continue to see the rise and deployment of standalone CDPs and having CDPs increasingly integrated into other applications. More important is the general trend that sophisticated use of data will no longer reside solely in the realm of large corporations. With companies continuing down the path of highly personalized, smarter, more automated interactions, we expect to see a continued push by tech vendors to simplify data management and access so that companies of all sizes can leverage the mass amounts of available data to drive engagement, revenue and ROI.
Sample Solutions: Highly dependent on use case and requirements
These are five of the top marketing tech areas that we’ll be keeping an eye on in 2019. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more. Please reach out if you have questions or would like to discuss.