What You Missed Last Month at the Adobe Summit

Before we get too far away from Summit, I wanted to take a moment and share our experience as newly accepted Marketo Partners attending Summit for the first time under the Adobe umbrella.

We certainly got a sense of how huge of a company Adobe is — with over 17,000 attendees and truly exceptional event production — it was impressive to see the organization and brand execution come to life in Las Vegas at the Venetian Hotel.

2019 Digital Trends: Data Drives Your Customer Experience

So, what does Adobe see as the biggest trends on the horizon for 2019? To start – Digital Data Operations Management (DDOM), which is Adobe’s internal framework to organize the collection of digital data related to prospects and clients, which in turn drives how the entire business operates. The end result is delivering an exceptional digital experience for everyone in your audience driven by their interests and preferences in real-time.

Artificial Intelligence will play a huge factor in enabling companies to scale and target their customers with personalized content that fits their interests. Adobe Sensei will be rolled out into Marketo Sky, which will signal to marketing what types of content a certain audience segment may respond to better than others. This will give marketing a leg up on improving engagement across their database.

On the visual design side, Adobe also plans to roll out some pretty slick features related to image editing (as well as importing images from Adobe Stock photos) directly inside Marketo Sky. This means no more downloading, editing, and uploading into Marketo, which will definitely save Marketo users a lot of time.

Adobe’s Acquisition of Marketo: How Summit was Different

Because I’ve attended past Marketo conferences, I was eager to see how Adobe’s acquisition of Marketo would play out at this year’s event.

Historically, Marketo events focused on bringing the Marketo Nation community together in such a way that enabled the sharing of new automation ideas and best practices. The word ‘collaborative’ comes to mind when I think of Marketo Summit in the past. That was different this year. Not only was it hard to discern between who was an Adobe vs. Marketo customer, but the agenda was difficult to navigate to find sessions relevant to becoming a better Marketo practitioner. Oftentimes we found ourselves in Adobe-centric sessions that were neither high level enough to be useful for both audiences, nor relevant to the specific software/tools/use cases of Marketo customers.

The collaboration was missing this year and in my opinion, it’s probably due to the fact that acquisition of Marketo is so new. It was probably hard for Adobe to factor in the Marketing Nation community aspect at this year’s Summit. Although Marketo seemed to be swallowed up by the enormity of the Adobe event, Sarah Kennedy, CMO at Marketo, eventually put my fears to rest.

She spoke candidly on the final day of the Adobe Summit about her excitement surrounding the Adobe acquisition. Her keynote provided the reassurance the Marketo community was looking for with relation to Adobe’s impact. Sarah announced,  “Let’s face it, all marketers at one point started with Adobe.” Unifying Adobe and Marketo will give marketers more tools to provide the best digital customer experience to their clients and prospects — I only wish we’d gotten a taste of that before Day 4!

Finally, the community pavilion hosted all of the sponsors and this is where attendees could check out new vendors. The Marketo exhibitor booth was inviting and it was great to meet our new Marketo partner team. We were able to get all of our questions answered and were given clear instructions on how to grow as a business using the value of the Marketo Launchpoint Community. No complaints there.

3 Pillars of Marketing for High Performing Companies

While I was a bit underwhelmed at the quality of sessions overall, there were a few that stood out, including one on Scaling the Mountain: Marketing Operations in Large Global Enterprises. This session included a panel of marketing operations leaders from Nokia, Palo Alto Networks, and Citrix.

Even though we’re a 3-person team and most of our customer are firmly in the midmarket, it was really interesting to see how large companies structure their Marketo instances, org chart, marketing & sales processes, and best of all, their technology stacks. So, what was common among all them? They all adhered to these 3 Pillars:

In support of those pillars, each panelist asserted that data science and operations is the most valuable asset to their marketing teams. Thus, the commonality among all three of their teams included a similar marketing team structure that was broken down like this:

  1. Campaign managers
  2. Website managers & development
  3. Marketing operations strategy team
  4. Data science and analytics team

The takeaway for me was if you want to grow your company into an enterprise-level organization, you can’t rely on your campaign managers to do it all — it’s just not scalable. Additionally, if you want your sales team to trust marketing, the data must be clean and reliable, which is why enterprises are investing heavily in data management and operations resources.

These teams are expected to govern all data entering their internal systems by setting a standard for data operations and they are responsible for ensuring that marketing, sales, and customer service teams follow the process. It was stressed by each panelist that you need to ensure that when a prospect gets to sales the data is valuable and accurate for the sales hand-off to be successful.

Jake Schlan, Senior Marketing Systems Engineer at Palo Alto Networks, said it best: “To us, Process is King and Content is the Queen,” commenting on how important data process and operations was to their company.

The MarTech Stack

I paid close attention to what presenters revealed about their organizations’ marketing technology stack. The larger organizations shared common technology themes that consisted of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Enrichment, CRM, Email Automation, and Analytics. Here’s a snap-shot of one company stack:

There was some great insight into trends and best practices for B2B companies throughout Summit. The primary theme though was customer experience management and how companies need to evolve in order to provide an upgraded digital experience at every stage of the buyer’s journey. This means organizations should evaluate their technology stacks and upgrade in order to provide these types of customer-focused initiatives.

The Keynotes: Reese Witherspoon, Ann Lewnes, and Steve Lucas

There were some great speaker highlights at the Adobe Summit. We loved Steve Lucas’s energy on Day 1 of the Summit and found it super amusing when the CEO of Adobe, Shantanu Narayen
commented on limiting Steve’s caffeine intake in the future (#marketoculture / #adobeculture). Clearly, Shantanu is still getting used to the excitement that encompasses the Marketing Nation community.

On the second day of the Summit, Ann Lewnes, CMO of Adobe, interviewed Reese Witherspoon and the content was exceptional and inspiring, to say the least. Reese actually used Adobe to create her pitch deck when she was raising funding from VCs for her production company, Hello Sunshine — how cool is that? Her commitment to women and building a supportive community geared toward uplifting and unifying them was incredibly inspirational. Great speaker choice!

In a particularly touching moment, Ann Lewnes got choked up while thanking her marketing team, and for me, this was a great moment to witness. As a woman in business, I love seeing other women model a new style for leadership that’s inspired by other leaders as well as by their own team. I found it very human and relatable.

All in all, it’s really exciting to see the Adobe features that will be rolled out into Marketo Engage, as well as all the other updates that will become the primary UI by the end of 2019. The event production was phenomenal, and we’re looking forward to continuing to grow the Marketo Nation community within the Adobe umbrella.

Sponge | Your Marketing and Sales Technology Partner

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