10 Key Takeaways from the Marketo Summit 2014

Intelligent Demand attended the annual Marketo Summit last week in San Francisco. What a great and inspiring time! It was good to be around more than 6,000 fellow marketers—all genuinely dedicated to making a difference in their companies and in their careers using modern marketing strategies, technology and tactics.

The short story: The speakers were personable, credible and well prepared; the content was spot on, understandable and actionable; and the event itself was incredibly well produced. Marketo announced a long list of new features and partnerships—all focused on elevating the role of marketers as crucial drivers of business growth. We attend a lot of these events, so hats off to Marketo for pulling off one of the better conferences we’ve seen.

Here are 10 key takeaways from the Marketo Summit 2014:

1.  Marketo is quickly becoming a platform. Marketo is moving from marketing automation software to a comprehensive marketing platform and ecosystem. Phil Fernandez spoke about his desire to make   Marketo be “the third screen” for marketers. First screen: email. Second screen: browser. Third screen: TBD. In other, more mature (and consolidated) industries, the third screen is that person’s primary operating system. Think of a financial/accounting system for an accounting person, or an ERP for a manufacturing person, for instance. Marketo wants to be the 3rd screen for marketers. If I were them, I’d want to be that too. There are other companies out there trying to do the same thing, of course (Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce, Callidus and IBM to name a few). Let the Darwinian market forces play out, I say. But I wouldn’t bet against Marketo. They’re showing themselves to be nimble, responsive to emerging industry needs and well positioned with marketers (see below). An example of Marketo’s commitment to being a leading marketing platform is the way they are supporting and encouraging 3rd party application development through their LaunchPoint partner ecosystem.

Marketo Summit Welcome Desk

2.  But it takes more than software to succeed. As a multi-platform certified, integrated demand generation agency, we deeply understand that it takes more than software to generate real revenue impact. It was refreshing to attend a conference put on by a software provider who admitted—nay embraced—this reality. Sure, they want to sell you their software. But they really want you to succeed. And to do that, you’ll need a solid strategy; a methodology rooted in best practices and real-world experience; engaging and relevant content; internal stakeholder alignment; a commitment to organizational evolution; and a lot of hard work. Hey, if modern marketing were easy, we’d all be out of work. (And be having a lot less fun.) Bring it on.

3.  Marketo Revvie Awards recognized marketing innovation. Every year, Marketo recognizes innovative companies and marketers who are embodying the real world application of best practices to generate revenue impact, organizational alignment and ROI.

We are beyond proud to say that our client, Kaiser Permanante Colorado was named as a finalist in three categories, and WON in the highly competitive B2B, Enterprise category!

  1. Visionary Marketing Executive—Steve Krizman. Finalist!
  2. Most Dramatic Business Impact—B2C, Enterprise. Finalist!
  3. Most Dramatic Business Impact—B2B, Enterprise. Finalist and WINNER!

Complete list of Revvie Award finalists

It’s an honor to be included with so many great brands and so many amazing marketers!

4.  From lead generation to customer engagement. Marketo folks spoke about their vision to be a Customer Engagement Platform—serving “the long arc of the customer journey,” not just the lead-focused part of that journey between anonymous visitor to MQL (or SAL/SQL). This positioning seemed nascent and a bit tentative, as if they are still feeling out the positioning, but I like this direction a lot. And it aligns directly with how we at Intelligent Demand view both the strategic role and the true value of what we refer to as “Capital M Marketing.” As marketers, we can and should be drivers of the business through every stage of the customer experience journey.

5.  Content—it’s work, but it’s worth it. Content is still a very, very hot topic. There were long lines to attend the content-related sessions at Marketo Summit. And for obvious reasons. Content (and up-to-date, permission-based, clean data) is the fuel of any successful integrated demand generation program. Many marketers are still learning how to apply the fundamentals of establishing a sound content marketing strategy that is rooted in audience insights and content best practices. Fair enough – and solvable. But the real elephant in the room is how to create the right amount of high quality, engaging content needed to fuel a full-funnel, integrated demand generation and sales enablement program. For companies who are still waking up from an inwardly-focused, me-me-me-focused approach to messaging and content, I think the true answer is this: it’s going to take time and budget. But don’t give up. And what choice do you have, honestly? Most companies don’t have the luxury of talking only about themselves (and succeeding) any more. You have to find a way to add value, be relevant, and connect with your target audience in a way that pulls them into your value proposition. Great content, properly packaged and served up to the right people at the right time, does just that. Will it take budget and effort? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.

6.  Personalization—want to improve your conversion rates? We all know that personalization drives dramatic improvement in conversion rates at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Marketo’s acquisition and re-badging of Insightera (now known as Real Time Personalization, or RTP) brings dynamic personalization and account level marketing to your website. RTP allows you to personalize your content in real-time to your site visitors—including the anonymous visitors. That’s a game changer. Especially since the vast majority of every website’s traffic is unknown. . Marketo’s deal with Acxiom takes personalization a step further into B2C consumer marketing with their Audience Operating System™ (AOS).

7.  Social media—still a tough nut to crack for B2B especially. While still a confounding, confusing and complicated topic—especially for enterprise, B2B marketers—social media is a growing force that marketers have to (and want to) address. Having just come from Social Media Marketing World 2014 two weeks prior, this topic was notable at Marketo Summit primarily by its absence. Clearly, marketing automation (and therefore Marketo too) has been most adopted by B2B companies—the same companies who are having a hard time knowing how best to design, deploy, measure, scale and optimize social media programs. I expect to see movement in this critical area in the coming year, not just from Marketo, but from other marketing automation providers.

Marketo Summit 2014 Welcome Banner

8.  Video is a powerful form of content—use it more. Video is increasingly becoming a powerful and effective form of content for B2B and B2C marketers. Companies like Vidyard and Wistia are providing new and useful tools for marketers who are sick of pushing out more boring white papers. Here are a couple of sobering data points for you: Toprank says 60% of marketers rank video as their most effective type of content. Unbounce reports that using video effectively on your landing pages can increase conversion by as much as 80%. These are some of the reasons Intelligent Demand is putting video at the center of our content marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, customer nurturing and social media campaigns with our clients.

9.  SEO–are you doing the basics? Marketo is taking a simple approach to SEO that is designed to help the average, non-expert marketer address foundational SEO tactics and best practices. It feels very “Hubspot-esque” in the way it performs basic testing and monitoring of SEO basics combined with simple recommendations for how to make incremental improvements to a company’s SEO footprint. We’re fans of doing the basics the right way, every day. It’s a solid strategy for delivering improved results over time. We are testing all of Marketo’s new features at Intelligent Demand. Contact us for a demo and honest review of their utility.

10.  Marketo’s positioning. Marketo is squarely focused on serving marketers. The tagline “It’s a marketing first world” appeared everywhere at the Summit both in signage and in the words of Marketo staffers. As an agency that works with marketers to transform the way their companies generate revenue, we appreciate this sentiment. I think it’s a smart positioning strategy for Marketo to choose for a lot of reasons, but I don’t think I would say it that way. I feel like it ignores marketing’s primary revenue partner and internal customer: sales. The importance of the sales team is especially true in B2B marketing. I kept imagining what a VP of Sales would think about that tagline, and how it would land at the next executive team meeting. But that’s the difference between a company that sells software to marketers (Marketo) and a company that collaborates with marketers and sellers to transform revenue performance (Intelligent Demand).

 11. BONUS TAKEAWAY! Some favorite quotes I heard at the Marketo Summit:

  • “Social media is about creating human, one-on-one moments of connection.” – Hillary Clinton
  • “Constraints breed creativity.” — Beth Comstock, GE
  • “Marketing is a team sport.” – Phil Fernandez
  • “It’s not just about creating leads, it’s about creating personalized, long-term relationships with customers.” – Phil Fernandez
  • “Revenue transformation comes 20% from the tool/technology, 30% from the methodology/best practices and 50% from organizational alignment.” – Marketo Professional Services Director
  • “I was amazed by the number of marketers in attendance and hungry to learn more about direct, targeted, personalized marketing. This is not just a trend in marketing—it’s a game changer. The impact of direct, targeted, lead generation and lead nurturing is only going to get bigger.” – Lawrence Montgomery, Advertising and Marketing Manager, Kaiser Permanente Colorado
  • “Marketers finally have the tools and strategies to be revenue drivers and change agents, not unaccountable, tactics-focused, hunch-guided, cost peddlers. Modern marketing, when done smartly and passionately, transforms companies and industries.” – John Common (Okay. I just quoted myself.)

Have takeaways of your own? Let us know! Feel free to share your thoughts on what you think of Marketo’s outlook for the future.

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Author John Common

More posts by John Common

John is Intelligent Demand’s founder, chief strategist and CEO. His energy and enthusiasm for transforming companies with modern approaches to marketing and sales is palpable. He’ll happily geek out with you during a 2-hour conversation about your customer journey. He’ll cover any whiteboard or tablecloth in sight with revenue growth strategies, messaging concepts, and program designs. But his primary passion is connecting those ideas to highly executable programs that deliver measurable results.

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