Tag Archives: AccountBased

How Marketing Automation Can Super-Charge Your Account-Based Marketing Strategy

blog title supercharged abm 351x200 How Marketing Automation Can Super Charge Your Account Based Marketing Strategy

In the world of digital marketing, new terms and buzzwords are thrown around all the time. One that seems to be surviving and thriving past the initial hype is “account-based marketing,” or, as many call it, “ABM.” Businesses all over the world are putting ABM into practice and they’re seeing results.

According to SiriusDecisions’ 2016 State of Account Based Marketing (ABM) Study, 27% of survey respondents said they were devoting between 11% and 30% of their total marketing budget to ABM. And for good reason ABM works.

Almost 85% of B2B marketers who measure ROI describe account-based marketing as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach, with half of those marketers citing significantly higher returns. In addition, sales and marketing teams that do account-based marketing align better than other organizations. According to Bizible, “marketers doing ABM are about 40% more likely to report alignment with their sales team compared to marketers not doing ABM.”

As companies begin to put ABM strategies into practice, they should remember that it’s a strategy, not a technology. To work effectively, ABM needs the right technology backing it. These solutions often include marketing automation systems designed to orchestrate and deliver messaging, as well as analytical capabilities to evaluate results. As B2B marketers realize this, an increasing number of marketers are investing in tech solutions to do ABM at scale.

As an ABM strategy grows, B2B marketers will find it is essential to have a marketing automation platform that’s able to manage, engage, and report on audiences while reducing the amount of time needed to support campaign management. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at how ABM works within the B2B marketing world and how finding the right marketing automation can super-charge that strategy.

Why ABM Works for B2B Marketers  

As this blog has covered before, ABM is a strategy for brand, demand, and expand. It works for B2B companies because it behaves differently than B2C marketing. When selling in the B2C marketplace, marketers are usually focused on one person — the consumer. In the world of B2B, however, corporate decisions are signed off on by a consensus of stakeholders. According to a recent Harvard Business Journal story, the technology and insights company CEB found that the usual number is close to 5.4 decision makers within an account.

The good news for customer retention is that marketers now have a team of decision makers championing their product or service. If any of those in the account leave, not only will there still be a foothold in the original account, but also a potential champion at the new organization. ABM creates a stronger customer relationship across the board. That all sounds great, but, as with any worthwhile strategy, there are obstacles.

The Issue

The success of an ABM strategy hinges on first aggregating contacts within accounts, then creating personalized content for each member of the team. That content then must be delivered to the right team member at the right time within the customer journey. However, all content must maintain a level of consistency across all channels. An ABM approach must do all of that without creating tons of additional work for the marketing team. To be effective, it requires time and resources.

Most marketing teams don’t have the time and resources this level of strategy requires. This is where a marketing automation solution that supports ABM will save the day.

How Marketing Automation Can Super-Charge ABM

1. Clear Account Views, Including Activity

ABM strategies already have a ton of moving parts. It can be difficult to keep track of all the activity — the who-is-who and where they are in the funnel. With the right ABM-supporting marketing automation platform, marketers can have access to the account profiles of the decision makers, as well as the influencers within the account. This will allow marketing teams to see account-level profile data such as industry, revenue, and headquarter location. With these account contacts, marketers can also view buying behavior and engagement within a single view, saving marketing teams money and time. 

2. Ease of Audience Segmentation and Measurement

Marketing revolves around getting the right message to the right person at the right time. AMB presents a challenge here because different contacts or accounts may require different content. With the right platform, marketers can quickly segment their audiences based on customer profile or industry. For example, marketing teams can swiftly target healthcare accounts to capitalize on that segment if relevant new trends emerge.

Marketing automation makes it possible to not only segment and send but also measure these multi-channel AMB strategies without creating extra work for marketing team members. In the world of marketing, if something cannot be measured, it’s likely not worth the effort. Marketing automation platforms allow marketing teams to measure engagement and other critical success factors through methods such as account scoring. This provides marketers with keen insight into account health. 

3. Ability to Create Personalization within an ABM Strategy

No matter how many people are involved in an account, marketers should attempt to market to each of them individually. After all, they have their own needs and stressors and should be delivered content accordingly. Marketing automation platforms allow marketers to send personalized emails to everyone in one account with ease. Beyond that, marketers can tailor the content to a specific industry, ensuring relevance to the account and taking personalization beyond just the correct name at the top.

Account-based marketing is a clear, winning strategy in B2B marketing. But, when it comes time to truly make the marketing strategy come to life, using marketing automation designed to support ABM can be the key. Find out how your organization can adopt a winning marketing automation solution today.

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Demandbase moves account-based marketing forward

TTlogo 379x201 Demandbase moves account based marketing forward

Each quarter, the editors at SearchCRM recognize a technology for innovation and market impact. The product selected this quarter is from Demandbase.

What it does

Using algorithms and an account-based marketing (ABM) approach, Demandbase helps sales and marketing teams identify companies that are more promising prospects and higher-value leads. Demandbase identifies a series of attributes (determined by an individual company) that signal when a company is ready to buy. It then combines the company’s internal data with third-party information gathered through machine learning and linguistics (including U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, annual reports and social media) to identify the most promising accounts and to personalize sales and marketing efforts accordingly.

Demandbase analyzes a company’s buying “triggers” and counsels sales reps on which companies to focus on. It also coaches marketers on the most appropriate marketing content to send to each company to cultivate these leads. As a result, ABM allows companies to target larger accounts and more promising leads.

Demandbase and ABM also identify the most appropriate members within a company to target with sales and marketing efforts. Account-based marketing recognizes changes in the way companies purchase goods and services. Many companies now have buying teams to help make purchasing decisions, so ABM identifies the most appropriate decision-makers within the company to target.

Why it matters

Historically, sales reps cite receiving poor-quality leads from marketing as the primary reason for their inability to sell more. ABM strives to make marketing more efficient and to yield higher quality leads.

According to data from SiriusDecisions Inc., poor-quality leads can make up as much as 30% of a database, which means salespeople are wasting time on leads with little promise. By combining data to identify new customers and to understand existing ones, tools like Demandbase prioritize sales reps’ time so they can focus on higher-priority leads.

“We target the accounts that are most valuable to the business,” said Demandbase founder and CEO Chris Golec. “It’s breaking the paradigm of volume and aligning the marketing measurements around faster close rights, higher deals.”

Feature drilldown

Account-based data standard. Demandbase uses an IP address-based approach, rather than focusing on cookies.

“We’re able to tie together advertising data, data that reflects what’s happening on your website and data in your CRM,” Golec said. “Most other marketing solutions are cookie-based, so you can’t tie these systems together easily.”

Because Demandbase is based on IP addresses, it can tie together data from all of these systems.

“It’s probably the least sexy thing, but it’s why big enterprises are standardizing on Demandbase — we can reach across the whole funnel, from advertising to marketing to CRM,” Golec said. “We’ve built our foundation on that and the ability to tie all these systems and data together at the account level.”

Full-funnel technology. “We reach across advertising and retargeting, website personalizing, marketing automation to CRM systems,” Golec said. “We integrate with the entire sales-marketing-advertising funnel. Demandbase integrates with nearly 60 marketing automation providers, as well as advertising retargeting technologies.”

As a result, with Demandbase, it’s possible to become more systematic when acquiring new customers. “You can start automating the workflow,” Golec explained. “It becomes a lot more powerful and programmatic.”

Third-party data and intelligence. In mid-2016, Demandbase acquired Spiderbook Inc., a vendor whose software uses machine learning and linguistics to scan the web and identify the most appropriate buyers based on factors such as an individual’s social media posts or the industry events they’ve attended.

With the algorithms in Spiderbook, Demandbase can exploit unstructured data to hone in on the buying team. It scans not only structured databases, but also unstructured data, such as prospects’ social activity, online behavior and articles, to identify the right prospect to target.

The Spiderbook acquisition has pluses and minuses. Demandbase is in a growth spurt, and this may bode well for its future; it has received millions of dollars in funding to expand. But, at the same time, Demandbase has work to do to integrate the Spiderbook acquisition into its platform. The integration of new platforms with company processes always takes time.

The competition in this market is fierce, but also unfocused, with several technologies sprouting up that don’t overlap entirely with others in the space. That’s partly attributable to the fact that ABM has become a catchall buzzword for many marketing technologies. Companies that previously self-aligned in other categories, such as predictive analytics, have jumped on the ABM bandwagon, where predictive analytics has been a somewhat difficult category to sell effectively. Account-based marketing has been a new, popular tagline.

In the predictive analytics arena, competition includes Infer Inc., 6Sense Insights Inc. and Lattice Engines Inc. In lead generation, competition includes Engagio Inc. and Terminus Software LLC. In content personalization, competition includes Docurated Inc. and Marketo Inc. Demandbase is also competitive with social networking sites, like LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 service, which combines CRM data with artificial intelligence and other services in Office 365.

What users say

For companies like W.W. Grainger Inc., the goal of account-based marketing tools is to better personalize messaging and sales efforts based on specific attributes. Grainger, a distributor of industrial supplies; maintenance, repair and operations equipment; tools; and materials, wanted to better personalize its messaging and content on its website to target users based on their industry.

“That helps us drive toward more segmentation and targeting messaging on our website, said Michael Coleman, marketing automation manager at Grainger. “We can talk their language; we know your specific needs.”

“We’re not just trying to sell a hammer and a nail to everyone,” Coleman said. “We’re looking toward what those specific industries might want to buy and what might get them engaged with our site.”

Demandbase can help isolate potential customers by industry and subindustry.

“Demandbase is now a critical part of our data,” Coleman said.

Pricing

Demandbase has enterprise customers that invest $ 2.5 million and more each year, as well as midmarket customers that pay a fraction of that. For more information, contact Demandbase.

Editor’s note: TechTarget offers a project intelligence data and tools service for ABM.

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Account-Based And Content Marketing Programs Are Not Campaigns

Some moments are so instantly, indelibly etched into pop culture that they shape the way we think for years to come. For virtual reality (VR), that moment may have been the scene in the 1999 blockbuster The Matrix when the Keanu Reeves character Neo learns that his entire life has been a computer-generated simulation so fully realized that he could have lived it out never knowing that he was actually an inert body in an isolation tank. Ever since, that has set the benchmark for VR: as a digital experience that seems completely, convincingly real.

Today, no one is going to be unaware, Matrix-like, that they’re wearing an Oculus Rift or a Google Cardboard headset, but the virtual worlds already available to us are catching up to what we’ve imagined they could be at a startling rate. It’s been hard to miss all the Pokémon Go players bumping into one another on the street as they chased animated characters rendered in augmented reality (AR), which overlays and even blends digital artifacts seamlessly with the actual environment around us.

For all the justifiable hype about the exploding consumer market for VR and, to a lesser extent, AR, there’s surprisingly little discussion of their latent business value—and that’s a blind spot that companies and CIOs can’t afford to have. It hasn’t been that long since consumer demand for the iPhone and iPad forced companies, grumbling all the way, into finding business cases for them.

sap Q316 digital double feature1 images1 Account Based And Content Marketing Programs Are Not CampaignsIf digitally enhanced reality generates even half as much consumer enthusiasm as smartphones and tablets, you can expect to see a new wave of consumerization of IT as employees who have embraced VR and AR at home insist on bringing it to the workplace. This wave of consumerization could have an even greater impact than the last one. Rather than risk being blindsided for a second time, organizations would be well advised to take a proactive approach and be ready with potential business uses for VR and AR technologies by the time they invade the enterprise.

They don’t have much time to get started.

The two technologies are already making inroads in fields as diverse as medicine, warehouse operations, and retail. And make no mistake: the possibilities are breathtaking. VR can bring human eyes to locations that are difficult, dangerous, or physically impossible for the human body, while AR can deliver vast amounts of contextual information and guidance at the precise time and place they’re needed.

As consumer adoption and acceptance drives down costs, enterprise use cases for VR and AR will blossom. In fact, these technologies could potentially revolutionize the way companies communicate, manage employees, and digitize and automate operations. Yet revolution is rarely bloodless. The impact will probably alter many aspects of the workplace that we currently take for granted, and we need to think through the implications of those changes.

VR and AR are related, but they’re not so much siblings as cousins. VR is immersive. It creates a fully realized digital environment that users experience through goggles or screens (and sometimes additional equipment that provides physical feedback) that make them feel like they’re surrounded by and interacting entirely within this created world.

AR, by contrast, is additive. It displays text or images in glasses, on a window or windshield, or inside a mirror, but the user is still aware of and interacting with reality. There is also an emerging hybrid called “mixed reality,” which is essentially AR with VR-quality digital elements, that superimposes holographic images on reality so convincingly that trying to touch them is the only way to be sure they aren’t actually there.

Although VR is a hot topic, especially in the consumer gaming world, AR has far more enterprise use cases, and several enterprise apps are already in production. In fact, industry analyst Digi-Capital forecasts that while VR companies will generate US$ 30 billion in revenue by 2020, AR companies will generate $ 120 billion, or four times as much.

Both numbers are enormous, especially given how new the VR/AR market is. As recently as 2014, it barely existed, and almost nothing available was appropriate for enterprise users. What’s more, the market is evolving so quickly that standards and industry leaders have yet to emerge. There’s no guarantee that early market entrants like Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Samsung’s Gear VR, and HTC’s Vive will continue to exist, never mind set enduring benchmarks.

Nonetheless, it’s already clear that these technologies will have a major impact on both internal and customer-facing business. They will make customer service more accurate, personalized, and relevant. They will reduce human risk and enhance public safety. They will streamline operations and smash physical boundaries. And that’s just the beginning.

Cleveland Clinic: Healing from the Next Room

Medicine is already testing the limits of learning with VR and AR.

sap Q316 digital double feature1 imageseight Account Based And Content Marketing Programs Are Not CampaignsThe most potentially disruptive operational use of VR and AR could be in education and training. With VR, students can be immersed in any environment, from medieval architecture to molecular biology, in classroom groups or on demand, to better understand what they’re studying. And no industry is pursuing this with more enthusiasm than medicine. Even though Google Glass hasn’t been widely adopted elsewhere, for example, it’s been a big success story in the medical world.

Pamela Davis, MD, senior vice president for medical affairs at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the leading proponents of medical education using VR and AR. She’s the dean of the university’s medical school, which is working with Cleveland Clinic to develop the Microsoft HoloLens “mixed reality” device for medical education and training, turning MRIs and other conventional 2D medical images into 3D images that can be projected at the site of a procedure for training and guidance during surgery. “As you push a catheter into the heart or place a deep brain stimulation electrode, you can see where you want to be and guide your actions by watching the hologram,” Davis explains.

The HoloLens can also be programmed as a “lead” device that transmits those images and live video to other “learner” devices, allowing the person wearing the lead device to provide oversight and input. This will enable a single doctor to demonstrate a delicate procedure up-close to multiple students at once, or do patient examinations remotely in an emergency or epidemic.

Davis herself was convinced of the technology’s broader potential during a demonstration in which she put on a learner HoloLens and rewired a light switch, something decidedly outside her expertise, under the guidance of an engineer wearing a lead HoloLens in the next room. In the near future, she predicts, it will help people perform surgery and other sensitive, detailed tasks not just from the next room, but from the next state or country.

Consumers are already getting used to sap Q316 digital double feature1 images3 Account Based And Content Marketing Programs Are Not Campaignsthinking of VR and AR in the context of entertainment. Companies interested in the technologies should be thinking about how they might engage consumers as part of the buying experience.

Because the technologies deliver more information and a better shopping experience with less effort, e-commerce is going to give rise to v-commerce, where people research, interact with, and share products in VR and AR before they order them online or go to a store to make a purchase.

Online eyewear retailers already allow people to “try on” glasses virtually and share the images with friends to get their feedback, but that’s rudimentary compared to what’s emerging.

Mirrors as Personal Shoppers

Clothing stores from high-end boutiques to low-end fashion chains are experimenting with AR mirrors that take the shopper’s measurements and recommend outfits, showing what items look like without requiring the customer to undress.

Instant Designer Shows

Luxury design house Dior uses Oculus Rift VR goggles to let its well-heeled customers experience a runway show without flying to Paris.

Custom Shopping Malls

British designer Allison Crank has created an experimental VR shopping mall. As people walk through it, they encounter virtual people (and the occasional zoo animal) and shop in stores stocked only with items that users are most likely to buy, based on past purchase information and demographic data.

A New Perspective

IKEA’s AR application lets shoppers envisage a piece of furniture in the room they plan to use it in. They can look at products from the point of view of a specific height—useful for especially tall or short customers looking for comfortable furniture or for parents trying to design rooms that are safe for a toddler or a young child.

Painless Do-it-Yourself Instructions

Instead of forcing customers to puzzle over a diagram or watch an online video, companies will be able to offer customers detailed VR or AR demonstrations that show how to assemble and disassemble products for use, cleaning, and storage.

The customer-facing benefits of VR and AR are inarguably flashy, but it’s in internal business use that these technologies promise to shine brightest: boosting efficiency and productivity, eliminating previously unavoidable risks, and literally giving employers and managers new ways to look at information and operations. The following examples aren’t blue-sky cases; experts say they’re promising, realistic, and just around the corner.

Real-Time Guidance

A combination of AR glasses and audio essentially creates a user-specific, contextually relevant guidance system that confirms that wearers are in the right place, looking at the right thing, and taking the right action. This technology could benefit almost any employee who is not working at a desk: walking field service reps through repair procedures, guiding miners to the best escape route in an emergency, or optimizing home health aides’ driving routes and giving them up-to-date instructions and health data when they arrive at each patient’s home.

Linking to the Hidden

AR technology will be able to display any type of information the wearer needs to know. Linked to facial identification software, it could help police officers identify suspects or missing persons in real time. Used to visualize thermal gradients, chemical signatures, radioactivity, and other things that are invisible to the naked eye, it could help researchers refine their experiments or let insurance claims assessors spot arson. Similarly, VR will allow users to create and manipulate detailed three-dimensional models of everything from molecules to large machinery so that they can examine, explore, and change them.

Reducing the Human Risk

VR will allow users to perform high-risk jobs while reducing their need to be in harm’s way. The users will be able to operate equipment remotely while seeing exactly what they would if they were there, a use case that is ideal for industries like mining, firefighting, search and rescue, and toxic site cleanup. While VR won’t necessarily eliminate the need for humans to perform these high-risk jobs, it will improve their safety, and it will allow companies to pursue new opportunities in situations that remain too dangerous for humans.

Reducing the Commercial Risk

sap Q316 digital double feature1 images5 Account Based And Content Marketing Programs Are Not CampaignsVR can also reduce an entirely different type of operational risk: that of introducing new products and services. Manufacturers can let designers or even customers “test” a product, gather their feedback, and tweak the design accordingly before the product ever goes into production. Indeed, auto manufacturer Ford has already created a VR Immersion Lab for its engineers, which, among other things, helped them redesign the interior of the 2015 Ford Mustang to make the dashboard and windshield wipers more user-friendly, according to Fortune. In addition to improving customer experience, this application of VR is likely to accelerate product development and shorten time to market.

Similarly, retailers can use VR to create and test branch or franchise location designs on the fly to optimize traffic flow, product display, the accessibility of products, and even decor. Instead of building models or concept stores, a designer will be able to create the store design with VR, do a virtual walkthrough with executives, and adjust it in real time until it achieves the desired effect.

Seeing in Tongues

At some point, we will see an AR app that can translate written language in near-real time, which will dramatically streamline global business communications. Mobile apps already exist to do this in certain languages, so it’s just a matter of time before we can slip on glasses that let us read menus, signs, agendas, and documents in our native tongue.

Decide with the Eye

More dramatically, AR project management software will be able to deliver real-time data at a literal glance. On a construction site, for example, simply scanning the area could trigger data about real-time costs, supply inventories, planned versus actual spending, employee and equipment scheduling, and more. By linking to construction workers’ own AR glasses that provide information about what to know and do at any given location and time, managers could also evaluate and adjust workloads.

Squeeze Distance

Farther in the future, VR and AR will create true telepresence, enhancing collaboration and potentially replacing in-person meetings. Users could transmit AR holograms of themselves to someone else’s office, allowing them to be seen as if they were in the room. We could have VR workspaces with high-fidelity avatars that transmit characteristic facial expressions and gestures. Companies could show off a virtual product in a virtual room with virtual coworkers, on demand.

Reduce Carbon Footprint

If nothing else, true telepresence could practically eliminate business travel costs. More critically, though, in an era of rising temperatures and shrinking resources, the ability to create and view virtual people and objects rather than manufacturing and transporting physical artifacts also conserves materials and reduces the use of fossil fuel.

The strength of digitally enhanced reality—and AR in particular—is its ability to determine a user’s context and deliver relevant information accordingly. This makes it valuable for monitoring and managing employee behavior and performance. Employees could, for example, use the location and time data recorded by AR glasses to prove that they were (or weren’t) in a particular place at a particular time. The same glasses could provide them with heads-up guided navigation, alert employers that they’re due for a legally mandated break, verify that they completed an assigned task, and confirm hours worked without requiring them to fill out a timesheet.

However, even as these capabilities improve data governance and help manage productivity, they also raise critical issues of privacy and autonomy (see The Norms of Virtual Behavior). If you’re an employee using VR or AR technology, and if your company is leveraging it to monitor your performance, who owns that information? Who’s allowed to use it, and for what purposes? These are still open legal questions for these technologies.

Another unsettled—and unsettling—question is how far employers can use these technologies to direct employees’ work. While employers have the right to tell employees how to do their jobs, autonomy is a key component of workplace satisfaction. The extent to which employees are required to let a pair of AR glasses govern their actions could have a direct impact on hiring and retention.

Finally, these technologies could be one more step toward greater automation. A warehouse-picking AR application that guides pickers to the appropriate product faster makes them more productive and saves them from having to memorize hundreds or even thousands of SKUs. But the same technology that can guide a person will also be able to guide a semiautonomous robot.

The Norms of Virtual Behavior

VR and AR could disrupt our social norms and take identity hacking to a new level.

The future of AR and VR isn’t without its hazards. We’ve all witnessed how distracting and even dangerous smartphones can be, but at least people have to pull a phone out of a pocket before getting lost in the screen. What happens when the distraction is sitting on their faces?

This technology is going to affect how we interact, both in the workplace and out of it. The annoyance verging on rage that met the first people wearing Google Glass devices in public proves that we’re going to need to evolve new social norms. We’ll need to signal how engaged we are with what’s right in front of us when we’re wearing AR glasses, what we’re doing with the glasses while we interact, or whether we’re paying attention at all.

More sinister possibilities will present themselves down the line. How do you protect sensitive data from being accessed by unauthorized or “shadow” VR/AR devices? How do you prove you’re the one operating your avatar in a virtual meeting? How do you know that the person across from you is who they say they are and not a competitor or industrial spy who’s stolen a trusted avatar? How do you keep someone from hacking your VR or AR equipment to send you faulty data, flood your field of vision with disturbing images, or even direct you into physical danger?

As the technology gets more sophisticated, VR and AR vendors will have to start addressing these issues.

To realize the full business value of VR and AR, companies will need to tackle certain technical challenges. To be precise, they’ll have to wait for the vendors to take them on, because the market is still so new that standards and practices are far from mature.

sap Q316 digital double feature1 images6 Account Based And Content Marketing Programs Are Not CampaignsFor one thing, successful implementation requires devices (smartphones, tablets, and glasses, for now) that are capable of delivering, augmenting, and overlaying information in a meaningful way. Only in the last year or so has the available hardware progressed beyond problems like overheating with demand, too-small screens, low-resolution cameras, insufficient memory, and underpowered batteries. While hardware is improving, so many vendors have emerged that companies have a hard time choosing among their many options.
The proliferation of devices has also increased software complexity. For enterprise VR and AR to take off, vendors need to create software that can run on the maximum number of devices with minimal modifications. Otherwise, companies are limited to software based on what it’s capable of doing on their hardware of choice, rather than software that meets their company’s needs.

The lack of standards only adds to the confusion. Porting data to VR or AR systems is different from mobilizing front-end or even back-end systems, because it requires users to enter, display, and interact with data in new ways. For devices like AR glasses that don’t use a keyboard or touch screen, vendors must determine how to enter data (voice recognition? eye tracking? image recognition?), how to display it legibly in any given environment, and whether to develop their own user interface tools or work with a third party.

Finally, delivering convincing digital enhancements to reality demands such vast amounts of data that many networks simply can’t accommodate it. Much as videoconferencing didn’t truly take off until high-speed broadband became widely available, VR and AR adoption will lag until a zero-latency infrastructure exists to
support them.

For all that VR and AR solutions have improved dramatically in a short time, they’re still primarily supplemental to existing systems, and not just because the software is still evolving. Wearables still have such limited processing power, memory, and battery life that they can handle only a small amount of information. That said, hardware is catching up quickly (see The Supporting Cast).

The Supporting Cast

VR and AR would still be science fiction if it weren’t for these supporting technologies.

The latest developments in VR and AR technologies wouldn’t be possible without other breakthroughs that bring things once considered science fiction squarely into the realm of science fact:

  • Advanced semiconductor designs pack more processing power into less space.
  • Microdisplays fit more information onto smaller screens.
  • New power storage technologies extend battery life while shrinking battery size.
  • Development tools for low-latency, high-resolution image rendering and improved 3D-graphics displays make digital artifacts more realistic and detailed.
  • Omnidirectional cameras that can record in 360 degrees simultaneously create fully immersive environments.
  • Plummeting prices for accelerometers lower the cost of VR devices.

Companies in the emerging VR/AR industry are encouraging the makers of smartglasses and safety glasses to work together to create ergonomic smartglasses that deliver information in a nondistracting way and that are also comfortable to wear for an eight-hour shift.

The argument in favor of VR and AR for business is so powerful that once vendors solve the obvious hardware problems, experts predict that existing enterprise mobile apps will quickly start to include VR or AR components, while new apps will emerge to satisfy as yet unmet needs.

In other words, it’s time to start thinking about how your company might put these technologies to use—and how to do so in a way that minimizes concerns about data privacy, corporate security, and employee comfort. Because digitally enhanced reality is coming tomorrow, so business needs to start planning for it today. D!

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.

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Sales-marketing alignment fuels successful account-based marketing

Account-based marketing has taken business-to-business marketing by storm. Marketing automation platform vendor…

Marketo Inc. recently released an ABM product, and Oracle Eloqua has had an offering for some time. Several lead-focused marketing automation platform executives have recently left to form new ABM companies. The account-based marketing momentum is real. But is ABM right for your company? And if so, how can it help you?

Account-based marketing coordinates targeted marketing and sales activities directed at groups of high-value accounts. Companies often develop highly or moderately customized marketing and sales efforts directed at a targeted group of large accounts, accounts in specific industries, or companies at different stages of the customer lifecycle. The true sweet spot for ABM is in large accounts.

Targeted marketing and selling are nothing new. What is new is the ability to run highly tailored account-, industry-, lifecycle- and persona-specific programs at scale. Today’s new marketing tools and profile data can help marketers to identify the right segments, customer profiles, target companies and people; execute coordinated marketing campaigns; handle accounts and leads; and measure results — and do it all at scale. Marketers now have the tools to execute and coordinate more targeted account-specific strategies and campaigns than ever before.

The most successful companies realize that account-based marketing is a cross-functional exercise — beyond even sales and marketing. That’s one reason why some industry visionaries are moving toward the term account-based everything: coordinated marketing, sales, service and more. However it’s labeled, let’s take a look at the state of account-based marketing today.

Earlier this year, market research firm SiriusDecisions Inc. and ABM industry group FlipMyFunnel independently published research that sheds light on ABM trends among B2B companies. Let’s take a look at adoption, investment plans, tools and goals.

ABM adoption

Account-based marketing is still relatively new. According to FlipMyFunnel, 49% of respondents have an account-based marketing program in place, but only 30% of respondents have been running ABM for more than a year. SiriusDecisions found even more widespread adoption, possibly because it uses a broad definition for ABM, encompassing any type of company-based segmentation (large account, industry, lifecycle). So, it’s no surprise that 87% of respondents surveyed said that ABM is extremely or very important overall to marketing efforts. In addition, 71% indicated that they have staff fully or partially dedicated to ABM, and 27% of respondents stated that their companies are investing anywhere from 11% to 30% of their marketing budgets on ABM.

Planned ABM investment

How are companies planning to invest in account-based marketing going forward? Seventy-three percent of companies are planning to increase their ABM investment in 2016, according to SiriusDecisions, and 71% plan to add new tools to support those efforts in the next year, according to FlipMyFunnel.

Tools used for ABM

How are marketers using tools to scale their account-based marketing efforts? The top tools used to support ABM are Salesforce automation (80%), marketing automation (74%) and account-based advertising (62%), according to SiriusDecisions. Interestingly, more companies are investing in tools (as many as 68% for some tools) than services (only as high as 44%) to support ABM, found SiriusDecisions. This trend is common across marketing as marketers shift from traditional advertising to programmatic and tools-based marketing.

ABM goals

ABM is all about the money. Traditional lead-centric marketing is used to generate lots of leads and marketing-qualified leads at the top of the funnel, whereas account-based marketing is used to drive pipeline and deals at the bottom of the funnel. SiriusDecisions found that marketers’ top three goals for ABM are increased revenue/bookings, increased pipeline and higher quality leads. Similarly, 25% of FlipMyFunnel respondents use ABM to generate revenue, 22% to accelerate pipeline and 17% to better align sales and marketing.

Warning signs

To be successful, account-based marketing requires tight alignment between sales and marketing teams for tactics from account selection to lead handling and metrics — and everything in between. But the opposite appears to be happening.

From 2015 to 2016, the number of tightly aligned sales and marketing teams actually decreased from 34% to 22%, according to SiriusDecisions. Does this lack of engagement point to sales teams becoming disillusioned with ABM? And what does that say about the future of ABM? Only time will tell.

Disclosure: TechTarget offers a project intelligence data and tools service for ABM.

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10 Things You Need to Know About Account-Based Marketing

10 Things You Need to Know About Account Based Marketing FI 10 Things You Need to Know About Account Based Marketing

1. ABM Helps to Loop in All Decision Makers

On average, every purchase now requires 5.4 people to formally sign off on. This means that involving all parties from the very beginning is crucial. Every time an additional person is added to the decision making team, your sales cycle lengthens. (Imagine everyone is ready to sign, and then a VP joins the buying team and you have to begin at the beginning with that person.) When you target an account, rather than an individual, you’re able to close deals more quickly by addressing all decision makers from the beginning of the buyer’s journey.

2. ABM = Increased ROI

It’s no secret that marketers are seeing incredible return from account-based marketing. In fact, 80% of marketers who measure ROI say that ABM initiatives outperform other marketing investment. And what’s more, 60% of those who have used ABM for at least a year report a revenue increase of at least 10%,and 19% report a revenue impact of 30% or greater.

At the end of the day, marketers not only want to see organizational growth, but they want to be able to demonstrate real value from their efforts. ABM not only helps companies generate more revenue, it ties marketing directly to closed deals and revenue. In fact, companies using ABM generate 200% more revenue for their marketing efforts.

3. ABM = Increased Contract Value

Getting customers in the door is great, but it’s not the be-all, end-all. A customer who signs a one-year, $ 10,000 contract, and cost $ 1,000 to acquire gives you a $ 9,000 gross return. But spending $ 1,000 for a customer who signs an $ 8,000/year, 5-year contract will yield much higher returns.

ABM has proven to significantly increase deal sizes by focusing on customers who are most likely to be successful with your product or service, which in turn means they’re more likely to remain your customer. In fact, contract value for ABM-targeted accounts increases an average of 40% for mid-market accounts and 35% for enterprise. Those numbers can easily result in immense growth for your organization, without spending more money on acquisition.

4. ABM is Gaining Steam, Quickly

ABM is much more than just a buzzword, it’s being implemented by some of the largest and fastest growing organizations in the world. Over 52% of companies say they currently have ABM pilot programs in place, and 83% of ABM testers have plans to increase their usage over the next year.

5. ABM is Not Just For Enterprise Anymore

In the past, account-based marketing was a tedious, time consuming, manual process. It was really a solution only for organizations that had abundant resources and the stability to test new marketing strategies. Today, the basic process remains much the same, but technology has changed the labor equation, making ABM practical for any company that already uses marketing technology well. If you’re regularly using marketing automation and a CRM, you already have the tools and technology you need to get started with an ABM strategy. While large companies are currently the heaviest users of ABM, small companies are the most aggressive testers.

6. ABM = Increased Engagement

A whopping 83% of those using ABM report that increased engagement with target accounts is the top reported benefit – and that’s a big deal.

While lead generation is imperative to a business, the next step in getting your leads to convert into paying customers is encouraging leads to engage with your brand. Solid lead engagement requires knowledge about your buyer, an understanding of their needs and wants, and a marketing strategy that plays to that knowledge. The personalization aspect of an ABM strategy allows you to speak directly to your prospects with a tailored message, increasing the likelihood of a positive response.

7. ABM = Strengthened Retention + Expansion

Customer retention is another incredibly important metric for success. We’ve all heard the saying, “it’s much easier to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one” – and it’s true. According to Invesp, acquiring a new customer is five times as expensive as retaining an existing customer.

Research shows that 84% of companies believe that ABM provides significant benefits for retaining and expanding current client relationships. New customer acquisition is expensive, and if not done right, can lead to high churn rates (“sloppy growth”). Instead, investing in keeping your customers will deliver a steady stream of reliable revenue.

8. ABM Improves Consistency

On average, a B2B customer will use 6 interaction channels (e.g. ads, email, phone, etc.), and 65% are frustrated by the inconsistency of the experience. ABM can help by providing a consistent experience across all channels of communication to each person in a targeted account. As Jake Sorfoman of Gartner notes in this blog post, In Customer Experience, Consistency is the New Delight: “Consistency is often compromised when good intentions work at cross purposes.” Account-based marketing helps you keep everyone’s purposes lined up and moving forward.

9. ABM Helps with Departmental Alignment

Most organizations struggle with sales and marketing alignment. However, according to one study, organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions experience 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates. In a recent survey, 91% of those with an ABM program in place said that they were “tightly” or “somewhat or moderately” aligned with sales. This is no coincidence. Account-based marketing helps organizations improve communications between departments by focusing on common goals, values, and metrics, such as defining the ideal customer profile.

A successful account-based marketing strategy delivers high-quality leads to sales by targeting accounts have already been prequalified and deemed to be a good fit. ABM focuses on quality, rather than quantity, allowing sales to spend less time qualifying leads and more time selling – to companies who are likelier to buy, and likelier to become excellent customers.

10. Marketing Automation is A Key Tool for ABM

Along with capturing data and putting it to work, automation lets you create a process and then set it to repeat at scale, without additional labor. The top benefits that marketers see from combining marketing automation with an account-based marketing strategy are:

  • Effectively linking buyer behaviors and data across contacts for a unified account view
  • Automatically scoring accounts and triggering campaigns and workflows inside and outside of the inbox
  • Precisely targeting all decision makers within an account and delivering a unified experience across the organization

With the right strategy and the right technology to carry it out, ABM will support you in all aspects as you balance your strategy among brand awareness, demand generation, and customer retention and expansion. To learn more about account-based marketing, download your free eBook here.

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Boost Your Demand Gen Mix with Account-Based Marketing

Consider This Focus on Accounts Not Leads FI Boost Your Demand Gen Mix with Account Based Marketing

Being a marketer at Act-On is great. We use Act-On for our own business and we represent our own ideal customer profile – so we know the challenges that marketers face. Our customers are marketers and executives who invest in marketing, so in our own roles as marketers and executives invested in marketing, we share their ambitions – and their pains.

This commonality sometimes spurs product innovations.

In late 2015, as we were planning for 2016, we became laser-focused on our ideal customer profile. We’d been developing buyer personas for years; this time we were looking at companies as customers, at the account level. We’d done this before, too, as part of developing scoring criteria and other qualification measurements, but this time around we had an old idea: Account-based marketing.

Account-based marketing (ABM), at its simplest, is focusing on an account as opposed to a lead. This might seem like splitting hairs, but it’s actually a profound change in emphasis.

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5 Steps to Increase Conversion Rates with Account-Based Marketing

It’s a very logical response to the growing number of people involved in making a B2B buying decision. The main common characteristic of different aspects and applications of ABM is the focus on accounts, instead of on individual job titles or job descriptions alone.

Although account-based marketing has been getting a lot of attention in recent years, it’s not actually a new strategy. ABM was developed in the mid-1990s as a way for (mostly enterprise) marketers to distance themselves from mass marketing tactics and begin a more targeted approach.

As the strategy slowly gained traction, it became better-known and more likely to be employed in companies that don’t rank as enterprise. By 2015, SiriusDecisions reported that over 90% of B2B marketers believe that an account-based marketing strategy is a must-have; it also noted that only 20% of companies had actually implemented a strategy for longer than a year. Which begs the question:

Is ABM a fleeting buzzword, or is it here to stay?

Well, the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA), a B2B industry expert for all things marketing, reports that ABM delivers the highest return on investment (ROI) of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic. Demand Metric also found that 60% of those who have employed ABM for at least one year attribute a revenue increase of 10% or more to its use.

Megan Heuer, Vice President and Group Director at SiriusDecisions said, “We’re in the early days of an important change in how B2B companies go about delivering on their revenue goals, and ABM is a critical aspect of this shift.” She added:

“What makes ABM so attractive right now is the way it combines insights for strategy and technology for execution. Marketing teams who understand ABM are in a powerful position to better align to what sales needs, and to make smart choices about the right actions to take and the right time to take them to grow high-potential accounts.”

Ready to take a closer look? Here’s a high-level overview of the five steps to plan and implement a successful account-based marketing strategy, and start creating more marketing-sourced leads.

1. Pick and Choose Your Highest-Value Accounts

Account-based marketing, in some sense, is the brainchild of sales and marketing alignment. The strategy is most successful when you choose high-value accounts that tie to key business initiatives and company goals.

Typical initiatives might be expanding into a new market, increasing market or wallet share, landing a major brand, etc. When you’re choosing your target accounts you’ll want to analyze factors such as industry, location, revenue, similarity to your best customers, technology stack, early-adopter tendencies, financial habits, and so on. You’ll need to target different buyers within an account, so take the time to build buyer personas, which will help you speak directly to those different buyers accurately.

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Should Every Customer Get Account-Based Marketing Benefits?

As big disruptive shifts hit the workplace we all get taken out of our comfort zones. Whereas once 4525911271 e5364850e7 z Should Every Customer Get Account Based Marketing Benefits?we felt in control, the stakes are evolving rapidly and our ability to adapt is falling behind.   If we consider the recent gallup poll results that indicates that only a mere 30% of the workforce is actually committed to doing a good job, engaged, it really drives home the point that we may need to take a deeper look at the skills we have today, map them against the various trends that are impacting the workplace, and derive a view to the skills we will need moving forward.

A recent report published by the Institute for the Future (IFTF), does an outstanding job of identifying the key work skills and capabilities needed in the next few years (and arguably needed now).

Here they are:

Sensemaking

Steve Jobs once said “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something”.   Sensemaking is all about the ability to connect things to create new ideas. Quoting Maria Popova, who has really crystallized this notion, in order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these pieces and build new castles.

Social intelligence

Relationships and the ability to connect with people becomes and remains a crucial capability, however, as John Hagel thoughtfully points out, influence and relationship-building will now come from asking the right questions, not necessarily having all the answers. In the age of the individual, you can no longer assume that every person shares the same goals, desires and motivators. Whether you are engaging with an employee or a customer, everyone is unique and wants to be catered to in a way that’s unique to them.   The ability to connect with people in a deeper, more meaningful way whether they are colleagues or strangers will enable us to thrive in beyond the industrial age, get things done and solve complex problems. To do so, and despite the abstraction of technology, we must continue to develop capabilities to quickly understand other’s emotions, motivations and triggers and take a human approach to business.

Novel and adaptive thinking

As employment growth gets polarized into either ends of low-skill jobs or high-skills jobs, it is important that we always evolve our thinking towards the future to ensure we stay relevant.   At the pace by which companies are changing, staying up-to-date is no longer enough. Taking self-initiative to constantly improve your skills, pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, becoming a perpetual student, and quickly adapting to new realities will help ensure you are creating value and will keep you out of the cross-hairs for outsourcing.

Cross-cultural competencies

The recent Harvard Business Review piece “How to say “This is Crap” in different cultures serves yet another reminder as to how important it is to be able to be effective in different cultural settings.   Globalization is no longer the buzzword in corporate America, it is reality.   Many of us work globally every day, interacting with a multitude of cultures, but those who know how to empathize and adjust their communications and style of collaboration, will always have an advantage when working across geographies and cultures.

Computational thinking

No, this doesn’t mean you should think like a computer, but nonetheless, being analytical becomes center-stage as data is everywhere.   You get it from all sorts of sources, whether you are sifting through dozens of emails, or crunching huge Excel spreadsheets. The ability to translate vast amounts of into actual insight is now, more than ever a critical skill.   Many of us work with data on a daily basis, but to understand the meaning, the trends and patterns of what the data is telling us becomes paramount.   Are sales tanking? Are people jumping ship? These are things you wouldn’t be able to tell just a single number.

New media literacy

Still printing your 50-slide powerpoint decks? The world of videos, blogs, and podcasts has changed the way we communicate and consume information.   With an entire generation that was born digital entering the workforce, everyone will need to become fluent in digital and social media forms of communications in the same way that they currently assess a paper or presentation.

Transdisciplinarity

In the age of mounting competition and vast technological change, the capabilities needed to successfully differentiate a company and win in the marketplace are much broader than they were in the past.   We can no longer rely on just bringing together groups of specialists to solve our most complex problems. Instead, companies are in need of Generalists (or polymaths if you prefer that word) with new, agile skills that can see the big picture, listen, synthesize ideas and connect the dots.

Design mindset

We live in a transitional phase between an old “business world” where mass production ruled and products and services were conceived in a lab and then rolled out to the masses and a “new world” where people-centric approaches are increasingly being used to create new products and services that are thoughtfully designed through interdisciplinary teams and collaborative processes. A design mindset refers to the ideas and attitudes by which a person approaches a situation.   It is about focusing on human values and developing a deep understanding of the people that matter most to the problem we’re trying to solve. Through practicing empathy, whether through conversation, observation or experiencing, adopting a design mindset becomes a critical ingredient in the ability to execute successfully.

Cognitive load management

The shear amount of data and information that hits us in a short span of time has exponentially increased with streams in multiple formats coming from multiple devices.   A tweet here, a text message or email there and pretty soon managing the flow and prioritization of all this information becomes a challenge.   The ability to effectively filter and focus what on what really requires your attention becomes paramount. This includes effectively managing your channels, deciding where to participate vs. where not to and taking a disciplined approach to managing distractions as opposed to real priorities.

Virtual collaboration

Whether you’re a fan of it or not, working and collaborating effectively virtually, whether on a simple task or a very complex challenge is a necessity as the nature of our work is globalized.   Despite a variety of tools and technologies that are now available, we still struggle with being effective as members or leaders of virtual teams.   Technologically, the future for virtual collaboration looks very promising with enterprise tech taking a page out of successful consumer ventures, but the virtual work also demands a new set of competencies and effort in order to ensure productivity in a cross-cultural, fully global reality.

In a world where staying relevant becomes a top priority (for individuals as well as companies), there are no guarantees that either of these skills will lead to success.  The key becomes taking charge of your own destiny by evaluating where you are today and charting your personal map as to where you want to go.

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The future of work is being by a number of trends, is one trend more important than the other? Is your business strategy aligned to any of them? We want to hear from you! Help us discover these answers and more by taking this 5 minute survey!

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Digitalist Magazine » future of business

Should Every Customer Get Account-Based Marketing Benefits?

For the longest time, we hotly debated whether or not BYOD is good for business. And why not? Few trends in IT have managed to generate as much hype and headache in recent times as BYOD. Over the past few years, the surveys and studies regarding BYOD reported mixed results—some bashing the trend, while others being more upbeat about it. And both supporters and opponents of the policy had ample resources to substantiate their standing. But the question is, have we arrived at a conclusion? The answer is no, not yet.

Computerwold senior editor Matt Hamblen touched upon this very topic while discussing the results of two recently released, apparently contradictory, BYOD surveys. CompTIA surveyed 375 IT professionals in the U.S. and found that 53 percent of them did not allow BYOD in their workplaces, while a survey commissioned by Tyntec concluded BYOD is “the new norm,” with the majority of respondents in the U.S., Spain, and the U.K. saying they use their personal mobile phones for work-related tasks. You get the picture!

BYOD is still rocky terrain

The biggest problem seems to be that BYOD has gone beyond simply carrying an iPhone or an iPad to work and occasionally checking emails. It has now become a productivity issue where employees expect to collaborate, share ideas, and stay connected with their teams and clients, from anywhere. Research has found most BYOD users tend to use their devices to access email, calendar, Web browser, instant messaging, and Office applications. And since most of these applications run on company networks, it gives rise to security and privacy concerns. A compromised device could easily lead hackers to a company’s data and internal network.

Another issue with BYOD is that employees often end up using their devices for purposes not intended, such as watching TV, online videos, or livestreamed events, which can significantly weigh down a company’s network. Internet security company Zscaler discovered in 2012 that sports-related traffic reached more than 74 percent after NCAA’s March Madness began, and employees began online streaming at peak office hours.

Many companies simply ban BYOD altogether to avoid running into security risks. That, however, is short-sighted. Tightening the reins on personal devices actually does little to avert possible risks because people are more than willing to “go rogue,” and find a way around any prohibitive policy in order to use their favorite devices and apps.

With too much control behind shadow IT, and too little control posing serious security threats, BYOD is a slippery slope and definitely an issue IT departments are losing sleep over. At the same time, the benefits of BYOD as a motivator for employees to be more productive and engaged at work can’t be overlooked. So it’s no longer a question of whether companies should allow employees to bring their own device. It’s about how they can allow their employees to perform productively using the devices they prefer.

Where things are headed

For so long, the BYOD trend has largely been in favor of employees, responding to their needs. But efforts are going on to make it mutually relevant to both the employee and the organization. One such effort is the COPE (corporate-owned, personally enabled) model that hopes to curb the chaos that IT consumerization has left in its wake. Though unlike BYOD, COPE advocates the use of company-issued devices allowing businesses to retain some control over IT, it doesn’t prevent employees from using the devices any way they want and in whatever way they need to be more productive. So, even though the company owns the phone, the employee can check their social media accounts, or play games on it, without fear of reprisals. The reasoning behind this is the underlying logic is that when employees get their preferred devices from their companies, it eliminates any reason they might have to circumvent IT. But is COPE a fitting replacement of BYOD?

Company-issued devices are nothing new and the problem remains that even when organizations have strict policies in place, it doesn’t do enough to curb the ongoing BYOD surge. Why is that? Because the truth is even if businesses provide the latest and greatest devices to their employees, they still want the freedom to choose and use their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Frankly, CIOs and CISOs will always put a ban to some degree on the mobile access of corporate data or the use of certain apps. But, then again, employees still transfer files and documents via Dropbox or make calls over Skype, sidestepping security policies, often unwittingly. In fact, a 2014 survey by LogMeIn and Edge Strategies revealed that workers have nearly 21 apps on their devices—seven times more than what IT had expected.

Evidently, the complete elimination of BYOD from any business is unlikely. This is why the BYOD debate is still very much alive, and one that cannot be fully be ignored. Not today, and not in the near future.

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 Should Every Customer Get Account Based Marketing Benefits?

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Digitalist Magazine » future of business