Adam Blitzer is Executive Vice President and General Manager of Digital at Salesforce, the world’s #1 CRM platform.
Prior to joining Salesforce, Adam co-founded Pardot, a marketing automation solution that assembles B2B buyer journey data points into actionable insights, enabling marketing and sales teams to sell smarter. ExactTarget acquired Pardot in 2012 for ~$100M and Salesforce acquired ExactTarget in 2013 for $2.5BN.
Before co-founding Pardot, Adam worked in Japan for three years. While there, he founded a start-up and worked at an ad agency. He holds a bachelor's degree from Duke University.
This episode features an interview with Adam Blitzer, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Digital at Salesforce. Adam is truly one of the godfathers of marketing automation and B2B demand generation, having founded and sold Pardot, one of the most important marketing automation platforms ever created for CMOs and demand gen leaders. Adam currently oversees the multi-billion-dollar marketing division at Salesforce, using the products he created to meet internal demand gen goals.
On this episode, Adam discusses the evolution of demand gen, how the tools and technologies for marketing automation have changed, why the fundamental challenges for marketers remain the same, what he believes is the MarTech battleground of the future, and the software products he’s building to create the single source of truth for enterprise marketers.
- B2b marketers have two customers – your end customer and your sales team, and sales is marketing’s most important marketing channel at most B2B companies.
- The tools and technologies for marketing automation have changed, but the fundamental challenges for marketers remain the same. Marketers are trying to do four things: Know their customers, personalize their interactions, engage customers across every channel, and measure all of it.
- Historically there's never been a single source of truth for marketing. The customer data platform is the battleground of the future, and it’s where Salesforce is building the single source of truth for marketers.
Marketing has really stepped up and said, you know what, we're the steward of the brand, and we’re now also the steward of the end-to-end customer experience. Even if it flows through a part of the company that we don't own directly, it’s all a reflection of the brand and it's all a reflection of marketing.
When I got started in 2007 in B2B marketing automation, it was very much about feeding the funnel and moving through the conveyor belt of leads to opportunities to closed-won deals. Now it's much more about customer lifecycle marketing. It's about turning your clicks into leads, your leads into pipeline, your pipeline into customers, and your customers into raving fans.
It's very easy as a marketer to focus on the end customer and to not focus on the other very important customer, which is your sales team. At the end of the day, if marketing blows out its numbers and they hit all of their target metrics and sales misses their target metric, how many people at the company are happy? No one is happy. At a B2B company, pipeline and sales is where the rubber meets the road. As much as possible marketing and sales need to be joined at the hip, and the more that they can share goals, the better.
We really believe that the customer data platform is the battleground in marketing for the next five years. With this proliferation of MarTech and the average marketer using 10 to 20 different pieces of MarTech in their stack, you have got to be at the center of it.
In this world where MarTech has become so diffuse, you can control the data, you can control the workflow, you can control the content, or you can control the analytics…And we think the most foundational of those four pieces is data, so that's really what we want to help our customers with.
(4:19) The Growing Pressure to Deliver Great Customer Experiences
- Today’s technology lends itself to amazing connected experiences
- The best experience you now have with any brand becomes the new floor for what you expect from future experiences
- These expectations transcend across industries; the convenience we experience from a rideshare app influences our expectations for digital experiences from other companies
(5:54) Marketing’s Role in the Customer Experience
- One of the most important things brands can do is deliver an incredible customer experience
- Until recently, almost no one owned the customer experience at companies; it lived in different pockets across the organization
- Lately this has been consolidated under the CMO
- Marketing has taken a much more active role in the customer lifecycle and the end-to-end process of driving a click to a lead, a lead to pipeline, pipeline into customers, and customers into raving fans
(10:23) Adam’s Demand Gen Advice
- It’s easy for marketers to forget they have two customers: the end customer and the sales team
- More than ever, marketing and sales need to be joined at the hip
- The more marketing can share pipeline and revenue goals the better
- Marketing should also develop deep empathy for sales; the more marketing can share the successes and struggles with sales, the more sales will trust marketing
(12:53) New Decade, Same Marketing Challenges
- Marketers are trying to solve four challenges: 1) know their customers, 2) personalize customer interactives, 3) engage customers across every channel, and 4) measure their efforts
- The technology has evolved over the past century across TV, print, and digital, but marketers are still trying to solve the same original four challenges
- The channels are what has changed the most. They’ve proliferated in the last decade far beyond email.
- Measurement has also gotten easier, especially with the expansion of digital
- But the fundamental problems marketers face haven’t changed
(20:04) What Marketers Can Do to Improve Their Use of Data
- Data is proliferating with marketers’ ability to track measure like never before
- Combined with the growing number of channels that a marketer can leverage, this will only continue to proliferate
- Historically there’s never been a single source of truth for marketing data; it’s always lived in each martech solution
- This makes it very difficult to create a cohesive customer journey that’s personalized when everything is siloed
(22:30) The Emerging Importance of Customer Data Platforms
- Marketers need a single source of truth for customer data, and that’s increasingly recognized as a customer data platform (CDP)
- The CDP will be the battleground in marketing for the next five years
- With the proliferation of martech solutions, data is the foundation of central control
(30:35) The Evolution of Attribution
- Analytics systems and CDP tools are making demand gen measurement much easier
- Previous pipeline attribution models all had their flaws, but now we’re becoming more sophisticated
- Starting to use AI to figure out the best model for determining which touches drove the sales
- The combination of CDP and next-level analytics make true marketing channel performance measurement much easier
(32:53) How Salesforce Uses Their Own Tools
- It all starts with their philosophy. Marketing lives in the trenches with sales and aligns closely on pipeline and revenue goals
- They use their own multi-touch attribution tool to make the right marketing investment decisions
- They use their own analytics tool to follow customer journeys and determine propensity to buy other products in their series
- They host “Salesforce for Salesforce” sessions to show how they’re using their own solutions plus other non-Salesforce tools
(36:39) Adam on the Content Gating Dilemma
- Salesforce used to find the gating approach very successful
- However, recently they’ve found after a tremendous amount of testing that they had better returns from ungating content and letting buyers do more research anonymously before sharing their contact information
- They’ve been able to uncover a very high correlation between activity performed as an anonymous researcher that leads to a closed-won deal
(38:38) Companies Don’t Create Enough 1-1 Website Experiences
- Every time someone visits your website, they should have a unique experience
- Content should be tailored and prioritized based on what the business knows about the visitor
(41:51) Adam’s “Dust Up”
- One of Adam’s biggest dust ups was with his co-founder, David Cummings, when they were approached by ExactTarget for an acquisition
- David didn’t want to sell the company, but Adam did
- They worked together to reach an agreement where they were both happy selling, but it took a lot of back and forth
(43:54) Quick Hits: Getting to Know Adam
- The biggest person Adam ever threw in judo: Someone who was 300 lbs
- New shelter-in-place habits: Eating a lot of Flaming Hot Cheetos, but also working out more
- What Adam’s most excited about in 2021: The new consumer experiences that are being created our of necessity in today’s world. Businesses that were digital-second before the pandemic will emerge digital-first
- Adam’s wish for the future of marketing automation: Don’t overcomplicate things. For people working on marketing technologies, always try to rotate back to simplicity.
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