In a word — yes. Recent advances in AI and predictive analytics in the marketing industry have triggered an evolution in capabilities. As marketers, we can now bridge the silos of people intelligence and account intelligence to deliver a truly powerful digital engine that creates revenue in a high-growth environment. This engine will not only deliver high-quality leads through a more powerful segmentation that reaches whitespace but also drive great improvements in sales productivity. The combination of these two results will kick off a chain reaction that will transform into a higher marketing contribution — and accelerate its impact.
In the B2B space, the ability to make significant contributions to revenue has eluded marketing and has led to a high turnover of CMOs. The next generation of CMOs will be those with a business vision that prioritizes an orchestration of intelligent marketing technologies.
The Realities of Modern Marketing
According to SiriusDecisions, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now completed digitally before a prospect is willing to talk with a human. An engaging and personalized omnichannel digital experience that differentiates a company is critical to success in this “pre-human” phase. It’s vital that marketing can identify digital whitespace and deliver experiences across digital ecosystems that go far beyond vanilla to relevant and engaging – no matter if you’re a longtime customer, or a net-new prospect visiting a company’s site for the first time.
Marketing will not succeed by creating generic experiences. Recent studies show that the human attention span has decreased to only 8.25 seconds. That’s 8.25 seconds to ensure a returning site visitor finds the right content for where they are in the buying process. That’s 8.25 seconds to prove to a new prospect that your company can add value in their industries and with their use cases. Even for B2B technology players with long sales cycles and complex buying groups, personalization is the key to making the most of that valuable time — ensuring the right stories, images and next-steps are brought to digital visitors to capture their attention.
Marketing must have the right level of account intelligence to deliver a digital experience — from the web to chatbots to social — that enables visitors/prospects to self-select, self-educate and self-identify for their intended purchasing journey. This will increase the probability of prospects engaging with the digital content to hook their interest and make sure that sales are always “invited to the party”.
With these realities in mind, I’ve chosen to invest in two areas of marketing technologies:
- Account-based revenue platform
- Revenue intelligence management.
The first key component, an account-based revenue platform, will enable us to maximize data, allowing us to see an account’s purchasing intent – and analyze all real-time interactions that customers and prospects have on digital properties – both first and third party. This powerful data enables us to position the customer at the center of everything that we do and provides a digital mechanism to better understand who that prospect is and their intended purchase journey. Being able to see and leverage intent data at the account level is going to take things to the next level. Marketers cannot miss out on these benefits. Technologies in the account-based revenue space have now reached a level of maturity that marketing teams should be using them to advance digital growth or risk being left behind. As one commentator pointed out, you’re either at the table or on the menu. Marketers must take advantage of these technologies to keep their seats at the table.
One area where account intelligence pays dividends is lead and account prioritization. Certainly, we have been using lead scoring for quite some time for this purpose – initially based on profile and followed by behavior – but it was done at the individual level and prone to assumptions made by marketing teams. Here’s just one example of the limitations of lead scoring: If you had six individuals from the same company, each one with a single interaction, it will be viewed as six individual prospects with not enough interest to be scored high enough as an MQL and sent to sales. Thanks to AI, we can now complete evaluations at the account level — and what a different view that is. Now the resulting view is of six people from one company interacting with your digital properties: a buying group. That’s something to pay attention to. And imagine, if all six people are from a company belongs to your targeted segmentation with high buying propensity and intent. Bingo! You now have a programmatic way to beat the odds and start hitting the jackpot.
This platform enables us to segment accounts in four levels of engagement and builds playbooks for each stage, which is critical for delivering engaging content. Some are still at an early learning stage and therefore mainly worked by marketing, but some are so much hotter that the playbook is heavily in the sales — so we can interact immediately.
You’ve probably gathered by now that I am assuming a level of maturity in your marketing technology adoption. To this day, I’m amazed by companies that have not connected their marketing automation system with their CRM or those who lack a strong way to connect different data points across systems. If this is you, stop. AI is not (yet) the key for you. Instead, focus your energy, skill and time on developing a closed-loop marketing system. You will be able to maximize technologies in the predictive analytics and revenue intelligence systems spaces once you have a strong marketing analytics backbone to drive a culture of continuous optimization.
The next key component in this digital puzzle is the people intelligence. Here we see the challenge that the direct sales model represents to marketing achieving its goal of contributing to revenue: CRM data visibility. The majority of large, B2B software players who leveraged a direct sales model as their main way of penetrating the market didn’t put energy behind incorporating the right level of prospect/customer contacts into their CRM. It’s a grim sight to see sales teams spending their valuable time manually entering contacts and activities instead of selling. And what is even worse, most sales reps do not input this data. Often, this strategic prioritization comes at the expense of marketing’s ability to understand the customer landscape and track interactions across the sales cycle.
Solving this problem is where our investment in the revenue intelligence space comes into play. This marketing solution enables this user data to be absorbed automatically, with AI insights added to identify key members of the purchasing team and understand what level of penetration we have.
We have started to weave marketing’s digital thread thanks to the combined capabilities of these two digital marketing solutions. Now, we truly have segmentation that is based on robust data both across the account and across the digital landscape. With this real-time insight, we will now be able to quickly pass high-quality leads with the right level of buying intent so that sales can prioritize and close the deal. This data also holds marketing accountable. Is marketing producing the right type of leads with the personas that need to be influenced or do we need to make a course correction?
The predictive analytics resulting from AI empowerment paired with the right matrix of processes, roles and responsibilities will enable marketing to deliver a powerful revenue-generating engine: a new digital marketing set up made entirely of completely real-time data that are driven and set in an agile manner to provide timely marketing insight. This way, marketing can continuously evaluate the impact on revenue and quickly pivot hypothesis and decisions.
It’s no secret that ideas — not technologies alone — are what drive true change. This requires a new mindset and shift in how marketing teams are organized and measured. AI should be at the forefront of these strategies and trusted to deliver business insights and outcomes that will help marketing teams to innovate and make strategic decisions to grow the business. You need a digital thread.
My vision is to bring marketing processes to the digital era. The two platforms that I have outlined in this article will deliver the digital transformation for me to accelerate contribution to revenue creation for growth. It all boils down to one question: Why try to guess what prospects are looking for when data can show you what it is really converting?
Mariana was born in Mexico and worked in Japan where she also went to college to study economics. She has over 15 years of software B2B experience in marketing, business development, and sales. Before PTC, she held positions at MathWorks, American Financial Systems, and Goldman Sachs.
Outside of work, her passion project includes helping under-represented groups, including Latinx and women, ascend the corporate ladder. Her experience and vision contribute to a more well-rounded perspective in corporate governance. She contributes to marketing publications and speaks regularly at industry events, including, most recently participating in Harvard University’s Women’s Leadership Forum. Mariana lives in Boston with her son and enjoys traveling with him. The last book Mariana read was “Presence”.