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2021 in review - the year in marketing

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher December 23, 2021
The year in marketing tech via my favorite articles of 2021.


If there's one thing I have learned this year, it's that everyone - every martech brand, every agency, thought leader, and expert think they know how you should do marketing right. And the truth is - most of them aren't wrong. Which leads to the big problem marketers face today - what is the right way to do marketing in 2022?

I plan to spend 2022 diving into all the strategies and technology guiding us forward. Until then, here are ten things that captured and continue to hold my attention as I skip off to drink some wine and listen to the kids play video games this holiday.

CMWorld - why successful Content Marketing is all about change

There is no perfect content marketing strategy, and your strategy is only as strong as its ability to evolve and change.

Why? That's a short quote, but it resonates on so many levels. If 2021 has taught us anything, it's that you can't sit back and let your strategy ride. Things are changing too fast in terms of customer expectations, competition, and ever-evolving marketing technology. The only thing constant this past year was change. And 2022 will be no different.

Marketing must go beyond lead capture - time for a rethink!

Especially in marketing, they love to measure lots of little things, but the only things that matter at the end of the day are an increase in revenue as a result of activities you've delivered on. And most marketers have no semblance of an idea on how to actually report, measure or present their impact on the business.

Why? Andrew Davis thinks marketers need to stop measuring the little things that don't impact why customers buy and that don't tell us the real story behind the impact marketing has on the bottom line. And it makes sense. But connecting the lines between inspiring people and generating revenue is hard and sometimes impossible.

Product-Led Summit - why you should adopt a product-led funnel when you can't go true product-led

Not every product lends itself to a product-led growth model, and there are only a small number of companies that are true PLG. But even if you can't rely solely on self-service customer acquisition, either because you can't provide a free trial or freemium model easily, or there's no way to purchase without interacting with sales, there are some elements of a PLG model you can leverage.

Why? Anna Talerico, Operating Partner at Arthur Ventures, explains that it's not an all-or-nothing deal when it comes to the approach you take to selling your product. The product-led-growth model has application across many industries and types of technology. Understanding where and how to adjust it to fit your company is the fun part.

Assessing the state of marketing maturity

To achieve this highest buyer-driven omni-channel level of precision for a CMO, it's about a change of mind for their marketing team. Some consulting firms, like Deloitte or someone, should get a hold of this and think about how they can really go in and strategically re-engineer and restructure these marketing teams so that the social person and the event person and the demand person are sitting in a room together, thinking about the buyer, not just thinking about their individual silo challenge.

Why? The best marketers are always open to trying new things. Experimenting is an essential element of modern marketing. But there's a reality here that continues to hit hard for many companies - we're stuck in our siloed way of thinking and working. And it's killing us. Those silos are not just across the company; they are also in the marketing department.

What if we broke out of those silos and started collaboratively focusing on the customer? I think that's where we're headed in 2022.

Monday Morning Moan - the problem with woke-wash marketing

It creates an illusion of progress. But the number one danger I feel of this idea that words that align with actions is that we are creating a sense of complacency. That the fight is over, that the work is done. That we can all just go celebrate because now Mastercard has a Pride parade float. Are you kidding?

Why? Far too many companies pay lip service to the real issues we face in this world - all in the name of getting customers. Marketing has a responsibility to carefully think through their strategies and ensure that what they promote is something the company lives daily.

Casting an eye over the future of content marketing - Casted CEO Lindsey Tjepkema on the role of audio and video

I've been that person, I've led that team where you're selling something really complex, and you're trying to get into the head of the subject matter experts internally and externally. You kind of ghostwrite on their behalf in a way that will outrank the competition at a velocity that is a breakneck pace. It's broken. And then, in the spare time that you don't have, also go create rich content. It has become content that serves algorithms over audiences. And that's backwards.

Why? Content marketing is my favorite topic. And not because I love to write. It's because there are so many ways to create content today that engage and inform: audio, video, visual assets, one-off infographics or ebooks, episodic series, and so much more. But you need to put some thought and process behind your content planning and development, or not only will you burn your team out, but you also won't create the best content that your customers and audiences want or need.

Salesforce+ and chill! Turning on B2B streaming services at Salesforce, Demandbase and Terminus

Over the last 18 months, we've had to reimagine how to succeed in the new digital-first world. We reimagined our events, shifting them to all-digital brand experiences and introduced new, relevant, original content. We're not going back, we're creating the future now.

Why? It's a digital-first world, yes, but more importantly, people aren't tired of content - they are tired of content that doesn't relate to them. And maybe, yes, probably, a new way of sharing that content will set apart the good from the not-so-good. Of course, not every brand has the resources to go this route (or has chosen to go this route). Will streaming services take off in 2022? Or is it just another content strategy that will have its time, and we'll move on to something else?

The ten key elements of a buyer-driven strategy - how Integrate aims to change B2B marketing

ITSMA did a study to see how organizations were working with adjusting their ABM programs during COVID and moving forward. Most of the respondents fell into the experimenting (piloting, measuring, refining their approach) or exploring (planning an ABM strategy) stage. There is a lot to understand about account-based marketing, including the different tiers, so it makes sense many organizations are still feeling their way through the process.

Why? We spent a good part of this year dealing with acronyms and changing terminology. Nowhere did we see that more than with account-based marketing (or account-based experiences or buyer-driven strategy, or I'm sure there's something else).

We need to shift our thinking about marketing to accounts the way we did it in the past. There's more to it today, more tactics, more people involved, more technology. But as Andy Crestodina showed us, ABM can also be simple.

Whatever you choose to call it in 2021, ABM is a key strategy for B2B, and it will continue to be one in 2022.

As the cookies crumble, is first party intent data the solution companies need to explore?

When Google is getting rid of their third-party cookie system, it definitely impacts all the medium, small, even large businesses out there trying to compete for some market share. It does have hints of a monopolistic type attitude.

Why? 2021 goes down as the year everyone panicked about the demise of the third-party cookie. It's not gone yet, but it's certainly on its way out the door, and that's a good thing. Companies need to rely on building better customer experiences that leverage first-party data, including proving to customers that what they will get in return for sharing their information is worth it.

A neuroscience study that suggests we aren't building digital content right - what Simon says

Before your buyer can remember your content, they must first encode it, which means registering information through their senses. If they maintain focus on the content, a memory gets stored in their mind. And when the memory is stored, they can retrieve it—accessing that information when they need it later on.

Why? We think we know the right way to create content. We follow the best practices, try all the new formats and techniques. But how many look at the neuroscience behind what captures a person's attention and makes them remember what they've read or watched? If we took the time to do that testing, we would find that maybe we aren't doing things exactly right. And this article looks at why.

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