The Best of Forrester’s B2B Summit North America 2022
After attending the Forrester B2B Summit North America this past week, I was inspired to share some takeaways from the event. I’m not going to lie; I was looking forward to this summit! Not just to immerse myself in the current state of B2B marketing and sales, but to get back to a sense of normalcy and interact with people face to face—without a screen in between. Being around like-minded professionals was amazing and energizing, and there really is no way to replace the feeling of community.
The summit itself was very easy to navigate. With a dedicated summit app for scheduling sessions and road signs like the below to help with directions, I was able to be efficient with my time without feeling overwhelmed by the large spread of valuable experiences available.
Apart from the formal presentations, there were Sponsor Spotlight Sessions at small theatres (like the one below) where companies had ten minutes to give an overview of their product and/or service. Named with some local flair, the Lonestar and Waterloo theatres provided a small-but-impactful opportunity to learn about some pretty exciting companies. Fun fact: Waterloo was the original name of Austin, and there are now many things named Waterloo here.
Books were also offered in certain areas and handed out after specific presentations to provide in-flight reading for the flight home. There were some funny titles floating around…
And what’s a good B2B summit without a case study that incorporates a MarTech stack? This particular case study showcased how Palo Alto Networks, a global cybersecurity leader, leveraged Knak, a no-code email and landing page creation and collaboration software, to massively scale their global email efforts. Stay tuned for a unique update around MarTech stacks later in this blog…
Acronyms Stealing the Show: ABM & CDP
ABM (Account-Based Marketing) and CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) seemed to steal the show and were the focus of many panels and discussions.
ABM is essentially a focused B2B growth strategy where marketing and sales teams collaborate and concentrate resources to create personalized buying experiences—targeting a defined set of accounts to turn into customers. During this summit, Forrester predicted demand generation efforts will focus primarily on accounts, not leads, by 2025. As you can see from the slide Forrester presented below, companies desire ABM as the future state.
The sponsor that seemed to have the most focus around this summit was 6sense, an account engagement and revenue AI platform, and a leader in the ABM Wave according to Forrester. They had the bulk of the signage scattered around the summit, along with a centralized and highly visible booth presence. I attended their presentation centered around The Dark Funnel and how to “crush your revenue goals with 6sense”—capturing the below images as friendly reminders of the power of AI.
The content and conversations around CDP were also great. As we’ve talked about in a previous blog, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting… a CDP,” CDPs have game-changing potential for most organizations—helping them activate impactful omnichannel journeys by working in unison with other technology solutions to tailor digital experiences based on user behaviors. Journey is the buzzword, and companies are really focusing on orchestrating them. I attended a presentation where Forrester talked about navigating quicker routes to data unification by utilizing CDPs, and the image below is a nice summary.
ActionIQ, a B2B CDP platform and customer journey management company, had the most accessible content from the engagements I had. I was really interested to learn more about their case study on “How Autodesk Implemented CDP Technology to Master the Move to a Subscription Model” because it aligns with one of the areas we like to play in—the customer revenue side of the businesses, focusing on “Long-Tail Renewals Strategy” and execution.
Ready for that unique MarTech stack update I promised? Here it is: One of our clients, Autodesk, just won The Stackies 2022: Marketing Tech Stack Awards presented by Chief Marketing Technologist for their visual representation of their MarTech stack. Check out our LinkedIn post here congratulating them on the win!
Less Focus on the Cookieless Future
I was surprised not to see much around the “Cookieless Future.” First-party data was covered in the CDP sessions, but the words “cookieIess” were rarely used or talked about. It very well might be that most companies are still trying to wrap their heads around what it is and what the effects will be. We’ve written on this topic recently with “Meta’s Solution to a Cookieless future” and “How a Cookieless World Will Force Marketing and Sales to Finally Work Together,” but was excited to see ActionIQ present on the topic and offer a technology guide to the customer experience. Their maturity model below illustrated where companies may currently fall, and the guide helped to understand how the death of the cookie will impact customer prospecting and conversion use cases, and what to do to prepare to truly personalize and deliver impactful customer experiences.
More Focus on Customer Revenue
As I said before, we love to engage in strategy and execution on the customer revenue side, so I was surprised and delighted to see more focus around customer marketing than I was expecting. Customer marketing refers to any marketing activity focused on leveraging and elevating current customer experiences, and are specifically designed to drive retention, loyalty, advocacy, and growth. I attended an insightful presentation given by Forrester titled, “Finding Your Swim Lane: Clarifying Customer Marketing’s Contribution,” and the contribution from customer marketing can be measured across the output and impact metrics in the image below.
On the tail-end of the customer revenue side comes revenue lifecycle management. Not as flashy as their customer marketing partner, but still very important to the overall customer experience. Revenue lifecycle management can be summed up as everything happening after the contract is signed, and helps manage different revenue models—such as professional services, contract renewals, and subscription services. Conga, a company offering a revenue lifecycle management solution with an insights data model that adapts to changing business environments, delivered their “Ultimate Guide to Revenue Lifecycle Management” and was really helpful in understanding the complexities of revenue lifecycle management and how the outcomes affect marketing and sales. In particular, we’ve seen the positive effects of increased customer contract renewal rates when a more frictionless contract renewal process is put into place and optimized over the years for multiple warranty and service contract renewals programs.
Direct Mail Is Not Dead, It’s Just Been Integrated
You don’t hear much said about direct mail initiatives anymore on the B2B side. However, direct mail can be effective in brand awareness, demand generation, and account-based marketing execution. We know from experience that direct mail is still very useful for customer retention, specifically in the small business segment of one of the same warranty and contract renewals programs I mentioned earlier. When we lowered direct mail volume in the small business segment of the North America region to test the efficacy, there was a noticeable drop in the inbound phone queue volume to renewals sales. Obviously, the test didn’t last very long and we increased volume back to its original state. That being said, I stopped by the Sendoso session to get more information on their platform and what integrations were involved. As you can see below in the image below, the platform can integrate with many other systems—more than is even represented here. They also shared some content on how to use B2B direct mail marketing throughout the funnel, along with some ideas around execution.
Happy Hours & Fun
After a day of insights and learning, it’s great to put your social hat on and mingle. I forgot to capture pics from the venues I attended because I was happy to be back in conversation with both acquaintances and new folks, but wanted to say thank you to TrustRadius, WordPress, Uberflip, and Zoominfo for co-hosting on Monday at Café Blue. As for Tuesday’s activities, I wanted to say thank you to 6sense for hosting at Micheladas Café y Cantina, and Sendoso for hosting at Zanzibar.
The concert on Tuesday night featured a 6x Grammy nominated local band named “The Black Pumas”. Great music! Thanks to Forrester for hosting this concert and bringing along local food trucks that have some of the best food in town!
Would I attend Forrester B2B Summit North America again? Absolutely! I think the excitement of getting back to my first big professional event since COVID played a role, but I’m so glad I got to experience the content, presentations, and community. I’ll be at TSIA World in Orlando, Florida starting May 16th. Am I crazy for jumping back in the game with back-to-back conferences? Maybe, but you have to be a little crazy to keep from going insane!