Five Minutes With: Stacey Bishop, Partner at Scale Venture Partners

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

Consumers have access to research a product or service more than ever before, so marketers must shift how they think about the marketing funnel. As consumers get smarter, marketers need to keep pace. New tools and technologies help marketers gain more insight about customers. The latest trend in marketing tech is applied machine learning. It offers a huge opportunity for marketers to be more strategic and effective in what they do. Instead of having someone process all of the data that comes in from email, search and social channels, machines can do that work, so humans can focus on thinking more creatively.

I’m not saying machines will replace humans–they’ll simply help process the data. Marketers can use machine insights to determine what messages engage with customers most and what drives the most leads. Machine learning partnered with human insights will be most successful in creating a holistic customer journey.

What are some unmet needs in marketing technology landscape?

Most marketers strive to achieve a 360-degree view of the customer. They want to have the intel to be able to provide them with relevant messages and ultimately create a personalized customer experience. Yet few actually reach that marketing nirvana, and marketing technology is largely to blame. Data from email communications, social media and in-store interactions live in separate places.

To achieve a holistic view of the customer, marketers need a system of record that integrates data from all channels, so they don’t have to compile information from disparate systems. A marketing technology that serves as a data hub can provide marketers with a comprehensive view of the customer to help them better serve customers.

What keeps marketers at night?

Too many marketing teams are still organized in distinct departments. Their organizational structure is siloed despite their desire to create a coordinated cross-channel experience. It’s no wonder that the data from email and search doesn’t talk to each other because those teams don’t even know what’s going on in other channels.

Marketers need to solve the problem of siloed efforts and disparate data. They go hand in hand because once teams know what their counterparts are doing, they can best know how to work together toward a common goal. They can share customer intel and apply that knowledge across channels. When a customer is interacting with brand, he wants a unified experience regardless of whether he’s using the mobile app or interacting with an email campaign.

What marketing tech sector are you expecting to lead the next wave of growth? ?

Just like machine learning helps marketers process data, predictive analytics will help marketers determine what to communicate when and how based on past interactions. A few companies including Sailthru and Monetate are trying to automatically predict the next action that customers will take to help marketers frame a better strategy. The power of being able to predict who in your customer pipeline is going to purchase and the expected revenue from them is invaluable and will surely be part of the next wave of marketing optimization.

2015 is all about: ?

Marketers have long talked about the marketing funnel but recently the conversation has shifted from the importance of the funnel to questioning the existence of the funnel. As customers’ behaviors evolve, marketers must shift their mindset about the funnel and hence adopt a new funnel. Content marketing sits at the top of the funnel and acts as the bait. Once leads are in the door, marketing automation technology can help marketers decide which channels are most effective for engaging customers. The last level of the new funnel involves leveraging advocates who use the power of influence to drive sales. The marketing funnel isn’t dead; it just needs to be reborn.

Stacey Bishop is a Partner at Scale Venture Partners. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Aviso, Bizible, Demandbase, Extole, HubSpot (NYSE: HUBS), Sailthru and previously at Vitrue, prior to its acquisition by Oracle.  Stacey also originated investments in ExactTarget, acquired by Salesforce and Omniture, acquired by Adobe

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