Q&A: Adobe Summit 2019 Reaction with Mike Burns

Kaitlyn Tatulli |

 A group of businesspeople gathered around a table discussing the future of digital experience marketing at Adobe SummitThe Adobe Summit is an annual large user conference in which industry leaders gather to discuss where the company is headed and where the industry is going. This year, the conference welcomed over 16,000 people and discussed the future of digital experience marketing. Michael Burns, Aventri’s CRO, attended the conference in Las Vegas in March and was particularly interested in Adobe’s discussion around the 360-degree customer journey.

In this interview, Burns discusses his reaction to Adobe’s 360-degree customer journey, and how he thinks the current model only represents 180-degrees of the customer journey because of its lack of visibility into onsite event data.

360 Degree Customer Journey Q&A:

Michael Burns, Chief Revenue Officer at Aventri

Q: Why is the Adobe Summit important for the meeting and event industry?

What is interesting about the Adobe Summit for people in the event and meeting industry is that there is a growing confluence between events and digital marketing. Because of this, professionals have to learn how to manage the interactions and connections of in-person marketing in the same way we manage and measure digital marketing activities and spend.

Q: Can you tell us about Adobe’s 360-degree customer journey?

There are a couple of key concepts that Adobe rolled out at the Summit with the companies they purchased within the last year: Magento, an e-commerce platform, and Marketo, a marketing automation organization. The first key concept was reimagining Account-based Marketing as Account-based Experience, and the second was the concept of a 360-degree view of the customer journey.

With the acquisition of Marketo, Adobe now has the ability to really impact B2B marketing models. For example, they’re now augmenting their digital advertising and data measurement capabilities with email marketing and lead scoring, which gives them a more complete and comprehensive offering.

A year ago, Marketo brought a company called Bizible, a multi-touch attribution platform. Bizible looks at all the different touch points a company has with a prospect and then they weigh those touch points as it pertains to the conversion to a deal. For example, if a deal is 100 percent, they break the touches up into different components. So, a prospect opening up an email could have a 5% weight towards getting a deal, a sales call could have a 30% weight towards getting a deal, etc. It basically builds a scoring model around all the activities that you do as an organization to convert prospects to customers.

Where Adobe sits now, they have great visibility into the digital customer journey through their advertising capabilities, so they know what’s happening out there. They also have lead scoring and attribution, so they are able to identify the value your activities are having on a lead.

But, notably, Adobe’s model is missing the onsite, in-person events data.

Q: What is your reaction to Adobe’s customer journey model?

Adobe calls the customer journey a 360-degree view, but I think it’s 200 degrees at best, probably more like 180 degrees because much of what happens to convert customers happens in the real world and their current model does not account for this.

Specifically, it depends on how well you measure the customer journey during onsite events, and most people don’t measure it if they aren’t using an event management platform , like Aventri. Because people aren’t measuring the in-person customer journey, companies don’t have the details they need to understand which activities customers are engaging in during an in-person event.

Also, only measuring digital activities, such as clicking on an ad or attending a webinar, without measuring the in-person interactions in the customer journey is not really putting together an account-based experience strategy; it’s putting together a digital account-based experience strategy.

So, if 70% of a company’s marketing budget is being spent on events, then how accurate is their multi-touch attribution model if the data is not being captured or analyzed from in-person events?

Right now, most people are looking at metrics like attendance or lead capture and looking at it as one touch point. That would basically be like saying that we’re counting an email open, a click-through, and an ad impression as one single touch point. It doesn’t make sense. You’re not measuring all the other different touches that happen in the in-person journey, so marketers aren’t getting accurate insights into what’s happened with 70% of their budget spend. 

Q: Why do you think Adobe did not account for the in-person part of the customer journey?

Adobe does not have the technology to do anything about it. Historically, there have been two silos in marketing: the field team and the digital team. We are just getting to a stage now where organizations are looking at their in-person events and measuring them the same way they measure their digital touch points. But the only insights people really have had historically into events was if somebody attended or not. Did I scan the lead? Did they come to my booth? Did they register? Those are metrics can be easily tracked through Salesforce. But if we want to have the same level of scrutiny on in-person engagement that we have on digital engagement, we need to have the technology to capture and measure the data.

Q: What technology is needed to track the in-person customer journey?

Aventri’s Event Intelligence platform tracks not just session attendance, but things like dwell time and digital networking, and that will give marketers more insights into what people actually do in the real world. Also, these insights will align more closely with how people measure digital touch points and interactions.

Q: What are the biggest problems that arise from not having onsite data?

First, the biggest problem is not being able to optimize certain actions. If you don’t really understand what’s happening on the ground at your event, then you can’t optimize anything. You’re optimizing the KPI of getting them to attend, but that is only a very small part of it. The questions then become, who should go? Is there a way to monitor the attendee journey? What does good look like? If you don’t know what people are doing, then you don’t know what the options are to make it better.

Secondly, if you’re a marketer, your budget is getting smaller, so you need to justify every dollar spent. You spend money on events because you know leads convert there, but eventually, you’re going to need to apply more diligence to analyze what you actually do at events that works and drives conversions. A marketer’s ability to prove the return is critical.

Finally, another common problem is sales and marketing alignment. Everyone agrees and understands that alignment between these two departments is incredibly important, but that doesn’t exist between digital and events. At the top of the funnel, customers shouldn’t realize that marketing is doing something, and sales is doing other thing to reach them. It should be a very consistent look and feel throughout the entire course of their journey, but too often it’s not. By extending digital thinking to the in-person world you’ll get a much more seamless, pleasant experience for your customers. The new wave is P2P, or person to person, marketing. If the person that’s doing the marketing is consistent and the persona is consistent, then it’s going to feel a lot better to the customer.

Q: What are the opportunities for gathering and using onsite insights for planners and digital marketers?

As sales, marketing, and events become more aligned, the opportunity for planners and marketers here is the ability – finally-to justify their spend and talk about KPIs using nomenclature that’s consistent with the rest of the marketing efforts. CMO’s more and more have digital backgrounds, so when it’s time to go in front of a CMO and talk about an event’s metrics and KPIs, the CMO is going to expect event data to be represented in a way that is consistent with other parts of the business. Planners have to start thinking about events in that way and think about how it all comes together across the entire sales and marketing organization.

The opportunity for digital marketers is now they have a wealth of new data points to help them understand how to reach and talk to the right people, at the right time, with the right message. These are new data points created around the event journey that they didn’t have access to before. We are taking stuff that wasn’t data and turning it into data. 

Q: Do you have anything else to add about Adobe’s customer journey?

Adobe is further along in their digital transformation than a lot of other organizations are. They really have the cutting edge thinking around how we shepherd customers through their journey. But if Adobe isn’t thinking about in-person event data, then no one is, and that is a missed opportunity.

That’s why at Aventri we don’t think of ourselves just as a logistics and planning company; we think of ourselves as a MarTech company with operational event capabilities. We’re the integral piece of the Martech stack because we’re the missing link in the data flow.




Your Event Essentials to Event Success

This Post was Written by Kaitlyn Tatulli

Kaitlyn Tatulli is a graduate from Fairfield University with majors in Digital Journalism and Psychology and minors in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Computer Science. Currently, she is receiving her MFA from Fairfield University. Kaitlyn...

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