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.