MarTech interview with Allison Dancy, Marketing Director at Kibo
AI-powered personalization systems can not only improve the overall shopping experience, but can also help brands better assess their actual shopping behaviors, Allison Dancy, Marketing Director at Kibo shares some thoughts:
Welcome to this cat from the MarTech Allison series, we would like to get to know you better! Tell us about your role as CMO at Kibo and share some of your key B2B marketing moments from your journey so far?
What inspired you to enter the marketing arena and if you weren’t in marketing what else would you have chosen to do? !
Thank you for hosting me! I am delighted to have joined the team of Kibo. Kibo provides industry-recognized SaaS products that help B2C and B2B brands deliver the most relevant and personalized online experiences to their consumers. We’re the only vendor on the market today that combines a powerful ecommerce platform with enterprise-level order management and AI-powered personalization to help brands capitalize on buying behavior and data trends and serving customers what they are most likely to want and need, while letting them search, buy, ship, pick up and return goods in the way that works best for them. It is the best of modern commerce. It’s a fun workspace and the Kibo team are top notch, powerful products that meet a real market need, an impressive list of happy customers, and an amazing group of talented colleagues.
My journey up to this point started in sales, where I learned what it takes to really connect with buyers. I learned how to create messages based on product value and weaknesses and map the buyer’s journey and align it with the right reach. My time in the field really informed me as a marketer. After selling I moved on to marketing and demand generation. From there I hired top marketing teams, which I did for over 10 years.
I have always been fascinated by regional cultures, customers, languages and food. I studied in the south of France during my university studies and taught English in Japan for two years after I had just graduated from university. There was a trajectory in my life where I could have pursued advanced studies and oriented myself towards cultural, linguistic or food anthropology.
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How do you think B2B marketing is evolving and what do you think are the main trends that will dominate the market in 2022 and beyond?
B2B marketing is on the same path as B2C marketing – one towards hyper-personalization. Buyers are increasingly researching online before speaking with a brand. The best B2B marketers use all the tools at their disposal to track, analyze and better understand each type of buyer to ensure they speak their language and guide them towards the purchase by presenting an organized content journey. or an organized product selection, in the case of B2C. Buyers expect you to understand who they are and what they need up front.
People are tired of being tracked and targeted blindly. You need to make your outreach personal and relevant and talk about the issues you’re solving for that buyer, not just the quality of your brand or products. And these interactions must be human and not robotic or windy. Personalized outreach at scale is not easy, and neither is alignment with sales, marketing, and customer experience functions, hence the proliferation of software solutions that attempt to address this problem today.
Buying is a non-linear journey. There is never a single touch that puts someone in a “funnel” and keeps them there. And there is never a simple answer around what will work. Marketing is about making assumptions, putting on plays, learning, iterating. It takes time to get it right.
Intentional buyers are all over you and your competitor’s sites searching all hours of the day and night. The best B2B marketers focus on engagement, not just individual MQLs. It’s easier said than done. Engagement is harder to link directly to marketing spend as MQL could ultimately come from any contact on the account (not the one officially in the campaign) or could come much later when a project is set etc. It is more difficult to follow and may be less valued by the organization. There is almost always pressure to generate an immediate pipeline, but marketers should try to balance that by working to create scalable and more “complex” marketing. Each piece of content and each web page visit should add to the next to educate and prompt the next action. It is not easy to do.
What do you think are the fundamental marketing processes that new inbound marketing managers should focus on when taking on a new brand and new marketing team?
Digital platforms must be connected and talk to each other. The website is the alpha and omega of marketing. It tells the story of the brand. This is where the content you create lives and is consumed by the prospects you target. Ideally, it reflects the buyer’s journey and is where you send subscribers and respondents to your programs. This is what search engines crawl to return results. This is how you track the effectiveness of content, campaigns, programs, journeys, etc. With increased privacy laws and a lower tolerance for unsolicited outreach, getting prospects to find and engage with your site is essential. Proper tracking, rating and conversion mechanisms on your website are so important.
Hierarchical messaging, ideal customer profiles, and personas all lead to content mapping, which is essential. Content is the fuel that fuels your digital reach and gives prospects something to binge on when they’re ready to search for you themselves.
Sales and marketing teams should have common goals and should align with goals, timeline, messages, key transfers, rules of engagement in accounts, etc. The misalignment here is costly and frustrating. At best, teams waste time and money on the wrong tracks or by overlapping efforts. At worst, teams don’t want to engage with each other and feel like they’re on opposing teams.
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As someone who has spent a lot of time in marketing roles, we would like to delve into a few cutting edge marketing technologies that have always helped achieve end goals?
Website technology. Marketing needs to own the site from the information architecture, navigation, layout and design, content and conversion metrics. It should ideally be built on a platform the marketing team can handle without much technical intervention. Waiting for in-house IT teams or outsourced web developers can kill campaign tempo and delay pipeline creation.
Customer relationship management systems are used both by sales for transaction tracking and transaction progress, but also by marketing. Customer and prospect contact data is used to target campaigns and communications which are then tracked, scored and fed back into the system so that SDRs and sales know which contacts engaged with which campaigns and which content.
Marketing automation platforms and the ability to automate long-tail and large-scale engagement follow-ups help lower customer acquisition costs and give you a way to increase engagement as you grow. time. Scoring and weighting algorithms help align demographic information with buy signals and information from digital behaviors.
Account and intent-driven marketing platforms help marketers personalize broadcast and landing pages, get the big picture of your site visitors, and gather information about prospects who are “in the market” for your products. It has been a game-changer for marketing.
Can you tell us about some of the main challenges you still see today’s CMOs struggling with in the B2B marketplace and what tips / best practices would you share here?
The role of CMO is difficult. The scope of responsibility is so great, and what we’re hired to do so wide, that it’s hard to cover so much ground. We must be strategists, technologists, artists, executors, communicators, leaders and politicians. We need to be good at hiring where we’re least qualified, and we need to be masters at building and telling a story that is only partially about the numbers and the math. Marketing managers overtake IT teams in technology investments and are often the holders of more data than anyone in the organization. We need to have the skills to analyze and use mountains of data. Data scientists in marketing are the news that is becoming the new normal. B2B buyers also continue to demand more from the brands they buy from – before, during and after the sales cycle. Navigating the expectations and demands of products, sales, customer service, c-suite, boards, partners, business units and customers is tricky. Marketing has a top to bottom role to play in the organization. It is difficult to define a strategy, gain buy-in, set expectations, deliver and communicate complicated results quickly and effectively.
Good marketing depends on close alignment with the product and sales. If that alignment is lacking and handoffs don’t happen – with product insights, market fit, personalities, differentiators, roadmap, account assignments, customer feedback, and more, it is very difficult for marketing to be successful.
Some final thoughts, takeaways, and marketing / martech predictions for 2022 before concluding?
Intent data will continue to inform how we go to market. To gain notoriety in our complex digital world, marketers must strive to make more human and intimate connections by being hyper-personalized and timely with their reach. Privacy challenges will continue to grow, making brand building and amazing content more important. We will need to get prospects to engage directly with our brands. Education and thought leadership are essential. Continuing to find customers and partners to tell your story is also essential.
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