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Nikki CanditoMay 15, 20244 min read

Digital Marketing Trends from the 2024 Forrester B2B Summit

I had the pleasure of attending the 2024 Forrester B2B Summit last week in Austin, Texas. The networking was superb and learning possibilities substantial. No surprise that the buzzwords were AI and data. I am going to share the things that stood out to me during my time there: 

AI is your new best friend

AI is everywhere and the question many marketers have asked over the past year is “How will this affect my job?”. When speaking with marketers at the show, most are using AI to save time so they can focus more on the strategic pieces of their job. Others talked about how AI has helped them scale certain projects. After this week, I feel confident in saying AI should be your new best friend, which is echoed in our recent 2024 marketing research. No matter what your position is in your organization, there is a benefit for you.  

Sales and Marketing Ops 

AI has been embedded into many MAPs and CRMs for years, but what is available today seems to be greatly improving efficiency, accuracy, and time to market. Members of buying groups can be automatically identified and enriched with data. These groups will automatically be associated with an account and will show teams which members are engaged or not engaged, helping with targeting. Teams can also use AI to generate emails based on the information stored in their CRM – when I shared this with one of my sellers his eyes got big and he said, “If I could automatically generate sales emails, I would save hours”.

Content Teams 

The most popular options seen and discussed at the show were how AI can support content teams. From landing page content to creative assets, content teams are now stronger than ever. The one use case that stood out to me was an organization creating their own instance of ChatGPT, loading it with their content, and using it to write custom nurture streams. Talk about a time saver! 

Leadership 

Imagine being a CMO and spending days of your time each quarter getting ready for a QBR or digging through multiple dashboards to understand which campaigns are working and why. Or perhaps you are a CRO and have 15 meetings a week with sellers to understand what is going on with your top accounts. Well, these arduous tasks are now in the past. With tools that aggregate data from multiple sources and populate dashboards that can be customized for what you are working on, CMOs and other leaders can access this data with one click.  

Most impressive AI vendor: People.ai 

Many AI vendors at the show seemed to offer different flavors of the same thing, but there was one shining star: People.ai. At first glance it seemed to be just another plug in for Salesforce, but when I got a deeper demo, I was blown away with all of its capabilities. With a quick ramp up time, they can connect to organizations databases and start machine learning. Dashboards and tabs are customized to offer insights into accounts that are typically captured in multiple dashboards. For any sales calls, the tool can transcribe the conversation, attach it to an account and provide highlights and next steps automatically for the seller. This tool shows the closest things to predictable pipeline that I have seen. By using machine learning, it will show you which deals are more likely to close than others, average time to close and the key people that need to be engaged in order for it to close. Get a demo from People.ai, you won’t regret it.  

ABM is (finally) the new black  

After nearly a decade of hearing about ABM and slower than expected adoption, it seems that most marketing strategies now are centered around a targeted account approach. Many of the presentations and attendees shared stories of letting go of casting the wide net to create a bloated top funnel, to instead focus on buying groups, account engagement and multi-channel campaigns. These companies were able to gain rich insights on accounts and individuals, as well as higher engagement rates and more pipeline successes.  

While ICP was loosely discussed, it doesn’t seem that most organizations have fully incorporated this to perfect their targeting. I think this will become a growing trend of ICP adoption. 

What I wanted more of  

The show provided tracks based on various areas and topics of interest, but I believe it would be even more beneficial to also offer tracks based on an organization's maturity level. As a VP with 22 years of experience, I'd love to see sessions tailored to marketers in different career stages, providing more focused insights for professionals like my team and me. Additionally, the round tables offered a unique opportunity to learn from an analyst's expertise, but a more collaborative format would be invaluable. The marketers and sellers attending these shows have so much real-life experience to share, so an opportunity to simply sit and share with likeminded individuals during show hours would enrich the overall show experience. 

Looking forward 

Looking back at the event as a whole, I feel like there was a great focus on not necessarily doing more—but making a bigger impact with a fine-tuned strategy. The heavy focus on AI centered around freeing up marketers’ time so they could be more strategic, not just crank out more content. Leaning into ABM allows marketers to better target the potential customers who are most likely to convert and saves possibly wasted marketing efforts. If you aren’t already experimenting with AI and building ABM into your strategy, this is the year to test these new tactics. According to our latest research report, marketers who are testing and implementing new tactics are more likely to see significant increases in revenue than those who aren’t. 

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Nikki Candito

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