Every marketer knows the real key to success is to always be learning. Consumer behavior changes every day, and new technologies are constantly evolving that make communicating with your customers and prospects easier, more timely, and with greater relevance than ever.
For true Modern Marketers, the mecca of digital learning is Oracle’s annual Modern Marketing Experience. Previously known as Eloqua Experience, this year’s event in Las Vegas offered marketers a chance to learn from industry leading marketing teams on everything from lead scoring to video analytics, to the power of storytelling.
Here’s some of the big take-aways we learned at MME 2015:
1. Marketing, Sales and IT are No Longer Islands
From Mark Hurd’s conference opener to Jay Baer’s closing keynote, the biggest topic of discussion at MME was smarketing. Sales and Marketing are sharing the same data, working against the same targets, and are managing different, but equally important portions of the buying cycle. As Mark put it, “Those who can innovate quickly on integrating the sales, marketing and service processes will win. Those who don’t, won’t.”
Nadine Dietz of the CMO Group presented a similar concept for Marketing and IT teams, pointing out that CMOs and CIOs are both looking for similar attributes in their marketing technology, they are just using different terms:
— Marketing Cloud (@OracleMktgCloud) April 1, 2015
Oracle has built a suite of tools that connect customer experience to real-time actionable marketing data, so it’s no surprise that an integrated strategy for marketing, sales and IT was a common thread at this event.
2. Customers Are Tired of Transactions
Your prospects are being bombarded by messages wherever they go. From ads in their Instagram feeds to shopping cart abandonment emails, your potential customers are drowning in a sea of white noise. While there’s no guaranteed winning strategy for gaining mindshare with your prospects, this year’s conference focused heavily on customer experience as a possible answer.
Kevin Akeroid touched on this before introducing James Franco, pointing out that customers are increasingly looking to brands for a long-term commitment to understanding their needs. Mark Hurd backed this up with data, saying “86% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience.”He went on to point out that the majority of users feel the brands they work treat them as transactions rather than relationships:
— Marketing Cloud (@OracleMktgCloud) March 31, 2015
During his closing keynote Jay Baer pointed out that many marketers are surrounded by data, but starved for insights, and offered that brands should focus their attention on help rather than hype. Creating customer experiences that leave consumers feeling satisfied, and tailoring the customer experience to their unique needs may not turn every customer into an advocate, but it will definitely help cut through the seemingly endless stream of untargeted advertising that floods their day-to-day.
3. If you’re Not Pressing Record, You’re Missing out
“The Play button is the most compelling call-to-action on the web,” was our CEO’s opening line as we introduced Prophix for a session on driving more business with video. With businesses spending thousands of dollars on video content, having more rich analytics on who’s watching video content has become a requirement. Prophix spent $80k to develop a comprehensive demo video series, and in addition to hosting and proper synchronization with YouTube and social channels, rich engagement tracking was a must-have for their efforts:
— Ian Hutchinson (@IHutchinson) April 1, 2015
On top of tracking engagement, a hot topic at MME, was the rise of social video, and the way this levels the playing field for brands. As Mark Hurd pointed out, “I can Tweet. I can make a video and post it on Facebook. I have access to an incredible audience and I can get to them in real-time. That has changed the leverage model.”
Whether you’re investing your marketing dollars in a long-form video series to convert more customers, or simply sharing your office hijinks on Periscope or Meerkat video should be a high priority on your content calendar. Customers are hungry for video content that helps them understand your platform and make more informed decisions – just make sure your Eloqua instance is tracking more than just views!
4. Engagement Is Not Just for Prospects
Engagement is a hot topic at any marketing conference, as every marketer struggles to get prospects excited about their content, clicking on their emails, and most importantly – self-identifying as a potential customer. But at MME15, engagement wasn’t just for prospects.
Charline Li, founder of the Altimeter Group, led a well-loved keynote that focused on being an engaged leader, and really empowering employees to be great. She postulated the three keys to being an engaged leader:
- Create a sharing culture
- Build trust
- Be courageous
She encouraged managers to measure what they can, but still promote the good that they cannot, pointing to American Express’ CMO, John Hayes’ quote “We tend to overvalue the things we can measure, and undervalue the things we cannot.”
Oracle Marketing Principal Marilyn Cox echoed this during her pre-MME training session, telling her audience that amplifying and sharing the successes of both customers and employees is a great way to build engagement and trust. The bottom line – your employees are interacting with customers every day, and doing extraordinary things to build your business. Applaud their efforts, encourage them to contribute, and you’ll find big dividends in your office happiness and engagement.
5. Customers Have Taken The Wheel
You have likely already heard the stat about how much control your prospects have over their own buying process, but did you know that 77% of consumers believe companies should let them decide how brands interact? That means the legally-required opt-out button at the bottom of your emails might be your biggest weakness.
A big topic of conversation at this year’s event was giving prospects more control over the way your company interacts with them. Several presentations presented the virtues of offering opt-downs, not just opt-outs. As we’ve talked about earlier, prospects are being bombarded by marketing messages, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to see yours. Every day may not be their speed, so giving prospects more opportunity to set their schedule of communications means someone may only get your product updates once per month, but they’re not opting out entirely. That’s a big win.
As Jay Baer pointed out, brands are no longer competing against their competitors – they’re competing against family, friends, and other more compelling opportunities for interaction. Much like you may not be a big fan of your neighbour tapping on your door every day asking to borrow something, your prospects also don’t necessarily want to hear from you every morning when they’re checking their emails.
6. If You Aren’t Telling Stories, People Aren’t Listening
While James Franco’s keynote may not have been an audience favourite, his take on collaborative storytelling certainly rang true. Franco talked about the creative process, and reinforced the need for collaboration, and teamwork to build a compelling story. Storytelling builds trust, and Franco wasn’t the only speaker sharing this message.
Forrester VP Analyst Laura Ramos advised attendees to use stories to build empathy with prospects, and to introduce problems that customers and prospects care about. Keith Jennings, head of content strategy at Jackson Healthcare echoed this point, saying “Marketing is architecting a story through each touch of a client’s experience.” He told attendees to shift their thinking away from “recipients” and look at prospects as “participants” in your marketing story.
Finally, Jay Baer gave his storytelling advice during his closing keynote, giving the audience these words of encouragement:
— Jay Baer (@jaybaer) April 2, 2015
Wrapping Up Another MME
This year’s event was bigger than ever, and while our team worked hard, we also took the time to let off some steam. Dancing the night away at TAO, Vidyard, LookBook, DemandBase, Lattice Engines, and a host of other fantastic sponsors brought together the best dressed marketers in Vegas to sip drinks and dance, dance, dance. Whether it was snapping photos with two extraordinary performers from the famous Jubilee show, or cutting a rug on TAO’s dance floor, MME attendees proved that nobody parties harder than marketers on a mission.
Our biggest take-away? What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas when you capture it all on video!