What were the biggest challenges for B2B marketers in 2016?
The biggest challenge for B2B marketers in 2016 was the marketing technology stack, including selecting, implementing and optimizing it. The list of available marketing technology solutions has grown from approximately 150 in 2011 to more than 3,500 in 2016.
Issues include who will run the marketing technology stack, and how to pay for it. You can reallocate from existing budget or find additional funding. Other challenges include integrating (and reducing to a manageable few) the various marketing technology solutions, and tracking activity, results and ROI across devices and/or online and offline.
Additionally, if you have poor lists, lackluster positioning, ho-hum messaging and weak offers/calls-to-action, you will get similar output (i.e., put garbage into marketing automation, and you’ll get garbage results).
What do you see as the biggest trends in marketing automation in 2017?
Trends we'll see include applications moving to becoming platforms and integrating [capabilities], rather than staying as point applications such as email marketing automation, as well as providing built-in testing (e.g. A/B, multivariate), better reporting (e.g. numbers, graphics, drill-down to lists) and multi-touch attribution.
We'll also see marketers using activity and results data, as well as artificial intelligence (AI), to score leads; integrating inbound and outbound marketing (e.g., email follow up and ad retargeting); taking advantage of personalization and context-relevant messaging and content; and using AI and “bots” to get answers or information, or to help make decisions, instead of more traditional reporting tools.
What new opportunities do you see for demand gen in 2017?
A few opportunities include better mobile usability, more and better integration between inbound and outbound marketing, and moving from optimizing the funnel to optimizing the hourglass.