Earth Networks CMO says martech delivers a lasting first impression within the prospect experience

Anuj Agrawal, CMO for Earth Networks, will be a panelist for the “From Prospect to Reference Customer: Maximize Lifetime Value with Martech” session at MarTech Boston.

Earth Networks CMO says martech delivers a lasting first impression within the prospect experience

Earth Networks CMO Anuj Agrawal has more than a decade leading marketing strategy for B2B data and organizations focused on SaaS (software as a service).

“I’ve lived and learned what it takes to drive customer acquisition, identify cross-sell opportunities and maximize retention,” says Agrawal. The CMO says his background spans all different levels of business maturity, working with everyone from venture-backed organizations to later-stage companies.

In his current role, Agrawal oversees all marketing and product functions for Earth Networks, a technology-driven solution that helps mitigate weather-related financial, operational and human risks for numerous industries, including airports, broadcast companies and energy and utility organizations.

According to Agrawal, the prospect experience is about making a great impression from the very first touch point — and for him, martech plays a crucial role in that experience. He uses an example of a brick-and-mortar retail store greeter to emphasize his case.

“It’s like walking into a department store and being greeted by someone who is waiting for their shift to end or someone who sincerely wants to help you solve your need. That is when a first impression is born,” explains Agrawal. “From a marketer’s perspective, that can be the first place someone sees your brand. The language and messaging you use in the first email the prospect receives, or the customer focus your sales team has during the first sales call.”

The way Agrawal sees it, martech fits into that journey by giving brands insight into market needs — allowing them to get into their prospect’s head and empathize with whatever their business struggle may be.

“Whether through surveys, intent information [or] other behavioral queues, you can craft your messaging dynamically for each prospect’s unique pain point.”

Agrawal will be joining the CEO and founder of IntelliPhi, Anand Thaker, to discuss how companies are using marketing technology throughout the customer-to-prospect journey at this year’s MarTech Conference in Boston.

Where does marketing technology play the most significant role when determining the lifetime value (LTV) of a prospect-turned-customer relationship?

Agrawal: You can break down LTV into two basic components: pricing and renewal rates. Customers like to do business with people they like.

The first impression I spoke about earlier sets the stage for a potentially long relationship if you can take that first impression and snowball its effect by demonstrating the value you can bring to the table. You can tailor the actions you take to get them through the funnel early in the process by capturing information on your prospect through their journey via behavioral tracking tools, their interaction with your content and one-on-one conversations.

Once they are ready to buy, having technology to help test and optimize pricing can then have significant impact over the LTV of that customer over time. Using A/B testing and price optimization tools can help optimize here.

After they become a customer, your focus on renewals will be largely dependent on your ability to successfully onboard the customer so they begin getting value out of the product as soon as possible with the least amount of friction and provide first-class support via that customer’s preferred channels of engagement.

Some will prefer self-service support, others will want to chat within the product, and others may like the old-fashioned phone number to ring. Enabling the preferred support models for each customer in a personalized way makes for a happy customer.

What about customer acquisition costs (CAC)? How do martech tools impact the cost of acquiring customers?

Agrawal: Similar to LTV, CAC can be broken down into two primary components: cost per lead and conversion rates.

If you break these components down, you look for tools that help you lower your cost per lead. The lower your cost per lead and higher your conversion rates through the funnel, the lower your overall CAC will be.

Optimizing your cost per lead is really a function of strong segmentation, so you spend your marketing dollars in targets and with people who will appreciate your value proposition. You’ll also need to understand which marketing channels to use to reach those specific segments in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

Your marketing automation will likely house most of your segmentation intelligence. You may have access to channel intelligence you’ll want to look at directly from those sources — social media, AdWords, display ad platforms, content syndication and others you may be using.

For conversion rate optimization, you’ll need to find the tools to help you understand attribution of each action and channel, and its impact on conversion. Your automation platform may have basic tools to help, but you may want to leverage more full-featured analytics platforms to get granular.

In your opinion, how important is creating a ‘personalized’ prospect experience for B2B marketing organizations?

Agrawal: In today’s world, everyone wants personalization. Even traditional segmentation based on firmographics is not effective anymore.

Your buyers are individuals and have different motivations that you can’t tell from knowing how many employees they have, or what their annual revenue is. With new intent-identifying tools, you can find out what people are actively searching for.

In Salesforce’s recent State of Marketing report, 65 percent of business buyers said they would switch brands if a vendor doesn’t personalize communications to their company. I’d actually interpret that to mean they expect personalization to them personally more than their company.

At the end of the day, purchase decisions are made by individuals.

Do you think most anchor platforms — CRMs and CDPs — offer the basic necessities to start a successful relationship with a prospect, or do you think most companies need to go beyond these platforms?

Agrawal: Many marketers rely on marketing automation and CRM tools for all their activities. While these can form the foundation of your martech, there are several point solutions that should be leveraged to plug into these platforms for specific use cases.

Oftentimes, the marketing automation interfaces are good for some features, and not for others. For features that are not user-friendly, you may need to look at other point solutions that are easier to leverage and interpret. You may be reluctant to spend money on another tool for a feature you theoretically already have, but if the feature can make meaningful impact to your marketing processes, then the investment is worth it.

After all, if you have a capability that is hard to use, you just won’t end up using it. In fact, only 3 percent of marketers cite getting full value out of their martech tools (Sands Walker State of Marketing 2017).

Where do you think most marketers are missing the boat when it comes to using martech in their prospecting efforts?

Agrawal: The biggest gap I see and have been hearing about is with how you tie all this martech together to get a full view of the prospect journey and how all the touch points can be viewed collectively to identify deeper insights.

Most tools have analytics embedded within them, so it’s easy to see on a relative basis how one tactic within the same tool performed over another tactic. But getting cross-platform insights is where many teams still struggle.

These insights would provide better intelligence to know what messaging, channels and content may resonate with various personas or target markets — leading to better relationships and a more efficient funnel conversion.

For marketers who want to fine-tune their martech stack to better align with the prospect experience, what technology do you think they should be considering?

Agrawal: With the frantic pace of change in martech, it’s important for marketers to invest time understanding the landscape of available technologies. The demands on today’s marketer are increasing, and using technology to optimize your marketing operations and execution can have a significant ROI.

An evaluation of a tool can take several months to fully understand its value and relevance to your organization. When you can, leverage peers to shorten the list of tools to evaluate. Be sure to form a strong relationship with your account managers representing your existing martech so you know what’s on their roadmap.

With more than 5,000 vendors, the martech landscape is crowded, and differentiation is highly sought after. Vendors are going to be innovating and encroaching into adjacent areas of martech. Before you decide to purchase a new tool, do your diligence to see if you may be getting a variety of that tool in the near future within an existing product.

Also, social media players are increasingly becoming competitors in the martech space. Facebook Live is becoming an integrated content creation and distribution tool. LinkedIn is growing its popularity as a publishing platform.

Remember when Facebook went public and their revenue strategy was uncertain? Their stock ascent since then is a clear indication — with their growing and engaged audiences — of their ability to create content. Facebook’s ability to target on highly specific criteria will make them a continued force in martech.

Keep your pulse on what the social media leaders are doing.


[Article on MarTech Today.]


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