How Can I Figure Out the Martech World?

Hi Joe,

I want to understand more about marketing tech, but I don’t know where to start. The tools we use at my company, like Salesforce and Marketo, have so many functionalities and data that I feel like I might break something if I start playing around. The martech space moves fast, and it’s hard to get a handle on where the industry is going.

I’d feel more confident in my job if I knew how to get the best out of the tools we use, and understood the outlook of martech as a whole. How can I start to build that knowledge? Where do I find the time?

Thanks,
Martech Mark.

 

That drive you have to learn is a great thing, Martech Mark. When I first started out using Marketo, I wanted to be productive from day one. At first, I thought that meant sticking just to what we knew at our company; like you, I thought experimenting would lead to “breaking” things beyond repair.

I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case. Tools like Marketo don’t have the easiest learning curve, so you might not get it right away; that’s not the end of the world. Take a few hours each week to read up, play around with tools, post in communities, whatever grabs your interest. Here are some places to start:

  • Free trials and versions: Many tools out there have free versions (e.g. Hubspot, Salesforce Lightning Platform) or at least free trials (e.g. SAP Marketing Cloud) to experiment with; so if you’ve got a certain piece of tech in mind, check out what build you can get on the house.
  • Online courses: LinkedIn, edX, Coursera, and other learning platforms have a mix of free and paid courses to try out, covering a breadth of technologies.
  • Product spaces: Official company spaces provide a range of free resources, from the videos and courses on Marketo University to the forums in Salesforce’s Trailblazer Community.
  • Online communities: Chances are, the tool you’re learning has active communities on Github or Reddit—and dedicated MOPs communities can help you steer your course.
  • News and blogs: Sources like MarketingTech and ChiefMartec publish news and analysis of the latest movements in the martech world.

Treat each resource like a sandbox; you’ve got free reign to mess around, trial and error.

Once you get going, document all the things you do and hear that are useful to your learning; the observations you have, how using a particular tool benefits your work (does it make a process faster? Improve analysis?). Even if the tool you’re learning doesn’t quite help you meet certain goals, note that down too—it’s a lesson the whole team can learn from.

As you say, the martech space moves quickly. Trends rise and level out, upstart tools get acquired, and if you’re exploring a new capability area, there’s no guarantee the tool you learn will be one the industry settles on.

For that reason, don’t stress about where the market’s heading; focus on the tech that interests you and helps to achieve your goals. You’ll pick up transferable skills that apply across technologies; like learning a language, it gets easier after the first one. Just keep going.

You’ve got this,
Joe.

How to Help Your C-Suite Choose Between Marketo and HubSpot

TLDR: Marketing automation platforms play a really important role in the way today’s businesses engage with their audiences. Leading the pack are Marketo and HubSpot, but which one should you choose? In our latest Tough Talks Made Easy post, we’re giving you the tools to help your executive team choose the right platform for your business. Take a look.

What you’ll learn in this article: 

  • When choosing a marketing automation platform, Marketo and HubSpot are leaders
  • Where HubSpot is a centralized inbound marketing platform with multiple functions, Marketo is focused on moving leads through the marketing funnel 
  • You can help your C-suite choose the right solution for your business by exploring these three considerations: 
    • Your tech stack
    • Your products and customer audience
    • The maturity of your team

Marketing automation tools are changing the way businesses operate. On the one hand, they make marketing and sales teams more efficient and productive. On the other, they’ve made it easier for marketers to provide tailored, personalized experiences that meet their target audiences where they are.

At the top of the marketing automation charts are Marketo and HubSpot, two platforms that have led the way in revolutionizing the marketing space. But, which of these tools is best for your business? 

To help you guide your exec team in their decision on which software to adopt, here’s an overview of each platform and the considerations you should make as you evaluate them.

 

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE PLATFORMS

HubSpot is an inbound marketing platform that has four functions: marketing, sales, customer service, and customer relationship management (CRM). This means that users have the ability to operate their email marketing, CRM software, contact management, and help desk automation from one place, with a well-designed user interface. While many teams appreciate the centralized experience, HubSpot also offers extensibility that allows you to integrate with third-party apps, including Salesforce. This flexibility makes it easier for companies to customize the experience to what makes sense to them.

Marketo Engage, meanwhile, is a robust marketing automation platform that focuses exclusively on moving leads and customers through various stages of the marketing funnel, in a way that’s customizable to the organization’s processes and structures. It does this by offering marketing automation, email marketing, and lead management capabilities. This focus allows users to create highly personalized content to tailor marketing campaigns to specific audiences.

The truth is, this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. When it comes down to it, these tools serve different functions and have to be considered within the broader scope of your tech stack and where your business is going. So, the question you and your C-suite should really be asking is whether you need a centralized marketing and sales hub, or a robust marketing automation platform that integrates with other best-of-breed solutions. 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER AS YOU MAKE YOUR CHOICE

As you engage with your leadership team to determine which platform makes the most sense for your business, here are three non-technical considerations that will help guide your conversation with them. 

1. For your CIO: Your existing tech stack

As mentioned above, HubSpot is a centralized solution for sales, marketing, and customer engagement functions. It continues to expand the offerings on its platform, making it a great place to start if you don’t have any technology serving those verticals—and don’t have the budget to invest in multiple integrated solutions. The other benefit here is that it reduces complexity for your team, as they only have one tool to learn, and this also makes it easier to transfer data from one function to another for accurate attribution reporting.

However, if your company is building a tech stack with best-of-breed solutions that lead their verticals then Marketo is the right choice. The tool makes up for the fact that it’s not an all-in-one solution by integrating seamlessly with other leading solutions like Salesforce, Drift, and Bizible. In fact, Marketo was originally designed with Salesforce in mind, and they still operate seamlessly together today. That said, it’s important to remember that each platform has its own price tag, so you need to have the budget available to build and run this integrated ecosystem. The other consideration is that Marketo is less prone to evolving its software, making it a more predictable investment. 

Your CIO likely has a strategy or roadmap for what your company’s tech stack will look like. Talk to them about it and use the points above to determine which platform fits into that strategy.

2. For your CMO: Your products and customer audience

Businesses that are only marketing one product to one or two audiences will naturally have fairly simple customer journeys. This reduces the need for complex workflows, persona building, and robust attribution models. HubSpot does a good job of addressing this use case as it easily connects the dots between each step in a single customer journey. 

Meanwhile, companies that have larger, more complex product catalogs require more specialized tools across every part of the path to purchase. That’s especially the case if they have a number of customer segments to meet with the right messaging at the right time. This is where teams can make the most of Marketo, accounting for multiple considerations and customer behaviors.

These are points you can raise with your CMO so as to advise them on where a product like Marketo or HubSpot can be more productive. They’ll also be able to tell you if there are any anticipated changes in how your business plans to market to new or existing audiences, which will also dictate which platform makes the most sense.  

3. For your CEO: The maturity of your team

Is your business new on the scene? Or have you been around for decades? Wherever your team sits on the maturity spectrum should inform how your executives decide on a marketing automation platform. 

For growth-stage startups that are prioritizing their product development, HubSpot tends to be the platform of choice. A centralized, easy-to-use solution can make it easier for the individuals running your marketing, sales, and customer engagement functions to work towards the same goals in a quick and scalable way. In addition, since HubSpot is continually innovating its platform, it’s an appealing digital solution for companies that are also evolving within their own markets.. There hasn’t been significant innovation with Marketo Engage in some time.

Meanwhile, larger enterprises that have invested in building a robust marketing team filled with seasoned MOPs professionals are more likely to have Marketo at the heart of their marketing operations efforts. With the right combination of tools and people, these companies can get creative with how they reach their vast audiences.

This is the type of insight that will matter to your CEO. So, as you’re walking them through the platforms, contextualize them within a conversation on where the company is now and where it’s going next. 

 

MAKING THE RIGHT DECISION

With so many marketing automation tools on the market now, it can feel overwhelming to find and pick the right one, but it doesn’t have to be. The three considerations outlined above should help you and your executives weigh one leading product against another.

If you’re still not sure which way to go and would like to continue the conversation, Revenue Pulse is here to help.

 

Why RevOps Should Look Under the Hood of Seismic

TLDR: Seismic is a boost to RevOps teams who’re looking to surface content more efficiently and better understand how content contributes to revenue. But the platform is most successful when paired with ongoing efforts to produce and organize content to a high standard.

Content lets organizations tell the story of their value to customers and prospects, but RevOps teams often struggle to surface the value that content provides and double down on what works. Without reliable insights into how content performs with its audience, Marketing leaders find it difficult to prove how content contributes towards the bottom line. 

Sales also needs content analytics to determine how best to personalize their story for each prospect. Without a well-organized system to categorize and manage content, Sales risks sinking hours into searching for and sending out pieces that are outdated or ill-suited to the customer.

If your RevOps team struggles to optimize content, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. With a single source of truth to categorize and analyze content, RevOps teams can make decisions that help to close deals—and prove it. That’s the essence of what Seismic offers, and this piece will help you discuss the need-to-know aspects of the tool with RevOps.

 

SURFACE YOUR BEST CONTENT 

Seismic is a sales enablement platform that provides automated content management and analytics, and there are a few notable ways that it makes RevOps’ lives easier. 

Admins can set permissions so that sellers only need to search through the content relevant to their accounts and campaigns. Then, Sales can identify which pieces of content to deploy based on a series of categorizations that describe the properties of each content piece at a glance (e.g. asset types, relevant personas and products, sales stage to be deployed).

If you have a well-developed content library but lack the processes to efficiently surface the most appropriate pieces, Seismic will save Sales a few headaches. Rather than clinging to a few pieces of content and deploying them past their expiry dates, Sales gets an easy way to explore the deep bench of your library and engage prospects creatively with a variety of pieces. 

Seismic also cuts down the significant amounts of time that reps spend just trying to get their hands on content. No need to trawl through a disoriented database or chase Content people to ask for pieces; just search for content via client type, topic, and other customizable relevant filters. This allows teams to actively surface the most relevant, useful content to prospects.

 

CONNECT CONTENT TO DOLLARS 

The platform also tracks and reports on how prospects and opportunities engage with the content your team sends them. Seismic’s analytics let Sales and Marketing gauge how well each piece resonates with recipients and draw a direct line between content interactions and deals. 

For Marketing, Seismic clears the uncertainty of how content contributes to the bottom line. Marketing can map content engagement stats onto close rates and gain a stronger grasp of what types of content win deals from different prospect segments. 

With clear insight into how content provides value, RevOps teams can rethink for the better how they create content and personalize their outreach to each prospect.

 

BEFORE YOU SIGN 

For the ways that Seismic helps RevOps, the platform isn’t a silver bullet for poor organizational systems. Seismic will be organized in a similar way to your source information on SharePoint or Drive, meaning that the platform’s presentation and categorization of content will be just as clear as your original folder structure. In other words: if you’re in a mess, clean it up before you get Seismic. 

To do that, RevOps needs to answer a few questions. What are your naming conventions? How will you tag and categorize content? Where will content live depending on its category—e.g. persona groups, internal or external. 

Your team should work through these details until you’re able to confidently identify content by three key properties: what each piece is, who it targets, and the situations you intend to use it.

From there, Seismic allows RevOps to categorize, present, and analyze the performance of content—but it isn’t going to boost the underlying quality of that content. If your bottom-of-funnel pieces aren’t inspiring opportunities to buy what you’re selling, then your RevOps team should consider doing an audit for quality. Are pieces well-written and presented? Relevant to your persona and industry groups? Conveying the right level of information for the stage in the sales cycle? 

As much as Seismic’s analytics let RevOps spot trends and steer the direction of content to capitalize on engagement, the execution of those insights is always going to split the difference between landing a deal or not.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Ultimately, Seismic is a boost to RevOps teams who’re looking to surface content from their libraries more efficiently and better understand how content contributes to revenue. As long as RevOps puts in the work to organize content and produce it to a high standard, teams can use the platform’s analytics to create and deploy content in a way that wrings more dollars from customer engagement.

For any advice with assessing sales enablement platforms or connecting content to revenue, Revenue Pulse is here to help.

 

Why Your CMO and CFO Will Love Knak

TLDR: Knak is the first campaign creation platform for enterprise marketing teams—and it seriously speeds up the production of emails and landing pages. But together, Knak and Revenue Pulse give you as much control as you want over emails and landing pages, deployed at the speed you need.

When working with agencies to create emails and landing pages, costs and timelines are often out of your hands. Emails can set you back anywhere from several grand each to dozens of thousands for a batch. Factoring in your partner’s various processes and steps, campaigns might take weeks to get out the door—and even then, code errors and display issues can creep into the final product.

This production process is crying out for improvement. High price tags, high wait times, limited ability to shift direction mid-campaign, no guarantees of perfection; as long as these issues slow down and strain the execution of your most basic campaign materials, your Marketing Operations function will struggle to become as productive and profitable as it deserves.

Good news: it doesn’t have to be this way. For this Tough Talks Made Easy, pull up a chair with your CMO and CFO; it’s time to tell them about Knak.

 

KNAK 101

Knak is the first campaign creation platform for enterprise marketing teams—and it seriously speeds up the creation of emails and landing pages. Knak makes it possible for users to create emails and landing pages themselves, code-free, to an average production time of 23 minutes. 

If your C-Suite needs a sense of what this means for agility: this is roughly the amount of time you’d spend briefing an agency, or even less. From there, they’d likely return your campaign materials several days or weeks down the line. Compare 23 minutes to weeks for one email—now imagine the productivity gains across a whole working week, with all the coding and drawn-out processes eliminated.

That increased speed also fuels value for money. Putting your previous email budget into a Knak subscription frees you to quickly execute unlimited emails and landing pages against your budget, and it also saves significant cash money. The result? Greater bang for the buck and streamlined spending compared to working piecemeal with agencies on campaigns. 

Persuasive as that might be for your CFO, your CMO also wants to hear about brand control. Knak lets you populate templates with your organization’s branding, and the platform’s approval workflows and permission management mean that only the people relevant to each campaign can make changes. 

In other words: you avoid a Wild West situation where too many cooks spoil your assets with inconsistency. The people in your team who really understand customers unleash their creativity on beautiful, on-brand emails and landing pages—and get them to market up to 95% faster than before. 

That’s a significant leap forward, but for some organizations, time is too valuable. Knak cuts email and landing page creation down to 23 minutes, but your CMO might still prefer to delegate all executional work and have MOPs steer strategy and deliver high-value projects. If that’s the position your leadership’s in, we’ve got even better news for you.

 

KNAK AND REVENUE PULSE: THE PERFECT COMBO

When it comes to agencies, Knak works exclusively with Revenue Pulse. Working with both at the same time drives even more value from your investment; our staff are Knak experts, and you have the option of deferring to our team for the hands-on work while delivering campaigns exponentially faster with Knak. 

This, for C-Suite, is where the magic really happens: together, Knak and Revenue Pulse give you as much control as you want over emails and landing pages, deployed at the speed you need. Both sides of this partnership amplify each other to substantially increase the agility and control you have with campaigns; far beyond what other agencies that provide these services can offer.

With emails and landing pages being created faster than ever, perhaps off your plate entirely, this opens the door to high-level prioritization. Your CMO can elevate the workload of your MOPs or Rev Ops teams so your time and energy are spent achieving A-list strategic items—think lead lifecycles, lead scoring, attribution, and analytics.

The ability to iterate faster and more effectively, while deepening the sophistication of projects your Marketing Operations team handles, leads to evolving maturity. The more you can execute and refine campaigns, the more you can optimize the ROI and impact of your marketing automation investment. 

Long-term, using Knak and Revenue Pulse together expedites your evolution into an operation that produces effective campaigns with swift efficiency, to the benefit of your bottom line. This is what C-Suite ultimately wants Marketing Operations to achieve; Knak and Revenue Pulse give you the tools and the expertise to get there.

Knak was born of a necessary, urgent need to simplify complex processes with emails and landing pages. As it develops to become the starting point to create any campaign, we’re excited to see how else we can make the lives of marketers easier.

Curious about Knak and/or Revenue Pulse? Contact us or our friends at Knak for a chat.

 

How to Guide Leadership Through “Shiny New Tool” Syndrome

TLDR: Getting a new tool often seems like an attractive solution to a pain point, but without careful planning and an audit of the solutions in your stack and on the market, another tool to manage = another problem to solve.

When your team has a pain point or stress-inducing process to iron out, adding a new tool to your stack often seems an attractive solution. Perhaps leadership brings experience of using a certain tool to solve the problem at hand. They might know of comparable companies using a piece of tech and benchmark your stack against theirs. Or, they’re excited by the promise of results—”plug-and-play” accessibility, increases to revenue and productivity that justify the investment.

Beyond the hype, however, these flashes of inspiration alone aren’t solid enough reasons to adopt another new tool. Careful planning, evaluation, and an audit of what’s currently in your stack are crucial to identify the most sensible solution for your business—without these, more tools can easily add complications, go to waste, or run counterproductive to what you’re trying to achieve. 

If “shiny new tool” syndrome clouds the better judgment of your CMO or CEO, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. We’ll help you influence a more critical approach to tool adoption to maximize the return on your dollars and your time.

 

THE REAL DEMANDS OF NEW TOOLS 

Sometimes, leadership will advocate for a tool they’ve used in previous companies. While the solution may have the correct capabilities to solve the problem at hand, selective experience with a tool can cause decision-makers to view it through rose-colored glasses. If your CMO or CEO only began to use the tool after the implementation or ramp-up period were completed, they’re likely unaware of the more challenging elements of getting off the ground.  the solution that leadership advocates for has the correct capabilities to solve the need at hand. 

During the sales cycle, the complications of running a tool are often downplayed. Vendors might portray a solution as “out of the box” with minor setup, or demo a version of the tool with features, integrations, and reporting already well-established. In reality, the baseline you see in demos won’t be there when you first configure the tool. Ramp-up periods can be prohibitive, and 6 to 12 months down the line, you might be miles off achieving the results you were promised.

When the effort involved in managing a tool far outstrips expectations, and you haven’t planned to inherit the responsibility, that tool can sit in your stack gathering dust. Before leadership takes the plunge, advise them to wait until you’ve gathered feedback from current customers—get a real shot of truth about what it takes to onboard, implement, ramp up, maintain, and get results from the solution.

Leadership needs to know if any shift in headcount occurs from using the tool, whether customers are using it to accomplish what you’re aiming for, and the renewal vs. churn rate past the initial contract. Before your CMO reaches a decision, they should be able to answer key internal questions: What are the hours involved with adopting this tool? Who’s responsible? Do we have the budget to give that person additional compensation or to hire someone new to run point? Given our investment, what kind of revenue and productivity lift can we expect?

Tools are vehicles for results; to get anywhere, you need a driver. Getting a handle on the practicalities will help leadership identify if a tool is right for your needs or viable for your resources.

 

EVALUATING YOUR STACK AND THE MARKET 

Mid-to-large organizations often lack a deep understanding of what’s in their tech stack. When departments have the size and autonomy to buy their own tools, there might be significant overlap between the functionalities of tools owned by different teams. If this is the case, leadership should explore the possibility of adopting a solution that your organization already uses.

To decide whether this is a good idea, review any documentation that outlines the tools in your workplace. If your organization already owns the functionality you’re after, speak with the tool owner and spend some time using the solution to get a sense of how appropriately it addresses your needs. An important point for leadership: you might find a tool that facilitates what you’re looking for, but not in the most competitive or sophisticated way. 

For any internal or external tool you assess, establish where it stands in the market—is this solution best-in-class or tertiary in its lane? Can this tool evolve with your business and perform long-term? C-Suite’s are after the greatest possible ROI, and that comes by choosing the tool you’ll need five years from now. 

To justify any technology investment, leadership needs a clear case for how it adds value. Confidence in how a tool’s functionalities and integrations work is crucial to making that assessment. If there’s a risk of integrations or data flows breaking down between updates, for instance, flag this to leadership; any manual processes or convoluted workarounds a tool introduces compromise your ROI. Conversely, a tool that’s less adept at generating revenue might save the team significant amounts of time; productivity gains that prove ROI.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

The martech boom shows no signs of slowing down, which means plenty of noise to cut through. You’ll work smarter and achieve more with martech by being intentional; balance your current and long-term needs, size up the options in your stack and on the market, determine the ROI from adding a new tool into the mix, and plan carefully for how you’ll use it. Approach tool adoption with those principles, and you’ll make every dollar and hour count.

For any guidance on evaluating your tech stack or the martech landscape, Revenue Pulse is here to help.