Congratulations to InsightSquared on Raising a $13.5M Series C to Deliver BI for Sales Teams

For sales organizations, today’s announcement that InsightSquared has raised a $13.5 million Series C round is very exciting. With the Salesforce Analytics Cloud likely to focus on platform capabilities, and with the possibility of delays, it’s welcome news that InsightSquared is making a big commitment to easy-to-use sales analytics. This is especially true for their core audience of small businesses, which have never been served by BI (Business Intelligence) companies, such as Domo, Birst, Good Data, Tableau and others.

But the news from Cambridge is also reason for us to celebrate here at BrightFunnel headquarters in San Francisco. Just as InsightSquared is filling a very large niche in BI for sales organizations, BrightFunnel is helping modern, B2B marketing organizations become more data-driven and predictable. With the marketing technology landscape now settling, and the marketing ops function emerging, we believe it’s time for someone to focus on the analytical needs of B2B marketers. Their challenges are no less important than those of sales teams, and they are inadequately addressed by BI solutions.

So if you’re a rapidly growing business and you’re finding that most of your B2B buying cycle (and revenue generation) is happening before the sales team even gets involved, we’d encourage you to consider BrightFunnel. An easy test for fit is the 5-50-500 rule: you’ve built an initial marketing and market development team (5+ people), your company is no longer a small business (50+ employees), and you’re making sizable investments in marketing ($500k+ annual spend). Customers who fit that profile, such as ServiceMax, are seeing great success.

Here’s how BrightFunnel focuses on the unique needs of B2B marketers:

We cover the entire B2B buyers’ journey.

The B2B buyers’ journey involves multiple touchpoints, across many people in a customer organization. It can span months, even years. What you care about is not whether some arbitrary campaign or lead source was the first or last, but about the overall journey, and the appropriate, stage-specific marketing mix to take a prospect and turn them into a happy customer. We do this by taking an account-based, multi-touch attribution approach that looks at all touches across stages of your demand waterfall, even that surreptitious, late-night whitepaper-reading by your prospect’s CFO.

revenue waterfall

We help you forecast and plan marketing results.

It isn’t enough to measure the past. To be strategic, marketers must have a view of likely performance against Board-level priorities. But the key difference with Sales is that sales forecasting often involves gleefully pointing at fast-approaching iceberg, with little recourse. Our bag-carrying brethren can be awarded such latitude, given their proximity to the close. B2B marketers cannot afford such leeway. If today’s efforts are likely to result in insufficient pipeline and revenue over two quarters, we need to know that, and react to that information by adjusting our plans. BrightFunnel’s scenario analysis not only helps you plot the best course of action, but helps you do it in a way that brings along your CEO, CFO and VP Sales, by speaking to their future plans.

revenue prediction

We identify themes that resonate.

Revenue-centric marketing is a team sport. Marketing ops and demand gen professionals rely on product marketers and content-creators to appropriately position their offerings and create the right content for the right audience. But too often, the feedback loop isn’t closing. We have precise granularity on hundreds or thousands of campaigns tracked in Marketo, but often can’t tell the product team whether, say, CIOs prefer the security-oriented messaging, and Directors of IT like the innovation themes. And by the way, the pattern in EMEA is reversed (so those guys are complaining for a reason). Such insights can only come from drilling down into revenue outcomes, and connecting marketing — including themes and audiences — directly to revenue.

path to sale

We make it easy to collaborate.

Whether you’re prepping your Board slides, or making key decisions on your weekly team meeting, you need a way to simplify the process of uncovering insights from data. You can then make decisions from those insights. But that process invariably involves influencing multiple people, at various levels of seniority, expertise and attention span. While you think your pivot table is beautiful, no one else does; so you need ways to communicate insights in a way that’s shareable, easy to understand, and I daresay, beautiful.

Velocity vs Conversion Rate

We can “clean up” your messy data.

Finally, we know that you’re ashamed of your data. But you probably shouldn’t be. What you see as unattractive inconsistency in process and data, we see as rich testament to your rapid growth and evolution. And the data must often remain messy for another reason: Salesforce is primarily for the sales organization, and must be optimized as such; marketing automation systems (MAS), such as Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, HubSpot and Act-On, must serve the needs of front-line campaign managers who need a granular rules engine, reliable delivery and a path to speedy execution. Where does it leave the CMO or Director of Marketing Operations seeking decision insights? To make any sense of the data from CRM and MAS, they must first clean their data, right? Not quite. With BrightFunnel, we virtually “clean” your data by applying intelligent, policy-based rules and filters so that your data is accurate and manageable. This produces attribution, forecasts and plans that you can be proud of.

So as you see above, the next generation of intelligence companies will look and perform very differently from BI companies of old. We are delighted to join InsightSquared as one such emerging company upending traditional BI.

Find out how BrightFunnel can help you gain full visibility into your funnel →

Nadim Hossain is co-founder and CEO of BrightFunnel. You can follow him on Twitter @nadimhossain.

The Rise of Marketing Operations

The Rise of Marketing Operations

When you envision the future of marketing, what do you see?

Undoubtedly, it will be a function that’s greatly influenced by technology, and is becoming increasingly data-driven. And there’s certainly evidence to suggest that marketing’s traditional role will evolve significantly as the B2B buying cycle continues to evolve.

But there’s another shift I see happening, and I think it has the potential to take the business world by storm: the rise of the marketing operations function within marketing organizations.

Parallels with Sales Operations

For much of the last decade, sales operations has been a critical function in most enterprise organizations. It’s a role that’s responsible for a variety of tasks, including sales analytics and forecasting, territory design, CRM implementation and optimization, sales compensation and sales training – among many others.

Naturally, the growth of that function has coincided with the evolution of sales automation technologies, with many businesses now relying on those tools to approach their sales processes more analytically.

Now, as marketing departments are increasingly embracing technologies that offer similar benefits to their organizations, and marketing contributes more and more to the revenue cycle, many organizations are recognizing the value of building out a marketing operations function, as well.

Marketing Operations v1.0

Of course, marketing ops is still in its infancy and its parameters are still very much in the process of being defined. Generally, marketing operations is responsible for managing various marketing technologies and related processes. Marketing automation platforms – such as Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot and HubSpot – are the most prominent of those technologies. These are the workhorses of the B2B marketing technology stack – we rely on them to architect our marketing programs, build our mailing lists and landing pages, and of course, send our emails.

But the emerging marketing technology stack, now goes well beyond just marketing automation. As marketing eats more and more of the sales cycle, these technologies are at the center. And this means that marketing operations becomes an increasingly strategic role — slotting itself at the intersection of marketing analytics and decision-making and revenue generation tactics. In many ways, marketing operations has the potential to have a far bigger impact on revenue than sales operations.

The Marketing Ops Role and Profile

I’ve noticed that in small businesses with less than 100 or so employees, marketing ops is a function performed by the demand generation team, while larger organizations carve out a separate role for it. Interestingly, in many instances, traditional marketing folks aren’t populating these marketing ops roles, either.

It’s a role being filled by an impressive group of people, with varied backgrounds:

  • The Director of Marketing Operations at ExactTarget (now Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Benham Roberts, previously commanded a US Army infantry company (he probably knows a thing or two about decision-making under pressure and with limited data!).
  • Inbound marketing software provider HubSpot’s own marketing operations manager, Melissa Miller, has degrees from Cornell (in mathematics!) and MIT’s Sloan School.
  • Leading e-signature provider DocuSign’s Director of Marketing Systems and Operations, Ryan Schwartz, previously held roles as a systems engineer, web technologist, and network technician.

Not exactly the typical background for a marketer, is it?

Why “Marketing Ops” > “Plastics”

Frankly, if I had a recently graduated, 22-year-old cousin who was trying to figure out which career path to take, I’d push them to look into marketing ops.

The reason? Opportunity.

Very simply, marketing operations represents an incredible intersection of marketing, technology, and business process. It takes things like demand generation, content marketing, and revenue optimization – as well as the systems and technology that drive those functions – and sews them all together.

Need further proof that marketing ops has risen into a key business function? There’s an entire conference dedicated to the topic: on March 17, the second annual Marketing Operations Executive Summit will be hosted in San Diego. As marketing’s role in the revenue cycle becomes more significant, marketing ops – and conferences like the one above – will only become more relevant, too.

The reality is that marketing ops has arrived. The question that remains, however, is what it will evolve into in the near future and how much more responsibility it will take on.

Will marketing ops will eclipse its elder sibling, sales ops, and ultimately take ownership of revenue cycle operations and analytics? Only time will tell, but I’ve got a hunch that might be the case.

Disclosure: ExactTarget is a customer of BrightFunnel.

The Rise of the CMO IT Stack

The Rise of the CMO IT Stack

I recently came across the Marketing Technology Landscape infographic above. Like the LUMAscapes that undoubtedly inspired it, it is meant to shock the viewer with the sheer volume of logos included.

Naturally, my first reaction was that there must be some grade inflation going on here — perhaps a few categories had been invented, or perhaps the definition of “marketing technology” stretched to include more companies than reality would warrant. What I found, instead, surprised me: the mass of vendors included appeared to be quite legitimate.

So my skepticism turned to geeky joy — finally here was visual proof for what I’ve known at a gut level, as well as through sometimes painful experiences: we are being crushed under the weight of so many marketing tools. Yes, many of these tools are amazing advances, and they are supposed to enable and inspire us, but at the end of the day, they are making decisions harder, not easier, and are not helping CMOs and their direct reports gain truly actionable insights.

And they’re not helping disparate marketing teams — the quants and the artists — collaborate or gain a common view of the customer. And they’re certainly not doing enough to help CEOs and Boards of Directors with the timely insights needed to instill confidence in the right actions, plans and budgets. That task will have to be taken on by the next wave of marketing technology innovators.