1 Big Takeaway and 5 Quick Observations From Marketing Nation Summit

Ccontent is the atomic particle of digital marketing. Or the atomic unit. Or the currency? Whatever you want to call it, there’s been a lot of chatter about how content—not data—is becoming the key barrier to marketing success in the age of fragmented channels, personalization, and digitally enabled customers.

That theory became a reality at Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit, the annual conference/party that celebrates all things marketing. Contently attended the conference this year for the first time as a Gold Sponsor, and besides talking with some companies trying to overcome content chaos, we learned a lot about where marketing is right now and where it’s headed.

Content at the center

A majority of the tools at the conference promised promised automation, artificial intelligence, lead scoring, or some mixture of the three. While there weren’t many content tools on display, it was clear that every company is beginning to see content as a major bottleneck.

Marketo, for example, debuted Sales Engage, a new tool built from the acquisition of ToutApp. It helps sales, sales development, and marketing coordinate their efforts deeper down the funnel. One of the major selling points is the ability to create “playbooks”—content campaigns that can be automatically customized and sent to prospects based on different attributes such as industry, sales-readiness, and so on. Teams can then measure the playbooks based on their effectiveness.

What Marketo didn’t mention is the content feeding these campaigns have to come from somewhere. Not only that, there needs to be enough of it to match every kind of campaign a salesperson could theoretically send. Of course, these assets also need to be valuable and meet brand standards. That all requires a lot of content.

I’d argue that creating, managing, and activating that content to different channels is more challenging than getting salespeople to engage and target the right prospects in the first place. Enterprise companies like BBH, which presented with John Fernandez, our VP of revenue, during the event, are beginning to develop tech stacks that simplify the challenge. The BBH stack has five tools in total, and only three are used regularly: Contently, Marketo, and Salesforce.


Each tool aligns with a different aspect of BBH’s customer engagement: content (Contently), delivery (Marketo), and conversion (Salesforce). As companies continue to struggle, similar martech stacks will become standard.

A few other takeaways

1. Marketers still haven’t mastered data. When I attended the session “Realizing the Promise of Data-Driven Marketing,” hosted by SiriusDecisions’ John Donlon, he defined the three attributes of being truly data-driven (accessible data, data as culture, data you can trust). Then asked if anyone felt like they met all three. No one raised a hand.

2. All of martech is converging. It’s increasingly difficult to separate martech solutions into categories. In the race for market share, it seems like everyone wants to be everything to anyone. That can’t last.

3. Artificial intelligence has lost all meaning. If you hear a company bring up AI or machine learning while making a pitch, take it with a grain of salt. In an attempt to keep up, brands slap buzzy labels onto traditional automation features. Don’t buy it.

4. Marketers love free stuff. We brought a lot of pens, water bottles, socks, and notebooks to Marketing Nation Summit. They were all gone by the end.

5. Conferences should have massage chairs.

Image by Marketo

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