Marketers Sound Off on Digital Enterprise Issues

BOSTON--One of the key challenges for marketers is the move from traditional to more modern means of digital campaigns and communication.

"The 'playbook' is broken and people are now allergic to marketing," said Brian Halligan, founder and CEO of inbound marketing software platform HubSpot, during a keynote presentation here today at E2 Conference. "It's nearly impossible to reach a human [through] traditional marketing. [HubSpot] wants to help pull people in through Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, and really power the marketing person to own their system end to end."

According to Halligan, one of the "last bastions" for marketers is owning the Web site, which is typically an open-source piece of software installed in servers, and still heavily an IT play, he said. Additionally, marketers have to stop sticking their toe in the water without diving in all the way when it comes to the channels they utilize. Experimentation is fine, but companies that "blog, tweet, or buy a Google Ad word" here or there without fully committing to myriad channels and measurement will not realize the full potential of that channel, he noted.

According to Sanjay Dholakia, chief marketing officer for marketing automation platform Marketo, a whole new set of skills is required to be a modern marketer in the digital age. If companies simply buy software and don't factor in the processes, skills, and changes to hierarchies the technology will bring forth, enterprises could be setting themselves up for failure.

Agreeing with Dholakia was Erika Jolly Brookes, who headed up marketing at social marketing software company Vitrue before its acquisition by Oracle last year. Primed in traditional means of marketing, she called one of the "pervasive problems" she continued to take a crack at Vitrue was the new wave of content marketing. This led Brookes to hire two content marketers with zero marketing experience and without complete college degrees. The key differentiator was her employees' grasp of writing, communication, and the fact that they were inherently "digital natives."

In addition to standing out with strong content, Halligan said marketers need to diversify their content strategies, and consider the impact of vessels like video and infographics on overall marketing strategy. He made note of one instance where a HubSpot PowerPoint presentation deck shared through the SlideShare platform saw 750,000 views. The key here was sharing relevant and useful content on a platform that streamlined the sharing and download process. As a whole, the marketing software industry will continue to grow by leaps and bounds, but could experience extreme waves of consolidation, evidenced by the market now, panelists said. Most notably, Salesforce.com picked up ExactTarget and Buddy Media to pad out its marketing offerings while Oracle was busy buying Vitrue, Collective Intellect, Eloqua, and Involver.

"Oracle has been, traditionally, very IT-focused," Brookes agreed, but "what's important [moving forward] is taking our social stack, selling it to marketers, and integrating that technology" into customer service and human capital management solutions such as Taleo, to bring marketing into its entire enterprise stack.

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