A little over two weeks after marketers gathered at the Marketing Nation Summit in Las Vegas, a new group of savvy marketers converged in Nashville, Tennessee for three days of informative sessions, networking, and, let’s be honest, great music.

As you might expect, SiriusDecisions did not disappoint. The event was packed full with new frameworks—this year, there were 30+ new models—that covered product marketing, sales, content measurement, and just about everything else you can think of. Yet, what I found to be most interesting were the key themes discussed among the great marketers that attended.

If you weren’t able to make it out to Tennessee, it’s OK. Here’s a recap of some of the most talked about topics and key takeaways:

Marketing Automation—It’s the Heart of the Technology Ecosystem

Marketing Automation Evolution

No surprise here, there were quite a few takeaways about marketing automation as it continues to evolve over time:

  • Beyond Demand Generation: If you read Charm Bianchini’s blog about the marketing automation predictions that came out of SiriusDecisions, you’re already familiar with the way that marketers will leverage marketing automation in the future. Marketing automation will enable marketers to extend beyond classic demand models—applying it for ABM, channel marketing, and more. Some companies have already started doing this. For example, on my team at Marketo, we use the Marketo Marketing Automation Platform not only for acquisition marketing, but also for retention, cross-sell, and advocacy marketing.
  • Personalization Is Critical: Another key takeaway was about personalization, which speakers and marketers alike recognized as a key component to effective marketers ,while also recognizing that marketers still struggle keeping up with ‘Amazon-like’ expectations. The answer? Just get started. You don’t need to be Amazon in a day; in fact, web personalization is a great place to start if this is a new area for you.

Personalization Progress

  • Marketing Clouds: One point that struck a chord with me was that companies need to create their own ‘clouds,’ with marketing automation as the engagement system of record. It is interesting to think how marketing automation can evolve to be the system of record for your customer and also be used across the organization to truly understand and monitor buyer activity.
  • Data Science Impact: When the audience was polled, data science stood out as the one factor that marketers believe will affect their organization the most (48.3%), specifically in the following categories: the volume of data, having repeatable/scalable processes for data projects like reporting, identifying hand-off points with cross-departmental teams, and lastly ensuring your organization has the right people in place for these evolving roles.

Account-Based Marketing—One Size Doesn’t Fit All

There was a lot of discussion around account-based marketing (ABM) as a powerful marketing strategy that companies should evaluate. While ABM is definitely not a new approach, the key takeaway and discussion revolved around how the technology to support an ABM strategy is really progressing and how that makes target account marketing more scalable and measurable. Technology that helps marketing and sales align, simply and in an integrated way, is ideal.

Predictive Technologies—It’s the Future

Predictive was definitely popular at SiriusDecisions this year, and yet all the conversation about it highlighted to me that it still means different things to different people. Predictive analytics is being applied to lead scoring, account targeting, personas, tactics, and content matching. What predictive is and how it is being used to help marketers be more effective and efficient is very exciting and definitely an area to watch.

It’s important to understand what the different companies in the space have to offer. For marketers who are already using a complete marketing automation platform that sits at the center of their marketing technology stack, like Marketo, these capabilities—whether through an partner integration or a native feature—will change how marketers listen and respond personally, in real-time. Companies to check out include Everstring, SixSense, Lattice Engines, Infer, and Mintigo. Additionally, Marketo currently offers a web personalization app that delivers personalized content to your visitors across your website, and we introduced predictive content for email as part of our product roadmap at the Marketing Nation Summit in May.

Predictive and Propensity Modeling

MarTech Stack—Keep Calm and Be Thoughtful and Clear on Your Goals

There still seems to be plenty of opportunity within MarTech for improvement. Right now, companies are approaching it piece by piece. But, it is becoming increasingly important to have connected stacks not separated by marketing, sales, and support and ‘insert hot new tech term here’ silos. I think marketers need more advice and guidance on how to think about this growing challenge. Here is one model we’ve developed to provide a simplified and practical way to think about it:

MarTech Stack

Buyer’s Journey

The thinking about the buyer’s journey has evolved, but the big theme at this year’s conference was about understanding your buyer throughout the organization—not just in marketing.

Buyers have more information and access than ever before and marketers that can be personal, relevant, and leverage multiple channels will win. More specifically:

  • Behavior, conversion, and engagement data will be used to determine next steps.
  • The key is to understand personas and leverage technology to offer 1:1 relationships that scale and indicate the optimal pathway to pursue.

Your Marketing Org.—It’s the Glue

Lastly, the critical piece to connecting the strategy (and internal processes) with the technology and data is the most important: the people and the MINDSET of the people. Having the right organizational structure and skills, and a growth mindset are essential for marketing teams to be successful in an environment where the only given constant is change.

Did you have any other key takeaways from SiriusDecisions? If you couldn’t make it, which takeaway resonated with you and how you see the future of marketing? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.