The future of tech marketing and revenue performance: What’s impacting growth for 2022 and beyond
This report discusses how marketing can live up to the board’s expectations of being an engine for growth.
The future of tech marketing and revenue performance:
What’s impacting growth for
2022 and beyond
We would like to thank the following individuals who generously gave their time to help build this report:
- Gursaran Marjara, CMO, Access Group
- Cat Dutton, deputy CMO, Atos
- Julie Knight-Ludvigson, CMO, Unit4
- Kyle Flaherty, vice president, marketing, Cybereason
Each individual was interviewed for the B2B Marketing Podcast, so if you’d like to listen to their full interview, look out for them in the coming weeks on our podcast page here!
<small><small><small>Section 1 </small></small></small>
by David Rowlands, senior editor, B2B Marketing
It’s no secret that customer behaviour has been changing significantly for years. Now, markets are characterised by customers silently researching brands for weeks before they so much as engage with a single social post. How dare they!
The key word here is engagement. Marketers have focused on seizing the opportunities presented by more dynamic and diverse media channels. And, as the role of marketing and its strategies change, so too must the tactics that marketers use to demonstrate their impact on revenue at a boardroom level.
With that in mind, we wanted to take stock of what the board will care about when it comes to evaluating marketing and revenue performance and, more importantly, how marketers can adapt their reporting strategies and refocus on areas of growth that more accurately reflect the board’s investment.
In order to build this report, I spoke with four senior tech marketers to learn more about the following:
So, read on to learn more…
The board must buy in to long-term value drivers
Commentary by Twogether:
the board must buy in to long-term value drivers
strategy and planning director,
Marketing is no longer viewed as simply a cost centre. Now it is recognised as a vital engine for generating revenue, which is reflected in its growing budgetary allocation. CMOs are putting their stamp on the growth agenda – small wonder they are met with greater scrutiny at board level.
For the CMO, demonstrating performance is an urgent priority. But how to make the best case? The board will not be interested in nitty-gritty details or – worse – complicated excuses. What’s required is a long-term focus that correlates investment against outcomes.
Of course, it’s not so simple. There are many variables to consider and disruptive factors that exist far beyond the CMO’s control. However, as an industry, we’re getting closer to defining important benchmarks, which convey the value that marketing returns over a longer timeframe.
We must promote a shift in the boardroom mindset – away from marketing investment delivering immediate revenue, and towards a balanced development of long-term demand and the sustained growth it brings.
Our view is that marketing should drive results in three key areas. These are:
- efficient demand generation,
- customer experience (CX),
- and brand strength.
These characteristics of an outstanding marketing department (or agency) will soon become essential capabilities – so, what do they look like on closer inspection?
Firstly, efficient demand generation must be viewed both in terms of net new business and long-term growth potential. Marketing must flex to support more complex buyer journeys as new business models are created.
Keeping customers actively engaged is vital. Tech brands need close connections and a deep understanding of their customer’s needs to establish new products and routes to market.
Marketing departments must therefore increase their collaboration: working more closely with sales and other customer-facing teams, and serving as the voice of the customer, while sharing responsibility for pipeline generation and lifetime value.
Secondly, this is inextricably linked to managing customer experience. Marketing must take the lead in cultivating one-to-one relationships – relying on insight from data that’s collected throughout the entire customer lifecycle. The goal is to achieve a unified view that shows what each customer really cares about.
Finally, this requires consideration and investment into what your brand represents – its purpose or ideology. It’s often these values that become key competitive differentiators when there is parity on technology and price.
A brand that embodies authenticity and encourages trust is crucial for forming efficient demand, and long-lasting customer relationships.
Each of these pillars can be measured and explored in greater depth, using a raft of traditional KPIs and reporting techniques. However, our belief is that a more holistic view based on these three pillars should accompany any presentation to the board of marketing’s contribution.
This report shares details of the experiences that successful marketers have had when communicating performance and gives insight into the problem-areas many will face.
Most importantly, it demonstrates how prioritising collaboration and departmental integration can deliver significant benefits and revenue growth in the long-term.
<small><small><small>Section 3 </small></small></small>
Marketing’s contribution to revenue
What works, what doesn't, and what's changing
Marketing’s contribution to revenue:
What works, what doesn't, and what's changing
3.1. What the board really cares about
It’s no secret that the board’s primary interest is revenue, as this is fundamental to the health and stability of any organisation. That’s not changing any time soon. What is changing, however, is how marketers frame their activities to demonstrate their impact on revenue to the board.
At Access Group, the marketing team is not only judged on marketing sourced pipeline, but also the total pipeline that the company needs.
This is because, regardless of attribution, the board is interested in current indicators of growth and data-driven projections for the future.
Using total pipeline as a benchmark for the overall performance of marketing has enforced the need for the marketing department to work closely with the sales teams, and other functions within the business.
Access Group has taken a pragmatic approach that focuses more on top-level targets than departmental attributions, and this strategy is increasingly common throughout the industry.
3.2. The limitations of reporting KPIs
Of course, looking only at total pipeline with shared attributions will paint a picture in broad strokes. Drill-down metrics and indicators still have a role to play for informing more complex budgetary decisions, or identifying inefficiencies and underperforming departments.
“There are a zillion different metrics that we can look at, and we’ve got a great marketing technology stack, so it’s a closed loop system,” Gursaran says, “[but] the crucial thing is pound notes. It’s not the number of leads, or awareness, or the number of people attending events.”
Furthermore, even though there are a wide range of KPIs that can be put forward to the board as evidence of the effect that marketing is having – there are still vital elements of marketing’s contribution across the customer journey which are not being adequately being measured.
At Cybereason, Kyle Flaherty explains that their marketing department has monthly meetings with the board, as well as quarterly – a practice that he implores other marketers to embrace, as it provides the board with a more comprehensive view of how their investment is generating value. This can also help to drive the integration of marketing throughout the company.
“For our board, they love to look at things like ‘what’s the contribution to revenue?’. It starts there, and it should, but then they layer on some more leading and trailing indicators, such as ‘what’s the contribution of qualified pipeline?’, ‘where is marketing influencing – as well sourcing – that qualified pipeline?’ And this comes in a variety of different flavours.”
The fact remains: in the boardroom, focus will always return to the bottom line. For marketing departments, the priority must be presenting new lenses through which their contribution can be viewed.
3.3. Reframing the focus at board level
It’s clear that marketing needs to find new lenses for presenting its impact on growth, and relaying this information quickly and clearly. According to the marketers we spoke to, they are placing greater emphasis on the following areas:
Brand: increasingly, boards are interested in how brands are driving preference among target audiences. In the next five years, B2B marketers will be investing more heavily in their brand, partially adopting a long-term view of increasing revenue in a manner that cannot necessarily be measured in terms of short-term pipeline.
Pipeline: the board will never lose its focus on pipeline. As discussed, this will often be viewed as an overarching indicator, regardless of specific contributions from individual departments. The challenge is broadening the scope of pipeline to include individual touchpoints with the brand that drive revenue opportunities and lifetime value.
Customer experience: it’s all very well measuring outcomes such as revenue and pipeline, but ultimately the customer’s experience of the brand will impact customer lifetime value. For the customer, their experience of a business will be one whole picture. Marketing must seek to meet customer expectations by presenting the business as a unified front.
Considering brand development, and how to measure success in this area, Gursaran claims: “We’ve started [investing heavily in the brand] now, and the reason is to drive pipeline creation. It’s not brand for brand’s sake; it’s brand for demand. So, share of search and share of voice will be key KPIs.”
Meanwhile, for Kyle, measuring CX will be key: “I think that, as we move along and become more mature in our marketing, it will go back to the customer value. It will go back to things like, not just looking at churn rate, but also usage.”
And the important question:
"How much are customers – while they’re in your product – interacting with your brand?"
The difficulty with viewing each of these topics in isolation is that they are interdependent – all exerting an influence on each other, and ultimately pointing in the direction of overarching growth. Clarifying each of these three areas will be of increasing importance for board presentations, but exactly which KPIs can communicate value most effectively are yet to be set in stone.
It’s always fascinating to hear CMOs relate their experiences. At Twogether, we also navigate the intrinsic connections between the strategic levers of brand, demand and CX for our clients.
The leading tech companies we work with are aware that most of their audience are not currently “looking to buy”. And so we’re seeing – with increasing regularity – businesses investing in long-term brand growth to create demand for the future, while also providing clear reasons to buy now.
Brand is essential for creating affinity and preference, and especially important when crowded markets result in parity of product features and pricing. Aligning brand values creates strong emotional connections with B2B buyers, which feeds directly into customer experience. Both of which drive demand and make positive contributions to revenue.
Claire Davidson, strategy and planning director, Twogether
How mature is your use of marketing attribution?
- We’ve nailed it – multi-stage attribution and predictive modelling
- We are getting there with multi-stage attribution
- We use first / last touch at the moment
- Just starting out
Strengthening internal and external relationships
Strengthening internal and external relationships
4.1. Increasing the emphasis on brand marketing
Brand investment will receive an exponentially greater degree of focus in the years ahead. Businesses must develop a clear and consistent brand that establishes who they are, what they do, and what they stand for. Strengthening the relationships between customers and brand requires businesses to look inwards, as well as outwards.
Creating strong brand identity is something that B2C has been getting right for decades, but it is only recently that B2B marketing has been following in its footsteps. Kyle suggests that the big shift in thinking that’s required from the board is towards creating a personality for your business. In other words, making it relatable, likeable, reliable, and, ultimately, human.
The other aspect of strategic brand development requires making sure that key personas are exposed to targeted messages over a much longer period than traditionally expected from demand generation activity – for example, planning for 18 months down the line.
It will also require more than checking the pulse through a few surveys. What’s needed is a calculated, long-term approach towards building future demand and consideration, with the right trackers in place to regularly monitor the effectiveness and contribution that brand is making towards pipeline and revenue.
4.2. Embedding marketing into every function
Making sure that the company’s brand is consistent, reliable and authentic requires transparency and integration throughout the business.
For a long time, we’ve been speaking about the need for marketing and sales to unite. And, after years of beating the drum, it appears that this mutual relationship between sales and marketing is starting to flourish. In fact, many sales teams now know that the best way for them to engage their own targets is through close collaboration with the marketing department.
As Cat Dutton, deputy CMO at Atos, says: “You should be absolutely fully aligned [with your sales team], and that goes alongside business metrics, but also objectives and bonuses… It’s worthwhile investing time in those relationships because it shouldn’t be one department over another. It should be full collaboration between the two.”
However, marketing must integrate much further beyond sales. Brand is experienced whenever a customer engages with your business. Julie Knight-Ludvigson, CMO at Unit4, makes the point:
Leading brands are now aligning and integrating marketing, sales, business development, customer success, product and support teams. Teams critically involved in revenue generation are no longer exclusively those which bring in new customers. Instead, reduction of churn, good CX and brand loyalty are contributing to revenue success.
4.3. Unifying CX throughout the journey
For Gursaran Marjara, “Developing a holistic view of the complete customer lifecycle is the ultimate goal for marketing, to be participating in that entire journey, and impacting it.”
Net new business should not be the board’s primary focus when there is so much to be gained from increasing existing customer lifecycles. This is especially true for businesses providing anything as-a-service. The key to unlocking additional value is providing an outstanding CX.
“People realise you’re only as good as your last interaction – and contracts can be cancelled at almost any time,” says Julie Knight-Ludvigson.
As the integration of marketing is driven throughout a business, it will establish a clearer view of individual customer relationships, allowing for greater personalisation, more relevant communications and revenue growth.
It’s within the context of these authentic, unguarded relationships with your brand that new opportunities for customer satisfaction and revenue growth can be discovered. However, breaking down the functional silos is a huge challenge.
Cat Dutton says that she would love for Atos to have total visibility of the customer journey from end to end. They’re not there yet, Cat admits, but this is the goal. Kyle Flaherty shares this ambition – he wants to see the entire customer journey for each individual customer, starting from the very first moment, through to five years later. This would entail automating, integrating and mining for insight. It’s no easy task, but it’s clear that both believe a long-term investment in CX will return dividends in the boardroom.
4.4. Establishing a chief revenue officer
It’s becoming increasingly common for businesses to appoint a chief revenue officer (CRO) whose role will include developing an oversight of these discrete functions. This will require more accurately tracking CX as it moves across different touchpoints, so the CRO can relate this to generated revenue.
For Cat Dutton, the CRO is a useful ally for marketers seeking to prove marketing’s success to the board.
“[In marketing], we’re focusing more on the content and the brand, and how we’re positioning ourselves in that space, but linking that back through to the business and those financial targets… that’s where the CRO would come into play.”
A CRO with an overarching mandate could ensure there is balance across these touchpoints,
and seek to justify this with reference to the revenue outcome.
However, there is a point of contention whether marketing should report into the CRO. For Kyle Flaherty, he prefers that the CMO and CRO remain separate roles, saying that this creates a healthy friction that creates a more efficient go-to-market overall.
What is your biggest integration challenge today?
- Disparate marketing teams
- Aligning sales and marketing
- Getting a single view of data across the company
- Delivering an integrated customer experience
The insights we’ve seen here certainly align with the work of our forward-thinking clients. With constant change, integration is a constantly moving target. Integrating teams with different skills and mindsets is tough. The integration of all your data across all your systems is arguably tougher.
The investment in time and money for both is significant. And, the returns take longer to recognise so patience is crucial – but the evidence clearly shows that these strategies offer the best chance for stable growth and share value.
To generate demand and revenue more efficiently, everyone should align with brand values to enhance CX. Relentless perseverance on ungated and relevant content will build brand saliency. And the partnership between CMO and CRO should lead teams with one integrated objective.
Alex Norbury, managing director, Twogether
Strategies for accelerating change
Strategies for accelerating change
5.1. The rise of the brand publisher
We know how important data is for enabling personalised sales and marketing activity at the top of the funnel; also facilitating the tailored customer experiences that are so crucial for locking in long-term revenue. However, as marketing departments are keenly aware, third-party cookies will be abolished in the near future. As a result, brands are looking to collect more first-party data.
In order to achieve this, brands must become trusted advisers. This involves classic thought leadership, but also indirect forms of demand generation. Kyle Flaherty gives the example of a successful podcast on cybersecurity that’s produced by his organisation. Even though it doesn’t directly promote Cybereason, this is still generating a database of interested and engaged marketing leads.
He says: “This sounds so simplistic, but what I’m worried about is growing our database. You can call it first-party data, you can call it whatever you want, but we need a direct connection with these customers.”
Meanwhile, at Atos, Cat Dutton is focused on developing advisory boards, client councils and global digital events, that could be continued throughout and after the pandemic – all with a view to ensuring continuity of access to data in the future.
“Our digital marketing centre of excellence has done a full audit across online channels, so we’re now building out the strategy and plan for what we need going forward”, says Cat. “Sometimes we get so stuck in that day-to-day activity and tactical things that we forget about that long-term picture and those external influences that impact what we’re trying to achieve.”
It is precisely this kind of dual focus that is so important to maintain and communicate to the board.
5.2. The industrialisation of ABM
With greater access to data comes greater opportunity to personalise your strategy and treat B2B marketing as more of a relationship between equals. Julie Knight-Ludvigson says that ABM defines Unit4’s go-to-market strategy, and it reaches far beyond tailored marketing content. It impacts the sales team’s entire approach to selling, and can apply to the creation of joint access portals that are shared with clients and allow for confidential data and information to be made visible.
However, it’s important to keep in front of mind that effective ABM must be of interest or valuable to the recipient, while also not crossing into territory that reveals you know too much about them. This relates back to the importance of considering your actions from a CX point of view.
Often, communications based on data that the recipient did not consciously consent to sharing will result in dissatisfaction, especially if that person does not have a pre-existing relationship with your brand. The most effective ABM communications will always be centred on providing customer benefit, such as valuable information, relevant advice, or a tailored promotion.
Building your first-party data strategy is more than a response to data privacy. It’s accelerating your brand’s ability to voice its value. People buy from brands they trust, which help meet their objectives. But to enhance your brand impact, you must start an ongoing dialogue with those who matter most. That’s why the best ABM aligns with your audience using insight, personalisation and relevancy to ensure long-lasting partnerships.
With the influx of ABM technology platforms, one of the biggest blockers to adoption has been eliminated: scalability. Now, you can give every customer a unique experience. Deliver a bespoke story, but engage on their terms. That’s how loyalty is built and revenue is secured. It’s more than being first to the party, it’s hosting the party.
Minaz Tejani, client services director, Twogether
5.3. The expansion of data analysis and marketing operations
Evidently, more intelligent use and collection of data will be central to any modern strategy for accelerating change.
“Digital is a key part of acquisition, as well as cross sell and upsell,” says Gursaran. “We’re getting more sophisticated around that and understanding the propensity to buy. Rev ops are using data lakes to create the right segmentations and targeting models… Data science coming to B2B is a big focus.”
The evaluation, deployment and refinement of martech is becoming an obsession of many leading B2B marketing functions. Today’s tech stack encompasses automated web channels, marketing automation, CRM, social selling tools, social media management and more – all with an increased focus on measurable attribution, efficiency streamlining and integration.
With the support of martech solutions, the marketing department should be able to understand CX so intimately that marketers know how or when to act, for each customer or prospect, depending on what part of the customer journey they are in.
Would martech solutions help to join up marketing and CX processes?
- For sure.
- They might help.
- I'm not convinced.
It all comes down to unlocking data’s potential. And although creating an interoperable ecosystem of martech tools may seem daunting – certainly, large organisations with multiple dependencies will find it difficult to adapt their stack overnight – capturing data and making it available is not as difficult as some may think. Working with the right data team, whether in-house or external, will help to expedite insight delivery in the short to medium term. Meanwhile, you can work on widening the scope and refining your stack.
In our experience, the most critical element is getting teams working together. Owners of marketing automation and CRM should be almost a joined unit, capitalising on each solution’s technical capabilities and integrating them to deliver the best outcomes for the entire organisation.
John Breedon, martech director, Twogether
Although fundamentally the board will always be concerned with revenue growth, there is a growing trend of investing in long-term value-drivers, the direct outcomes of which are not so readily apparent.
Above all, investment in brand is climbing the list of boardroom priorities. The power of brand may be reflected in: environmental, social and governance commitments; supportive ABM activities; spin-off content hubs and publications; or even in the day-to-day activities of the back office. And it presents the marketing department with a valuable opportunity to increase its influence throughout every business function, as a means of developing and maintaining brand consistency.
This consistent identity will permeate the business and directly affect customer experience. However, CX is vitally important in its own right, and should be a guiding force for every decision that a business makes. A prerequisite for providing an outstanding customer experience will be collaboration and integration across departments, because this is what the customer expects. They expect to interact with a unified brand identity that demonstrates awareness across every touchpoint.
Finally, whether the responsibility lies with a CRO, or is shared between heads of department, there is a requirement for more accurate tracking and measurement of where value is being created within the customer journey, and how that relates to investment. This task will rely on implementing a smarter technology stack that is fully integrated across all departments, which should provide a more effective measure of anticipated revenue than traditional pipeline metrics.
The most important task for marketing to achieve when it comes to board presentations is advocating for – and reporting on – the long-term benefits of investment in brand, efficient pipeline generation and CX. However, these three key areas are not important to the board in and of themselves. Rather, they are important because they relate to one thing: growth. Marketers must, therefore, find ways to deliver results in these areas, and demonstrate how their efforts lead to revenue generation.
No longer will marketers be judged only on their ability to deliver MQLs or other basic metrics. Instead, they’ll be expected to drive growth across – and alongside – the whole organisation.
B2B Marketing and Propolis
Powered by the community, for the community.
Established in 2004, B2B Marketing is now the number one go-to resource for B2B marketers across the globe.
Right from the start, we had a clear mission that remains as strong and clear today: to provide marketers at business brands with the tools, insight and inspiration they need to grow and succeed – as both individuals and businesses.
To do this, we need to continually evolve to make sure we are delivering what you need. This is why Propolis was born – our community for B2B marketers.
We’re proud to serve as the focal point for the B2B marketing sector, and to be a force for greater connectivity, enabling marketers and leaders to share experiences and learn from one another.
+44 (0)20 7014 4920
Twogether has one focus: B2B Tech. It’s why leading technology brands trust Twogether to quickly grasp their most complex solutions and services, and bring them to life more imaginatively than anyone else.
As a fully integrated agency, with a global reach, Twogether provides the right expertise, exactly where it’s needed. There’s no silos, only joined up thinking and the experience of delivering award-winning results, time and time again.
Twogether’s relentless pursuit of creating high performance marketing campaigns will maximise brand engagement, demand efficiency and revenue impact.
For further information, please contact:
Tel: +44 (0) 1628 894620 or