Account Based Marketing, Video & Creativity: 6 Takeaways from SiriusDecisions Summit Day 1

May 25, 2016

B2B marketers have grown so accustomed to change over the past decade that at times it seems we’ve almost become inured to it. Adapting to change is just something that we have to do on a near constant basis.

But some statistics thrown out by Tony Jaros, SiriusDecisions’ EVP-Chief Research and Product Officer, when he kicked off the SiriusDecisions 2016 Summit in Nashville, highlighted just how much B2B marketing and sales are still in transformation. “When you look at B2B sales, you realize how quickly and violently it is changing,” Jaros said.

He pointed out, for instance, that few companies have adjusted to the customer-centric world. According a recent survey, 67 percent B2B sales organization still have not implemented a buyer-aligned sales process — even though organizations that have aligned around the customer are producing 19 percent faster revenue growth and 15 percent higher profitability, Jaros said.

The first day of sessions at the SiriusDecisions 2016 Summit yielded a variety of actionable approaches to help marketers adapt and keep pace with the change all around us.

Account-Based Marketing Is Getting Some Big Buzz

“I don’t know if there’s a session here (at SiriusDecisions) that hasn’t talked about account-based marketing, “ said Stephen Streich, Senior Director of Product Management at Oracle Marketing Cloud, half joking. In her session on ABM, Maria Pergolino, Global VP-Marketing at Apptus, said that account-based marketing was about delivering “personalized content” in “targeted channels.” She said Apptus has built an ABM program that also leverages predictive modeling, an approach that was able to identify target accounts based on analysis of Apptus’ best customers. In six months, this combined ABM-predictive modeling program delivered $6.4 million in pipeline, Pergolino said.  

While there might be more complex definitions of what ABM is, Matt Senator, Service Director - Account-Based Marketing at SiriusDecisions put it quite simply: “ABM is RAD”, meaning it’s all about Retention, Acquisition and Development. If you are looking for a more in depth definition, Senator went on to explain, “ABM is not a tactic or a one-off campaign. It’s not a technology. It’s a discipline that results in tighter organizational alignment. It’s a strategic approach that aligns demand creation and customer relationship programs and messaging against a set of defined account and goals in a way that is relevant and valuable to accounts.” He ended his session with a call to action for all marketers: "Now is the time for ABM. There’s high interest and excitement.”

Market to Who Matters Most with the Right Content Targeted at the Right Audience at the Right Time

Cara Tabatchnick, Global Digital Strategy Director at AIG, wanted to change the conversation happening around her brand and add value through relevant content. Knowing that LinkedIn is the largest global community of professionals in existence, she began to explore the opportunity. Who are these active members on LinkedIn?

Through her partnership with LinkedIn, she discovered four core audiences AIG wanted to reach. It turns out that the audience AIG was trying to reach matched perfectly to the 433M members on LinkedIn. She began turning AIG’s long, boring whitepapers into short, snackable pieces of content and using LinkedIn Sponsored Updates to reach the right audience with the right content at the right time. To maximize engagement, AIG explored other solutions within our product suite, such as Sponsored InMail and Display.

The results showed that AIG was able to:

  • Reach 100K prospects via LinkedIn Sponsored InMail in six months
  • Grow their LinkedIn Company Page from 30,000 to 300,000 followers
  • Reach the Top 20 best Sponsored Content across LinkedIn during 2015
  • Earn five #1 rankings for the top Sponsored Content for overall finance vertical posts
  • See 68k social engagements (with comments demonstrating a significant increase in interaction with AIG content)

Content Is King, but Metrics Must Be Part of the Royal Family

During his SiriusDecisions session, Tom McConnon, Domo’s Senior Product and Content Marketing Manager, declared, “Content is the atomic particle of all marketing.” No marketing — paid or organic or online, in print, or in person — occurs without useful content at its core. But content marketers are under increasing pressure from the C-suite to prove, with measurable results, that their content is helping the bottom line.

McConnon shared a three-step process — crawl, walk, run — for marketers to use data to adopt content marketing metrics. Too many marketers, he said, remain in the “crawl” phase where they measure vanity metrics such as shares and page views, metrics that don’t impact business results. Marketers in the “walk” phase are able to total the sum of the leads they’ve generated from content. And marketers in the “run” phase are able to track how content helped moved prospects from one stage of the funnel to another and to demonstrate that content contributed to revenue.

Marketers Should Strive to Have a Global Vision

The story of Marcus Samuelsson, who delivered the opening keynote address at SiriusDecisions, showed that there are lessons to be learned across the globe. Samuelsson, a chef who has prepared a state dinner for President Obama, shared his story of growing up in Ethiopia, where after his mother died of tuberculosis, he was adopted by a family in Sweden. He gained an appreciation of food and cooking from his adoptive family, and he eventually secured apprenticeships at top restaurants in Austria and Switzerland. From there, he took a job in a restaurant in Japan, and eventually landed a job in the United States, where at just 23 years old, he became the youngest chef to receive a three-star review from the New York Times.

Today, Samuelsson is renowned for his Harlem restaurant, Red Rooster. In addition to embracing what various cultures offered him, Samuelsson has another key lesson for marketers.  “No one comes to a restaurant today because they’re hungry, especially for dinner,” Samuelsson said. “They come to a restaurant because they want an experience.” Marketers must be committed to creating exceptional experiences."

Video Today Is Where Mobile Was 10 Years Ago

Vidyard’s Jesse Ariss kicked off his session by making all marketers everywhere want to improve upon their video strategy. Here’s why: 72 percent of B2B buyers watch video throughout their entire path to purchase and yet less than 10 percent of B2B marketers are using it. And nearly half of B2B buyers view 30 minutes or more of video content when researching. “The play button is the most compelling CTA on the web,” Ariss said. “Video today is where mobile was 10 years ago.” Needless to say, there’s room for optimization.

It’s also important to note that it’s not just Millennials watching video; executive buyers are overwhelmingly in on it too. About three-quarters of executives watch work-related video at least weekly, and 59 percent of senior executives agree that if both video and text are available on the same topic on the same page, they prefer to watch the video.

Linda West, Director of Digital Marketing at Act-On set the stage for what a modern buyer expects out of video:

  • Speed: The average attention span of an internet user is 8 seconds. (For a goldfish, it’s 9 seconds.)
  • Personalization: 41 percent of internet users like it when ads are tailored to their personal interests/preferences.
  • Relevance: 49 percent of internet users are more likely to pay attention to content when it’s delivered in the right context, at the right time.

West and her team have run multiple tests on Vidyard to optimize their strategy. One interesting finding was that lead forms placed at the beginning of the video are the most effective. However, it is important to note that not all video should be gated. “There are only certain videos people are willing to give their info for. For example, deeper learning videos,” West said. “I wouldn’t gate product-focused or self-promotional video content.”

Creative Risk Will Be Rewarded

Andrea Eaton, Director of Solutions Marketing & Sales Enablement, Paymode-X at Bottomline Technologies opened up her session on creating content for demand by examining the modern buyer. The modern buyer is digital, socially savvy and conducting more self-education that ever before. As the modern buyer has changed, and so have their content preferences. Research shows:

  • 88 percent prefer shorter formats
  • 84 percent prefer more interactive and visual content accessible on-demand
  • 93 percent prefer packaged content/toolkits
  • 82 percent want mobile-optimized content
  • 86 percent prefer less copy

But short and sweet can still be just an uncompelling if it’s not creative. “Creativity increases clicks,” Eaton said. So instead of staying within brand guidelines, she took an intelligent risk and went with an illustrative look to her eBook.

While it may have seemed off-brand to some of her colleagues at the time, this ebook is one of their top performing pieces of content to date. Eaton’s takeaways: 1) A little creative risk can go a long way, and 2) We are the people we’re trying to reach — there’s no need to pigeonhole your customers into a misconceived, stiff persona.

Change is one of the few constants in marketing. To keep pace with the continuing transformation of digital marketing, subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog today!