Review MarTech Conference Boston 2017

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I attended MarTech Boston this year (at the start of October: here’s a link to the event next year). But I almost didn’t go. I have a healthy scepticism of the MarTech world – a lot of noise and hype but, from my own experience, not a lot of impact where it counts, on the bottom line.

But still, you never know – conferences are often best for serendipitous finds. And we’d heard good things about last year, so we decided to go for it.

I went with our head of IT (it is after all, a Mar-Tech conference), and we turned up for the first day, as a say, with a scepticism bordering on defeatism. And I’m afraid it didn’t start enormously well. I often think marketing is its own worst enemy – every buzzword I hear, every declaration of how some vague unproven idea will improve revenue 10-fold, undermines the view of marketing from non-marketing folk and those of us in the industry as well. After listening to a couple of talks about the impact of AI and Blockchain on marketing, I started to look in to early flights home (and least we’d save on the hotel bills).

But then, completely by chance, I went to a great talk on the afternoon of the first day. Surprisingly, this was actually a vendor talk (from Marketo). Normally vendor talks are thinly-veiled sales pitches, but this was a panel talking about Account Based Marketing and the use of tech to help with this style of marketing. And something began to click. I then talked to a couple of the presenters afterwards, went to a few of the vendors they recommended, and I believe I was converted.

Before I go in to the things we found and what we came back with, a general point. The mistake I think the MarTech movement makes is to over-complicate and confuse their audience. There’s a well known infographic from chiefmartec.com, which shows all of the vendor options available:

When you see this, what do you think? I think – “There’s too much here, I feel option paralysis, I’ll never be able to navigate this landscape, I’ll go do something else”. The job of a marketer is often to make things simple for customers – “Here’s the obvious solution to your problem, we’re making it really easy for you to make the right choice.”. This graphic does not do that!

What does do that is talking to people. I met some great people at the conference, who have helped me enormously. So without further ado, here are the exciting things we found, from talking to folk. It’s also worth noting as well that a) I’m not associated with any of these vendors, and b) We haven’t tried them yet! My write-ups of what they do are based on their spiel and a bit of reading up afterwards. I sincerely hope they do what they say..

 

Redgate has an extraordinary catalogue of great content. Everything, from in-depth articles, how-tos, videos, books, documentation, whitepapers, and much more. We know it’s all amazing quality but – how much is it used? How much does it help us win deals? Are our customers actually reading/viewing it?

Enter LookBook – this technology allows you to target particular pieces and groups of content at specific accounts, and then track the customers’ engagement. For example, if you find that big client A has started reading lots of content all about one of your offers, it will record this, measure their engagement, and send a signal to a sales person – “Big Bank is heavily engaged with proposition X – why not give them a call?”. Invaluable for Redgate – we’ll really know if our mountain of gold content is being read/viewed and by whom.

 

This is actually the one I’m most excited about. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but we currently use HubSpot – and I’m less than impressed. We pay a lot, and it really doesn’t work for a business like ours. To be fair, we’re not their target audience (we’re too big, they’re more focussed on growing startups), but we’re certainly looking for a replacement.

Going to MarTech, I wanted to speak to Eloqua, Marketo, Salesforce Pardot – the obvious alternatives for marketing automation. But now I’m thinking again. Something I picked up time and time again in Boston was that the current main players for marketing automation are all, frankly, looking a little long in the tooth – they’ve all been around 10 years plus. The market is ripe for disruption, and Engagio might just be leading the charge. Started, amongst others, by the ex-founder of Marketo, Jon Miller, who is CEO of Engagio, I was really impressed by their vision (essentially, to be the new marketing automation platform), their team (he seems to be pulling in all sorts from the industry), and how they’re positioning themselves – firmly in the camp of Account Based Marketing, and measuring engagement from customers. I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid yet, but we’re certainly going to look in to it, to help fix our difficulties with measuring engagement and nurturing our Accounts.

 

An interesting, more focussed one this. Not sure about you, but I worry about the lack of transparency in the media/advertising world. Do we really know where our graphic ads are being placed? How often? Can you trust the agencies that place them? How do you know what the audience is? We’ve been burnt by programmatic advertising, and we’re looking for something better.

Terminus claim that they can target media adsĀ directly at specific accounts. How great would that be? Craft some ads, for say, the Finance industry, draw up your list of 500 target accounts, and away you go. I’ll love it if this works..

 

The final big find, that I was very excited about, was Allocadia. It’s quite simple actually – it’s an online spreadsheet that basically links your spend to return (for example, from Salesforce Campaigns). It’s simple, but it’s the root of all marketing performance management. We need to be able to see, in one app, what we’re doing quarter-by-quarter, what’s working, what isn’t, whether our spend is effective and so on. Simple, but I think it will actually be pretty revolutionary.

 

So that was most of it. We also had some good chats about replacement marketing automation platforms – really it’s all about your size. From talking to other people in our position, I think we’re way too big for HubSpot – but too small perhaps for the likes of Marketo and Eloqua. That puts Salesforce Pardot in a good position. But then as I say, what about Engagio!?!…

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