Five Minutes With: Andy MacMillan, CEO of Act-On Software

What are your biggest opportunities & challenges in marketing tech for the next 12-24 months?

There are two very large opportunities in marketing tech in the near future. One is to expand the reach and impact of the CMO in B2B companies through bringing funnel-based engagement strategies into new areas of the company, such as brand or stakeholder management and in-customer success. Second, we believe many of the scoring, targeting (Account Based Marketing), and other powerful, yet hard-to-consume, technologies will start to integrate with and be part of marketing automation solutions, making it much easier for marketers to implement and use these capabilities.

As far as challenges, we continue to see customers struggle with unbalanced, inbound-only strategies that depend on an incredible amount of in-house content creation to be successful. While inbound is hugely important in your marketing strategy, different campaigns and different aspects of a business often require a variety of techniques to be successful. We also see consolidation continuing to be both an opportunity and challenge in our market for our customers.

What keeps your clients up at night?

Ensuring they stay flexible and relevant in their marketing efforts. There is an incredible amount of marketing technology available to CMOs today and their focus needs to be on having a balanced, well-thought-out approach to how they engage their customers. We see our customers focusing on how to ensure they can attract new prospects to the top of the funnel while also ensuring that from prospect to customer they are providing an engaging experience that delights the customer. This includes working with more than just sales; also customer care, support, and other parts of organization. 

What’s the hardest thing to educate clients about?

As marketers we love the latest and greatest. Which is exciting and also makes for a highly innovative industry. At the same time, however, our clients need a solid, easy to use foundation to provide a consistent approach to their marketing efforts, and it’s important that businesses strike the right balance between innovation and utility. Here at Act-On, we try to blend the latest-and-greatest with the tried-and-true. Our forthcoming report on inbound marketing, for instance, found that inbound marketing is no longer enough for many businesses. It’s still important for businesses, definitely, but it’s not the whole marketing story, and that’s worth recognizing.

What are some unmet needs in marketing technology landscape?

I believe the biggest unmet need is the role the marketing team, and marketing technology by extension, plays in the customer journey after the sale is made. CMOs should own the brand from stakeholder to prospect to customer to advocate; all the way through. Most marketing technology is focused only on one funnel, the demand gen funnel. That’s very important, obviously. But what about the adoption funnel? What about the renewal funnel? If the CMO can bring the brand and their approach to driving positive engagement through funnel economics to more places in the business we are going to see the strategic importance of marketing (and marketing tech!) grow dramatically.

What social network do you anticipate accelerating growth in the next year?

I think there is a big opportunity for LinkedIn to become a place where people do business, not just recruiting. If they can do that, their relevance in the B2B space will grow tremendously and I think it could be the real business social network. 

–Andy MacMillan is CEO of Act-On Software

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