Adobe’s Buy, Buy, Buy Strategy

Adobe's Buying Spree

If you’re in the market for a new marketing and CRM platform to manage your campaigns, lead nurturing, social media, ad buys, website, blog, sales pipeline - just basically all of your Digital Marketing — well, the heat is on to capture your business. Each of the biggest players have their calling card. HubSpot with the über-comprehensive suite of smart marketing tools (and free Sales CRM) to SalesForce and their industry standard CRM platform enhanced through a massive community marketplace. Now, these big players need to make room for one more behemoth… So, move over HubSpot and SalesForce — Adobe would like the big seat at the table!

Our technology partner, Jason MacEntee with Digital Mettle, recently unearthed a trend over at Adobe. Adobe, who’s known for their Creative Cloud software suite, essentially owns the creative professionals market. They really have no competition with Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Now, the would really like to own a bigger piece of the Marketing industry. They have tried for years to crack into the marketing management and automation industry with no real luck. It seems, however, that they intend to change all that with their recent acquisition of Marketo. If “ye ole” acquisition pattern persists, Adobe will most likely trash the Marketo platform and migrate all of Marketo’s core user base into a new offering.

This news is pretty actually big in the world of Marketing Software. Adobe is striving to compete head-to-head with SalesForce’s Pardot, HubSpot, MailChimp, Bronto, ActOn - and the countless others out there.

As you can see, Adobe has gone on quite the buying spree in the marketing automation space since late 2016. Combine all of these moves together and you will get a clear picture of where they are headed as a business. In our perspective, the acquisition of Magento and Marketo had a fairly solid foothold in this space - and are both pretty big deals.

  1. Adobe Buys Magento for $1.68 Billion to Target E-Commerce  May 21, 2018

  2. Adobe to Acquire Marketo September 20, 2018 Combination of Adobe Experience Cloud and Marketo Engagement Platform Widens Adobe’s Lead in Customer Experience Across B2C and B2B

  3. Uru Acquired by Adobe May 3 2018  Uru used computer vision to allow brands to seamlessly place advertisements into video.

  4. Adobe acquires Sayspring in voice technology, AI push April 17, 2018  The startup’s voice technologies may be used for voice commands in digital creative products

  5. Adobe wants to bring its AI smarts to email marketing campaigns August 29 2017 Adobe announced a number of new capabilities for its Adobe Campaign email marketing tools.

  6. Adobe Takes Strides to be The Next AI Master – Or Should We Say Sensei May 31st, 2018 While you may know Adobe for its Creative Cloud, the hope of CEO Shantanu Narayen is that you will soon know Adobe as an artificial intelligence powerhouse

  7. Adobe Seeks Respect for New Artificial Intelligence Tech November 2, 2016 Add Adobe Systems to the list of software companies proclaiming themselves to be artificial intelligence powers.

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-21/adobe-buys-magento-for-1-7-billion-to-boost-commerce-ambitions

https://news.adobe.com/press-release/corporate/adobe-acquire-marketo

https://tech.cornell.edu/news/uru-video-acquired-by-adobe/

https://www.zdnet.com/article/adobe-acquires-sayspring-in-voice-technology-ai-push/

https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/29/adobe-wants-to-bring-its-ai-smarts-to-email-marketing-campaigns/

https://www.marketingaiinstitute.com/blog/adobe-takes-strides-to-be-the-next-ai-master-or-should-we-say-sensei

http://fortune.com/2016/11/02/adobe-sensei-ai/

Marketing Vision 2020

 Brian Halligan, CEO introduces the Flywheel. Photo credit: HubSpot

Brian Halligan, CEO introduces the Flywheel. Photo credit: HubSpot

There have been a lot of exciting new marketing technologies and strategies introduced this year. From HubSpot’s Flywheel methodology - to machine learning Chat Bots - to Augmented Reality — and much more.

In order to make sense of at least some of it, and to begin to formulate a picture for where the marketing industry is heading next, we collected a number of helpful articles, white papers and presentations from some of the biggest publishers and players in the industry.

To note, there are literally countless articles on this topic from countless sources. As an example, a simple search on the American Marketing Association website returned 5,200 results!

That said, here’s our round-up for 2018 on topics that interest us and have caught our eye on where the marketing industry looking forward to 2020.

Organizational Preparedness

Harvard Business Review: The Harvard Business Review wrote a piece on marketing organizations in 2014 on how to construct the "Ultimate Marketing Machine", They discuss the traits of high-performing organizations, as well as specific drivers of organizational effectiveness. This includes the value of big data and deep insights, purposeful positioning and constructing a total customer experience.

Our Social Times: We should be working in three dimensions. There are a number of great takeaways in this article by Steven van Belleghem planning for Marketing in 2020 that resonated with us. He discusses how companies need to excel in three key areas: "extreme customer centricity", "technology" and "selling without selling". The article enforces many of the strategies that one must consider when analyzing and (ultimately) modernizing the customer experience.

Marketing Owns The Customer Experience

Business 2 Community: We found this piece by Brenda Do with Business 2 Community from about a year ago talking about top trends for Chief Marketing Officers. One particular passage gets straight to the heart of where we see marketing headed today. The modern marketeer must connect the dots between marketing, sales and customer service - in other words - the complete customer experience.

The science-backed CMO: Marketers spent the last 10+ years focusing on understanding customers more deeply for greater personalization. Now it’s time to use that knowledge to drive engagement, and do it at scale.

“Today, the primary task of CMOs is to deeply understand customer buying behavior and intent; deeply understand the context of where someone is in their decision journey; be able to predict what they’re most likely primed to do next; and be ready to influence them at the right moment.” —Jonathan Martin, CMO, Pure Storage

In other words, marketing is now responsible for getting and keeping the customer. Which means the CMO’s job now includes marketingsales, and customer service.

Content Length Extremes

Forbes: This article by Forbes written in 2017 discusses their top predictions for the shape of content marketing in the next few years. It's a short piece, but it reinforces the value of great content. The part we found most interesting was an observation on simply really long web pages. Knowing how web search and mobile use has evolved, we are a huge proponent for this. Here's a relevant example on a Life Science company’s website where they pack a ton of information on one page - versus splitting it up into different pages. Yes, the webpage is a monster (in the best of ways), but they did a great job laying out the information and providing the shortcut anchor links to keep it all manageable. It was great to see that there are related links at the bottom of their static web pages. But we must mention that nothing is gated - which is a missed opportunity for capturing leads.

Organizational Transparency

Fast Company: "Transparency is the new black." Gosh, we love this phrase. In reading this article from Fast Company, they cover how Brands must simply be more transparent "in a genuine and authentic way" to succeed. We absolutely agree. There are various ways this could be applied in a B2B organization. Providing a top-notch project management and customer support system is one. But in other areas, such as publicly sharing the price of your services can build a lot of trust for prospects. Yes, it may seem as if you’re giving away your most important secret (price) - but when done correctly, like showing cost ranges, this can ben an incredibly powerful tool when looking to build a strong, confident reputation and a level of market differentiation.

The Trend On Trends

Maximize Social Business: With a focus on influencer marketing, this article by Maximize Social Business lists 20 developing trends. The more obvious ones include the value of thinking like a publisher and investing in rich media content with video and podcasts. There are many, many studies that discuss how effective communications need to be delivered in various ways. And we can’t agree more. There's an art to striking the right balance - especially in B2B marketing. Having super slick, carefully crafted interactive media - sounds great - but the key is (and always will be) how to figure out all the ways this type of work can drive real opportunity into your sales pipeline.

Blue Compass: There are a number of rather bold prediction in this article by the agency Blue Compass. One particular comment that states Google will radically change their search experience (once again) and essentially reduce their search results caught our eye. Originally, we read this as a bit ridiculous. But, if you look at Google Snippets and now Google AMP - this prediction has (in a way) already come true!!!

Side note: Google AMP is completely new to us. We are not completely confident when Google officially began rolling out this feature. In super simple terms, Google AMP is a mobile feature that kicks in when you perform Google search. Any result with a little lightning bolt next to the article title is a Google AMP result. When you click this link you actually stay in Google - and view the article in a special AMP reader. Yes, you have the option of continuing to the source article, but Google AMP is claiming to reduce load times and the clutter — formatting the article in a way that’s more compatible with mobile. All sounds great, but just remember - it’s Google’s job to keep you in their world as much as possible. They track your viewing habits even more with this function and can easily deliver sponsored content through this channel (and many other channels) without you even knowing it.

Microsoft: Produced in June 2018, this presentation by Microsoft is a fairly deep dive on the topic of future proofing your marketing with machine learning and artificial intelligence. We’ve taken a number of classes on the topics of; deep learning, artificial intelligence and machine learning — especially in how these technologies and services are enhancing marketing and customer experience. This is a fascinating technology that, when implemented properly in a B2B environment, will really change the course of EVERY industry. The topic of AI as it relates to marketing will be covered in a separate article once we have completed enough due diligence to have a real understanding of this trend!

HubSpot: HubSpot put together an entire mini-site they call a "crash course" on the topic of Marketing in 2020. The result is a series of videos they put together with FaceBook, Slack along with a few other key marketing professionals in various industries. They discuss the value of instant chat and its broadening effects - which (of course) follows the HubSpot technology roadmap. We love the fact that this is a video-rich experience. It's different than all of the other articles we have been reading - and as they mention - this is a trend in how to deliver compelling content today.

Every year, Hubspot also publishes a report they call the “State of Inbound” which provides their analysis of the industry covering a wide variety of channels and strategies. This year’s report surveyed 6,200 people from 99 countries in just about every industry. You can download HubSpot's “2018 State of Inbound” report here.

SalesForce: SalesForce also agrees on all of these trending fronts, mentioning the power of contextual marketing, chatbots and automation in this article about marketing trends in 2018 they published in November of last year. This article, like the ones from Microsoft and HubSpot, do the very obvious thing of enforcing their own technology roadmap and current offering set. That said, these services are enabling all of us to create fairly remarkable digital experiences for our leads and customers.

Adobe: Like many of the other market leaders, Adobe publishes a report on the state of Digital Marketing with their 2018 Digital Trends Report. This report encapsulates the views of over 12,000 marketing and creative professionals - a really impressive sample pool of market intelligence. We found their results to be quite consistent with everyone else “where experience is the focal point of digital activities”.

John Watton, Adobe’s Sr. Director of Marketing at Adobe summed up today’s trends very nicely. Here’s a snippet:

While there are plenty of new insights in this year’s report, the message is again coming through loud and clear that we have well and truly moved into an era where experience is the focal point of digital activities.

At the same time there’s a ‘creativity renaissance’ happening. Organizations across the globe are investing more heavily in design to differentiate their brands. In fact, organizations that described themselves as ‘design-driven’ are more likely to significantly exceed their business goals.

It takes the right culture to achieve the right blend of tech, data and design. Companies committed to delivering experiences are adopting a cross-team approach with the customer at the heart of all initiatives and collaboration. These organizations are winning by a significant margin, and have built a cohesive, long-term plan for attracting future customers. So, it’s not surprising that these companies are at the top of their sectors.

Where’s the “wow!” in websites anymore?!

Having been in the business of building websites for over 20 years, we are partial to the “wow” experience here at Inveniv. The typical modern website has smartly invested in content efficiency, accessibility and personalization. Though one would hope that there would still be a little room left to make the user experience more enjoyable. Specialized interactive elements that support the company’s vision, provide value towards gaining new business and (where possible) delight the visitor — seem to have completely disappeared from most (if not all) mainstream websites.

A recent observation:

On September 12, 2018, Apple announced a series of new devices including the Apple Watch Series 4. Almost immediately, Apple’s website was updated with the latest-greatest information and product glamor shots - along with a painfully basic eCommerce page.

Previous to this launch, Apple had developed an interactive a designer tool that allowed you to select a model - band and even try out one of the many watch faces before moving you along to the shopping cart. The tool was simple, yet it had character and function. It was a great way to accurately visualize the device in a number of configurations. Between the selections of finishes, bands and faces - there are literally hundreds of options to explore. If you would like to see what this configurator looked like, I was able to find a cached link to the configurator here.

Apple_Watch_Old.png

When you visit the Apple Watch “configurator” today, you are presented with a very linear experience. Select a few search filters which will display a number of options. Make a selection and “BUY NOW!”. This new user flow is void of any personalization or flexibility. To explore all of the available options now you would need to click through the dozens and dozens of bands and envision what it would look like with your new watch.

Our view…

It’s a huge mistake. Providing an engaging, memorable digital experience keeps visitors returning and increases the likelihood of sharing what they found with friends and colleagues. Visitors want a significant amount of information when they visit a site. Having the ability to explore and experience solutions in an exciting and informative way will undoubtedly build trust and convert more business.

Snapshot Review of the Latest Music Streaming Services

I have recently noticed the ever-expanding market of music streaming services. It's impressive. One would think that the industry would be flooded with garbage. And, don't get me wrong, there's still a lot of useless services out there. But, there's also an amazing set of solid music streaming services that are just impressive. 

To quickly jump to a conclusion, yes, there's something for everyone. That said, it's hard to deny Spotify the top spot in service and user experience. YouTube Music is the only service that immediately establishes a "universal player" for both music and video. They are setting a new precedent - and it's cool. For those that do elect to pay a monthly fee - they're most likely a fan of Apple (Apple Music), Google (YouTube Music) or Amazon (Prime). In a separate post, I will provide a review of other fan-supported indy-artist websites such as BandCamp and Patreon.

Today's Top Music Streaming Services:

Spotify:

Hands down, continues to be the best. Catalogue is key. And they seem to secure music from everyone. They continually improve their artist relations and it shows. Everyone is upping their game on the quality of their playlists. Spotify is going strong here as well. I actually find myself starting playlists over searching for anything. This is where I agree that curation is essential to a successful streaming service (no matter the market). Integration with Facebook allows sharing of playlists with friends - and the ability to play music OnDemand is stable at $5 for students / $10 for everyone else. The player itself is über-basic - nothing special here but full-screen pictures of albums and artists, but it's functional. There were a number of features that I found surprising and welcomed. The first was the ability to play music in the background on my phone. And the second was the ability to send the music to multiple "available sources". Both excellent ideas - nearly expected. Make the music easy to access, listen to and share.

Apple Music.png

Apple Music:

Simply put, you have to be an Apple fan to use this service. It's probably the only reason they have a subscriber base. The biggest advantage thus far has been the ability to download music and play off line. Their radio stations have potential. Playlists are fine to discover new music. The family account has potential. Costs are identical to Spotify at $10 for individuals and $15 for families. Advantages with Apple is certainly it's integration across all Apple devices. They also offer a 1-year subscription for a discount. To make their app "smart", it's obvious that Apple will eventually do more with Siri to follow patterns and make smarter suggestions.

Pandora.png

Pandora:

These folks seem to be the "Netflix" of music streaming. Their smart algorithm using the thumbs up/ thumbs down rating is machine-learning implemented well. This function will become more prominent in other services as the technology to integrate becomes more accessible. Pandora now offers the ability to play music on-demand - which surprisingly wasn't always the case. From what I have seen, Pandora was and still is - the passive listening streaming service. It's the closest to hybrid radio.

SoundCloud.png

Soundcloud:

Of all the services out there, SoundCloud appears to be "the peoples" streaming service. They now have over 100 million user-created tracks. That number is absolutely insane. But they make it so easy to share original music in their platform - so why not. SoundCloud also boasts hundreds of millions of active users. Which is also absolutely incredible. If anyone is looking for the absolutely freshest music - this is the place. They also do something that Medium.com does with their content. Listeners have the ability to comment on the music while it plays. And this can be so entertaining to read while listening. I give them big kudos for their unique service and focus on the indy artists.

Tidal.png

Tidal:

When this service launched, they focused on fidelity. And this continues to be the case. So, for the audiophiles out there - here's your modern vinyl record player. Subscription accounts can cost double over other services at $20/month for their hi-fi service. Competitors will be doing the same soon enough. But people will always expect the listening experience to be good. So, not sure anyone would really pay more for this. There are aspects of Tidal that should be looked at more closely. 1) They are targeting a specific audience - the affinity market. 2) Today is now owned in-part by a major US mobile carrier - Sprint. 3) It seems blazingly obvious that all they want to do at Tidal is get acquired. Just saying...

YouTube Music.png

YouTube Music:

It's obvious that YouTube would move into this market. Even though their free music features don't hold an LED light to Spotify it will be hard for everyone to compete with the YouTube audience and content creator network. YouTube is an entertainment powerhouse - hands down. I also see them as the Switzerland of services. Everyone (competitors and the like) heads to YouTube. So YouTube music will be no different... eventually. Today, the biggest differentiator for YouTube Music is the integration of their streaming video player. With the option to watch and listen or just listen is massively unique. Unfortunately, without becoming a premium subscription holder, you cannot just listen to music. Strange move on their part - especially with all of the integrated ads. It's also worth mentioning, YouTube Music will undoubtedly become the "Apple Music" for Android devices. This will give Google-the Android community of User and YouTube Music a massive advantage in market penetration. And it's also expected that this service will become wildly smart with Google's algorithms working behind the scenes. 

Amazon Music.png

Amazon Music:

By the time I checked out Amazon Music, it feels like Amazon is getting into the biz because everyone else is in the business. With Alexa getting more and more integrated into people's lives, Amazon has at least one advantage. And, without a doubt, Amazon is another unexpected powerhouse in entertainment. So - built in community, built in eco-system, hardware is there, now comes the powerful software. Curation-wise, they have the same playlists as the others. There's a set of solid features under the hood especially for Prime users - allowing easy control to modify existing playlists - the ability to play music in the background on mobile - access to popular music over the ages. It's impressive. Especially when your looking at an app that's also delivering your favorite movies, tv shows and toilet paper. 

State of Inbound 2017

Every year, HubSpot surveys thousands of the world’s foremost marketers and salespeople. HubSpot asked them about their most pressing priorities, the challenges they face, and the strategies they plan to add in the year ahead. All of these insights are then consolidated into a master report: The State of Inbound.

This year's report includes: 

  • ROI benchmarks for inbound campaigns 
  • What channels marketers should add to remain relevant 
  • Data-backed steps for marketing and sales to collaborate better 
  • What disrupters marketers and sales reps are facing 

Get the Report Now

Unlike other industry reports, this one is completely free. You can download it right now at no cost and learn how your business can prepare for the future of inbound. 

This year's research findings include:

Leadership and employees struggle under a growing corporate chasm:

  • 69% of C-level executives believe their organization's marketing strategy is effective, while only 55% of individual contributors believe their organization's marketing strategy is effective. Learn about "executive isolation" by watching this video.

Marketing and sales not aligned, resulting in challenges:

  • 22% of respondents say their organization's sales and marketing relationship is tightly aligned. Learn "The Power of Smarketing" by watching this class.

Top 3 Marketing Challenges in 2017:

  • 63% - Generating traffic and leads
  • 40% - Proving the ROI of our marketing activities
  • 28% - Securing enough budget

Top 3 Sales Challenges in 2017:

  • 38% - Getting a response
  • 35% - Closing deals
  • 30% - Prospecting good leads

Dig Deeper

For more information on the company behind this report, be sure to check out HubSpot's Marketing and Sales Blogs. There's a goldmine of information for just about everyone from those new to the marketing industry to a seasoned pros. And for those designers and developers out there that need to catch up on everything HubSpot and Inbound-y, there are gobs of resources out there for you too!