VPs from 99designs, Demandbase, and Hipmunk weigh in on how they structure their marketing technology stacks.
The focus on delivering an ‘ideal’ customer experience is a company-wide initiative, but also one that falls squarely on the shoulders of the marketing team. 89% of executives expect that the customer experience will become their primary mode of competition by the end of 2016 (Source: Accenture).
Reaching customers and driving that ideal experience across devices and channels remains a daunting challenge—it’s the biggest area of concern for 34% of CMOs. As the marketing technology landscape expands at a faster and faster rate, the best practices for integrating those technologies around a skilled team have become increasingly difficult.
Fortunately, we had the opportunity to pose these questions to a group of marketing leaders from B2B and B2C companies at Opticon 2015:
- B2B: Phil Hollrah, VP of Product Marketing at Demandbase
- Demandbase is a marketing technology company that helps companies execute on account-based marketing (ABM).
- B2C: Roxy Young, VP of Marketing at Hipmunk
- Hipmunk is a metasearch site focused on making travel planning simple and delightful.
- B2C/Prosumer: Pam Webber, CMO of 99designs
- 99designs is the world’s largest marketplace for graphic design.
We learned from Phil, Roxy, and Pam that today’s successful marketing teams are flexible, driven by both creativity and data, with a strong understanding of their audience’s needs and behaviors across all digital channels.
We’ll share their best practices for building a high-performing team and seamless marketing stack that enables them to deliver the best experience at every customer touchpoint. We’ll also cover how they measure success, and who they’re still hoping to add to their teams in the future.
Choosing a Guiding KPI
Incorporating data into your team’s process is a topic that we’ve frequently discussed when it comes to testing and optimization. The same is true when it comes to organizing your marketing team; choosing one primary goal to measure helps to ensure everyone is working in the same direction.
B2B and B2C marketers may choose to measure their success differently. Hipmunk markets directly to consumers, 99designs targets a blend of professionals and consumers (sometimes called “pro-sumers”), and Demandbase supports a direct sales team, with businesses as its target audience.
For measuring marketing success, their top key performance indicators (KPIs) are:
- Hipmunk: New customer growth. Roxy described a second metric she uses to measure how effective her team’s marketing campaigns are: the ratio of reach (impressions) to customer acquisition, or the top of the marketing funnel compared to the outcome at the bottom.
- 99designs: Also measuring new customer growth, against monthly targets.
- Demandbase: Phil and his team are measured on pipeline generated for the sales team, but also measure secondary metrics like the number of products customers subscribe to.
But just how do they measure these metrics? What tools do they use, and how are they set up to leverage data to make decisions and take action?
The B2B vs. B2C Marketing Technology Stack
Here’s how each of these marketing teams has built out their marketing technology strategy. Generally, most marketing leaders will choose about 20-40 marketing technologies, and will increasingly value standardization over a diversity of tools (Source: Chief MarTech).
At Demandbase, Phil described their “Holy Trinity” technologies: a content management system (CMS), analytics, marketing automation platform, and customer relationships management software (CRM). Everything else in the stack supports those key initiatives.
In fact, website behavior is the #1 predictor of buying activity in the B2B sales process. A CMS with integrated analytics, marketing automation, and CRM all support understanding and taking action on that behavior as efficiently as possible.
At 99designs and Hipmunk, where there are some customer acquisition similarities, much of the B2C marketing stack is oriented around measuring and drawing insights from consumer behavior throughout the acquisition process. This means a deep investment in—you guessed it—infrastructure that stores data, make it quickly accessible, easily understandable (with visualization), and actionable.
For Hipmunk in particular, there is an analytics layer at the foundation of their online marketing stack (which includes testing!), that tracks all key business metrics, attribution, and channel breakouts. All of their other marketing technologies are organized around strategies of paid, owned and earned marketing channels.
How to Adapt and Integrate New Technologies
Words to the wise for marketers yet to scale up their marketing technology investment? You have to be ready to adapt to change. Here are the top tips for bringing on new tools and ensuring that your team will be successful:
- Don’t bring on a new marketing technology without consensus among the end-users
- Understand the use cases, the needs, and how it will impact the people using it
- Be willing to adapt your workflow, and don’t expect the tool to solve all of your problems
Phil shared an experience where the team onboarded a new marketing technology without consensus and buy-in amongst the team that would be using it. The onboarding with the new tool never happened, and the initiative stalled because only a couple members of the team were excited about using it.
Structuring a B2B vs. B2C Marketing Team
Speaking of team buy-in, the marketing teams behind their technology investments drew out many insightful points in the group’s discussion. Without a doubt, marketing leaders need skilled team members with an appreciation for data, storytelling, and who are interested and willing to try new things in order to drive their team’s success.
Demandbase’s marketing team is set up to support a direct salesforce, as well as a recurring subscription (SaaS) model. They’re an 18-person team, relatively large for their 130-person company. Many of their high-touch activities like events, field, and partner marketing are focused on customer renewals.
The 99designs marketing team targets customers with prosumer attributes, but leverages many B2C marketing tactics, and is structured in many ways like a B2C marketing team. Their focus lies heavily on customer acquisition, via paid channels and SEO. Their product marketing team focuses on how to drive conversion once the acquisition and brand channels have generated potential new customers.
Hipmunk’s marketing stack is structured around their paid, owned, and earned marketing tactics. Because Hipmunk is a new player in a very competitive space, their marketing strategies are heavily stacked towards social media, influencer marketing, and creating buzz around their brand.
Balancing Creativity and Data
When asked, “How do you keep the creative spirit alive while you’re bringing on new marketing technology that requires a data-driven skillset?”, Roxy made the point that data and creativity actually complement each other well:
“Marketing technology has unleashed creativity at Hipmunk, because we now have visibility into the kinds of things that are resonating, reaching, and helping grow the brand.”
The concept of data providing structure and insight into which campaigns perform well and which ones don’t was a common theme for Demandbase and 99designs as well, particularly when it comes to brand storytelling and content. It’s tough to strike the right balance between the two, but when done well, data provides the framework for sound decision-making, which, in turn, enables creativity.
Future Hires for B2B and B2C Marketing Teams
Who are the top new hires that each marketing leader has in mind?
- Demandbase (B2B): Marketing Operations. Phil mentioned that marketing operations plays a huge enablement role for Demandbase, and that having the right player on board helps to make sure that the team’s data can inform and scale programs, and create alignment around processes.
- Hipmunk (B2C): Quantitative Brand Marketer. Roxy envisions this new role to be a person who would take advantage of the massive amount of metadata the Hipmunk marketing team has access to, and skillfully translate that data into a brand story.
- 99deisgns (B2C/Prosumer): Content Marketer. For Pamela, content is top of mind. Not just someone who can write copy, but a strategist that is able to take a look at the holistic approach to articulating the 99designs story, in various formats across the channels they leverage.
Watch the full conversation with Roxy, Pam, Phil and Optimizely CMO Jessie Becker.