When Marketing Technology Isn’t About the Technology

This article originally appeared on Martech Today. Shared with author’s permission.

Last week I had the privilege to join fellow marketers, industry leaders, and innovators at MarTech West in San Jose. There I sat in on some fascinating sessions on everything from tracking marketing attribution to highlighting the new omnichannel marketing stack to learning how to buy the right marketing automation technology. I read about a new product released at the conference that aims to “reduce lengthy sales cycles by uncovering best-fit prospects and helping reps connect with them at the right time.”

On the ride home back to San Francisco that evening, I was thinking about all the conversations I had that day. It dawned on me: we marketers, including myself, are still chasing the wrong things. There is so much technology that’s working to automate — emails, live chat, content recommendations and more. And it’s only going to increase: DemandGen Report states that 63% of marketers plan to increase their marketing automation budget in the next year.

The Automation Problem

What’s the appeal of automation? Well, 74% of marketers say automation’s greatest benefit is that it saves time. Saving time is a fine goal, but we cannot value our own time more than we value our prospects time. Quality engagement is worth the time and resources we put into it. We must continually provide value to prospects through every stage of the funnel – rather than searching for a single touchpoint that we can attribute our MQLs. It dawned on me that there’s a martech stack fallacy.

Let’s first take a step back and see a larger and simpler problem that plagues us: marketers are becoming too binary. We look at everything in the black and white. Either a certain marketing touchpoint either led to an MQL, or it didn’t. Either a video was watched or it wasn’t. We’re implementing solutions that either helps us hit our lead goals or click-thru rates or they don’t.

A Better Martech Approach

But we should take a much more holistic approach. Great marketing shouldn’t be formulaic. If it was, we marketers would no longer be needed. Great marketing means you provide value at every touchpoint, not just one. And great marketing certainly does not have a specific solution or technology that can automate pipeline. That’s precisely the marketing stack fallacy: marketers cannot just add up numerous different technology solutions and expect that the sum will be an increase in leads and revenue. Too often, we do.

Tech is being invented at breakneck speed to manage, control and stop other tech. Spam filters. Automated email responses. Those who don’t have these solutions feel left out of the latest fad. It’s become a technology arms race, but it’s a waste of time and resources to implement technology just for the sake of it. Marketers implement them nonetheless because they feel pressured to acquire these solutions – it’s better to fail with them, and cover your ass than to fail without them.

“Marketers need to ask what the purpose of the technology is – and it needs to be to serve the human experience,” Riverbed CMO Subbu Iyer said last week at the MarTech West conference. “How can we do better-evaluating technology? Think about it from a human context.”

Put Your People In Charge of Martech

This isn’t just a technology problem, though. For the solutions we do use, we have to do a better job of training people and developing the processes to maximize the technology to its fullest extent. We’re all guilty of implementing technology and expecting it to solve all of our problems. In that same breath, some solutions aren’t maximized, as only specific team members leverage them when they could provide broader value to other departments. Walker Sands found that 56% of marketers feel their sales and marketing teams are siloed; teams can become territorial about solutions as a way to justify their jobs. That not only creates resentment, but it severely limits the results you see from the relevant solutions.

Technology has evolved, no doubt, rapidly. It can be hard to keep up. But we marketers have a habit of saying that everything in marketing has changed in the past several years, and that’s different. Yes, we have technology that is more sophisticated than ever, which can track unprecedented data about prospects, and has revamped how we operate daily. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

“Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of exciting and innovative technology out there, but at the end of the day, what matters here is still the ability to have a great strategy, to understand who your customers are, and to . . . create compelling connections with people,” says Scott Brinker, VP of platform ecosystem at HubSpot and editor at chiefmartec.com. “The heart of marketing hasn’t changed, even though all the fancy technologies we have around it are new.”

One marketing leader at the MarTech West conference told me he was “all in on ABM” for 2019, and that was his strategy. But while ABM is a current buzzword, it’s not necessarily a new idea. It’s about personalized marketing that focuses on your most vital accounts. That’s not revolutionary. The fact is that marketing at its core has always been about providing tailored messaging (and value) to prospects. It’s always been about engaging in the right way at the right time and understanding what truly matters to those you are marketing to and how you can help them. And no matter how much the marketing stack changes – this marketing truth will not.

Announcing ON24’s 2019 Webinar Benchmarks Report

Here is a fact about webinar marketing: Thursday is the best day for webinar attendance, followed closely by Wednesday. Here’s another fact webinars in general: about two-thirds of ON24 users personalize webinars to their audience while over a third produce one-to-one webinars for targeted accounts.

There are a lot of facts to learn about webinars, from the best time to attend to what tools practitioners use to record video. Fortunately, you can find all of them in the ON24 2019 Webinar Benchmarks Report.

This year’s benchmarks report assesses the trends behind webinar use in 2018, evaluating everything from the best day to send promotional emails (Wednesday) to which webinar formats are taking off with practitioners (video adoption, for example, jumped by 16 percent).

But the 2019 edition of ON24’s Webinar Benchmarks Report is a little different. We not only included a quantitative assessment of the state of webinars circa 2018, but we also asked our community members what they think about webinars today and how they are actually using webinars.

So, what did they have to say? Here are a few high-level takeaways:

  • 76% of respondents say webinars allow them to drive more leads
  • 86% of participants say they run up to 150 webinars in a given year
  • 89% of those offering webinar-based training say they can easily scale programs
  • 52% of respondents say they share quality leads generated from webinars with sales

Why does this matter? Because a well-run webinar program is defined by knowing what’s possible and how. The ON24 2019 Webinar Benchmarks Report provides you with the ability to make your one-to-one communications scale in a digital world. This is especially important as marketing budgets, and the pressure to prove ROI, grow.

In fact, according to Demand Generation Report’s “2019 Demand Generation Benchmarks Report,” 58 percent of B2B marketers cite webinars as their most successful tactic for top-of-funnel engagement. Nearly half said webinars were the most effective channel they had in converting and accelerating leads at middle and late stages of the funnel.

There are a lot of great facts in the 2019 Webinar Benchmarks Report that’ll help you build a robust, engaging and data-driven webinar program. Download the report today to get started.

For more insights and guidance on how to make the most of your webinar platform, download ON24’s 2019 Webinar Benchmarks Report and watch the corresponding always-on webinar for more best practices.

New at ON24: New Content Journeys and Post-Event Engagement

From design tools to actionable reporting, ON24’s unique features help organizations create engaging, digital content experiences. In case you missed it, we recently announced post-live content journeys, an industry first! Here’s a quick download of what we have been working on and what you can do with your updated digital experience toolkit.  

Extend the Content Journey

Engagement shouldn’t end with the webcast. Users can now invite live webcast viewers to continue to connect with the new post-live console and call-to-action engagement tool, driving ongoing engagement and moving audiences through an ongoing content journey:

  • Invite audiences to register for upcoming webcasts automatically, avoiding the registration page.
  • Lead viewers directly to the Engagement Hub for more content or to sales or product staff for follow-up.

Stream on Facebook

Leverage another channel by streaming on Facebook Live:

  • Connect all brand channels for a consistent experience.
  • Further engage by being where your viewers already are.

Obtain Feedback in Real TIme

Viewers can now engage with content in a richer way. The new Ratings and Comment feature enables audiences to like, dislike, as well as provide comments on each content piece.

Ensure Brand Consistency

We believe in easily-managed content, without the burden of confusing processes, so we always aim to make content experience creation easier. Users can lock registration fields so others can’t edit those locked fields, ensuring a consistent brand experience for audiences and data collected across programs.

Take Action with Flexible Data

As the saying goes, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” That’s why ON24 focuses on delivering the best analytics and reporting so you can always advance engagement:

  • Review Content Insights in Engagement Hub to better understand content performance and optimize the delivered content.
  • Easily assess program performance with refreshed and robust platform-level dashboards and Webcast Reports.

Integrate with Salesforce

The new ON24 Salesforce Connector is a native connector that enables sales teams to drive results:

  • Embed ON24 engagement profiles within Salesforce instances.
  • Move ON24 engagement data to lead and contact records so sales teams stay informed and win.

That’s not all! We’re always getting better. Be sure to check out our latest on ON24 Engagement Hub and ON24 Target, here.

 

ON24 Empowers Marketers to Implement the Rising Trend, GSD

B2B Marketers have a variety of strategies to deploy when it comes to connecting and converting prospects. Account-based management, the current industry standard and golden child of marketing, is a fine example. But a new strategy shows even greater potential in acquiring leads, closing deals and nurturing prospective clients throughout the funnel: Get Sh*t Done (GSD).

That’s why today ON24 is proud to announce that its entire platform is built to help marketers execute a GSD strategy. Through data-rich webinars and interactive content solutions, ON24 gives marketers the essential tools they need to get sh*t done so they can move onto the next project.

“We’re on a mission to help marketers get sh*t done. The more shi*t gets done, the more MQLs, higher engagement, better conversion rates, increased revenue you’ll see,” says Joe Hyland, CMO, ON24. “While account-based marketing bridges the gap between sales and marketing, GSD goes a step further: bridging the gap between sh*t and done. We’re proud to empower marketers to actually Get Sh*t Done.”

Unlike its ABM brethren, GSD is not about acquiring the right set of technology solutions. It’s about using the proven tactics you already have at your fingertips and executing on them. For example, webinars have been proven to connect and convert prospects throughout the entire marketing funnel. So, instead of chasing after the latest chatbot or pop-up feed to reach top-of-funnel, marketers can turn to a proven solution to actually get shit done.

Best of all, the GSD model doesn’t depend on a large team. In fact, the marketing structure required to execute GDS can be a single person and their tool. Blane Barker, Global Webinar Program Manager, Atlassian for example, hones in on webinar tactics that work to single-handedly run more than 250 webinars a year.  Cassandra Clark, Senior Manager Webinar Programs, NVIDIA, also produces a prodigious amount of content that scales globally with a small team. The common denominator? Get Sh*t Done.

There are five fundamental principles to a modern GSD strategy:

  1. Execute
  2. Evaluate
  3. Improve
  4. Keep doing what works
  5. Repeat

Of course, GSD is not a category on the MarTech stack because it isn’t about technology at all. It’s about having a scrappy mentality and realizing that no tech is a solve for execution.

So, on this April Fools’ Day, take a step back, assess your situation and actually use the methods and tools that help you to get sh*t done and build your own GSD program. Learn how ON24 can help here.

Hive Streaming and ON24 Partner to Power Employee Connections Across the Globe

For 93 percent of organizations, video-driven mediums, like webinars, are critical to driving effective internal communication programs. But enterprises face unique challenges when it comes to video behind their firewall — and it often comes down to a matter of security and bandwidth.

To help enterprises connect and engage with employees without massively impacting bandwidth, ON24 and Hive Streaming have partnered to develop innovations in enterprise-scale video delivery, ensuring their customers have the capabilities they need to deliver high-quality, efficient and secure video. As a part of this partnership, ON24 and Hive Streaming will co-market and advance their integration, including a joint presentation at Webinar World 2019 featuring the companies’ mutual customer, HP.

Central to this bandwidth-saving effort is peer-to-peer video streaming. To clarify what enterprise customers can expect from the partnership, we sat down with Mark Szelenyi, VP of Product Management at ON24. Here’s what he had to say:

Q&A: 

How does peer-to-peer streaming work?

A: Peer-to-peer streaming looks at nearby PCs already viewing the same media stream and retrieves segments of the stream from these machines to reduce or eliminate additional traffic on expensive and lower bandwidth WAN connections.

Why would an enterprise be interested in this solution?

A: Enterprises are adopting peer-to-peer technologies in order to make use of solutions that demand higher bandwidth delivery of media and large file downloads to worldwide desktop PCs within their networks.

What are the advantages of peer-to-peer internal video streaming?

A: Peer-to-peer streaming relieves network congestion inside the enterprise enabling the use of high resolution video for live and on demand communications. Rather than a unique media stream for every viewer on the network, peer-to-peer technology is able to piece together the media stream from nearby PCs already viewing and reduce traffic on congested WAN links across the enterprise.

Why is network congestion such an issue for enterprises?

A: Enterprises that have grown organically and through acquisition have complex and far-reaching networks that connect to thousands and even hundreds of thousands of desktop PCs. Replacing this infrastructure is expensive and time-consuming; peer-to-peer technology provides a path to leveraging this existing investment with minimal change or upgrade.

How has the partnership between ON24 and Hive Marketing evolved?

A: ON24 continues to enhance the integration between the ON24 Platform and the Hive Streaming solution by adding support for live, simu-live and on demand webcast types as well as improving scalability and reporting for the combined solution.

Is this sort of peer-to-peer video solution unique to internal comms, or can organizations use it for training as well?

A: Peer-to-peer technology can be used across many use cases however it excels in cases where many users are retrieving or viewing the same media stream simultaneously. This is most noticeable in large, live town-halls, but can apply to training and other solutions as well.

Are there any next steps or upcoming developments in this partnership?

A: ON24 continues to improve the integration through added support for advanced features of its platform supported through the Hive solution.

Discover how ON24 empowers your organization with robust internal communications and check out its entire partner ecosystem here.

Organizing Internal Teams for Webinar Success

This post was originally published on heinzmarketing.com. Syndicated with permission.

So far in our blog series, The Road to Webinar Success, we’ve covered The Power of Panel Webinars and Streamlining Webinar Operations with Integrated Technologies. This week, we continue our journey to webinar success by understanding the roles, responsibilities, and importance of your internal teams, and how you can empower them to drive your webinar program forward.

Let’s dive in.

An overview on driving webinar success with your internal teams

Drive the success of your webinar program with best practices for communicating, collaborating, planning, and executing across your internal teams.

Why should you care about enabling your internal teams?

To drive the success of your webinar program at-scale

In order to implement a scalable, repeatable process for planning, promoting, and executing your webinar activities, you must ensure that all relevant parties within your organization know their roles and responsibilities.

To ensure alignment across your sales and marketing organizations

By aligning your internal teams, you enable marketing and sales to each knows what they’re responsible for both pre- and post-webinar. This alignment also helps facilitate sales and marketing’s ability to promote and produce webinars concurrently as well as in part of their larger efforts.

To effectively utilize webinars throughout your entire buyer’s journey

Gain the ability to more efficiently plan webinars ahead of time, rather than on an ad-hoc basis. With a repeatable process and central webinar planning hub, you gain a clearer picture of upcoming and past webinars and are able to better strategize where, in your buyer’s journey, you could include more or improve.

When should you start evangelizing your internal teams?

Evangelizing your internal teams for webinar success could be sparked from a number of catalysts.

You may want to make your webinar program more repeatable and scalable, you may be tired of constantly feeling the pressure to produce new webinars, or maybe you just want your webinars to more effectively touch on relevant themes and topics.

You could want to improve your organization’s internal alignment around webinars because you’re using them more often and need to ensure that your audiences, topics, speakers, sales and marketing channels, and other operations do not overlap.

Or, perhaps your webinars play a larger, more important channel in your demand generation program and you want to be able to more strategically plan them. Whatever the reason, rallying your teams behind you ensures that everyone is marching to the beat of the same drum.

Who are the key stakeholders involved?

To ensure alignment across the different teams involved in your webinar program, your primary webinar team should involve the following stakeholders:

  • Project Manager: Webinar Program Hub, Webinar Program Strategy, Webinar Calendar and Planning, Overarching Webinar Processes, Webinar Topics
  • Resource Manager: Webinar Resource Allocation
  • Other Roles and Responsibilities:
    • Webinar Abstract Development
    • Speaker and Moderator Scheduling
    • Webinar Deck and Content Development
    • Webinar Console Management

The webinar team should work with marketing (for top-mid funnel webinars), sales (for mid-bottom funnel webinars), product marketing (for bottom-funnel and new product webinars), and customer success (for customer and new product webinars) to determine things like webinar topics, promotion channels, and timing.

Want more?

Now that you know the principles of driving webinar success with your internal teams, it’s time to put it all together. To learn how to do this and much, much more, join us at ON24’s Webinar World 2019 from March 11-13 in San Francisco, CA! PLUS save $500 and get free tickets using the code “Heinz_VIP” at checkout!

Watch keynote presentations, join breakout sessions, and participate in interactive labs all designed to help you utilize webinars and engage for action.

We’ll see you there!

Want to see what the leading engagement platform can do for you? Try our free 30-day Trial.

New at ON24: New Styling, Ratings and Comments and Improved Functionality

At ON24, we’re constantly working to improve both our platform and our users’ experience with it. That’s why, every quarter, we issue platform fixes, product updates and introduce new features.

To inform you and get your feedback on our latest projects, we’re publishing a series of blogs detailing how and why we’re changing the ON24 Platform.

For this quarter, we’ve made improvements to our styling capabilities, improved Engagement Hub capabilities and made adjustments to help you deliver ongoing engagement. Let’s take a look:

Elegant User Experience

ON24 Engagement Hub now has new styling capabilities to ensure your best performing content gets the front-and-center treatment it deserves. We’ve also added two new enhancements to improve the way that content is displayed: Page Width and Featured Content.

Page Width now allows you to adjust page sizes between 990px (standard) and 1220px (wide). This allows you to display more content in your Engagement Hub. The Featured Content enhancement lets you feature select content, like high-performing assets, prominently within the Engagement Hub.

Scalability

You now have more customizable capabilities with thumbnails and fonts across Engagement Hubs and Target Content Experiences. These customization opportunities ensure Engagement Hubs and Target Content Experiences can maintain unique designs across different iterations. You can also simply create unique thumbnails as needed while continuing to track global engagement and performance on all content.

Ongoing Engagement

Everyone has something to say and now they have the opportunity to say it with the new Ratings and Comments feature for ON24 Engagement Hub.With Ratings and Comments, audiences have the ability to engage with content in a qualitative way. Attendees can like or dislike content and provide feedback or comments for each piece of content.

Actionable and Flexible Data

 

Content Insights are now available on ON24 Engagement Hub. Like in ON24 Target, Content Insights bring helpful metrics directly into the Engagement Hub workflow to aid users in understanding their content performance and in choosing the right content for their audience.

Content Insights provides data on unique views, average time viewing content, shares, ratings and comments, and the top accounts and roles that have accessed that particular piece of content. All you have to do is navigate to the content tab and click on a content thumbnail. An overlay should pop up and provide you with the insights you need.

That’s all for now. If you’d like to learn more about the ON24 Platform and how you can get more out of your webinars, contact us and we’ll set you up. Otherwise, keep an eye on this space for more product updates, how-tos and webinar-enhancing tips.

CMO Confessions Ep. 17: Higher Logic’s Hunter Montgomery

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of CMO Confessions, a bi-weekly podcast series discussing how sales and marketing really operates. In this episode, we talk to Hunter Montgomery, CMO at Higher Logic, a community management solution based out of the East Coast.

Hunter has more than 20 years of experience in the marketing sector, weaving his way through a variety of organizations. In July 2007, he joined Verizon Business before moving onto Vocus and, finally, Higher Logic.

Hunter has a sharp eye on cutting through the puff that’s common in B2B marketing. As we discuss in this episode, he has a learned preference for impactful action and content. I think that theme of taking the time to think things through carries well throughout this episode and I hope you all enjoy.

If you’re interested in diving into Hunter’s career as a rocket scientist, you can find his LinkedIn profile here. If you’re interested in his insights and expertise, you can find his Twitter here.

If you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcription:

Joe Hyland:        

Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of CMO Confessions. I am really excited to welcome Hunter Montgomery, CMO of Higher Logic to today’s show. Hunter, how are you doing?

H. Montgomery:

Good. Joe, how are you doing?

Joe Hyland:

I am doing great. Just, year-end wind-down, which I love. So, we’ll get into that and how you look at the end of the year versus starting the year shortly. Just to start things off, talk to our audience about what you guys are up to at Higher Logic and what you’re all about.

H. Montgomery:

Alright, great. Thanks. So, Higher Logic, we are a community engagement platform. It started off about 11, 12 years ago as a professional association based here in DC. Obviously, there are people who say there’s an association for everything and everyone, which is pretty much true. So we built in a kind of idea of community, right? You have lawyers and accountants and scientists and they’re part of an association — they want to talk and interact. And so we built this online community platform, which is perfect for them. About four or five years ago, we really started to expand out more in the corporate space — software user groups, right? B2B software. And then at last, a little over a year ago, we bought two marketing automation platforms to really expand what we do. And now we kind of talked more about engagement, right? It’s about how do you engage with your customers, your members.

H. Montgomery:

They don’t care if you’re sending an email from a platform or a daily digest from the community or a request from somebody else. They just want to know that you care about them interacting with them and you’re giving them value. And so what we’ve sort of rolled out is combining the ideas of community and really the market automation part to give this personalized, customized interaction between a company and their customers or an association and their members, which is very similar, right? If you really think about an association member is just this SaaS user, right? Every year they get to renew their membership and they want to see value in it. If they don’t see a value, they’ll go somewhere else. So we’re all about that?

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, that’s great. I think a lot of marketing mirrors politics. I was a political science major so maybe that’s just my own leaning, but I think all things in life really are local — even as we’re moving to everything being global, I get it. I think people feel more comfortable with small intimate communities and I think a lot of marketing has — and we can talk more about this — but has leaned too heavily on all quantity and just blasting out as much as possible to as big of a group as humanly possible. But it’s all about how about engagement and quality. So talk more about how your company’s philosophy on this community engagement model, how your marketing mirrors that.

H. Montgomery:

So immediate it fits very well, right? It’s all about personalization. It’s about giving your prospect if you will — or your member or your customer — the information that they need that valuable to them. It’s to your point, it’s not blasting out. “Hey, here is a webinar on a topic and I’m going to send it to my entire database where we know not everybody cares about it fit their schedule.” So we’re similar in terms of how the community works, the idea of basically with the market automation platform we added. But what we had it in there also was looking at how people interact and then give them that content that matters to them. If it’s a product they use, if it’s a community, a subcommittee they’re part of, you know, it’s how they interact with it. Like we’re doing a lot now more with AI.

H. Montgomery:

We start to learn about the people in the community and in the marketing side, what they read, what they click on, what they replied to, what questions they ask, all those things. I’m kind of starting to build kind of a digital fingerprint if you will, of what that person’s doing. And then you want to give them what’s valuable to them. That’s when marketing automation came up. “Oh, don’t send a blast to everybody,” but for marketing automation, for a long time, it was firmographic. I know what title you are, I know how big your company is, an industry it’s in, so I have a good sense of what you want to read and look at, but if I all of a sudden learned that you’re the chief customer officer, but you tend to read and interact in a different community, I can actually really show you information and content that matters to you. Not just a generic eBook of what a chief customer officer needs to know about x, y, z, right? Which is great, but maybe I have specific areas of like customer support. That’s my focus. That’s my target. All the sudden I’m getting content around that. So that’s kind of how we’re built the platform. And then obviously that’s how kind of the modern marketing person tries to look at things and every time you get more data you can do more with it.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Love it. I mean, the more relevant we can make our message and our delivery, the more successful we’ll be, right? So, I think people conceptually agree with that. It’s like breaking a bad habit. It’s easy to just flash your whole database with one message and I urge marketers to avoid that temptation.

H. Montgomery:

Part of it too is like what we’re trying to do, I mentioned the AI before, and I was talking to another guy I know, he’s writing a book about marketing in AI, and he had an example. I think it’s like BMW one of those companies, they’re basically creating 10,000 personas. Now, usually, if you have five personas of a buyer persona. That’s not a build-on and they’re great and they’re helpful. They’re good. What have you can create make 10,000? Everybody’s slightly different. The machines can learn more than you can and they can react to it. Not to scare people that marketers aren’t going to be important because you still have to understand who that buyer is, what they want, what they need, create content for them. But if you can just target that much more to somebody and that helps that much more of your click rate, you know, conversion rate — all the rates that you’re trying to track, then you can go focus on other things and stop worrying about the daily tasks. A lot of promises there. We’ll see how it comes out.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. That’s powerful. I love walking into a marketer’s office and seeing the five or six personas on the wall with a picture and their tendencies. Like, I’d love to see this 10,000 version.

H. Montgomery:

That’d be pretty cool.

Joe Hyland:        

Okay, well, that makes to me and makes me think about things we love about marketing and things we perhaps don’t. So, I’ll start with the positive side. What do you love about today’s marketing opportunities versus five or 10 years ago?

H. Montgomery:        

I like math, which sounds kind of crazy. I’m not a quant guy, I’m not math major, a history major and undergrad. But it’s made it so marketers can go to the CFO, CEO, whoever, maybe the head of sales and say, “Here is what I’m actually impacting on your sales. I can show you, I can draw a direct line from these people to your bookings, closings, revenue. I can show, I can draw a dotted line to this group saying, ‘Hey, I got them in front of your guys, somehow'” they know I’m not trying to take credit,” but when you can start to look at the math that — a company before called Vocus, we are a PR software company, but a lot of that was built on: you bring a lead-in, they convert to a demo — it was a little old school now — and then they close for win and there are rates each way, there’s your ASP. IT becomes math.

H. Montgomery:        

And if you get on the understanding of math, I mean it shouldn’t cloud everything you do. But at least you can go and say, here’s what I’m doing and if you give me more money I’ll get more of these for you. If you reduce my budget, I’m going to get fewer of those for you. So the math part and the connection with the finance side and really being able to trust it and it’s not “we think we influenced.” And obviously it’s different companies, B2B fits very well in. But that’s the one thing I do like because it gets to be cut and dry and you’re not sort of trying to have to talk smart. You can actually show some numbers.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, I love it. I think that’s a fantastic point. I love that in doing a compare and contrast to now to a decade ago when we were doing these models — it was a lot of assumptions. Your right, now like for us, we’re doing this right now actually. We have our plan for next year for revenue, and then we, based off of historical win rates, a conversion from inquiry to MQL, MQL to sales accepted, lead all the way through. We’re pretty granular. And what you said is dead on — there’s give and take. So, great, you don’t want to give us that budget. “Oh, okay. No worries. Like, you know, here’s what the marketing can contribute. It will be less than we had planned in and we do.” And then, so ON24, we then do check-ins every quarter to see how accurate we are. And, for us, a decade ago it was a little different. That’s interesting. I’ll get to the things that aren’t great in a moment, but you raised, you raised a great point.

Joe Hyland:        

I think there’s also … So if we’re going to be more quantifiable, there’s more modeling — there’s truthfully a lot more math in marketing today in data then there was a decade ago — in a lot of ways, I see geeks taking over marketing teams. You have more and more people who focus on data. I’m curious on your team if you’ve seen that shift or if the marketing personas are a little more traditional.

H. Montgomery:        

I think it kind of … there’s a few people who fit it well. They’re not quants or Geeks, but they understand the business side of it because really the numbers are about the business side. It’s one thing to understand the different conversion rates along the waterfall, but it’s why? Why is it important? Why is a booking today more valuable than the booking three months from now? And why is the ASP .. and all those things that the CFO cares about. You got to know what the CFO cares about. So we haven’t got there, I also have a younger team, so it’s almost like we’re helping them understand what marketing is going to be. I want to do email marketing or I want to do content and that’s great and they can. But Now let’s see: Did your content actually get downloads? We love that. Did it then convert — to your point — MQL, SAL, win? What do we see, how are you contributing?

H. Montgomery:

And then now they feel like, okay, I understand I got to be part of the business. I can’t just do content for the sake of content. And they’re not an indicator of that it was successful. It’s the first step So, it’s I have not brought in people and I’ve actually moved, kind of bringing an ops role. We didn’t have an obstacle here before. I’m like from an ops background, so I get the whole marketing ops and what it means and so kind of bringing people in, that’s a hard one to find. I mean, maybe, I think probably out on the West Coast it’s probably a little easier here on the East Coast. It’s still more traditional marketing people.

Joe Hyland:        

Out here, out here, everyone wants to call themselves the growth hacker, but which is really a demand gen person with a new name.

H. Montgomery:

Right, revenue, right? Revenue. What is it, what’s the new one? I can’t remember. It was like basically had of revenue or somebody in the marketing department, you know.

Joe Hyland:

Oh, you see some pretty … our office is right next door to LinkedIn’s. We see some pretty creative titles on LinkedIn.

H. Montgomery:

I’m sure.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, I think that’s interesting. We had a similar understanding of the why for a business is really important, particularly for young marketers. We have a lot of the younger marketers earlier in their career who listened to this show. It’s critical to my opinion. One, always tie yourself to revenue wherever possible and then, two, you’re dead-on like understanding why we’re doing all of this is so critical. We had someone who was running our social media a few years ago and was quite successful with it, but it was a bit of a learning curve to get to the why social influencers mattered. And, for webinars, I think ultimately where we landed was they don’t. Which is fine, we just had to change our social media strategy, but it was like, “Oh, wait, all of these people like this tweet.” Like, okay, cool. Like, what do we think that means to the business? So yeah, it’s an evolution.

H. Montgomery:        

We had one of the companies we acquired in the last couple of years, they had a really good blog. And they came over and I looked at it — like, three times as many as our blog in terms of people that subscribed to it. And you know, my CEO is like, “Oh my God, the blog is great. You got to look at it.” And we dug into it and there are no leads there. I mean, it’s not our audience. It’s great. I appreciate it. And one of their sales guys came over with that because he’s like, we got to do like we did before. I said, do you ever see that the leads at the blog generated? I like activity but not activity for the sake of activity. It does not bring any value to what we’re trying to do. And they did keywords. It was optimized for SEO, I guess. Optimized for SEO drives me crazy. I’m sure there are markets there are companies that need to do it and it’s very valuable. But when you look at it and you realize that there’s nothing there for you. You know, we had a lot of homeowners associations. That’s not a professional association. They’re not buying our software.

H. Montgomery:        

So yeah, it’s got to connect the dots for people and understand that’s what it is. Not saying that it’s bad. It’s not our business.

Joe Hyland:        

Focus is a powerful and beautiful thing in life, right? And understanding markets you were going to play in and double and triple down in versus those that are just a distraction I think is, man, that can save so much time and energy and money. Okay, cool. Let’s get back to the original question. Okay. We went over things you love. What about things that frustrate you or you just, you just hate about the marketing landscape?

H. Montgomery:        

Well, I think I kind of jumped the gun. I think that last one I kind of overstated. So, I think you mentioned a little bit about, for a long time social, right? Social’s gonna be the greatest thing ever; you can’t scale it, you can’t track it, to your point. That kind of helped with the SEO. I think SEO was way overplayed in my, in the companies I have been part of. Again, I’m sure there are businesses were they very important. I think the other thing is, and you alluded to, we talked about a little before we got on the call and that is kind of the tech stack. Six or 7,000 tech solutions now in the Martech one, you know, Scott Brinker’s thing, which is great. And it was 150 in 2011. I mean the sheer number that these little point solutions can solve all your problems or you’ve got to put them all together yourself, is crazy.

H. Montgomery:        

And I love the tech side. As I said, I was the op side. I liked for efficiencies. I like to find an advantage you can have. But there’s, I don’t know if there’s really 7,000 advantages out there.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. And we talked about this for a second before we started. It’s 10 times worse out here in San Francisco. Scott was on the show a couple of months back, great guy. What a gargantuan effort this has become. He’s got a research team behind it now because I think the last one was like 67, 6,700 companies or something crazy. But yeah, you’re right. It was 150 in year one. So in year one it was just him doing it was like pretty easy, right? Yeah. Everyone and their brother has a little kind of B2B marketing company right now out here. It’s like, you know, two guys in a cat and their garage.

Joe Hyland:        

I think what’s interesting about it, and quite, quite, quite dangerous, is so many of these companies have received funding from these venture capital firms. They have money that they need to deploy. They’re placing bets, if you will. If three or four out of 10 bets work, they’re successful. That’s generally their model. So, you have a lot of these companies who have raised one or two million and so it feels like a quasi-legitimate organization and it doesn’t solve enough of a business need to justify their existence. And so yeah, it’s out of control in ,y opinion.

H. Montgomery:        

Yeah, it really is. That and it makes it hard to find things out there. And how do you sift through it all?

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. And it’s all in. You alluded to this just a moment ago, anyone thinking that technology will be a silver bullet or, you know, kind of this one-size-fits-all solution and then they’re like, they’re really missing the boat. It’s all gonna work together. So a lot of these techs, it becomes your problem to now implement it, which is not how this needs to work. If it doesn’t connect to your marketing automation or your CRM, I mean forget it. So, and we’re both technologists, we work for technology companies, but I will always advise people to be considerate before they bring in tech to their org.

H. Montgomery:        

Yeah. And then, all of a sudden, you get a bloated budget potentially. You know, you add this thing here and that thing. All of a sudden, someone looks, you said you have a hundred thousand dollars for the software in marketing and what are you doing? And because, it’s SaaS, a lot of times you don’t have to get into. It doesn’t go through it. Right. And you just need somebody to hook it into Salesforce or hook it into your market automation or, to your point, it just gets a little bit out of control and then you become an IT guy.

Joe Hyland:        

It’s true. I mean it happens fast. I think it was Gartner, four or five years ago, who predicted that you know, it was probably around now 20, 18, 2019 CMOs would have a higher budget than CIOs. I think that I think they were right. It’s occurred.

H. Montgomery:        

They were right because it’s gotten easier because now these things do work better together. And out of the box, they work your marketing automation and out of the box they work with Salesforce. That’s always sort of the sticking point: How do I integrate it? But now it’s easy.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, it’s easy. Yeah. Last word on this for me: focus on things that will solve your use case if your use case. If your use case is Demand generation. Great. Double down on what will yield a greater return. I’m buying things because they’re nice to have. I mean, you’re just being irresponsible.

H. Montgomery:        

Absolutely right.

Joe Hyland:        

It’s like a PSA from you and I. Okay. So you guys are big in the engagement space, particularly on the community side. I’m curious to get your take on this move for marketers to own more of customer engagement. Again, if we do a compare and contrast to five or 10 years ago, I felt five or 10 years ago, it was rare for marketers — particularly in the B2B world — to own kind of post-sale. Oftentimes marketers said, “Hey, once someone becomes a customer, like, our job is done.” But I’m seeing more and more marketers really care about the customer experience and that customer engagement. So I’d love to get your take on, on this movement and kind of how you guys feel about it.

H. Montgomery:        

Yeah, I completely agree with you. We’ve seen it on our end. I’ve been in companies where marketing didn’t even touch the customer. One of the things I’ve seen, at least the customer side is, it has become a bigger deal, right? “Customer, customer, customer,” last couple of years, right? Everyone’s talk about it. There’s so many different places where the customer could sit. There’s renewal. There’s upsell if that’s your model. And then there’s having the whole, “Oh, we’re now we’re going to bring a Chief Customer Officer In” And where do they fit? Do they fit under the CEO? Do they fit under operations? Do they fit under sales? So the customer kind of gets lost. But the one group is sort of a neutral arbiter the whole thing that kind of a neutral friend, if you will, is marketing. Because it’s getting good content.

H. Montgomery:        

Hey, you know, here’s a webinar, here’s content. Yes, it’s, we’re using for a prospect. It’s about the same problem that you had before or issue or topic. So, by default we kind of accepted it and we went out and said, hey, you know what, we’re gonna shifted a woman on my team to just do customer marketing. We weren’t doing it before and she helped the upsell team, right? That was an easy traditional generate leads for them. We do a soft, very, a kind of relationship way. Did a monthly newsletter from the customer success people, but we generated it, but you still have that, “Okay, well who really owns their renewal rate, who really owns how are we going to support them in the right way they need?”

So it’s a little bit in a flux in all honesty. But as I said, it was a great opportunity for marketing to come and say, look we just want to make sure they’re happy. And can provide content and help and if they want to learn more about other products we will be able to give them the opportunity to raise their hand. That’s all we say. But it’s such an important thing now for organizations that they all have to figure it out. And we’ve gone through a transition internally here and I think we figured out, but it took a little time, you know? And there’s a lot of History of people doing this for the last 15 years in a new way. People think that it really needs to be done and for B2B, obviously, B2B is a different model than, obviously, a B2C or manufacturing or you know, whatever.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. And you reference the SaaS model a little bit ago and, you know, 10 or 15 years ago when you were selling an on-prem, bigger upfront cost. And then there was just a small maintenance component. It kind of mattered less. It matters a lot more now.

H. Montgomery:        

Yeah. It does impact. And back to your point, there’s tools now for it, right? You have the customer success platforms like Turn Zero, To-Tango, Gainsight. They’re leveraging that. Everyone’s jumping in. Everyone wants to be helping the customer.

Joe Hyland:        

It’s a big space. It’s actually kind of funny because your business, my business would not exist without our customers. I mean, I know that’s such an obvious point, but like, man, do we lose sight of obvious points in business? And so I had a friend of mine who works for another company here in the city, a pretty big role and he said, “Well. Listen, the only thing that matters is, is our upsell numbers for our customers.” And I said, “I don’t know what if, what if your customers are happy? Like where does that fit in there?” And he was like, “Well, yeah, yeah, that too.” I’m like, “Oh, okay. I don’t know if this should just be like assumed.” And I love it when, when the business strategy gets in the way of what’s actually best for the customer.

So, I think you’re right: marketing can play a pivotal role because we have no revenue targets, we really just want to make sure the customers are getting the best content, what’s, what’s best for them. So I strongly feel marketers should play a bigger and bigger role. Because if this sits on the sales side, and I mean to throw no stones here, sales will naturally lean into upsells. Great. You want them to. But I don’t think they should be the arbiter of ensuring that customers are in fact happy.

H. Montgomery:        

Right, right. Or really no… it’s trying to be a consultative approach where I look at the customer and say, “Wow, they’re struggling with this. I think it’d be a good opportunity.” Yeah. Maybe there’s an upsell versus recommending the wrong thing because they’re just trying to get through their upsell. Like, propagate, versus B or, where b really would fit them. But A is maybe on the spiff list. Someone has to have, truly have the customer’s best interest in mind and it pays off long-term. It’s that balance. Short-term, long-term retention, long-term revenue. You get somebody to buy another product or upsell for three more years versus the wrong one. And they canceled it after a year.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. That’s not good for the business. You mentioned ToTango and Gainsight and kind of this industry which has sprung up over the last 10 years for customer success. Love to get your take on this. Another thing I think that is interesting for companies is, and I think a lot of companies are getting it wrong, is CSMs didn’t exist eight or 10 years ago. Now every organization has at least who cares about the renewal basis, has a pretty big team of CSMs. Most CSMs though, how do I say this in an eloquent way? Most CSMs come from the client side and they want to ensure people are, you know, the clients are happy, which is great. But I don’t think they were necessary — they may have struggled to see the connection between happy customers and how a business is fully successful. I feel like a lot of companies have thrown a lot of bodies on the customer success side, which is great, but there’s not necessarily a strategy for how we holistically communicate with our customers. It’s almost like you have, if you have 50 CSMs, you have 50 communication strategies. There’s no like centralized plan.

H. Montgomery:        

Right, right. Yeah. I mean I think because, to your point, they all can have different even metrics. Is it NPS? Is it renewal rate? Is it upselling? They do, but I think that I do think it’s maturing. I do think that the idea of CSMs and having … you know, we have a woman here who manages all our CSMs and she also managed all our community managers. We’d have to have them for our professional services and our customers can use us for their community management services. So she comes from that. It’s all about engagement, interacting and making these … it’s one of our best services because it’s running a community is not a light lift. That’s her background. And I think that’s how she approaches she almost his approach to CSMs as community managers, even if they don’t have any community.

H. Montgomery:        

So I think, to your point, you kinda need the right person leading that group. So everyone sort of understands it. It’s, “Here’s how you’re going to communicate, here’s the outcome that we care about. And, but at the same time, you still ask how do you balance the upsell number if you have a strong retention number?” We have a very strong retention number, right? So everyone’s like, “Okay, what do we do?” Do we need fewer of them because our retention number is not an issue and then? No one, I think has solved it yet. I mean that’s the good thing is there’s an opportunity for people to get it right.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, I agree. And when you, you said it. Well, it’s, it’s understanding the why, right? As long as the, as long as that side of the organization understands what the real metric is and what we’re trying to accomplish. I think you’re on the right path to success. Right? So Listen, Hunter, this has been fantastic. I could do this for multiple hours, but I’m going to be true to our format and stop at half an hour. I really enjoyed the discussion. Thank you so much.

H. Montgomery:        

No, thank you. I love the opportunity and good luck with everything.

Joe Hyland:        

Awesome. Thanks, man. Thanks.

How to Streamline Webinars Ops with Integrations

This post was originally published on heinzmarketing.com. Syndicated with permission.

Last week, we debuted a new blog series: The Road to Webinar Success designed to help you better plan, think about, and utilize webinars in your broader demand generation initiatives. Our first installment covered a brief background on the value of webinars as well as their effectiveness, and also dug into The Power of Panel Webinars. If you haven’t yet, go back and read that blog to get yourself oriented.

This week, I want to look at what it means to streamline your webinar operations using integrated tools and technologies. What are the values of integration? Who are the key stakeholders involved? What do you need to consider when it comes to integration? That’s what we’re here to find out.

An overview on streamlining webinar operations with integrated technologies

While the functionality of an individual tool matters, at some point, you’re going to need it to start sharing information. With robust integration between your webinar platform and the rest of your marketing tech stack, you can streamline operations across your sales and marketing initiatives.

Why should you care about streamlining webinar operations with integration?

To act on buying signals

Today, marketing is all about identifying signals and acting on them, and while we’re in no short supply of tools to identify what people do, when, and where, siloed tools makes acting on those signals much more difficult.

To react more intelligently

When your data is effectively integrated, you can identify prospect actions across your tech stack and better understand how best to follow-up on that action, without the manual data pulls. If a lead attends a webinar, sales can be notified to follow-up. If a lead registers but doesn’t attend a webinar, they can be added to a specific nurture program. If a lead asks a question on a webinar, an SDR can answer immediately. With the right integration, you are able to continue the conversation rather than reaching out cold.

To reduce manual workflows

Automation allows you to reduce the amount of manual processes to get the data you want before, during, and after a webinar. It also makes possible to develop programs or see new angles to data that were previously too difficult or too risky to do manually.

The ability to integrate helps mitigate risks with tricky data, and it allows you to focus your time on more important facets of your role, rather than spending hours sifting through data trying to decipher what’s actually relevant.

To share data across sales and marketing

When your webinars are integrated, sales and marketing can be better aligned when it comes time to engage a lead. With your webinar data being shared across systems, both teams know how leads have engaged in your webinars and can more thoughtfully route them accordingly as part of continued nurture.

When it comes to integrations, anything that speeds up the sales and marketing process is beneficial. Anything that delays it is a problem.

To improve data and reporting capabilities

Gain a single source of truth not just for your webinar data, but also the role it plays amongst your broader sales and marketing activities. With this, you can simplify reporting and analytics and ensure that marketing, sales, and executive leadership are all looking at the same data to see reports with the same lens.

With integration, you are also able to build a process around how data is collected and acted on, getting the right data in front of the right people at the right time.

The more you can do to automate your workflows with inputs from integrations, the more you can do to drive the business forward.

When should you consider streamlining webinar operations with integration?

You should never not think about the possibility of integration.

The minute you have two systems, you should ask if they’re able to talk with each other. Consider using this play when you want your webinar program to play a larger role in your marketing strategy, you’re tired of manually sifting through webinar data, or your marketing, sales, and executive teams all lack a central data source.

You may also want more transparency and reliability in your data and reporting. Maybe you want tighter alignment between sales and marketing before, during, and after a webinar happens. Or perhaps you want to improve your lead conversion rates, follow-up actions, and broader lead engagement tactics.

Who are the key stakeholders involved in streamlining webinar operations with integration?

When it comes to integration, your marketing operations team should lead the charge. However, they should be sure to work with both sales and marketing to identify what tools need to be integrated, what inputs need to be involved, and what signals need to be tracked.

Want more?

Now that you know the principles of streamlining your webinar operations, it’s time to put it all together. To learn how to do this and much, much more, join us at ON24’s Webinar World 2019 from March 11-13 in San Francisco, CA! PLUS save $500 and get free tickets using the code “Heinz_VIP” at checkout!

Watch keynote presentations, join breakout sessions, and participate in interactive labs all designed to help you utilize webinars and engage for action.

We’ll see you there!

Can’t make it to Webinar World? Join us with a panel of experts from ON24, Netline, Sketchdeck, and DemandBase for our Panel Webinar to Drive Engagement, Action, Conversion, and Loyalty. Learn More >>