As marketing agencies search to differentiate amongst an ever-expanding list of competitors, a trend has emerged. It’s an important one that both marketers and agencies would be wise to take note of. While Marketing Automation in the form of tools like Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, and Hubspot are not new to the market, I’ve seen a growing number of consultancies turn marketing agency, and vice versa, over the past few years.
It’s a natural transition if you think about it. After all, line of business (LOB) marketing software has exploded recently – driven not only by marketing automation but also by a massive interest in harvesting data and marketing to accounts via an account-based marketing (ABM) approach.
Marketing automation and account-based marketing are kind of at odds with themselves. As marketers, we used to be all about the contact. We were focused on showing attribution against each and every interaction. We wanted to understand individual touch points that were linked to specific deals. Marketing automation has been great for that. But anybody who’s really been in the weeds, quickly understands that its ability to link attribution to a buying group at an account level is near impossible. This is amplified in the B2B enterprise space where you often see large deals with influencers across many lines of business.
So what happened? ABM swooped in (pretending it was a new concept) and filled a gap with some fairly impressive emerging tools like Terminus, Engagio, Bombora, and others. They’ve allowed us to identify accounts (Bombora), market to account-level buying centers (Terminus) and then finally measure account-based interactions (Engagio).
So why the history lesson? Well, marketing agencies and technology consultancies have realized that the modern marketer no longer only needs a sweet message and some beautiful content. They want expertise in these complex and hard to manage toolsets. They need guidance on how to set up their infrastructure in a way that contact level and account level promotion and tracking work together. And more than anything, they require this skill set to be in lockstep with the brand, campaign design and demand generation.
Nothing speaks to this more than Sirius Decisions’ latest Demand Unit Waterfall, which for the first time this year includes a substantial shift towards recognizing ABM as part of the lead process. This isn’t to say traditional marketing automation goes away in the model. But it does illustrate a technology-enabled shift which has allowed stronger measurement across the full spectrum of accounts and contacts.
So what’s all this boil down to? A new breed of marketing agencies that have built entire practices around many of the tools mentioned in this article. These agencies have blended the creative with the marketing tool savvy. And it works.
Remember, at Agencyloft.com, you can sort on agencies that have a specialty in these tools. As part of our vetting process to allow an agency into the directory, we review technology as a key aspect. And the list of specialization is significantly growing.