Identity resolution spend projected to reach $2.6B in 2022

Changes in cookie availability, location data and privacy regulations make ID resolution solutions more important than ever.

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We’ve just released our Martech Intelligence Report on enterprise identity resolution platforms, which has been updated for 2021 with the latest trends, analysis and profiles of vendors in the space. Be sure to check it out! In the meantime, read on for a preview.

Identity resolution platforms, which create and maintain databases of persistent individual and/or household profiles based on multiple first- , second- and third-party data sources, are important tools to help brand marketers overcome the obstacles preventing them from understanding and targeting their audiences with relevant messaging.

U.S. marketers are expected to spend $2.6 billion on identity resolution programs by 2022 – a 188% cumulative increase over four years, according to a Winterberry Group forecast. The growing investment underscores the key role that identity programs play in customer experience and people-based marketing initiatives. 

Two-thirds of marketers say their identity resolution strategies have been in place for more than a year, according to Forrester, and many have begun to see strong return on their investments. More complete customer profiles and better data controls and security are the top two benefits of improved identity resolution capabilities. 

Chart: Top 5 Benefits of Improving Identity Resolution

Yet even as more brands implement identity resolution strategies and technologies, there are still significant challenges to their success. Customer data is scattered throughout the enterprise, often residing in silos that hinder marketers’ ability to develop and nurture relationships.

A consumer might use different identifiers to research something on one device (i.e., desktop cookie or login name), call on another (i.e., mobile phone) and then buy something in the store (i.e., loyalty ID or credit card). Each of these identifiers can live in a different department with disparate collection and matching requirements. 

Marketers also are losing access to some forms of data, including third-party cookies and location, a result of Google and app developers providing more tools to protect consumer privacy. Just 11% of Android users and 10% of iOS users agree to share location data with apps, an analysis of 744 million mobile users by Airship found in mid-2020. That’s a fairly small percentage even though one-time and foreground permission options seem to have raised opt-in rates during the pandemic. 

Losing data like this is no small blow. A survey of 259 marketers conducted by Phronesis Partners on behalf of Epsilon found 80% reported being “very” or “moderately” reliant on third-party cookies, while fewer than half of those surveyed (46%) feel “very prepared” for the upcoming changes. 

For more on the trends driving interest in identity resolution, as well guidance for buyers including in-depth vendor profiles, download our Martech Intelligence Report now.

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Consumer insights, presentation tips: Thursday’s daily brief

Plus, further thoughts on the great martech debate

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Marketing Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s digital marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning marketers, when attending events, do you prefer 20 minute or 40 minute sessions?

That’s a debate we often have. How long should the sessions be? Especially this past year with virtual events where attention spans are already stretched.

We get a lot of feedback on this topic as well. I spend a good amount of time reading all the comments and ratings we receive about our event sessions and I’ve seen many opinions about session length. As you would expect many people say 15 minutes is too short and not enough time for speakers to dig into the topic. I’ve seen that comment on 30 minute sessions too. I’ve also seen the opposite, that 30 minute sessions are too long. After analyzing comments and feedback for years, I finally realized what the magic session length is. There isn’t one.

In the end, it’s not about length of time, it’s about what you learned or didn’t learn in the session. I’ve watched 10 minute video sessions that I got more out of than a 60 minute webinar. It’s when a speaker jumps right into the subject matter and provides clear actionable solutions, a framework, or a process that I can replicate to improve my own work that makes me feel like the session was well worth my time.

Below you’ll find tips on how to put together a successful presentation. I’m always interested in hearing your thoughts. Maybe you have some ideas about session lengths or more tips for creating memorable presentations. If you do, feel free to reach me at

Kathy Bushman,

Director, Events Content

Martech, by any other name

There’s a current debate brewing about what is martech and what’s not. I’ve argued that with vision, commitment, and orchestration, many tools like project management and collaboration platforms can qualify as martech. However, there’s more to the debate than if something should be considered martech or not.

Certainly, there’s some logic to considering non-martech items as parts of a martech stack. One of the major reasons for including non-martech tools is that marketing systems ideally have some integrations with organization-wide systems.

Another consideration is that project management and collaboration tools that span multiple departments will certainly affect unarguable martech. For example, if the sales department needs a landing page on the website, that may likely come through a project management system.

While a debate if a system is martech or not is an important topic to explore, it is also crucial to understand that the implications of this debate are broader than this one question.

Read more.

Tips for a successful presentation

Presenters often get caught up in their subject matter and forget some of the basics that allow for clear informative presentations. If you’re getting ready to present a session at a virtual event or a webinar, here are some tips to keep in mind.

1)    Get the audience’s attention by starting with an interesting fact or stat that encapsulates what the presentation is about.

2)    Keep your presentation topic narrow in focus. You can’t teach someone everything they need to know about a broad topic in one 30 or even 60 minute presentation. The more specific the topic of your presentation is, the more likely you’ll deliver on what you’ve promised to teach.

3)    Skip the background and get to the meat of the presentation. If someone has chosen to come to your session or webinar, they usually understand or have experienced the problem. So skip the details about why the topic is important (they know) and jump straight to the solutions you’re teaching.

4)    Keep the words on the slides to a minimum and use graphics to illustrate the point. It’s been said before but it’s hard to do. The words and graphics on your slides should illustrate and enhance what you’re saying, not serve as a script. If you want your audience to have more details, provide them with separate document or handout.

5)    Keep your presentation very actionable. For most event and webinars presentations the attendee wants to walk away with a new tip or technique they can use to improve their business. Providing step-by-step instructions or a framework are often successful ways of doing that.

6)    Leave your audience with a summary or next steps. Don’t make your viewers work hard, leave them with a list of things to get started implementing what you just taught them.

Infutor scales its consumer insight capabilities  

In the latest contribution to solving the consumer identity puzzle, consumer data management company Infutor today announced a new product, Total Consumer Insights (TCI). TCI aggregates privacy-compliant behavioral and household attributes on 266 million US consumers and 120 million households. The scale of the data-set is comparable to the U.S. consumer data-sets maintained by Epsilon and Experian, and it incorporates predictive attributes such as age, household income and gender, as well as behavioral signals.

“Infutor has been kind of behind the scenes of many of the data compilers and aggregators that are out there,” said Senat. “Now we’re moving a little bit more downstream, focusing our products, and the deployment of said products, more toward the brand and the agency.” TCI is explicitly viewed, therefore, as competitive with other products in the market. “Historically, Infutor has been very good at standardizing, cleansing and enriching data, and we’ll continue to do all of those things,” said Zora Senat, SVP of Marketing and Partnerships, “but beyond that we want to complete the cycle and move into activation and measurement.”

Why we care. Infutor’s new product is yet another piece in the complex jigsaw puzzle of consumer identity. It’s part of the trend of leaning heavily on first-party data profiles, while attaching demographic and behavioral signals to those profiles. The message heard from many sides right now is that first-party data, for all its limitations, will be the bedrock of marketing going forwards.

Read more here.

Integrate launches the Demand Acceleration Platform  

“We would argue that the B2B buyer was changing even before COVID, but has only accelerated 110%,” said Deb Wolf, CMO at Integrate. “Buyers today are so much more on their own, and marketers are left to figure out almost how to be the marketer and the salesperson, because they need to be in all these channels where the buyers are.” That’s the context for the launch of Integrate’s Demand Acceleration Platform, aimed at helping marketers orchestrate the B2B buying experience for the digital era. Integrate describes this as an account-based, customizable, precision demand approach.

The new platform will allow marketers to connect engagement at all parts of the funnel, from content syndication to attract new buyers at the top, through webinars and display advertising, to understanding what individual account members are doing. It should also provide visibility into how channels are performing, to inform best next investments.

Why we care. These are new frontiers for B2B marketers. With buyers creating their own journeys, usually remotely and digitally, the marketer should expect to be engaged further and further down the funnel. Does this mean a different role for sales — perhaps advising and counseling rather than trying to close the deal? Perhaps so. It certainly means more focus on orchestrating the later stages of the journey, rather than just pulling accounts into the funnel based on intent and propensity signals.

Read more here.

Quote of the day

“…-2020: This meeting could’ve been an email. 2020-2021: This Zoom could’ve been a phone call.” Max Altschuler, VP of Sales Engagement, Outreach

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Taco Bell’s new AI, digital transformation: Friday’s daily brief

Plus, Merkle expands its tech team

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Marketing Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s digital marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, let’s taco-bout martech.

As marketing continues to get more integrated with digital technology (see Merkle’s tech team expansion below), there are many questions about how humans fit into the equation. My ready response is that when it comes to technology, people direct it and keep it focused on company goals. Artificial intelligence doesn’t care about company success until it’s tailored by marketers to recognize demands for individual companies and customers.

Every brand is different in a competitive industry like fast food. They each have their own history and presence in the minds of consumers, but a self-evolving AI can make connections we don’t have time to. For those marketers who work with AI solutions on campaigns — and I’ve spoken to many of them — the biggest value seems to be how the AI optimizes marketing campaigns and performance with their specific company in mind. The progress the AI makes in the performance for one company won’t yield the same messaging or channels at another company. The AI becomes the brand’s secret sauce, so to speak.

Perhaps this theme will help us to focus on the big brands that are transforming digitally at an appropriate scale for their size. A local pizza shop might up its “near me” presence through search. On the other hand, a global network of food chains, like Yum Brands below, can throw their weight around and simply buy up an AI company. But with each of these actions, marketers at both orgs have taken another step on their digital journeys.

Chris Wood,


Taco Bell owner buys Kvantum  

Yum Brands, owner of quick-service chains like Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, announced plans to buy Kvantum, which uses AI technology to garner consumer insights and optimize marketing campaigns. U.S.-based Kvantum was founded in 2012, and has worked with several Yum brands in international markets. 

In 2015, Yum purchased Collider Lab, a firm that develops culture-based consumer insights with the help of sociologists and anthropologists. The plan is for Yum Brands to combine these insights with the new AI to help reach consumers more efficiently.

Yum Brands has been dabbling in AI solutions to boost customer engagement for several years now. In 2016, Taco Bell debuted an AI-powered “TacoBot” that received meal orders through voice conversation.

Why we care. Dining and retail have been changed permanently by an increase in digital engagement. When stores open more fully, there will be fewer walk-ins who haven’t pre-ordered through a brand’s digital footprint. With more ad spend devoted to digital, and with offline channels like out-of-home being bought programmatically, it makes sense for an advertiser at this scale to implement a digital campaign optimization solution. Entities like the McD Tech Labs at McDonald’s also advance this industry trend.

Communication strategies for company-wide change  

There’s a lot of talk about digital transformation, but it’s important to understand that it doesn’t come down to enhanced technology. True digital transformation is tied to more fundamental corporate change. 

Communication is key to successful corporate change. And language matters. That may be one reason “digital transformation” plays better in companies than just “building digital capabilities.” Transformation sounds aspirational, part of a company-wide strategy. Managing data to enhance customer and employee experience sounds like work, and is probably too technical.

Change is unlikely to succeed if it’s forced on people; it has to be created with them. And while change needs to be supported from the top, it works best if it comes from the middle. That is, involving the folks who make things happen day-to-day within an organization and are closest to the customers.

There are obviously more detailed steps to successful transformation, but if you distill most approaches to their essence, they boil down to those two things: communication and involvement. That’s the message from Mark Berns, independent consultant on technology and organization design.

Read More

Merkle boosts martech team

Powerhouse marketing agency Merkle, announced the expansion of its technology team, resulting in three new leadership roles. Matthew Mobley will serve as EVP, chief technology officer, Americas. He will join Pete Rogers, technology consulting leader, and Mark Engelke, the new growth officer.

Quote of the day

“From the data we have on demographics [in the pharmaceutical industry], reaching the right audience is three times more important than the actual message.” Chris Paquette, CEO and co-founder DeepIntent.

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Call analytics platforms expand their utility

Advances in machine learning are enabling call analytics platforms to do more than ever before.

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Call analytics platforms have become important tools to help marketers identify and activate the rich data hidden in the growing volume of inbound calls. Call analytics platforms track both online and offline leads, following a call from its source (i.e., website, social media and click-to-call search or display ads) to a sales representative (i.e., based on geographic location or product line).

The ability to track calls is a core use case of call analytics technology. However, advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are driving more sophisticated applications, including the following:

  1. First-party database-building: As marketers lose access to third-party cookie data, first-party data sources such as phone calls are becoming more valuable in brand efforts to build privacy-compliant customer databases. Call analytics platforms facilitate the scaled collection and analysis of caller data.
  2. Customer journey attribution: Call analytics platforms provide online-to-offline attribution across media channels, helping marketers understand the role that each customer touchpoint plays in a conversion. The result is more efficient resource allocation and more relevant messaging based on customer preferences.
  3. Marketing campaign optimization: Call analytics platforms connect calls to the search keywords, social display ads or webpages that drove them. Marketers can use unique phone numbers for each website visitor to understand which pages and elements are driving the highest quality calls, as well as which ones are causing visitors to leave. Call data, including demographics, product interests and buying stage, can also be used to optimize search bids or make on-the-fly changes to campaign messaging and creative.
  4. Audience segmentation and targeting: Call analytics platforms record and transcribe calls, then apply AI-based models to the results to determine the characteristics of the highestperforming callers or leads. Using the data, marketers can build personas or look-alike audiences to create high-performing customer segments.
  5. Personalized, intelligent lead routing: Call analytics platforms use machine learning to score and route calls based on factors including call source, geography, demographics, purchase history or intent. Tools such as whisper messages arm sales reps with known customer information that personalizes the caller experience.
  6. Sales rep coaching and development: Many call analytics platforms include automated sales performance and evaluation tools to provide scoring/grading systems, script optimization and real-time alerts that flag lost opportunities.

Learn more about call analytics by downloading our Martech Intelligence Report.

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What can 219 million calls tell us about inbound marketing? A lot, it turns out

We analyzed more than 129 million calls across 12 industries to understand inbound marketing’s impact on generating calls from leads

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The marketing landscape has shifted since HubSpot introduced the concept of inbound marketing in 2005. Instead of relying on interruptive tactics like cold calling and commercials, inbound marketing focuses on drawing customers to your business through content and channels such as blogs, social media, and video.

Plenty of factors continue driving the shift to inbound marketing, but two stand out from our perspective. The first is customer preference. Millennials, on pace to outnumber baby boomers by 2030, prefer to self-educate when reaching buying decisions. They often do so on their mobile devices, turning to search engines and reaching out to friends on social media.

Those habits, combined with their demand for personalized experiences, means millennials aren’t afraid to hide their annoyance at outbound marketing tactics when online. In fact, 84% report “leaving a favorite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising.”

The second reason lies in the value of inbound marketing. According to Kapost, “Inbound Marketing yields three times more leads per dollar than traditional methods.”

But how strongly has the shift toward inbound marketing been? Which industries have experienced the highest volume of inbound calls to date? And how effective is inbound marketing at driving leads to call?

To put some data around these questions, we studied 129,393,520 calls made over 10 months in 2020 (January 6 to October 8). We tracked the percentage of calls that came from inbound marketing methods for each industry. The figure “call volume” refers to calls with leads that were tracked through CallRail’s platform. These calls came from CallRail’s customer base of 150,000 small businesses and agencies. This sample represents 12 industries ranging from healthcare and real estate to home services and legal.

The results, soon to be published on the CallRail blog, show inbound marketing has become a strategy small businesses must invest in — but you probably already knew that. What’s more compelling is how the results show that call-tracking software is one of the best tools available for measuring attribution and optimizing the effectiveness of your inbound marketing and phone calls.

The Importance of Call Tracking for Inbound Marketing

Call-tracking software adds unique phone numbers to your marketing campaigns that lets you 1) see caller data and 2) attribute calls by source and channel to understand campaign effectiveness. Here’s a deeper look at how call tracking impacts your inbound marketing.

A homeowner decides it’s time to fix their leaky faucet. They do a Google search, then click on a plumber’s landing page. From there, they visit the plumber’s Facebook page and watch a few videos. After that, they read reviews about other customers’ experiences with that plumber.

The customer may call at any point through this self-education process. When they do, you, as the business owner, want to know what source prompted them to call. That’s where call tracking comes in. 

Through tools such as dynamic number insertion (DNI), call tracking generates and displays unique phone numbers to your potential customers, which forward to your main business line. That builds data on what inbound marketing channels drive your calls, arming you with information to fine-tune your marketing strategies to drive better results. 


Industries that stand to benefit most from call tracking

In 11 out of 12 industries we studied, the data shows that more than 91% of leads came from inbound calls. Companies that handle such call volumes have a wealth of data to work with. Call-tracking software can help them use that data to find what inbound marketing channels effectively attract, convert, and close new customers.

Based on our review of 129 million calls, we found that these industries would especially benefit from investing in call tracking. Read on to find out why.

Advertising and Marketing Agencies

Advertising and marketing generated the most calls among the industries we studied with 45 million (29 million more than healthcare, which generated the second-most calls). That volume includes inbound calls made to the agencies, plus inbound calls agencies handled for their clients. 

This presents a big opportunity for advertising and marketing agencies to become even more valuable as strategic partners. Clients, especially small businesses with limited time and budget, rely on agencies to show them the most cutting-edge and cost-effective marketing tactics. By using call tracking to attribute and optimize their own marketing, agencies can enhance their existing services and offer new ones.

For instance, agencies can use call tracking to deliver more accurate pay-per-click (PPC) data or even run call tracking on behalf of clients. As our 2021 Digital Marketing Agency Outlook Report shows, the agencies who did best in 2020 were those who reevaluated and expanded what services they could offer, including call tracking.

Real Estate and Real Estate Investing

The industries of real estate and real estate investing (that is, individuals or small groups who flip homes for a profit) have long relied on outbound marketing tactics.

But the shift to an increasingly millennial marketplace makes it a prime opportunity for real estate professionals to focus on inbound marketing today. That aligns with our findings, which showed that 87% of real estate calls and 67% of real estate investing calls were inbound.

And it makes sense. Consider that purchased leads are the number one item real estate agents spend $100+ a month on, yet only 16.5% of agents have success with them.  That’s not surprising since most millennials ignore incoming calls.

Cold outreach is inherently risky from a quality perspective, too. Atlanta-based realtor Lee Davenport shared why on Follow Up Boss:

“The pro of purchasing real estate leads is to give you some IMMEDIATE action in your pipeline if you are a new or returning agent, particularly if you are someone without a local sphere of influence, an established marketing plan, or an existing database of clients. Is this activity the best use of time? Not always, depending on the quality of the lead source, which can make this a con if the lead source is not reputable.”

Call tracking can help real estate professionals reduce their reliance on lists (and the ongoing expense that comes with them). By attributing leads to their marketing efforts, real estate professionals figure out what inbound methods will bring high-quality leads with less guesswork.

Say a real estate investor produces a video series on how they remodel homes. With the attribution from call tracking, those videos may deliver enough leads to justify cutting back on list buying.

Industries with Long Sales Cycles

The more complexity involved in buying a product or service, the more inbound marketing efforts such as blog posts, explainer videos, and even chatbots aren’t enough to address all of a customer’s concerns. In those cases, it’s important companies in these industries use call tracking to continually gather data on their leads:

  • Software and technology: 91% inbound call volume 
  • Education: 92% inbound call volume 
  • Financial services: 94% inbound call volume 
  • Automotive dealerships: 94% inbound call volume 

Call tracking shows you who’s calling, lets you route calls to specific people at your company and compiles an archive of all conversations with each customer. So, no matter if a lead came from an inbound or outbound call, you have the context in front of you to continue developing the relationship and help the customer reach a buying decision.


As the above graphic from Gartner shows, complex sales cycles mean businesses have to be ready for multiple conversations with multiple people over a long period of time. Think about the complexity of buying servers, which would likely mean exploring a range of solutions (data tiers, backup service, security configuration) and having conversations with multiple stakeholders.

With a call tracking tool like CallRail, you capture each of those conversations. Now you have a record that helps you anticipate customers’ needs and guide their journey to a solution.

Call Tracking Software Improves Marketing ROI Across the Board

By giving you visibility into which online and offline marketing efforts drive your calls, call tracking helps you incrementally drive improvements across all of your campaigns. You can attribute calls to sources such as your customers’ Google searches to direct mail pieces, giving you an at-a-glance view of what channels to invest more in — and which to pull back on.

You can drive even deeper insights, too, by adding tools such as Conversation Intelligence. With it, you can do things like automatically qualify calls and track lead values by channel.

See for yourself with a free 14-day trial of CallRail.
ALTERNATE CTA: To learn more about these and more benefits, check out the Call Tracking 101 guide.

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2021 outlook for digital marketing agencies: the future is bright

The ability to prove the value they’re creating for clients is contributing to agencies’ resilience in 2020 and a positive outlook for next year.

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No one was quite prepared for what 2020 had in store — including digital marketing agencies. When business shutdowns occurred in the spring, 66% of marketing agencies said they experienced a decrease in overall revenue. CallRail’s call data report showed a similar trend, with call volume in the advertising and marketing industry falling by 29% from pre-COVID levels. 

While 2021 still holds some economic uncertainty, digital marketing leaders indicate that their agencies have been remarkably resilient, according to CallRail’s fall survey of 167 global marketing leaders who use its services. The findings show that most agencies will finish 2020 with higher annual revenues than in 2019. 

Overall, agency leaders reported satisfaction across many different business areas, such as their talent and expertise, customer service and positioning. When asked about their ability to attain key growth metrics — like generating new client leads and closing new business — the majority of agencies also exhibited strong confidence that they can.  

While CallRail’s 2021 Outlook Report takes a much deeper dive into agency business practices, this will article highlight some of the most interesting aspects of the research. It also includes agency partners’ perspective on just why and how 2021 is shaping up to be a strong year for digital marketing agencies.

Agencies 2021 financial outlook is strong

In CallRail’s survey, 88% of agencies indicated they are satisfied to extremely satisfied with their agency’s financial health. Only 3% were extremely unsatisfied. In line with these findings, most agencies also anticipate exceeding their 2019 revenue by the end of 2020. 

Due to the shift to digital channels during the pandemic, Kyle Shurtz, vice president of performance at Avalaunch Media, reported an increase in business. “Because we focus strictly on online advertising, we had more business come through as people shifted from offline to online. We anticipate 2021 to be much more of the same. Our goal is to grow by about 20% year-over-year.” 

Even for those agencies who saw a decline in revenue in the spring or whose business models are more mixed between online and offline advertising, there’s still been a silver lining to 2020. Molly Randolph, vice president of client services at The Barbauld Agency, said the pandemic forced them to look at their business and make decisions they wouldn’t have made otherwise. 

“We became more profitable because our overhead shrunk so much. But, we would never have gotten rid of our offices or our subscriptions. We would have let them linger without COVID,” said Randolph.

Dale Powell, managing director of Atomic Marketing, concurs. “We had a lot of time to think about the direction of our business and the types of clients we wanted to work with,” says Powell. “So we made some educated decisions to move pricing up and take a more firm hold to say ‘this is our price,’ which has eliminated the time wasters.” Powell also predicts that his agency’s revenue will exceed last year’s.

Agencies are delivering strategic value to clients

Being seen as a strategic partner is one of the primary ways agencies can increase their value to clients — and, in this department, most agencies thought they were doing quite well. According to 67% of agencies, the primary reason that clients choose their agency is because they’ve established themselves as strong strategic partners.

The longevity most agencies have with clients is another indicator that clients believed agencies are delivering enough value to continue to use their services. Long-term relationships of two years or more were common for 69% of agencies. Only 4% said the client relationship lasted less than one year.

In talking with some agency partners, a key reason agencies felt they were delivering value to their clients and seen as strategic partners was their ability to show real results

“We earn our new business by providing results. We do a lot of competitive research and look for ways to break the molds,” said Powell, whose agency uses call tracking and form tracking as one way to track and report results to clients.

“Without call tracking, we really wouldn’t have the business we have,” says Powell. “Our model is built upon full transparency, and call tracking lets us measure how many phone calls came from a landing page. Ultimately, this is what our clients want to know – how many leads are we generating for them, and we can show them.”

Survey results show other agencies agree. Almost all (95%) agency leaders reported that call tracking and lead form tracking were very important to their business. Call recording analysis was also very important to 85% of agencies.

“Having tracking tools like call tracking and call analysis is the way we keep our clients happy,” says Shurtz. “We show that we’re not an expense, but an investment. Call tracking shows who’s called and what keyword came from where. Call analysis we use often with big law firms to create hotspot keywords, such as ‘appointment’ or ‘claim,’ to qualify leads.” 

Challenges remain, but agencies are confident 

Despite well-established client relationships and a strong financial foundation, challenges remain for agencies. The top two agencies listed were finding new clients (48%) and generating more revenue from existing clients (42%).

While agencies say it’s gotten harder to find new clients (53%), retain current clients (52%), and grow revenue with existing clients (62%), they are also confident they can overcome these challenges. 

A strong majority of agencies (74%) said they are confident they can generate new leads, 75% are confident they can close new clients and 59% are confident they can grow revenue with existing clients.

What’s driving these high levels of confidence despite challenges? It seems to be a mix of employing strategies that help grow the agency’s business and, at the same time, showing clients that they are getting value from the services the agency provides.

For instance, Avalaunch Media felt it could continue to grow its business because it has a robust referral program in place. “We’re definitely confident that we can grow and sustain our business. We have a really strong partnership referral program that gives us good business,” said Shurtz. “We also have a strong employee referral program where they get a lifetime commission on any referrals, so we get a lot of deals from internal employees.”

The Barbauld Agency also talked about how it has helped clients turn their businesses around. For example, it helped clients make strategic advertising decisions that have resulted in some of them going from experiencing some of the worst months of their business to having some of the best months ever.

“Our July client meetings were very difficult and pessimistic, and we were doing all kinds of brainstorming about how to pivot clients’ businesses without the wheels coming off. But by September or October, our clients were saying, ‘Wow, we can’t believe how well it’s going,’ ” said Randolph.

Looking ahead

As agencies look ahead to 2021, there’s every reason to believe they will continue to realize business growth, increased revenue, and overall strong financial health. Generating new clients and growing revenue with existing clients will have to remain a priority to achieve these goals, as will continuing to focus on delivering results. Consequently, call tracking, form tracking, and other reporting and analytic software will remain essential tools.

Uncertainty for 2021 remains due to COVID-19, but the grass truly is looking greener on the other side of 2020. And there seems to be agreement among agencies that even if more lockdowns occur, it likely won’t be a repeat of spring.

“My outlook, overall, is much more positive for 2021 than even four months ago,” says Randolph. “I’m cautiously optimistic.” 

For more insights, download CallRail’s 2021 Outlook Report.

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Why empathy is about meeting the customer on their terms

Centralizing decisions and basing actions on context is key to delivering real value for your customers.

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It may be a hard truth for us best-intentioned marketers to swallow, but two-thirds of customers believe that marketers do not care about their needs.

That’s according to a survey of 5,000 individuals by Pega. And when you look at what marketers face, it is easy to see how that kind of sentiment takes root.

“Think about the scale of your business,” said Andrew LeClair, senior product marketing manager at Pegasystems. “You’re trying to manage literally billions of interactions, with millions of customers, across hundreds and hundreds of programs, on dozens and dozens of channels — and that’s a lot of complexity. And unfortunately, that complexity leaves us exposed. There’s not a lot of chances for us to get it right, but there’s a ton of opportunities for things to go wrong, and it only takes one poor experience and the customer is out the door.”

It’s a repeating cycle for many marketers as the demands of conversion, and the technologies at our disposal to create blast after blast, cement this idea that marketers don’t care.

But according to LeClair, a more empathetic approach may not only create better faith with your customers, it may also be better for business.

“Acting with empathy is all about understanding somebody else’s feelings, their thoughts, their emotions, their context or situation, and then being able to adapt to that within a given conversation,” said LeClair, speaking at the recent MarTech Conference. “And that seems pretty straightforward if you’re talking about a human that’s engaging with another human, but when it’s us as a brand trying to do this at scale, we really struggle.”

So here’s how we can turn it around.

Centralize decisions

As marketers know, the universe of martech is vastly expanding as there are now more than 8,000 solutions available. But while all of that tech creates a host of ways to engage with your customers, that doesn’t mean you should overdo it.

“That’s 8,000 disconnected, siloed applications, each of which has their own brain, their own rules, data models, and unique ways of understanding, interacting, and engaging with customers,” said LeClair. “And even if they’re from the same vendor, we all know that none of these were built to work together. They were each built to help businesses like ours sell products to customers in big batches, in large segments. They weren’t designed to be agile and help us solve customers’ problems during times like these.”

Instead, LeClair said it is crucial to install a central decision authority that sits at the center of all usable engagement channels and collects and analyzes the data. It’s the difference between working with 8,000 “disconnected brains” or just one.

“And what this brain does is based on all the data it’s collected is look at each customer, in each unique moment, and determines what’s their context, what’s their situation. And is there anything that we can do that’s going to add value? Is there a next best action for us to take? And we figure all of that out in real-time, using things like AI, adaptive models, machine learning, then deliver that next best action back out across any of these channels.”

P x V x L

That idea of executing on the next-best-actions is really key if your organization is going to be able to deliver a marketing strategy that is more empathetic to your customers but also works at scale for your business.

The key there, says LeClair, is in understanding the propensity that a customer has to accept an offer, that value that will bring to your business, all within the context of the given situation. 

“The next best action is simply the one with the highest total P [propensity] times V [value] times L [lever],” he said.

LeClair gave the example of a customer “on our app during a lunch break clicking on a bunch of pages.” Those clicks are streaming directly into that centralized brain, the decision hub, which is re-scoring the profile in real-time to see if that activity is suggesting any change to the customer’s current state — like if they may be becoming a retention risk. 

“Then, what we can do is instantly recommend our next best retention offer and surface that right in the mobile channel as she’s online,” he said.

But perhaps that same customer a bit later purchases something, which giver the marketer a new opportunity to suggest something that pairs with that purchase.

“The second that purchase data comes in we rescore her again. P times V times L, and now her new next best action isn’t that retention plan. Instead, we switch to a rewards offer,” he said.

“If we’re going to engage with empathy, it’s not enough just to know what to do. We’ve then got to get that decision out to the customer during their moment of need, and then be able to adapt and shift that experience in real-time in order to ensure that it’s always relevant to their current situation.”

Showing we care

While creating a centralized decision authority and leveraging it to execute next-best-actions that are relevant to the customer can go a long way towards showing more empathy as a marketer, sometimes it is important to remember who is really in charge of that relationship.

“What we need to do is engage the customer on their terms,” said LeClair. “They’re the ones that are in control. It’s not about when we feel like talking to them. It’s constantly listening, constantly monitoring their context and engaging during their moments of need only when we can add value.”

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Adopting a CDP is just the beginning: How Fingerhut’s parent planned a successful onboarding process

From tapping internal resources to building off quick wins, Bluestem Brands’ CDP champions slowly began to realize the tool’s potential.

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We hear a lot about how to choose a solution for your martech stack, but less about what you do once you’ve made a decision. At the recent MarTech virtual event, one session took on that topic: “So, you have a new CDP… Now what?” 

“We chose a vendor, everything’s going to be awesome,” said Ben Thompson, director of e-commerce analytics and tag management for Bluestem Brands, the parent of Fingerhut. “But it doesn’t always go that smoothly, does it?”

Even after Bluestem committed to adopting Tealium’s Audience Stream CDP, Thompson described a situation in which key stakeholders were anything but enthusiastic about getting the technology into place. 

“We had some pretty strong internal resistance to the CDP,” said Thompson. Bluestem’s IT group wanted to maintain tight control over the data and the processes around it; the legal department was worried about GDPR and CCPA. So Thompson shared how Bluestem overcame these challenges and explained what he learned along the way. 

The current process 

Before you adopt a technology, there’s likely someone at your company whose job it is to perform the ugly, ungainly process of bringing together data and making sense of it before it can be used in marketing. 

Here’s how Thompson described the status quo at Bluestem: “The usual process for one of these campaigns, whether it’s email, social or other media looks like this — you have all of these silos, and you need to get something from each of them. So what you’re going to do is you’re going to query it and combine it using SAS SQL or whatever your favorite tool is. You’ll export it from there. You’re going to move the file around on FTP sites, etc. You’re going to import it into another system.” Then and only then could you activate and run the campaign that you were planning. 

“For us, assembling campaigns like this meant we needed to invest a lot of time and money just to create a one-off campaign that didn’t help us build a unified [customer] profile,” said Thompson. “It required skilled coders. And finally, it was just plain slow.” 

At Bluestem, the person in charge of social media was performing that process, and you might think he would feel threatened by a new technology coming along to take over. Instead, advised Thompson, you need to enlist that person to help identify what data elements should be included in the CDP. That person was also key to helping measure and evangelize the great results achieved by the technology, given all the time saved. In Bluestem’s case, said Thompson, they saved that person 40 days every year by automating the process of gathering the targeting list. And he got to spend his time perfecting the social media presence instead. 

The use cases

The second important element Thompson described is the assembly of use cases to prove the value of the technology. 

“Someone in your marketing org has wanted to do something awesome for a long time, but has probably hit technical walls,” said Thompson. At Bluestem, they wanted to identify people who had abandoned a cart or performed a similar activity, then email them a custom 10% discount that could only be used by the recipients. But it wasn’t possible with their existing tech stack. 

“Audince Stream’s Webhook integration talking to our internal promo service was able to accomplish this,” said Thompson. “So now, when you abandon on Audience Stream sees that, tells our promo service to tie you, tells our ESP to email you that promotion. And we have a happy customer who can come back and complete their purchase with a nice discount that’s not going to get out to the masses.”

This single use case brought many in Bluestem’s marketing organization onto the CDP bandwagon, because it was something they’d wanted to accomplish for a long time. 

Thompson described how accomplishments like this helped win over key decision makers who’d been preventing the project from moving forward. 

The steering team 

As you roll out the solution within your organization, Thompson recommended assembling a steering team that’s accountable for providing regular updates to stakeholders and leadership. 

Thompson recommended that this group have a couple of marketing folks, including a key decision maker. Additionally, you’ll want team members from web development, legal and email operations, as well as whoever is running display and social campaigns and whoever is running the website from day to day. 

The data cleanup

To be able to fully utilize a solution like a CDP, you need to clean up and organize your data. Specifically, Thompson advised looking for data that isn’t used or isn’t accurate, and eliminating any stray sources of PII that could cause trouble down the line. 

Then you want to design the framework for bringing in data, including offline data. The person who was performing the manual processes previously will be a great resource in this stage. 

“Avoid being tempted to just toss everything in, as it will cost you more,” he said. “And you’ll have a lot of information just sitting there that you may not use.” 

Share your results 

“So you’ve done a lot of work to line up your quick wins, build a strong steering team, you’re actually firing up a few use cases and development,” said Thompson. “Make sure that along the way, you’re really showing these results to your stakeholders and your partners.”

Thompson said Bluestem developed some key reports that could be shared widely to help gain momentum around the implementation of the CDP. 

Don’t stop iterating

Once you’ve gotten some quick wins under your belt, it’s important to continue innovating. 

“It’s easy to rest back on the initial wins that you’ve had,” said Thompson.
But it’s really tricky to think of new ways to win with your CDP.” 

Thompson said Bluestem had been successful with personalizing their homepage based on a shopper’s previous behaviors, so they’re shown products they’ve demonstrated their interest in. 

“So we took this building block and let it shape some new use cases,” Thompson said.
“We took those audiences and actually started shaping whole campaigns around them. We made cold weather campaigns for people who were fans of coats, fireplaces, boots, other wintery gear. We also made a toy campaign for anyone who our model said could be toy buyers or who Audience Stream had seen browse or buy them in the past. And we made a cleanup event targeted at customers who are browsing tools.”

“We continue to run these campaigns and shape new ones as we’ve improved bounce rates,” Thompson continued. “We’ve improved our revenue per visits or funnel depth from all of these.”

Thompson also recommended evolving the steering team over time, tackling new channels, and introducing the CDP to different departments within the company. As you do that, he suggested you develop a ticketing system to handle all of the incoming requests. 

“Make sure, especially early on, that you sit down and walk through step by step with the requester,” so you understand what they’re looking to achieve, advises Thompson. “So many people think of the CDP as the magic box because you’ve done some magic things with it. And they’d be surprised at how many options they have and how specific their requests may need to be.” 

Finally, Thompson encouraged marketers to continue to explore the functionality within the CDP, noting that tools he wasn’t even aware of initially — Audience Sizing and Jobs — have become his favorite features.

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Demandbase launches Demandbase One

A new platform representing the integration of Demandbase and Engagio solutions.

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Barely five months after its acquisition of Engagio, ABM vendor Demandbase today announced the launch of Demandbase One, a platform which incorporates Demandbase and Engagio solutions.

“Demandbase: intent, advertising, personalization – really strong. Engagio is really strong with orchestration, lead-to account-mapping, sales insights,” Demandbase CEO Gabe Rogol told us at the time of the acquisition.

For the first time, Demandbase will be using not just proprietary and third-party data, but clients’ first-party data, with the aim of providing a comprehensive view of target accounts, and Engagio-derived orchestration capabilities to steer deals to closing.

The Demandbase One suite. The new offering blends traditional Demandbase and Engagio capabilities:

  • Advertising: personalized for target accounts;
  • Personalization: personalized engagement across channels, including web-site and landing pages;
  • Orchestration: marketing automation, including audience segmentation and multi-channel messaging;
  • Attribution: multi-touch attribution to confirm ROI.

We did it.” We caught up with Rogol, and Jon Miller, Chief Product Officer at Demandbase — and co-founder of both Engagio and Marketo.

“The aspiration was to take the best of Demandbase and Engagio — the best of the upper funnel, and the best of the middle and lower funnel — putting that together to enable B2B marketers to handle today’s customer journey, which is not the same as it was,” explained Rogol. Rogol also emphasized the speed of the integration: “It’s been four and a half months, and we did it.”

“There was very little redundant or overlapping technology that we needed to reconcile,” said Miller. “We were able to take the mature Engagio platform, take all the Demandbase technology, and integrate it into that in a way that was very straightforward.”

The changing buyer’s journey. “There have been so many changes,” said Rogol. “The world of B2B is a new world. The result for marketers is that it’s much more difficult to transact with clients. There are more people involved in buying decisions, and it’s harder to reach those people.”

Under the pandemic, Rogol has observed more careful risk management in the purchase cycle, a need for more consensus, and less resources. Sending emails is no longer enough.

Emails aren’t working. “What’s the future of marketing automation?” asked Miller. “Emails are not working, and marketing automation is a lot about email. People are using Reddit, and all these other sources of information; it’s just not credible to email them, and there’s also low tolerance for getting inundated. If it’s an SDR from company number 172: spam.”

What’s the alternative for orchestrating the journey? “You have to get companies that have intent interested and engaged, and translate that into action that’s not email and lead-based,” said Miller. “Taking data signals from the upper funnel, then getting that to sales teams so that they can act on it digitally — that’s the connective tissue that’s been missing.”

Engagio and Demandbase customers will upgrade to Demandbase One. New customers will be onboarded to Demandbase One.


This story first appeared on MarTech Today.



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Building connections between siloed channels, technologies and teams

Integrate CMO Deb Wolf shares her views on the challenges facing today’s marketers and the ways they can be overcome.

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Building connections between siloed channels, technologies and teams

Oftentimes, when we visualize the perfect buyer’s journey, we’re looking at it from a marketer’s perspective, imagining what we’re trying to achieve with our initiatives. But, ultimately, the definition of the perfect journey is in the eye of the buyer. The buyer doesn’t really care about your programs, your channels or what technologies you’re using, they’re just trying to get enough information to make a purchase decision.

We recently spoke to Integrate CMO Deb Wolf about the perfect buyer’s journey and the obstacles marketing teams face when trying to deliver the ideal customer experience. In the lightly-edited conversation below, you’ll find Wolf’s specific tips for building connections between siloed channels, technologies and teams, as well as the reasons why this is so important today.   

Q. As a B2B buyer yourself as well as a seasoned marketer, could you share your thoughts on the perfect buyer’s journey? 

A. When we buy marketing technology or services as a customer, we want to understand the mission of the company we’re doing business with, we want to understand their products and their functionality. We want to understand which customers actually use their solutions and what value they gain from them.

There’s a natural progression of the information customers are looking for and it’s not linear. Just like any B2B purchase, we may have 16 to 20 potential people who are involved in the decision process and we all have different needs. My perspective as the approver of the buying decision is different than that of the user of the system. They’re going to look for more details on the functionality, whereas I’m going to look for more value. And what procurement needs, or our privacy people or security people need, are entirely different than what we need as the users. 

So tailoring the experience to whoever it is that’s looking for information about your company is what makes it perfect for that buyer. As marketers, we need to treat our buyers the same way we’d want to be treated.

Where are we failing to make connections?

Q. Can you describe some of the different silos that we see in marketing today that prevent us from delivering the ideal buyer journey?

A. Silos tend to exist across four different areas in marketing: channels, technology, data and your own team. They’re ultimately interwoven, but I think it really starts with the teams and the way in which we work. 

Marketing teams have many specialists and few generalists. Event marketers plan events. Demand generation professionals drive leads. PR folks have been focused on earned media. And few, if any, of those marketers are looking at that entire buyer or account journey. 

We don’t really have a role within the marketing organization whose job it is to build a horizontal buyer’s journey. That has to be done through a collaboration across teams in order to create the experience we’re trying to provide. There are few people who are really thinking about the impact that the entire experience leaves on our potential customers. 

If we think about our demand channels as swim lanes — with each different specialist area in its own lane — it seems like sometimes our teams are in a race against each other. Everyone wants to be the first to have a conversation with the customer, the first to get credit for driving the lead, etc.  

Nine times out of ten what you’ll hear from marketers is they have this desire to delight the customer with the right content in the right channel at the right time. And they can describe what they think of as the ultimate buyer’s journey. But they lose their way when it comes to executing it.

There’s so much technology involved. That’s one of the other challenges. Each of those channels is associated with a different part of the marketing technology stack. Many marketing organizations can have upwards of 50 to 60 different pieces of technology in their stack today. 

When you ask a marketer what’s core to their system, they’ll tell you it’s a marketing automation system. But they’ll also tell you that their comms team is using a different piece of technology to monitor coverage, their event organizers have technology they use for registering people at events and scanning badges on the floor. 

The biggest challenge is all of the data that this technology creates. Data comes from all of those different siloed technology channels, and campaigns and, at the end, a marketing operations person has the goal of trying to make sense of it all. 

When we think about all of these silos, you can sum them up as the way your team operates, the technology from which they’re operating, the channels across which they’re driving, and then, ultimately, the data that it creates.

How did we get here? 

Q.  So how do you think we got here? How did we get into this position where we have all these silos?

A. My theory is that we have a lot of high performing marketers that are just driven to succeed — it’s one of the natural traits that you see across the marketing persona in any of the different areas that we’ve talked about. 

So, typically what happens is you end up having a marketer who thinks: “My job is to do this. I have budget aligned to do this. And, ultimately, I live in a world where I’m heads-down on trying to accomplish that thing, so I can be successful.” 

Part of this disconnect between disciplines stems from marketing teams being decentralized — they could live in business units, they could be regionally based, and now we’re all living remotely. So the discussions that used to happen over a water cooler don’t even happen over a water cooler anymore. I think this starts with our teams, and how we align work and think about getting work done.

Q. That makes a lot of sense. So what are the consequences of this situation for the buyer?

A. When I think about these poor buyers, they’re really focused on one thing and one thing only, and that’s finding the right solution for the problem they’re trying to solve. 

In the past, a traditional B2B sales engagement had buyers working one-to-one with the salesperson and it was very personalized. Salespeople would answer questions and get buyers the kind of information they needed. But now, marketing has filled in a lot of that space. 

But so many times, we are not providing buyers with the kind of information they want, which means that, ultimately, they’re not going to believe in our brand. This is a brand experience from the moment they start looking at your organization. And if you can’t provide them with a great customer experience, I’m not sure that they think you’re going to be a very good vendor for them to deal with. 

A lot of B2B buyers today have become highly consumerized. They expect the B2B buying process to be like the B2C buying process, only it’s not. When you look at B2C and you think about how advanced we’ve gotten in understanding the buying needs of the consumer, then you try to mirror that in the account needs or the B2B buyer needs within a larger decision-making process, I think we’ve failed the buyer altogether. Ultimately, it leaves a bad taste in their mouth and a bad first impression of your brand.

First steps toward building necessary connections

Q. So, do you think marketers want to break down those silos that are causing these disconnects?

A. I do. When you ask marketers what they’re trying to achieve today — and we just did some research in the August timeframe — the one thing they’ll tell you is that they have more data than they know what to do with. They say: “Don’t give us more data; we have data coming out of every part of every piece of technology that we have. How can you help us piece that data together?” A better buying experience, that’s what we’re really trying to do. We’re trying to get as much information to those buyers as we can, so that we provide them with that optimal experience. 

Most marketers are pretty brand savvy, so they want the relationship that a potential customer has with their organization to be very positive. But what’s holding them back are these organizational structures that we talked about, the technology that we talked about, and this mindset that focuses on single channel execution. 

Rather than thinking “I’m driving this campaign or event or webinar” they need to think “I’m part of this customer journey. I need to help the customer achieve what they want to achieve.” And that requires a lot more work cross-functionally to bring technology together in a place where you can actually understand the performance of specific campaigns and activate an omni-channel buyer’s journey. It’s only then that you can provide those buyers with the next best thing to do. When you’re pulling so much data out of so many different types of technology, it’s hard to activate anything and move them along the funnel. 

A new definition of success

Q. So how can marketers begin to break through? What are the steps that they need to take?

A. First, this is about getting your data together and really understanding who you’re even marketing to. If you have incomplete or inaccurate data from any of these different campaigns, and we get a lot of that, that’s the first problem you need to solve. 

I think a lot of marketers are dealing with marketing databases that are somewhere in the range of 40% marketability — meaning that only 40% of the records have all of the information you’d want to know about a buyer in order to be able to market to them. If you don’t have all that, if you have incomplete and inaccurate data, that’s no way to make a first impression. 

Nobody wants to get an email or an invitation to an event that says “Dear D. Wolf.” What about my first name? It’s so impersonal. That kind of information is key as a first step in starting off a great customer journey. 

Q. What excites you about the opportunities for a great buyer’s journey?

A. One of the most important and interesting things about what’s going on in marketing teams today is the future of marketing work. What are the roles that we don’t have today that will be more focused on the entire buying journey? You’ve seen this with things like account based marketing. Five years ago, we didn’t have an account-based marketing manager — that title did not exist in a marketing team. 

And today, you’re starting to see roles that originate maybe in demand gen, but really touch an integrated function across all of the different channels that we’re using today. That’s one of the super exciting things I’m seeing. What is it going to mean for the future of our teams and the future of people that are just coming into marketing today? 

Perhaps it won’t have occurred to them to think about marketing more from a specialist standpoint and they’ll asking questions like: 

  • How do our top-of-funnel demand marketers expand their efforts into mid funnel? 
  • How do they use all their channels to digitally nurture? 
  • How do they quit thinking about email as the one way to get in front of their prospects and move them along the funnel? 
  • How do we use things like intent data and the buying signals that buyers are giving us? Today, we score these leads based on who the person was and what they did, but this is just two dimensional scoring based on what the marketer thinks. 
  • How can we start using the signals the buyer is giving us to actually point us toward how these campaigns should be run — to infuse more intelligence into what we’re doing from a marketing standpoint? 

Those are all super exciting because we’re going to have to conquer and figure out and understand and experiment with our marketing and see where we go. 

Q.  It seems like one of the challenges might be the psychology of that very driven specialty marketing person who really wants success and wants all the budget to come to their area. 

A. Today, we KPI our employees based on a lot of output, like “how many events did you complete? How much press did you get? How many demand campaigns did you run?” But what we’re really more interested in is the outcome. 

You can’t look at the outcome in one single channel; the outcome is a revenue-based outcome for the organization. And so you have to look at all of it together, and it shouldn’t be done retrospectively, as it is today. Today, you’ll have a marketing ops person who takes all these different channels and pulls them together to get some picture of what actually happened in this account that closed. 

Instead, we should be looking at marketing success metrics like how many accounts we got to and what the outcomes were across those accounts. How many new buyers did we bring in? How did we expand business? These are new outcomes that you can’t answer just by looking at channels or technology. You have to change the mindset of the marketer. 

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