With such an expansive marketing technology landscape, building an efficient marketing tech stack has become one of the common struggles of modern marketers in the last few years. Just having an automated email system doesn’t cut it anymore. However, it’s easy to get drowned in all the marketing tech options out there, and ultimately lose focus.
We recently caught up with someone who is no stranger to robust digital marketing technologies: Michael Ballard, the Senior Manager of Digital Marketing at Lenovo. Michael and his team were recently awarded a Markie at Oracle Modern Marketing Experience for Best Digital Marketing Ecosystem. In our chat, we expected Michael to rattle off a long list of high tech initiatives, but instead, he explained to us how he won a Markie by keeping things simple, and making the technology work for him. Read on to see how Michael developed an “always on” marketing platform, his opinion on video as a content type, and his tips for marketers trying to justify investments in marketing technology.
An “All Day, Every Day” Battle
Marketing’s role used to be about bringing in the most leads, dumping them over to sales, and repeating the process. However, that role is changing rapidly, and so are the metrics that marketers use to judge themselves. Michael explained it this way: “I think moving away from leads towards accounts is smart. The metric we’ve been focusing on personally is the opportunity. I can bring in a bunch of leads anytime, but creating an opportunity is really powerful. And that happens by better understanding where your potential customers are in the buyer journey.”
It makes a lot of sense that Lenovo is shifting metrics because they spent the last year building an “always on” marketing platform. This is a new mentality that has been taking the marketing world by storm. The core idea of “always on” marketing is still about delivering content, but it’s about doing it in a data-driven way that leads the customer along the funnel, when it works best for them. Michael said it best when he told us that “The days of pushing content on a brand’s own timelines are gone. The market is flooded with so much content, so much that simply getting someone’s attention is now a precious thing.”
In order for Lenovo to create opportunities, they need to better understand their potential customers. They do that by publishing content at more opportune times, and following the data linked to that content closely. That way, they don’t just give an email address and a phone number to their sales team. They can give them that, but also tell them what stage of the buyer journey leads are at, tell them whether or not the lead is ready to buy, what kind of information they prefer, and what the best follow up might be. That’s the kind of information that contributes to faster deal cycles and more closed opportunities.
The Big Stack
Saying it’s easy for marketers to get lost in technology choices is the understatement of the year. That’s why Michael thinks it’s so important to keep things simple. Whether you’re building out your marketing tech stack, or even just updating it, it’s important to make sure the pillars, like your CRM, marketing automation, and database, are solid and well managed. Once you have that, you can start getting funky with other initiatives, but those are the core for any company.
The Lenovo marketing tech stack
- CRM: Salesforce is where all the leads and opportunities generated live.
- Marketing Automation: Eloqua as the base for all emails and forms, and Tableau to visualize all the data gathered.
- Content Marketing: Kapost is used for all production, all external agencies also use it, turning it into a project management tool.
- Social: Oracle SRM has been used for a few months, and is very promising because it integrates directly with Eloqua.
- Video: Vidyard is used for all video campaigns, providing an extra level of analytics. Vidyard allows Lenovo to actually score a lead based on their viewing behavior.
As you can see, marketing technology gets cumbersome fairly quickly. That’s not even the full extent of the tech stack used by Lenovo. There’s a very interesting common thread through all the software used by Michael and his team, and it’s data. Michael says it best when he told us: “I’ve banned the phrase “I think that…” within my team, now it has to be “The data tells me that…”. This illustrates perhaps the best reason why marketing technology is becoming a must: it takes away the guesswork from marketing. You no longer have to wonder what customers are looking for, you can actually see what they prefer from the data.
Leading the Charge with Video
Since experimentation is a core attribute of Lenovo’s marketing approach, they’ve tried a lot of different types of content. Video has become one of their top-performing mediums. Michael believes very deeply in the power of video: “Humans enter a meditative state when they watch a video, their brains react differently than when they are reading something.” Video works very well within an “always-on” marketing platform for that very reason, it gets the attention. Plus, video is relevant across all channels. The very nature of “always-on” marketing means that you are trying to reach your customer consistently wherever they look on the web, and video can be in all those places. Whether you use it as video ads, within emails, as tutorials or selling tools, it’s always a very efficient content form.
Of course, the theme of data-driven operations follows with video. Michael had an important warning for companies trying out video: “Video as a content medium has been super successful for us, but video views don’t pay the bills. If I can show how leads move along the buyer journey by how they’re consuming video content, that becomes very powerful. That’s how Vidyard has made our video strategy different, by providing us those extra analytics.”
With your own video content, it’s important to make sure you don’t fall in the trap of drooling over view counts. You need to be digging in deeper and looking at how long your prospects are watching your video for and what topics they’re spending time on. This is how you can build deeper profiles for each of your leads, understand more about what they’re watching (and rewatching!) and what they’re interested in.
A Few Words of Wisdom
Maybe you’re reading all this, and think “hey, that’s great, but I don’t even have a marketing platform, never mind an always on one”. We hear you, and we’ve been hearing time and time again that marketers are having trouble justifying increases in marketing technology spend. Michael had a very simple tip in this regard: “You need to justify worth. CEOs and execs don’t care about your engagement rates. You need to prove revenue. Talk to them in metrics that they understand.”
As marketers, we often get caught up in the new product and trends, and end up making processes more complicated than they need to be. If you’re trying to implement new marketing technology, learn to speak the language of sales. They don’t care about an increase in open rates, but they do about more relevant leads. And so should you.
Marketing technology is just an evolution of what we have been doing all along. It’s bringing new and exciting ways to engage leads, track and deliver content, and move leads through the funnel, but the methods and the goals are the same. Remember not to overcomplicate things. Marketing technology should simplify your tasks, not make them more tedious. If you keep that in mind, you might be on the road to a Markie for Digital Marketing Ecosystem of your own.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mballard5574
Read more about Lenovo’s story and how they’re using personalized video and their Eloqua instance to capture the attention of disengaged prospects.