Predictions Series 2018: Think of Tech (Not Necessarily AI) to Influence, Empathize, Connect, and Listen at Scale

Joe Hyland, CMO at ON24, On What 2018 Holds For The Martech Community

In the age of rapid tech disruptions, we are looking at the genesis of more than one “revolution” in martech. Most marketers are shifting their focus from tech-based targeting to tech-based interactivity with their customers. Customer engagement in the most humane way is the theme for marketers in 2018.

Further to our recent coverage in the Predictions Series 2018, ON24 CMO, Joe Hyland chose to dig deeper into what lessons marketers could take from 2017 into the New Year, and “revolutionize” their martech success.

What Were the Most Memorable Martech Moments for You in 2017?

The Rise of Podcasting

Joe Hyland, CMO, ON24
Joe Hyland, CMO, ON24

Some major milestones that stick out for me come from an overlooked side of martech — the rise of podcasting. Apple’s decision to share analytics with creators was a massive step forward for the B2B marketing community, despite its quiet announcement. This gives B2B marketers a new and measurable way to reach audiences in a format that’s educational, influential and captures their attention.

Gimlet Media’s Funding Round

Another significant moment was Gimlet Media raising $15 million in VC funding. The backing of a podcast production company tells me that investors are recognizing the business value of storytelling and how critical it is for brands to make a human connection with their audience.

As a Marketing Leader, How Do You See the Martech Community Coming Closer in 2018?

I think the martech community is going come together and realize it’s time to take some of the hype out of our industry. The landscape itself has been growing rapidly without a correction for some time and there are simply too many companies in the space solving problems that don’t exist. And, let’s be real, no one solution is a silver bullet for engagement or pipeline.

So, we’re going to start to see best-of-breed stacks emerge, more strategic partnerships between complementary solutions and martech companies coming together to offer end-to-end solutions for achieving larger marketing objectives.

What Are the Cutting-Edge Technologies You Keenly Follow?

Don’t get me wrong, I like technology. I especially like to play with new things to see what works. But, I think any CMO who thinks every shiny new martech solution is necessary is misguided.

Sure, AI, chatbots, and even direct mail are new and cool tactics, but these technologies are tools that make it easier to do what we’ve always done, personally connect with prospects and customers.

If a solution offers a means to make content a two-way experience — make it more of a conversation than a static item to post, send or view — then it has my attention.

Think of video.

Generally, it’s a one-way medium where a content producer speaks to the camera and the consumer watches through a screen. Not much of a conversation going on there. I’m looking at technologies that help create the situations where the viewer can interact — whether through polls, a chat stream or social media — with the brand. Tech helping create interactivity is far, far more engaging and far more valuable everyone involved.

If a solution offers a means to make content a two-way experience — make it more of a conversation than a static item to post, send or view — then it has my attention.

What Are Your Predictions for B2B Event Automation Platforms and Sales Intelligence Tools?

The rise of these kinds of tools is signaling a major trend — the need to make human-to-human interactions happen at a digital scale. In-person events, personal sales calls, even just hyper-targeted emails from SDRs are the most expensive and time-consuming tactics for building the pipeline. But, they are super effective when pointed toward the right lead, who is ready to buy.

So, I think we’ll see a rise in technologies that help marketers find higher-quality leads before they even get invited to an event or are passed onto sales for outreach.

Then, I think marketers are going to get much more savvy about integrating the insights from in-person interactions back into their CRM and MAP systems. That’s really the last mile for marketers and what will make future campaigns even more personalized and impactful.

Would AI/ML Finally Become the Ubiquitous Technology in a CMO’s Martech Stack? How Is On24 Preparing for This Ubiquity?

No. Despite the hype, AI and ML are simply tools to make our jobs easier, like automation on steroids.

But, we all know by now that automation was not the silver bullet it promised to be — marketers still have to create killer content to be distributed by their marketing automation platform, they still have to understand how to segment their database and they still have to orchestrate their campaigns to reach that target audience at the right time.

The level at which AI or ML becomes ubiquitous is really a question of how much a marketing organization needs to scale.

For some, especially those following an ABM methodology, AI may not be necessary.

And, the better that we get at scaling human-to-human interactions, through webinar engagement, event automation, dynamic content experiences, etc., I believe the less relevant AI/ML becomes. After all, I don’t think any marketer will say they would prefer to have a robot talk to their prospects over a human.

Figuring out how to empathize, connect and listen at scale is a marketer’s holy grail… not adding AI or ML to their martech stack.

Tag a Person from Martech Community Whose Answers You Want to Hear at Predictions Series 2018.

I’d love to hear from LinkedIn’s CMO, Shannon Stubo.

From a martech platform perspective, I really admire the way LinkedIn brings together sales and marketing to reach prospects at a macro and micro level. Helping sales and marketing align and work from the same data should be a goal of every martech solution.

To participate in our interviews and predictions series, drop us a line at

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