Focal Points: Marketing Execs Share Their Top Priorities for 2017
Tech, data, and flexibility remain front and center when it comes to growing and monetizing audiences.
SVP of Data, Randall-Reilly
Folio: What’s your main area of focus for the new year?
Prescott Shibles: For Randall-Reilly’s data division, 2017 is the year that our data products become account-based marketing and sales platforms. We want to affect marketing and sales outcomes at every stage of the conversion lifecycle. Clients will be able to analyze their market to see which tactics will improve their sales and market share; target the accounts they want to focus resources on; engage, identify, and nurture those accounts that come to their website from individual campaigns (even ones we don’t run); and attribute conversion (purchasing and leasing) activity back to those marketing campaigns.
It’s what companies like Demandbase and Terminus want to be but can’t. They can try and substitute artificial intelligence and predictive social-media-based modeling for real B2B data, but often times it’s just another way of guessing which companies to target.
Folio: What will you be doing tactically to meet your objectives in that area?
Shibles: Because no one wants to play with a slow database, we invested heavily in technology and hiring a product development team in 2016 to massively overhaul our products. We split our technology team into two groups: product and engineering. The product team is now six strong and growing, with talent culled from marketing, data, and digital startup backgrounds. Our engineering team is a blend of on-premise and off-shore talent. We’re committed to a blended model because you can’t be a technology company without technology people, but it’s incredibly hard to meet all of your technology needs locally.
We’re also supporting our clients’ adoption of data. We have put a new emphasis on client success this year, and the team of 10 has our retention rate near 90 percent. In addition, we are building out a professional services group—a data agency if you will. We help clients match their data to ours to score accounts, identify lookalikes, identify swayables (accounts that aren’t brand loyal), and even manage marketing databases for clients. We’ve merged our audience team into this group so that we can also offer contact validation, tele-verification, contact appends, and market research.
Folio: Which channel is your most important, both as a source of revenue and for its value in supporting your marketing efforts?
Shibles: I tend to think of having the right channel mix as being the most important thing, but if I had to pick one, audience extension plays a major role in account based marketing. You need scale if you are going to provide such specific targeting. According to the IAB, the top 10 internet players get 74 percent of the revenue. If you aren’t chasing those dollars, then what’s the point?
However, in my 15 years in B2B, I’ve seen companies be burned by going all-in on one channel or another. I think there’s universal support for events, and digital is everyone’s darling these days, but I do want to say that I think there’s a case to be made for print that we as an industry are doing a terrible job of making. Randall-Reilly produces an annual connectivity study that measures channel preference, and print is still the leader.
Folio: How much does technology play a role in your marketing? Will you be further investing in technology to support your marketing in 2017?
Shibles: We’ve made the move from SQL to Amazon’s Redshift to provide us with a highly scalable cloud-based database. This enables us to leverage Looker to provide us with best-in-class analytics. Since September, we’ve used these investments to launch two new analytics packages on EDAdata.com: one that helps analyze year-over-year used and new equipment sales performance, and another that looks at hotspots of activities.
Data analysis provides you with better intelligence and enables organizations to set better goals, but any platform that wants to affect outcomes needs to be able to activate audiences via targeting and then measure how well that targeting worked.
Finally, we’ve developed technology to identify which companies are coming to your site. This is great for marketing attribution, but the client feedback is that it could be a game-changer on the lead generation side of things.
Folio: Are you engaged with marketing automation or account-based marketing? How will data continue to evolve your marketing operations in 2017?
Shibles: The best marketing automation campaigns are both relevant and timely, and B2B data is ideally suited to deliver on those use cases. Whether you have your own marketing automation system or you want to test the waters of automation or account-based marketing before making the big investment, we can help you find the right blend of technology and resource investment.
In addition to everything mentioned above, we’re in early stages of planning an audience sculpting initiative. We’ll use our account-based marketing capabilities to target content to our most lucrative audiences.