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Carlos Hidalgo Steps Down, Adam Needles Named Successor CEO At Annuitas

hidalgo headshot 1Annuitas, a leading B2B demand generation firm based in Atlanta, announced that its Founder & CEO Carlos Hidalgo (pictured here) will leave the company at the end of February. Adam Needles, Chief Strategy Officer at Annuitas, will succeed Hidalgo as the company’s new CEO. Hidalgo will continue to serve as a member on the company’s Board of Directors.

Hidalgo founded Annuitas in August 2005. Prior to launching the company, Hidalgo held senior-level marketing positions at companies such as BMC Software and McAfee.

“I am thankful for the opportunity I had over this last decade at Annuitas and see nothing but a bright future for them as they continue their success,” Hidalgo said in a blog post detailing the announcement. “However, I am more excited about the future that lies ahead for me, the decision I have made and the work I will be able to do going forward.”

Needles succeeds Hidalgo after serving as the company’s Chief Strategy Officer for the past four years. He is tasked with continuing the company’s growth, while also bringing a “focus to the fundamentals,” Needles said. He is credited as the architect of the company’s core Demand Process methodology, which helps clients build buyer-driven demand gen programs and transform their lead-to-revenue processes.

Prior to joining Annuitas in 2012, Needles was Chief Strategy Officer at LeftBrain DGA, a Silicon Valley-based demand generation agency. He has also held senior-level positions at Silverpop, an IBM company, as well as a tech market research firm The 451 Group.

“Annuitas delivers unique value in the marketplace,” said Needles. “In my new role, I’m excited to lead the next stage of growth for Annuitas and for its clients.”

Study: B2B Marketers Low On Demand Gen Resources And Budget

A quarter of enterprise B2B marketers noted that limited resources were their biggest obstacle to meeting their demand gen goals, according to a new study from Annuitas. The demand gen consulting company said marketers also cited lack of budget (18%) and lack of a defined strategy (15%). In addition, more than half of these organizations (57%) have a dedicated demand generation team, but 61% say that this team is run by the corporate marketing or product marketing teams.

Experts Share What’s In And What’s Out In B2B Content Marketing

Shorter content is in, and longer content is out, according to 88% of the B2B buyers polled for Demand Gen Report’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey. But what other trends will we see in the industry this year?

I was able to track down some industry leaders to get their thoughts on the matter as they headed to Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio this week.

I asked them all the same question, which will likely come up repeatedly during the conference: “When it comes to B2B content marketing in the next year, what will rise to the top, and what will fall by the wayside?”

In other words: What’s in and what’s out in B2B content marketing? Here’s what they had to say: 

Amy Holtzman, Senior Director of Revenue Marketing, Conductor

AmyHoltzmanTwo main concepts come to mind. The first is that customer-centric content is in and business-centric content is out. The marketers that will succeed next year and beyond must put the customer first, eliminate company jargon and actually speak human.

The second concept is that marketers will start to realize the lifetime value of content, not just the value of it to a particular campaign. Us B2B marketers have spent years measuring content success on a campaign-by-campaign basis. That’s a very narrow view. Content typically has a shelf life far beyond the campaign it was created for. Smart marketers are figuring out how to really project and determine the true lifetime value of a piece of content, enabling them to prioritize and produce the best content to drive ROI for their business, not just a particular campaign. 

Avishai Sharon, CEO, TrenDemon

AvishaiSharonIn recent years, we saw more and more companies focusing on content marketing as a means to generate new business. The main problem is how blind so many companies are with the actual effect of their content and marketing efforts on sales. A big part of the problem is that, until relatively recently, the technology hasn’t made it so easy to map the full user journey and identify the most impactful touch points towards conversion.

The trickiest part is predicting what content is most likely to be useful to an individual website visitor and presenting it at the right time. There are so many different factors that can influence what content will resonate with someone, such as the stage of the funnel that they’re currently in, the source from which they arrived from, content they have previously consumed, and the device and size of the screen they’re using. Another challenge is knowing which content to promote on which channel.

In 2017, we’ll see a significant trend toward most companies using advanced technologies to help them uncover the real value of their content marketing efforts by mapping and visualizing the user journey, with a special emphasis on the perspective of content pages and assets. This will be done by using in-depth insights to improve website performance and customer journeys in real time. As a result, marketers will be empowered by actionable insights regarding which content they should promote on which channel to maximize their ROI.

Cynthia Price, VP of Marketing, Emma  

CynthiaPriceWhat has been in for B2B marketing (and will continue to be) is valuable, relevant content that’s about respecting where the customer is in their buyer journey or their relationship with your brand. It’s content that focuses on how to actually use all of that customer data you’re collecting to reach your prospects in more valuable ways. After all, your data means nothing if you’re not putting it to work.

What’s out? Broadcasting the same message to everyone (in any channel). It might save time, but it does more harm than good in the long run.

Jason Stewart, VP of Strategic Content, Annuitas

jasonstewartThe volume of content produced is going to come down. Companies are realizing that a full editorial calendar isn’t enough, and that scaling back on their content production while paying closer attention to the buyer, their pains and their priorities is the key to content marketing success.

Companies are finally beginning to get a handle on measuring the performance of their content and realizing that downloads alone are not enough. When they tie content engagement to revenue, they get a better understanding of the content that works so they can scale back production to focus on what is really moving the needle.

Effi Atad, CEO, Showbox

effiatadWhen it comes to B2B marketing, we are still marketing to people. It’s often easy to forget, but behind the titles, corporate email addresses, professional LinkedIn profiles, etc. there are real people waiting to have their attention grabbed by content that is actually worth their time. That can come in any form — funny, personal, emotional — as long as it’s relatable to the business person behind the screen.

With this personal, more casual approach in mind, we can assume that just like all other internet users, our potential business clients' attention spans are dropping. They quickly scroll through blog posts and E-books and expect to have content diced and fed to them. 

This explains a lot about the biggest B2B content marketing trend of the year, a trend anticipated to become even bigger in 2017: branded video content. As internet users — both business and consumer alike — shy away from long, attention-demanding written content, branded video content appears to be the ultimate solution for marketers to convey their message in the most hard-hitting, relatable fashion. On the other hand, lengthy and cold appeals to the business sector are officially out, replaced by a warmer, consumer-like approach to the traditional B2B marketing dynamic.

 

I want to thank these industry leaders for sharing their insights with Demand Gen Report. Please share your thoughts in the comments below, or, if you’re at Content Marketing World this week, track down some of these people to have an in-person conversation.

  • Published in Blog

Industry Experts Weigh In On Microsoft’s LinkedIn Acquisition

With Microsoft spending a whopping $26.2 billion to purchase LinkedIn, the company is positioning itself with the likes of Salesforce to offer businesses a connected community and technology stack. However, thought leaders in the space are hesitant to call the purchase a win or a loss — It ultimately depends on how Microsoft intends to incorporate LinkedIn into its current offerings.

We asked five industry experts how Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn will positively and/or negatively impact B2B marketers in the coming future. Read on to see how experts in the space are evaluating one of the biggest martech acquisitions in history.

David Lewis, CEO of DemandGen International

lewis headshot

The potential impact, positive or negative, really depends on the direction that Microsoft takes with LinkedIn and its execution of that vision. Since Microsoft has very little experience building thriving online communities outside of its investment in Facebook and the Xbox Live community, which are consumer communities, my concern is that LinkedIn is going to transform from a professional networking site to something more like Facebook. Some might say it’s already starting to look and act like Facebook. If it becomes a B2B social community fueled by ads and random acts of content, the educational value of the content and the quality of the connections you make on LinkedIn will continue to suffer and ultimately drive members away. If, on the other hand, LinkedIn stays true to its original purpose of being a professional network and a place where keeping your contact information up to date is purposeful, then the value of that data and the network will be invaluable to B2B marketers and to businesses.

Just imagine the power of having every business and working professional on LinkedIn. Imagine the power to use LinkedIn for knowledge and research,  staffing and staff development, as well as the ability to use it for the exchange of business resources and content. Accomplish that, and you’d have an invaluable database for B2B marketers. But go further, with the right interface and API’s, and you could create a whole new paradigm for CRM and communication. You could have an e-commerce exchange that would give Ariba some real competition. You could have a platform for exchanging contracts through it. You could manage shipments and inventory between suppliers through it. You could link business applications to it and through it. Done right, Microsoft could make LinkedIn the world’s network for business.

Erika Goldwater, VP of Marketing at ANNUITAS

erika goldwater headshot

The potential upside for B2B marketers from the acquisition is significant. Integrating LinkedIn with Skype and other Microsoft-owned technologies could be a great enhancement to the platform that marketers will utilize. Of course, there is always the chance that this acquisition will cause LinkedIn to become too commercial for B2B, and instead of increasing the value of it as a media company and content resource, it will degrade it. Only time will tell, but I believe the positives outweigh the negatives for this acquisition.

David Raab, Principal of Raab Associates

david raab headshot

In the short term, LinkedIn will apparently remain a separate company so the impact on marketers will be minimal. It’s reasonable to expect a slowdown in new offerings as the company adjusts to new ownership. But the overlap between LinkedIn and Microsoft’s other businesses is relatively low, so I don’t expect much disruption from consolidation, as acquisitions sometimes cause. Longer term, it’s possible there will be some clever ways that Microsoft can use LinkedIn data, although what those are is not yet clear. So maybe some good things will happen, and maybe not much at all will change. Either way, there’s not much downside for marketers.

Scott Brinker, Editor of ChiefMarTech.com

scott brinker headshot

The potential of a vertically-connected ecosystem in the digital channel is what makes Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn so powerful. Although Microsoft already has positions in all three stages of this channel, its primary strength was in client software (Windows, Xbox, Internet Explorer) and the company’s secondary strength was in marketing software (Dynamics CRM, Office, Cortana). Microsoft’s Internet services were a distant third, as Bing struggled against Google Search. They had no dominant exchange social media property.

Microsoft could probably use greater strength in the marketing software stage of the channel, as well — which is why the company was rumored to be interested in acquiring Salesforce last year and Marketo this year. I think something like that will happen eventually. (As an aside, I think Satya Nadella’s Microsoft might be a better cultural fit for HubSpot than when the firm was in the Ballmer years.)

For all these reasons, LinkedIn becomes a strategic crown jewel for Microsoft — and makes this the largest martech acquisition in history.

Bruce Culbert, Chief Service Officer of The Pedowitz Group

Bruce Culbert headshot

Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn is a great fit. Why? Because emails are at the heart of the online experience — 85 % of people online communicate through email. Microsoft owns the lion’s share of business communications via Outlook in the e-mail channel. Microsoft’s ability to dominate the business communications channel is clear. With the acquisition of LinkedIn, Microsoft now owns business communications in the social channel. Bravo Microsoft! LinkedIn also benefits heavily with the umbrella of Microsoft in the enterprise space. It’s a match made in heaven.   

  • Published in Blog
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