In 2015, I released the Martech Maturity Model™ to explain what I was seeing happen with companies adopting marketing automation platforms. Since then, I’ve continued to use the model as an explanatory method and have found quite a few other organizations are using it, too. This past September, I visited the Corporate Executive Board, which has used the Martech Maturity Model™ in some of their marketing councils. And I’ve heard from a few martech vendors that they are using the model to evaluate if an account is ready for their services.
Today’s update explores three key areas:
- How buyers and vendors can use the Model
- How ABM works with the Model
- How more recent survey data proves the Model reflects reality.
Buyers: How to Use the Martech Maturity Model™
The Model can help you chart your course through the adoption of marketing technology tools. Many firms attempt to go too fast, due to vendor generated excitement or internal promises. As a roadmap, the Model is designed to rein in this excitement and keep teams focused on where your firm is now versus where you want to be. The timeframes are based on experience; they should help create the proper expectations with executives, avoiding disappointment and lost jobs.
This roadmap should be used with vendors to determine where the vendor is in their use of their tools, as well as what the vendor can help you with. For example, if an attribution vendor comes along, you can see clearly that they are in Stage 5, while you may have only finished Stage 2. Building out attribution and funnel data is a good idea, but if it’s a distraction from Stage 3 and 4, it’s a good idea to ask that vendor to come back in about nine months, maybe longer.
Vendors: How to Use the Martech Maturity Model™
The Model is helpful in understanding where your firm fits into the overall martech adoption lifecycle. And once you know where your tool fits, you can approach prospects who are in that stage, or approaching that stage. I know of one vendor that uses the Model to go after Stage 3+ prospects. Their tool enables deeper persona and content matching to accelerate deals. Stage 3 focuses on nurturing, better sales context, while Stage 4 and 5 look at funnel conversion and pipeline attribution. If you are selling improved outcomes for pipeline, why would anyone buy your tool if they can’t prove pipeline conversion changed? Match your promised outcome to firms that can prove it works.
Let’s discuss the latest on the Stages.
Account Based Marketing & Sales with the Martech Maturity Model™
I bet quite a few people said, “Josh, this is great, but ABM clearly upends your fancy Model. ABM is fresh and new, and it flips the funnel.”
No, no one ever said that to me. Just in case you were thinking about it, however…
First, the only flipping is in the Target Account selection process. Yes, you should do that early on in your marketing strategy. And if anything, flipping the funnel should be about changing the stage names to the Buyer’s Point of View.
Second, ABM doesn’t inherently change the Model. After a lot of thought and a little preview in the Mintigo-Engagio webinar, the Model supports an “ABM range.”
This means that martech starts to support Account based systems around Stage 2 and beyond. When you are at Stage 0 or Stage 1, you are still getting a handle on the user of the systems, along with alignment. If you decide to add ABM (especially ABM, not ABS) before Stage 2, I would expect you to fail the entire project. When firms start in Stage 0 or 1, the CRM and sales mentality are also in a lead centric view and sales isn’t aligned closely on systems and marketing SLAs. So if you start ABM processes this early, you will likely experience a higher hurdle to success with all martech.
Now, you could argue that an Account based firm can easily pull in Engagio, Outreach, or Salesloft and see success early on without any sort of marketing automation platform. Maybe. That could be a place we go in the next three years, so I would challenge doubters to send me example case studies where the ABM range could be across all Stages in this Model. However, Marketing is still going to be unable to leverage Account based martech until at least Stage 2, regardless of what Sales is up to.
Thus, ABM is not a Stage, per se, it’s a mindset that will only show up in technology adoption around Stage 2 in the Model.
Stage 0: Marketing Transformation
The pre-requisite to success with a marketing automation platform (MAP) is to undergo a transformation, which usually involves:
- Sales-Marketing Alignment (ABM requiring much deeper alignment)
- Inbound vs. Outbound framework.
- Funnel terminology adoption.
- Content marketing as the basis for marketing communications.
Many firms are still struggling to master Content that consistently drives conversions.
Stage 1: Automation
This stage involves taking what you learned in Stage 0 and then finding the martech tools to automate it. Typically, this means a MAP selection process. It could mean marketing becoming more involved in the CRM. To some degree, this is where things like Lead Scoring, Lead Quality, and service level agreements become fleshed out, or even operationalized in preparation for Stage 2.
Stage 2: Lead Quality Management
Some firms may experience Stage 1 and 2 at roughly the same time. Be careful that you plan for the quality management before you do the vendor selection. Stage 2 is about turning the whiteboard session into a real-life system; you’ll take your business process alignment and build it out in the MAP and CRM. You will also do the following:
- Score leads by behaviors, often for the first time.
- Hold back non-MQLs from Sales.
- Route Leads to Sales based on new things like behavior, and without human intervention.
- Continually review lead quality with sales to see what is working and what is not.
You will almost certainly begin to ask questions about Sales Context and conversion rates, but do not try to solve them all at once!
Stage 3: Nurturing and Sales Context
This stage is where most firms get stuck. They may sort of have a basic lead lifecycle, but it’s about routing, not conversation rates (Stage 4). They start to build a few drip campaigns, but nothing that matches “lead nurturing.” Some firms will try to move into Stage 4 and may or may not have success there, but eventually, they all have to go back to Stage 3. A few times I’ve seen firms reach Stage 4 or even into Stage 5, but demand generation never did much in Stage 3, so there is a giant gap in program capability. Avoid this pit and think hard about nurturing. Marketing should build the capability to automate the company’s story. Your team has solid automation skills, now build out drips.
If you feel you only have above average skills, I would argue that’s about where Nurturing pros are. They understand the logic and system enough to whiteboard nurturing and plug in content. Marketing will get better at it, so don’t fret about AB testing on your first five tries.
What happens in Stage 3 is that Nurturing programs get developed and Marketing Ops should provide increasing amount of information to sales on what a lead is doing before MQL and afterwards. Team alignment discussions should focus on how to explain lead behavior to salespeople and what types of long term programs Marketing has setup. The more of that you can automate, the better.
Marketo users wonder why “sales context” is in Stage 3 when Marketo Sales Insight is part of the implementation package that normally happens in Stage 1. What I’ve found is that many firms never really adopt Sales Context tools at all. Sometimes an add-on like MSI is not setup right. Sometimes Sales just never gets training. Sometimes Sales won’t use what they didn’t buy themselves. A few reps like the LinkedIn plugin, a few just want Task notifications, and others love whatever it is they understand best.
Marketing operations should be ahead of the curve here because of tight alignment on Sales’ needs. The explosion of sales automation or sales-tech is just beginning and sales isn’t waiting around for us to offer help.
Stage 4: Funnel Visibility & Lead Lifecycle
This Stage is, for many of us, the vision that we were sold during our MAP purchase. And this is the part that everyone wants, but so few attain. It is possible to achieve, for the patient.
When you are feeling pretty good about the automation of your company’s story, then it’s time to worry about Funnels and Lead Lifecycles. Most firms will have some sort of lifecycle at this stage.
Stage 4 is hard to achieve and takes patience and due diligence, which is why many firms still feel that MAPs are a letdown. It takes about 2 years to reach this point if you want to trust the funnel data. Only at this point will your business have a good understanding of the stages and data required. Only now will you have a marketing ops pro who can handle the challenge.
(And for the 92% of respondents who thought training was a low priority, good luck with this one).
Stage 5: Attribution and Allocation
Only in Stage 5 do we consider the true nirvana: Knowing which content is working on which channel to drive accounts through the funnel. True attribution is difficult but not impossible. But there’s no point in doing this until your firm has funnel data to use. And if you have funnel data, you probably have a team that can build and understand attribution systems.
It is interesting that vendors who once pushed for revenue performance have dropped this in favor of the next shiny toy: ABM. Perhaps revenue attribution is too hard?
Not at all. It’s completely attainable for those firms that take the time to get there and keep their expectations in check.
Etumos has mastered this for clients and has created a Lead Source Setup Guide to help you master this stage.
[Update: March 5, 2017 – see David Raab’s piece summarizing martech failure survey data – master the basics to achieve ROI visibility. It’s a big desire, but have you finished the other pieces?]
Stage 6: Predictive
I’ve discussed if firms should adopt Predictive tools earlier than Stage 6. Clearly, vendors disagree with me. And Sirius Decisions asserts that firms should skip the “MAP based” scoring and go straight to Predictive. While I agree that a statistically based scoring method is desirable, what I’ve seen is that it doesn’t matter which model you use – it matters if Sales believes the model works. The only way Sales believes in the model is if they were in the room when it was made and if they are continuously consulted. One expert I know had a semi-monthly “Lead Scoring Congress” to review the data and scoring model.
Most firms ignore the model after it is setup and eventually the model is out of step with reality. Thus, Predictive can be done at Stage 1, however, it will almost certainly fail if sales-marketing alignment isn’t continuous. The Maturity of the organization in using Martech is what matters here, and I urge firms to avoid Predictive scoring tools until they have a strong maturity across the organization. I highly doubt this is attainable until Stage 6.
The Martech Maturity Model™ explains what’s happening in the marketplace and within firms. The adoption cycle of new martech follows the technology adoption lifecycle, which is also seen as Martec’s Law. No one should be surprised at this. What is surprising is how little progress has been made in nearly two years. Walker Sands’ survey was cited by Scott Brinker as progress for firms fully leveraging their stacks. Yet, in that survey, 56% of respondents saw the “landscape” change rapidly, while only 24% thought their company’s martech changed at the same rate. (Slide 10). The survey data out there appears to support the idea that martech vendors are very far in front of their clients. An adoption curve by Industry organization vs. employees would be very interesting. Already it seems that tech startups are the primary early adopters, with early adopter staff gravitating toward the same (Walker Sands).
Ascend2’s 2016 survey appears to show a huge jump in adoption: 9% of respondents with a fully used stack to 54% of respondents with a fully used stack as evidence martech is widely adopted from 2015 to 2016. While this is promising for widespread adoption of martech, it may not be as effectively used. I want you to understand that adoption within the firm, or marketplace, is not the same as a firm or team achieving the vision they were sold. Firms may have martech and may think they are “fully using it,” but nearly all appear to have not attained full lead lifecycles and revenue attribution.
To me, all of this means there is a still a long road to adoption and training for marketers and organizations. Vendors have promised much, but firms found it too difficult to realize the promise. I wouldn’t say vendors failed Marketers, but they do (and did) raise expectations to a very high level. As a salesperson or martech vendor, I would use the Model to manage objections about adoption and the onboarding process to prevent churn. As a Buyer, I would use the Model to better manage my martech stack.
Here’s an overview:
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