Six Takeaways From the ON24’s Regulation Webinar That Will Ease Your Mind

GDPR went into effect on May 25. With significant penalties for non-compliance, and the fact that any organisation that communicates with people in the EU will have to comply, there was a lot of discussion in the run-up to the enforcement deadline. There continues to be a lot of discussions well after. Many companies are still struggling to comply with the regulations and have questions about various aspects of compliance. What are the regulations? What do we do if our company is not ready for GDPR? Does GDPR affect other departments aside from marketing? How do we build campaigns that help gain compliance?

ON24’s Insight50 Ask About: Regulation webinar addresses these questions and more. Webinar panelists Abigail Dubiniecki, senior lawyer and specialist at My Inhouse Lawyer, Richard Preece, Director at DA Resilience and Zach Thornton, External Affairs Manager at the DMA shared their knowledge and expertise to answer questions and discuss the various aspects of GDPR and what it means to companies.

Here are just six key takeaways from the webinar, moderated by Andrew Warren-Payne from Market2Marketers.

Most attendees aren’t compliant but they are getting there

If your company is not 100% compliant with GDPR, you are not alone. Of the webinar attendees, 48% reported that ‘We are not fully compliant but are taking steps towards it’ when asked ‘Where is your company in terms of readiness for GDPR?’

On this note, one important question came from the audience: if your contacts have not opted in by the 25th May deadline, does it mean you can no longer contact them? According to Zach Thornton, if your company is already abiding by opt-in consent rules and you have a continual engagement or relationship with your customer, this implies continual consent making renewal of consent unnecessary. He believes that companies going through this re-consenting process are wasting resources and might needlessly be keeping in touch with contacts that are consenting to receive marketing.

Procrastinators don’t panic

If you are feeling a bit behind on GDPR compliance, don’t panic. Abigail Dubiniecki, from My Inhouse Lawyer, advises not to panic and to think before you act. She has a Five-Step Procrastinator’s Checklist that can help you towards compliance.

  1. Know the law

Get on the ICO website and familiarise yourself with the following guidelines and tools:

ICO Direct Marketing Guide

ICO Guide to the GDPR

ICO PECR Guide

ICO Lawful Basis Interactive Tool

  1. Know your data

Know what kind of data you have. This is important because, as Dubiniecki says, “You can’t do things properly if you don’t know what you have.”

  1. Know your legal justification and your purpose

Segment your database and identify what the legal justification is for having those contacts. You’ll want to know the following information about your contacts:

  • Provenance
  • Preference they have
  • Purpose you are allowed to market to them
  1. Trim the fat

This is where you want to use your metrics. Find out how much engagement you have had with your contacts. From that point, you can purge those contacts that do not engage.

  1. Go forth and market, but do it appropriately and maintain good practices

Establish workflows and make sure you have a record of processing activities. Most importantly, make sure you train those people involved in these workflows and processing activities.

Make privacy a positive

Many of the webinar participants polled (39%) are not sure whether GDPR would be good for business. However, the majority (54%) felt that GDPR would have a positive effect on business.

This positive outlook on GDPR’s on the state of business is refreshing and in line with the advice given by Zach Thornton. He suggests that companies make privacy a positive. Transparent, common-sense guidance allows companies to address customers’ concerns about their personal data and let customers know that they are in control of how your company uses their data. Privacy can now be a company’s unique selling point.

A good example of an organisation making privacy positive is the BBC, which uses a layered privacy approach. This method provides the most important information to the contact first at the top layer (for example, on a sign-up form); thereafter, each layer of additional information gets more detailed but still gives a clear explanation as to how that information will be used. This approach makes it easier to explain privacy information for the average person.

Email is thought to be the marketing channel most at risk but what about sales activities?

Not surprisingly, email is believed to be the marketing channel that has the greatest amount of risk in reference to GDPR. Webinars were seen as the lowest risk.

But while much talk has been on marketing practices and channels that will fall under the scrutiny of GDPR, what about sales activities?

As Zach Thornton explained, because GDPR applies to the processing of personal data that can be linked back to an individual, it does apply to sales activities such as cold calling, contacting prospects via social media such as LinkedIn as well as the use of email prospecting tools. It is important to note that GDPR also applies to human resources, IT and any other department that processes personal data.

If marketing is designed properly, compliance will happen

So how can marketers design their campaigns to gain compliance? According to Abigail Dubiniecki, the answer is to design marketing campaigns that establish a reason for engagement and encourages the development of relationships. If marketing efforts, such as webinars, are created around the idea that people don’t want to miss out and the excitement of being part of something interesting, people will sign up so they can be notified of upcoming events. If you deliver value, compliance will follow

Compliance is an ongoing endeavor

The last takeaway from the webinar is one to keep in mind—compliance does not end; it is an endeavor. As Richard Preece explained, compliance is an ongoing process. It requires you to challenge the way you do things, to understand the risk and have a clear system in place. This system will allow for continuous improvements and adapts over time to the needs of your business.

Want to know more?

If you want to know more, the ON24 Insight50 Ask About: Regulation is available now on-demand.

Wake Up Your Content with ON24 Webinars

Successful content has to engage. It has to pull your audience in, build a genuine connection and address a specific problem each audience member is facing. But far too often, content today doesn’t engage. It interrupts.

It’s time to wake up your content with a solution that works for both buyers and sellers. It’s time to wake up your webinars.

According to a recent Demand Gen report, nearly 70 percent of all buyers prefer webinars over any other form of content. What does that mean? It means 75 percent of buyers will share more information about themselves to gain access to webinar content. It means 37 percent of buyers will spend 30 to 60 engagement-driving minutes with webinars. It means 61 percent of the information a buyer takes from a webinar is shared with a colleague.

That’s because real webinars engage with their audience instead of just speaking to. Chats, polls, live Q&A sessions and more gives your brand the means of connecting with your audience. It’s no wonder nearly half of Demand Gen report’s respondents said webinars were their top choice and most valuable content format in the mid-stage of their buying journey

It’s time to wake up your content — click here to learn how.

Heading to CMWorld 2018? Stop by booth #539 to learn more about how ON24 can wake up your content — and don’t forget to see what real webinars are capable of at “Webinars That Rock: Keys to Engagement-Driven Content Delivery,” in Grand Ballroom B at 12:20 on Sept. 5.

ServiceNow’s Approach to Webinar Program Innovation (Part II)

This is part two in a two-part series on how organizations can extract more results from their webinars. For part one, click here

The push towards account-based marketing ultimately is about creating the capability to personalize go-to-market strategies and outreach. Webinars – both generic and targeted – play a vital role in ServiceNow’s focus on the Financial Services market.

There are many definitions of Account-Based Marketing going around – it’s a hot topic in Marketing these days. At ServiceNow, ABM is one of three Go-To-Market programs, in addition to Executive Programs and Campaigns.

 

Figure 1: ServiceNow Go-To-Market Model

 

Market and Account Segmentations

We segment our markets along a number of axes, and decisions on marketing spend are related to our country tiering model (Tier 1: UK, Germany, France and The Netherlands), the 50 largest accounts for ServiceNow in EMEA, the Executive decision makers (CxO level) within the Top-50, the broader market segment of Large Enterprise organisations, specific industries that historically have proven lucrative for ServiceNow, like Financial Services.

In 2018, we increased our focus on Top-50 accounts. In the first phase of our Account-Based Marketing program, we target 17 Financial Services accounts (banks and insurers) within our EMEA Top-50 account list.

Guided by our London-based ABM agency McDonald Butler Associates, we’re working side by side with Sales leadership and Client Directors to understand how marketing can help accelerate the sales strategy execution within these 17 accounts.

Financial Services: 3 go-to-market modes

To understand the role of the ON24 platform as part of our ABM strategy, I will outline our thinking on a high-level. If we take the triangle from figure 1 and we put it on its side, we see figure 2, where three go-to-market modes in the Financial Services market are identified:

1.    Content Marketing for the largest segment in the database. These are the accounts that are in the Financial Services industry, but they’re not strategic enough yet for ServiceNow to focus investment.

2.    Account-based marketing for the 17 Financial Services Accounts within the EMEA Top-50 of largest accounts, critical to the future growth of the company.

3.    Target Account Marketing for those accounts within Top-17 FS which require even more focus and investments, for instance, because they have been included in a global focus program, or because the sales strategy requires additional marketing investment.

Figure 2: Industry-to-Account-Based Engagement Model 

Content Strategies Per Mode

Now that these three modes have been established, we can start devising the content marketing strategy and resources, systems and data services we require per phase over time. To summarize six months of conversations between our sales teams, agencies, and colleagues around the globe:

Seventeen of the EMEA Top-50 accounts our sales organization is going after, are in Financial Services. If we create a content marketing strategy for our target personas in Financial Services, we can start creating an active database in Financial Services within our Tier 1 markets and track who is engaging with ServiceNow, test new ideas, and generate initial demand.

Part of the mix of assets and tactics we employ for this FS content strategy are industry-based messaging frameworks, demo environments, sales decks, blogs, position papers, storybooks, and FS industry event sponsorships – all developed in close cooperation with industry experts and Client Directors.

The ON24 Pillar

In the case of our Financial Services focus, one of the key content strategy pillars is a series of live webinars, running on ON24, reviewing the various parts of our FS value proposition with large FS customers featuring as panel speakers. The recordings of these webinars are used to populate an ON24 Target landing page, with a branded header visual, targeted introduction and the call-to-action to engage the FS discussion groups within the ServiceNow Community.

For the 17 FS accounts within the EMEA Top-50, we go the extra mile by increasing the level of localization of the content and assets. The messaging framework is reworked based on account insights shared by the account director. Co-branded design templates per account show our commitment to work with them. Our executives proactively reach out to their counterparts.

Not only is this a very scalable model, but it also feeds industry-specific content into the long-tail of accounts in the same segment, which are not yet in our Top-50 focus.

In line with the webinar performance metrics we track internally, some of which we shared in Part 1 of this two-part blog, we have seen a significant increase in target account engagement and pipeline influence. The use of ON24’s Target product for ABM has been key to creating the focused content experience, while enabling our marketing metrics to easily demonstrate the increased consumption and engagement via the real-time sync with our CRM system.

Bid Marketing Menu

Once we get to the RFP/bid stage of the engagement, a special programme of activities kicks into action, our so-called “Bid Marketing Menu”, including a targeted brochure aligned with the value themes outlined in the RFP, a branded ON24 Target landing page with messaging and video assets relevant to the offer, email and social media programs to driver further engagement in the account, and real-time engagement monitoring.

Figure 3: Account-based ON24 Target page – account logo blurred out in header visual

Targeted, Personalized Webinars

ON24 Target has enabled the ServiceNow team to introduce targeting and personalization techniques into our webinar programs. We already had the ON24 platform integrated with our website, our Eloqua marketing automation platform and our CRM system, and Tableau already has the dashboards in place to visualize engagement and business value down the funnel, which basically means that these targeted investments are automatically tracked and reported on in our systems, too. So, without much extra effort in the infrastructure layer, we’re able to create actionable insight and higher value for our sales and account teams.

Baseline for 2019 growth

Today, we can show which contacts from our target accounts are engaging our webinar program, including the stage of their engagement and propensity to pipeline and bookings – which is a great baseline for continued growth in 2019 and beyond.

Microsoft and ON24 Team Up for Seamless Webinars

At ON24, we’re all about making personal engagement at scale as easy as possible. Which is why we’re pretty excited to be selected as the only webinar platform supported by the flourishing Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 platform. And it’s a booming platform, seeing a 65 percent growth rate during the first three quarters of fiscal 2018 — even faster than Microsoft Office 365.

Dynamics 365 is a combination of applications, including customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and marketing automation, hosted on Microsoft Azure, the company’s cloud platform. Dynamics 365 for Marketing is an ideal solution for marketers and marketing agencies seeking to simplify their business applications on the Microsoft stack.

To get a better idea of just what this partnership between Microsoft and ON24 entails — and what everyone gets out of it — we sat down with Lou Pelosi, VP of Business Development and Partnerships at ON24 to ask him a few questions about this development. Here’s what he had to say:

Q:

Can you explain the relationship between Microsoft and ON24?

Lou Pelosi:

From a high level, we’ve expanded our customer and technical relationship with Microsoft and signed a co-marketing agreement with their Microsoft Dynamics 365 team. The goals of the agreement are to drive greater value for our joint customers and to market and sell together to obtain new customers.

Q:

What was the impetus for this partnership?

Lou Pelosi:

Microsoft launched Dynamics 365 for Marketing earlier this spring to connect sales and marketing and help them to make smarter decisions to maximize marketing ROI. Our strategies and promises — especially when it comes to facilitating both human engagement and actionable insights at scale — to marketers are aligned and complementary.

Microsoft, and Dynamics 365, in particular, has been on a tear recently. Market share is up, the stock price has tripled in recent years, and investing in new SaaS architectures and applications which have significant momentum in the market.

Q:

How will ON24 work with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing?

Lou Pelosi:

The Microsoft marketing application includes an out-of-the-box ON24 adapter allowing marketers to schedule and reserve ON24 webinars without leaving the marketing application. It also provides both the ON24 presenter and audience URLs to use in emails and landing pages for event promotion and execution. Ultimately, the marketer understands who registered, who attended and collects actionable data on engaged attendees.

Microsoft customers must still purchase an ON24 account, but the initial integration simplifies the webinar process. ON24 is making a special 30-day free trial available to Dynamics 365 for Marketing customers and prospect. You can learn more here.

Q:

How will this evolve over time?

Lou Pelosi:

Microsoft and ON24 continue to invest heavily in marketing technologies and solutions. There are several ways our relationship could evolve as we move forward. Options include improving the out-of-the-box integration capabilities to add more fields and more data for the marketer to gain more insights, improving workflows to simplify webinar management and execution and collaborating on our broader portfolio of martech solutions. We’ll be working diligently in the coming months to communicate our value to customers, prospects and partners. If there are any questions about how you can benefit from the partnership, you can email dynamics@on24.com.

What’s to Love About Webinar World?

We get it. Your digital events aren’t going great. Your branded console, if you can even use one, is off-point, your registration is down and your messaging just isn’t registering with those who attend.

We’ve got the cure for what ails you, and it’s called Webinar World 2019. Our annual conference, taking place March 11 to 13 in downtown San Francisco, gives you and your marketing team the tools, the techniques and the vision to make your digital events best-in-class.

What’s there to love? Well, we figure past Webinar World attendees would be able to say it best:

Think of Webinar World 2019 as your get-away from what digital marketing is now and a gentle push towards what it can be. It’s the perfect getaway where demand gen, marketing ops and webinar ops can re-center their collective efforts and focus on driving engagement with purpose. It’s time to drive real interaction and create a genuine human connection.

It’s time to take a break. It’s time to find a spot with like-minded marketers, content creators and data-driven decision makers and talk about what really matters in a fast-paced digital marketing world — engagement.

Ready for your getaway? Click here and get ready to Engage for Action.

Webinar World London: Q&A with Dave Chaffey of Smart Insights

When it comes to content and its role in the marketplace, Dave Chaffey has a few opinions. The founder of Smart Insights — and prolific author on all things marketing — will speak at Webinar World London. Before his day, though, we sat down with him to suss out a few insights on what he’ll talk about, what he’s looking forward to and which marketing trends are catching his eye.

Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got into the marketing world.

I’m co-founder and Content Director at Smart Insights, co-ordinating creation of our marketing strategy advice. We have other 200 guides, templates and e-learning resources that are used by members in over 100 countries.

I originally got into marketing in the mid-1990s when the Internet was first being explored as a marketing channel and have enjoyed sharing best practices, initially through my books, training and consulting and more recently via our learning platform.

What are you speaking on at Webinar World London, and what are you most excited about this summit of marketing leaders?

I’m looking forward to talking on Integrating Webinars into Modern Lifecycle Marketing, reviewing examples and best practices of integrating webinars with other inbound marketing activities

How do you think B2B marketers better leverage webinars in order to increase engagement and drive revenue?

I think all too often, webinars are treated as a separate campaign activity without the integration to get the best results from them. I’ll describe our RACE planning system which gives a framework to integrate them.

What are some of the trends in marketing today that excite you most?

Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning are the most exciting, but I still love learning about the latest across all content marketing techniques.

What about GDPR might marketers have overlooked or need to watch for? Is there a silver lining?

Well, the silver lining is that we have to be more transparent about how we use customer data and the customers are looking for.

Some aren’t aware of the follow-on ePrivacy Legislation which will add further details on how we communicate via website and messaging – it’s an update on the 2003 Privacy and Communications Regulations and will have much in common with GDPR.

Beyond GDPR, what are the marketing challenges of the EMEA region?

In a word, ‘Engagement’. Finding the best communications strategy to keep visitors engaged.

There’s a constant struggle for marketers trying to scale personalized, human engagement. What are the steps you’ve taken to try to make every marketing interaction meaningful?

We’re a big fan of using personas to understand our audience interests more and then using content mapping linked to Marketing Automation so that we can best customize our communications.

What’s your one prediction about how marketing will fundamentally change in the next decade?

Although we talk about automation a lot, much automation is rules-based with creative and messaging set up in advance. True automation will select the most relevant contextual communications. We’re a long way from this at the moment.

What’s the most important change you’ve seen change in the marketing industry in the past five years?

In larger businesses, many have belatedly realised the need for company-wide digital transformation programmes to determine changes to marketing operations for them to remain competitive.

3 Quick Tips for Buzzworthy Webinars

Building buzz around webinars is a process. It takes time, perseverance and a lot of internal collaboration. It also takes a bit of know-how to pull off — the secret knowledge, if you will. In this edition of our Summer Series Reading List, which runs adjacent to our Sumer Series Playlist, we take a quick look at the secrets behind buzzworthy webinars.

So what are the secrets to building buzzworthy webinars? There are a few, but first, you need to have the right webinar platform in place. You’ll need a platform that can scale, provide analytics and reporting, can issue certifications, provides attendees with downloadable resources and provide easy-to-promote materials.

1. Build Your Scale

First, you’ll need to plot out how you’ll scale your webinars to address your audiences. Included strategies should target multiple buyer personas and hyper-target vital aspects of your field such as certification, continuing education, and industry-relevant deep-dives.

For example, Paycom, a payroll, and human resource provider use some of its webinars for certification across its clientele’s different demographics. At almost any time, the company can issue certificates from HRCI, SHRM or NASBA to qualifying attendees. For Paycom, putting in the extra work to become an industry resource is a great investment. It creates advocates, increases attendance — by roughly 155 percent — and boosts their marketing efforts.

2. Engage Thought Leaders

Every industry, every vertical, every team has their celebrities. Seek these audience-pulling names out and bring them into your webinars. Good thought leaders provide with more than just a name — they provide your program with topics, co-marketing opportunities, and content.

Potential thought leaders can include your co-workers and internal experts. Product team members, internal speakers at company meetings and even department leaders — all are viable webinar presenters that can drive audience attendance and contribute to your program. Sit down with them, plan your event and practice, practice, practice.

3. Be Relevant

General topics are great and perform well over the long-run, but timely and relevant webinars catch attention and bring your expertise to the forefront. Keep an eye on any industry-related news — or even general news — and use those developments to inspire and inform your events.

For example, if your audience is affected by significant policy moves, like the General Data Privacy Regulation or The Affordable Care Act, then producing a newsworthy event explaining the policy’s impact will likely bring your audience in. Remember to coordinate with your PR and legal teams to make sure your messaging is on-point, accurate and objective. Nine times out of ten, you’re helping your audience understand an aspect of their industry — not selling.

And that’s it. Three quick-and-dirty tips on buzz-worthy webinars and how you can start building the buzzing foundations for your own program.

What else can you do to make your webinars pop? You can check out our entire Webinerd Summer Playlist right here. You can also check out our summer reading list for this track:

Reading list:

1. Increase Webinar Audience 30% with Twilio’s On-Demand Strategy

2. Using Big Marketing Event Ideas to Drive Pipeline

3. Your Checklist for a Successful Webinar Program – For Newbies!

4. Q&A with Alex Blumberg, CEO of Gimlet Media

5. Webinar Best Practices Series: Spice Up Your Webinars with Video

Webinar World London: A Q&A with SiriusDecisions’ Isabel Montesdeoca

What makes for a good marketer? How can the industry adapt to a post-GDPR world? Isabel Montesdeoca, Director of EMEA Research at SiriusDecisions, will answer these questions and many, many more at Webinar World London 2018 this coming September. To get a sample of what she’ll discuss as Webinar World London’s keynote speaker, we sat down with Isabel to discuss today’s marketing environment. Here’s what she had to say:

What are you speaking on at Webinar World London, and what are you most excited about this summit of marketing leaders? 

I’m going to be speaking about a topic that is near and dear to my heart, buyer-centricity. As marketers, we’ve come such a long way since the early days of digital marketing where the focus was 100% on increasing the range of digital tactics we could support in order to reach more people. Today, we recognise that in order for marketing to deliver results, we also have to deliver value in every one of those interactions. Achieving that is a tall order because what buyers perceive as valuable changes over time. To meet our goal of 100% value, 100% of the time, marketers need to develop a systematic process for listening to buyers and acting on that information. At SiriusDecisions, we love helping marketers get started down this path and one of the ways we do that is by sharing the insights we gain through our SiriusDecisions Buying Insights study. That’s what I’ll be covering at Webinar World London.

How do you think B2B marketers can better leverage webinars in order to increase engagement and drive revenue? 

The data from our SiriusDecisions Buying Insights study shows that in the Education phase of the buyer’s journey, live vendor-hosted webinars are the second most consumed tactic in Europe. Furthermore, European buyer’s rated live vendor-hosted webinars as the most impactful provider-led interaction they had at that early stage. That finding proves that webinars have the power to deliver real value to buyers when and where they need it most. In order to capitalise on that opportunity, marketers need to ensure they think through and personalise every aspect of their webinar experience.

It all starts by selecting webinar topics that are relevant to specific segments of your target audience. The more you sub-segment the audience, the more you can tailor your message making attendees feel as if you are answering their questions before they’ve even asked them. During the webinar itself, marketers should focus just as much on driving interaction as they do on delivering content. This can be done in a variety of ways including video, polls, quizzes, and always including time for Q&A. At the end of the webinar, link to a survey that offers attendees a choice of additional resources to support further exploration – extending the value of attending and giving you another opportunity to request opt-in consent. All of these are ways in which marketers can make every webinar feel relevant and personal to buyers.

What are some of the trends in marketing today that excite you most?

One of the trends I am most excited about is bringing together of multiple data sources – market data, persona profile data, first and third-party behavioural data, performance data, customer data, and more – to help us model and analyse more accurate views of our buyers. To really deliver value, we have to take the time to learn about our buyers more fully and use those insights to drive real-time programmatic actions. Today’s customer data platforms are starting down that path and I can’t wait to see how these will evolve and be leveraged to drive better and more relevant engagement.

What about GDPR might marketers have overlooked or need to watch for? Is there a silver lining? 

While companies have done a great job getting ready for GDPR, many have treated it like a race to the finish line on May 25, 2018. The truth is that May 25th was just the beginning. Waiting in the wings is the e-Privacy Regulation (currently going through the trilogue process) which will provide more specificity around electronic communications. And beyond that, we can be sure that data authorities around the world will continue to review and strengthen data privacy legislation.

The truth is that compliance is not a one-time clean up job and it’s not something we can edict within our organizations. Long-term sustainable compliance requires marketers, tele and sales reps alike to understand the intent behind the need to protect personal data and their role in safeguarding that data. Without that understanding, employees will always regard compliance as something that stands in the way of them doing business rather than realising that embracing consent practices actually allows us to identify who is really interested and most willing to engage. That’s the silver lining!

Beyond GDPR, what are the marketing challenges of the EMEA region? 

Many of our European clients struggle with the cost and effort of localising their marketing programs across the range of countries and languages they support. True localisation, not just translation, can be a daunting task when you have 20+ countries to cover. Once again, this is where understanding what your buyer wants and needs can help. Data from studies like the SiriusDecisions Buying Insights study can help marketers identify and prioritise localisation of the tactics buyers are actually consuming. Further upstream, it also helps content teams prioritise their content creation to ensure every asset created is activated. In a recent SiriusDecisions study, almost half (47%) of respondents told us that their organizations activate 50% or less of the content they create.

What’s your one prediction about how marketing will fundamentally change in the next decade? 

I don’t have a crystal ball handy but I think as our data insights and instincts improve, a number of things will happen. First, we will be able to identify a more granular cohort of characteristics (beyond industry, size and revenue) that uniquely define our target customers, allowing us to better map and find opportunities to engage with them. Within those organizations, we will stop hunting for single leads and start identifying group buying behaviour as an indicator of an emerging need for our services. Finally, rather than designing long and complex program flows that try to cover all the bases, we will use fully dynamic logic to select the optimal next step based on the actions of the buyer group and guided once again by insights.

What’s one piece of advice you’d provide for a young person who wants to pursue a career in marketing? 

Buyer data is important but it’s nothing without someone to interpret it. For anyone wanting to go into a career in marketing, I would strongly recommend getting comfortable with data modelling and learning how to interrogate that data. Equally, I would tell them not to hide behind the data. Grab every opportunity to talk to and understand buyers to help you interpret what you see in the data. The best marketers I know are the ones who stay curious and stay sharp throughout their career. The tools they use may change but their mindset does not.

What’s the most important change you’ve seen in the marketing industry in the past five years?

Easy! It’s the shift from product to audience centricity. In the last five years, companies around the world finally started to acknowledge how much buyer behaviour has changed. While digital marketing, social media and millennial trends had been grabbing headlines long before that, it wasn’t until B-to-B companies realised these trends heralded a much deeper change in how buying decisions are made that they understood they needed to change or risk losing ground to newer and more nimble competitors. That shift in attitude paved the way for investment in B-to-B persona profiling, the growth of B-to-B content marketing, and the development of more sophisticated engagement technology, just to name a few things. Change was coming fast and furious and it hasn’t stopped since.

It’s time to put the human back into your marketing

You know those movies about robots taking over the world? Ok, that hasn’t happened…yet. But our marketing is becoming increasingly robotic and impersonal. Today, we rely on marketing automation, search algorithms, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and any other number of digital technologies to scale our programs, reach more people, and be more targeted with our content. And all of that is good, but then what?

There is still a human being at the other end of our marketing and we ultimately need to engage with them in a meaningful way. Today, engagement is measured in clicks, views, and tiny digital signals that might indicate a good potential target. But where is the moment of persuasion and connection? That takes engagement. Real. Human. Engagement.

The good news is that real engagement is becoming more possible every day. Landing pages are becoming more dynamic, websites are integrating cool new tools to interact with site visitors, and there are all kinds of virtual environments where prospects can interact with you and your brand. The key characteristics of true engagement-driven technologies are:

  • Interactivity
  • Multiple content options
  • Multi-media content options
  • Social integration
  • All actions taken by someone are captured and measured

In my world, webinars are the ultimate engagement tool. What other opportunity do you have to interact with your prospects for up to an hour at a time? And, if you’re thinking of a webinar as simply a talking Powerpoint presentation, then you haven’t seen a modern webinar. Today, webinars enable attendees to ask questions, respond to polls and surveys, tweet, connect socially, chat with other attendees, download content, link to landing pages, link to key conversion offers like demos and free trials, and even self-select a sales consultation. They are also multi-media experiences that more resemble daytime talk shows then online presentations.

The real magic of these engagement-driven webinars, however, is how they capture every action that an audience member takes to help us find our best leads and learn from their behavior. By integrating this data into marketing automation and CRM systems, we can put this powerful information in the hands of salespeople. So instead of following up on a webinar, they are following up on a question asked or a piece of content downloaded; essentially continuing a conversation, not starting one.

The explosion of digital marketing technologies and their marriage to automation and artificial intelligence is great. It will help us leave a trail of tiny breadcrumbs in the digital ether for us to discover potential prospects. However, it’s what happens next that is most important. Because ultimately, there needs to be a moment…a human moment. And that is how we will turn a digital signal into a customer.