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B2B marketing is saturated. You know it, I know it, and anyone keeping track of the ROI from their demand generation programs knows it. In such a competitive market, the only way to stand out from the pack is to constantly innovate the way you approach marketing. And over the last decade, the innovation that has permeated the psyche of marketers everywhere has been the switch from focusing on leads to focusing on accounts and buyers.

With big-picture marketing schemes to worry about, the last thing you want is for your technology to hold you back. In my time as VP of marketing at Marketo and CEO at Engagio, I've watched over and over as companies determined to implement account-based approaches were thwarted by the limitations of their marketing stack.

Top 3 Martech Warning Signs to Look Out For

Here are the most common issues I've seen get in the way of marketers' success; if you've run into any of them, then it's time to take a step back and rethink how you go to market:

  1. Siloed data. With B2B deals becoming ever more complex, it's important for Marketing and Sales to work together. But Marketing is often looking at lead-based data while Sales is looking at account-based data; and there's no unified view of people, accounts, and buying centers.

    Without aligned data, Marketing and Sales have a hard time communicating. Important information slips through the cracks. That's frustrating. But, more important, it prevents you from running integrated campaigns. After all, how can you work together when you're working off of disparate or conflicting data?

  2. "Lead-only" systems. Because traditional marketing systems are lead-centric, marketers are often forced to create informal workarounds if they want to see the entire account along the buying journey. Those workarounds cost time and money (I know a company that once spent $78,000 a year on a workaround whereby they converted leads to contacts); they're also incredibly difficult for other people to navigate.

    Marketing operations professionals are intimately familiar with the issues caused when an admin moves to another company and leaves behind an indecipherable campaign structure for her successor. Imagine what would happen if your marketing ops person left tomorrow... Could you take over her system? If your answer is "no," then it's time for a change.

  3. Focusing on only traditional demand gen metrics. If you build it, they will come—and if you have the data, you can make it happen. But what if your data is based on the wrong metrics? The data that most marketing platforms focus on is easily quantifiable. Things like numbers of leads, responses, and opportunities are easy to count, easy to code, and therefore easy for your marketing platform to keep track of.

    The only problem is that to run a high-quality marketing campaign, you need qualitative data too: What was the quality and value of that lead, response, or opportunity? Was it a critical sales interaction? It's hard to be sure if you only have the quantitative info.

    Without qualitative data, your marketing department is essentially working with one eye closed; to add insult to injury, marketers are also left struggling to prove their ROI and the value of their efforts to the company.

Those limitations are time-intensive and costly, not to mention deeply frustrating. But fortunately, it's not necessary to put up with all this.

A Better Way Forward

If a company invests in B2B marketing solutions built by people who truly understand their needs, then technology can be something that marketers work with rather than against.

A good marketing platform allows Marketing and Sales to always be on the same page; it is designed for an account-based view of the entire sales journey, and it measures the things that you truly care about.

That not only makes your job easier but also makes you more effective at orchestrating campaigns across channels and departments; and it allows you to market both to accounts and to individuals.

And the cherry on top: it'll also make it easier for you to prove the impact of your marketing on long revenue cycles.

The Secret to Building a Stronger Stack

By now, you're probably thinking, "OK, that sounds great, but how do I get started? What should I actually be looking for in a marketing platform?"

The key is becoming account-based, and it all starts with lead-to-account (L2A) matching technology.

L2A technology allows Sales and Marketing to look at the same data, which creates the foundation for new marketing tactics like ABM. Suddenly, marketers know which leads map to which accounts, so they know which insights to share with Sales to help an account move through the funnel.

For instance, if you find out that there's been engagement from a key executive at a target account, or if there have been new website visits from an account that Sales particularly cares about, then that's valuable information you can give to Sales. It also allows you to execute simple but effective plays like sending a direct mail package or activating LinkedIn ads.

Marketing has always been about getting the right message to the right person at the right time, and that's far easier to accomplish if you have a marketing platform that utilizes L2A technology. And if you want to take it even further, then you can look into adding firmographic, technographic, intent, and engagement data to your stack.

I also highly recommend having orchestration and engagement measurement systems in your arsenal if you're looking to really make your company stand out.

All of those technologies truly save your time by automating complicated processes, save your money by giving you helpful ROI analytics on your programs, give you better scalability for the programs you already have in place, and align you with Sales so you can be more effective. If you want to learn more about all of these, then the 2019 ABM Market Research Report is a great resource.

But I can't stress this enough: If you're looking for just one change to make to adapt to the rapidly changing B2B marketing landscape and align your entire revenue organization, then you need L2A.

If you liked what you read here and would like to go more in-depth, then you can read my blog post titled "I Predicted Marketing Automation and It Changed Everything—Here's My Next Big Prediction."

—Jon Miller, CEO, Engagio

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Three Martech Failures That Are Holding Back Your B2B Marketing

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Built by the experts who built Marketo, Engagio's B2B Marketing Engagement software helps 240+ companies combine the best of lead-based marketing and account-based marketing (ABM) and empower their marketers and sellers to work as a team.