With RK Maniyani, Chief Technology Officer, True Influence.
Integrated marketing solutions are perhaps the hottest trend for B2B engagement strategies heading into 2020.
Just last year, there were about 250 martech mergers and acquisitions in Q1 and Q2 alone, as major players such as Salesforce and Oracle snapped up best-of-breed analytics and marketing management platforms to augment their integrated marketing suites. Other vendors brokered integration deals to tie their data and platforms together to support full visibility into customer behavior and campaign performance.
This martech integration activity is driving toward one overarching goal – truly integrated marketing campaigns designed, executed and managed in a sales and marketing cloud that provides complete visibility, management, and optimal ROI for your revenue marketing programs.
Sounds great. But the reality has yet to live up to the vision, in many cases, and many large B2B sales and marketing teams are not realizing what can be a significant investment in integrated marketing solutions.
Unrealized Martech Integration potential
A recent survey by tech consultancy Gartner suggests that marketers are using only 58 percent of their marketing technology’s potential capabilities. This news comes at a time when B2B marketers continue to invest heavily in martech stack integration – to the tune of 26 percent of their overall budgets.
Gartner’s 2019 survey of CMOs cites a wide range of issues for this breakdown, including poor integration among components of supposedly integrated marketing solutions. Poor integrations, cited by 27 percent of respondents, was on par with recruiting talent (29 percent) as a top roadblock to recognizing ROI on marketing spend.
This failure to show meaningful wins in integrated marketing solutions investments puts the entire category at risk, Gartner concludes, as the C-Suite increasingly demands quantifiable results from every dollar spent.
Of course, we here at True Influence are firm believers in the power of integrated marketing to drive sales and increase ROI. We recently launched our True Influence Marketing Cloud™ as an integrated platform for managing our intent-driven B2B demand generation services across all audiences, programs, and channels. We’re committed to the promise of integrated marketing.
But we also recognize that for many sellers, that promise remains a goal, not a reality. And, as a technologist, I see poor or simply missing integrations as a key shortcoming that must – and more importantly, can – be corrected.
The first step is for B2B marketers to truly understand and embrace the concept of integrated marketing.
The basics of an integrated marketing campaign
Let’s define what we mean when we say “integrated marketing campaign.”
An integrated marketing campaign is a sequence of marketing tactics that you plan and execute over an extended period of time – one or two quarters or even longer, depending on your B2B sales cycle – all of which are designed to build engagement with customers at different points of their buying journey.
These tactics span a wide range of channels: email, digital advertising, inbound and SEO content marketing, teleprospecting, and others. Each tactic should build on the impact made by the previous tactic in the campaign. And truly integrated marketing campaigns are based on a comprehensive view of customer behavior, not only with your own content and systems, but across all their purchase research activities.
But not every tactic is going to have the impact you planned for. You need to know how each tactic performs with target audiences and adjust your overall campaign accordingly. And these adjustments need to happen in near-real time – not just in client review meetings and next-quarter planning sessions.
This is where the promise of integrated marketing comes in. With an ideal integrated marketing cloud, data flows seamlessly between analytical and operational systems, providing clear strategic insights, automated tactical execution, and real-time management capabilities across all your channels and programs.
All of this depends on successful integrations, and this currently is a real shortcoming for many B2B martech implementations.
Three martech integrations that drive ROI
As with any buzzword, martech vendors tend to describe any solution they bring to market as “integrated.” You’ll sometimes find this amounts to little more than what would today be considered table stakes – tying registration forms to email lists, or incorporating your first-party website traffic and email response data into a simple transactional marketing automation.
Truly integrated marketing requires a deeper level of interconnectivity. A marketing cloud needs to collect, analyze, and act on all the relevant data that drives B2B marketing and sales. This data comes from a variety of sources, both first-party and third-party, and must enable sophisticated analysis and real-time management of integrated Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and named-account campaigns.
Some large vendors position their integrated marketing solutions as all-in-one suites. However, many CMOs prefer to build out their digital marketing management platforms with best-of-breed solutions that talk to each other. In the Gartner survey I mentioned earlier, 57 percent of CMOs said they prefer to build their revenue tech stack with solutions from various providers, while only 29 percent said they prefer the one-stop shopping model.
In either case, data and systems integrations are imperative, both between different solutions in the stack and the data sources that drive the entire process.
In my opinion, marketers need to focus on these critical areas to ensure their martech stack integrations are driving revenue and higher ROI.
Data validation and quality control
As a data scientist, it’s no surprise that I always come back to the way systems handle data and data quality as a core value point. And it’s one that often is overlooked in a market where it is absolutely fundamental to success.
For B2B marketing, data quality concerns are amplified because any truly integrated marketing strategy includes both first- and third-party data. Our True Influence Marketing Cloud overlays our category-defining intent data collection and analytics over its audience segments, target accounts, and programs based on both our extensive B2B contact database and your first-party lists.
This data must be validated and de-duped, and then coupled with contact and company data that undergoes equally rigorous quality checks before it’s onboarded or integrated to research and target potential customers.
Data quality becomes even more imperative for features like our Marketing Cloud’s omni-channel attribution, which tracks the exact touchpoints that engage a customer on their often complicated customer journey. If you can’t be confident that the individual who clicked on a display advertising banner is, in fact, the same technical manager you are now targeting via email for webinar registration, every report and automated workflow you execute is compromised.
Which leads me to my next key integration.
For data-driven marketing management platforms to work, data sources must be combined into actionable insights in near real-time.
It doesn’t do you any good to know your cost-per-conversion for teleprospecting efforts if you can’t compare the same metrics for email B2B demand generation and display advertising programs that target the same audience segments – in time for you to shift spend to programs that are getting results.
Knowing what would have worked better last quarter is of limited value, at best. Markets shift, accounts’ interests change, and you have to be ready to act. This requires analytics that break down data silos and create the intelligence needed for integrated marketing.
The True Influence Marketing Cloud combines program performance and intent data into meaningful market-, account-, and individual-level analysis your team can use in their daily operations – because daily operations are where you’ll recognize ROI on your investment in integrated marketing solutions.
Which leads me to my final key integration:
Transactional and management systems
Every piece of data you gather and analyze must be available to trigger actions in every channel you use to engage customers. And these actions need to happen at the exact moment that a customer is ready to engage.
Within the True Influence Marketing Cloud, we’ve created an integrated marketing management platform for all our B2B demand generation and marketing services, including our PersonaBase® content syndication, DisplayBase® programmatic ads platform, and ActiveBase® teleprospecting service.
You can move audiences from one program to another with a single click, based on campaign performance and engagement that’s clearly illustrated in the Marketing Cloud’s management experience. You can also quickly change campaign parameters and modify best-fit customer personas and Buying Group models on the fly, all overlaid with intent.
We believe it’s a best-of-breed, integrated demand gen cloud.
We also offer seamless, bi-directional integrations with industry-leading marketing automation platforms Eloqua, Marketo, HubSpot, and Salesforce to ensure that Marketing Cloud intelligence is fueling every aspect of your operations. In addition, our robust APIs support integration throughout your revenue tech stack. Leads drop directly into your automated workflows, and performance data comes back into the True Influence Marketing Cloud to help you further optimize your programs.
The power of integrated marketing – every step of the way
In this post, I’ve discussed the key integrations that will result in increased returns for your investment in martech stack integration. I’ve also discussed how the True Influence Marketing Cloud can integrate with every component of your integrated marketing platform, giving you the confidence that you have a precise picture of your market and account opportunities, and tools to act on them in real time.