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In an exclusive interview with Demand Gen Report, Nate Skinner, VP of Marketing for Salesforce Pardot, shares his thoughts on the evolution of demand generation, top channels for success and more. This interview is part of the What's Working In Demand Generation In 2019 Special Report.
Demand Gen Report: How do you think demand generation has evolved over the past few years? Where do you see it going in 2019 and beyond?
Nate Skinner: Now more than ever, marketers are being pressured to prove ROI to help justify marketing budget and spend. According to Gartner, we've reached a point where marketing has more money for technology than any other department and with that comes a shift from quantitative marketing (getting the most clicks) to qualitative marketing (getting the right clicks).
Teams must get smarter about demand generation by testing what’s working. With bigger budgets comes higher expectations for ROI. Historically, marketing has had a bad rep for the spray-and-pray strategy — targeting all people versus the
few qualified leads. Successful demand generation is now about getting the most qualified leads to your website to engage with the brand in a meaningful way. Savvy marketers will always be able to create favorable numbers, but today's teams want to know how many leads were converted and how.
ABM is one of the hottest growing trends, and it happens to be the antithesis of a spray-and-pray approach. The future of marketing is a more personal approach towards leads to create more genuine and impactful interactions with prospects. AI is another emerging technology for demand generation, helping to automate segmentation and drive insights around campaigns to determine the best next steps to convert leads.
DGR: What is important for demand gen success from an organization/process standpoint?
Skinner: Integrated team collaboration and transparency are critical factors in demand generation success. Sales and marketing teams need to be aligned to effectively communicate and empower each department to succeed.
Most organizations understand the importance of both departments needing to be in sync on what metrics to track and measure to drive successful demand generation, but they often haven't agreed on how to define those metrics — how does each department define a qualified lead or conversion? Is it someone who has clicked on the website, or someone that has consistently engaged with several pieces of content? If marketing and sales have different interpretations of what makes a qualified lead, then one of two things will happen: teams may be missing out on qualified leads or creating a bottleneck by capturing too many leads. While technology can augment demand generation, it can only go so far. It’s imperative that cross-collaborative teams actually interact, discuss measurement and define success in order to optimize for the organization's success as a whole.
DGR: What are some of your top tactics/channels for demand generation?
Skinner: I believe the top five tactics or channels for demand generation right now include SEO, email, direct mail, review sites and content marketing.
A stellar SEO strategy helps drive visibility in search engines when prospective customers are looking to solve specific challenges. It's an important top-of-funnel strategy for your business to rank well for keywords your target buyer is searching for.
Direct mail, while a more seasoned demand generation strategy, still works in B2B because it can stand out from the noise and overload of information online.
Review sites are a great channel to build credibility and trust in your brand. People look to others for reviews and experiences for lots of purchases, and technology purchases are no different. People also trust experts that evaluate products and services on review sites for objective insight into a brand’s credibility and best fit. However, be aware that converting customers to reviewers can be costly, but worthwhile.
Lastly, content marketing is a critical tactic for driving demand generation. When done effectively, strong content helps educate and inform prospective customers. One way to do this is by creating authentic content that shows the “how to” for buyers and showcases your brand as a helpful resource and thought leader.
DGR: How do you think marketers can enhance their demand generation with ABM?
Skinner: Those same tactics I mentioned earlier are still relevant but can be done with an account-first approach. An account-based strategy helps focus a tailored and high-value approach to demand generation. Coupled with AI, marketers can get automatic insights into more accounts that are also likely to be strategic to focus on — for example, AI can tell you that these additional 20 accounts look very similar to your top 10 accounts, so let's add these to your priorities — providing white space awareness around your account-based strategy. Coupling these approaches can help scale and make your team aware of trends you weren't previously aware of.
DGR: Is there anything else marketers should know?
Skinner: Marketing and sales are better together, and data is the tie that binds these two teams. We're going to continue seeing the shift to one platform, a common data set and having customers at the center.
To learn more about the demand generation channels and tactics marketers plan to prioritize in 2019, download the full report.
Trustpilot, a B2B software and service review platform, secured $55 million in a Series E equity investment round. The funding was led by Sunley House Capital Management, with additional participation from Vitruvian Partners, Draper Esprit, Index Ventures, Northzone and Seed Capital.
As part of the funding, Mohammed Anjarwala, Managing Director at Sunley House Capital Management, will join Trustpilot’s Board of Directors.
“Trustpilot offers a powerful value proposition to businesses, enabling them to improve their digital marketing efficiency and enhance customer engagement,” said Anjarwala in a statement. “We believe that the company has significant opportunities for continued growth, both in its core UK market and internationally, and look forward to supporting the Trustpilot team.”
The 2019 B2B Marketing Exchange wrapped up with a closing panel wherein marketing practitioners from Pendo, Outreach and GE Digital shared their go-to-market strategies for measuring and accelerating revenue growth, and discussed new trends shaking up the industry.
B2B markers are increasingly expected to report on their performance and tie marketing dollars directly to revenue. According to Demand Gen Report research, 87% say marketing measurement and attribution is a growing priority for their organization. But it is often easier said than done.
“If you’re on a desert island and just need to see a few things for your business, what do you look at?” asked Binch, who said Pendo’s key metrics are gross pipeline created and killed each week, as well as customer engagement scores and conversion rates. “At the end of the quarter, our board comes to us and they don’t ask about MQLs created. They ask how much pipeline did you create? And what are your conversion rates?”
Binch said that in addition to proving marketing’s value, measuring conversions rates has also helped align Pendo’s sales and marketing teams to accelerate growth.
Using intent data positions marketers to better identify target accounts, which is increasingly important in an ABM world.
Pat Oldenburg, Senior Director of Digital Marketing and Operations at GE Digital, said the company has shifted to focus almost exclusively on target accounts.
“We don’t sell to white space,” said Oldenburg. “We’ve named a certain number of accounts and those are the account that sales reps are allowed to sell into.”
To improve its account-based marketing and sales efforts, GE Digital also reevaluated its ideal customer profile. By blending firmographic data with intent data, its sales reps are able to sort through the list of 4,500 target accounts and prioritize their outreach accordingly.
“Our CEO said ‘[intent data] is not a long-term play; it’s the most important play you can ever make. We should be betting our company on getting intent data and making sure the account selection is flawless,’” said Oldenburg. “We’re seeing more account-based sales and marketing activities, and the very foundation of that and maybe the most important part is account selection and the identification of not only your target market but within that, your ICP target accounts.”
Sixty-five percent of B2B buyers rate review sites as “very important” during their evaluation process. According to the panelists, review sites mark the latest trend of consumer-like experiences transforming the B2B marketplace, and they expect the value of peer input to rise over the coming years.
“What we’re seeing in B2B with these review sites is the development of peers as trusted advisors,” said Max Altschuler, VP of Marketing at Outreach. “People are going to these sites, seeing these reviews and they’re making their decision based off of them. They’re not as focused on the analyst anymore, as they are on what their peers have to say.”
Binch agreed and suggested marketers take advantage of the insights into customer pain points that review sites such as G2 Crowd and TrustRadius can provide. When armed with this information, marketing and sales teams are better positioned to tailor their messaging to address a specific customer’s needs and pain points.
“Go on these websites and look at the two-, three- and four-star reviews and pick up some themes about what their users are saying. Then, give them a call and say, ‘I saw the reviews on a third-party site about your product and these are the areas we can help,’” said Binch. “You need to go from talking about yourself and your technology to talking about the customer and why it’s relevant for them.”
It’s been a whirlwind of a year for the B2B marketing world, as marketers took their strategies to the next level to engage buyers in a more authentic, human way. The landscape is ever-evolving and new technologies and channels have made it easier for marketers and sellers to build relationships with their audiences.
The B2B buyer journey increasingly mirrors its B2C counterpart, with prospects now turning to B2B review sites for credible peer advice much like they would Yelp or Glassdoor. According to Demand Gen Report’s 2018 B2B Buyers Survey, 65% of buyers rate B2B software and service reviews as “very important” when evaluating a set list of solution providers. As such, top-tier marketing and sales teams at companies such as Marketo, InsideView and Quick Base are embracing B2B review sites as a way to gather trustworthy, third-party testimonials and infuse customer voices across the buyer journey.