CMOs and marketing automation vendors debated the challenges and opportunities for marketing cloud technology, and while they didn't agree on much (not even the definition of "marketing cloud"), one thing was clear -- marketing cloud technology is complex, and it still has a long way to go in the b-to-b world.
"B-to-b companies have lagged behind a bit in the use of digital marketing technology," said Neil Wilson, VP-global alliance channels, Oracle Marketing Cloud, pointing to the finding that only 16% of b-to-b marketers are currently using progressive data profiling by tracking prospects' offline and online behavior, from a new study by SteinIAS and Oracle Marketing Cloud.
"We are at an infancy," Mr. Wilson said. "The adoption rate in the b-to-b space will be massive and faster than in other industries."
Jeff Marcoux, CMO lead, worldwide enterprise marketing at Microsoft Corp., said, "I'm not surprised by that statistic. Brands are struggling with how to use all these great technologies to give them a cutting edge competitive advantage."
Another finding from the SteinIAS/Oracle study is that only 10% of b-to-b marketers map their content to the buyer timeline. Commenting on that statistic, Mason Power, CMO at insurance broker CGSC North America, said his company is in the 90% of those that are not delivering personalized content based on the buyer journey.
"Our website is not really dialed into the rest of the channels, so our customer experience is inconsistent," he said. "We are looking toward buying a best-in-breed solution to deliver a system for our website that can dial in from our system of record. I'd love to be able to render that data out to the web and personalize it based on the transactions [our customers] are doing."
Carter Kersh, senior director-Americas field and partner marketing at Juniper Networks, said his company has seen tremendous results by personalizing content on its website using marketing automation. "We built a pretty significant digital platform inside Juniper -- using a number of the companies here -- based on what people are searching on, which banner ads brought them in, predicting what they might be interested in next and emailing them," he said. "We are triple our previous averages on all metrics, with personalization of our site -- it has been phenomenal."
The panelists were asked which metrics were most important in measuring ROI on marketing automation investments.
"Revenue," said Mr. Power. "The arbiter is acquisition cost and percent of revenue sourced through marketing. The one I'm really interested in is new software to automate the prediction of conversion rate."
"It is about revenue, and that's how we tie it in and align it," added Mr. Kersh. "Money is what matters."
Adam Blitzer, senior VP-general manager at Salesforce Pardot, said sales and marketing alignment is key when measuring ROI. "The most successful companies are those where sales and marketing have the same KPIs," he said.
Christopher Parkin, head of industry strategy at Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud Solutions, said the top marketing ROI metrics are "revenue per lead and acquisition cost and, ultimately, conversion cost."