They say that purple is for passion, right? Well, the 6K #MKTGnation attendees at the very purple 2015 Marketo Summit were bringing the love. Marketo is pretty giddy itself these days, basking in 56% yoy growth, 4K customers and new partnerships.

Here are the storylines from the show in San Francisco.

1. It’s Getting Personal

There was lots of talk about real-time personalization (RTP) and Account-Based Marketing (ABM) as a way to create more compelling connections with both known and unknown visitors in an environment where consumers are expecting more from brands. The session “5 Use-Cases of Personalization” (one of the best) walked through scenarios for personalizing customer interactions by vertical, key account, location, behavior and/or persona. Spiceworks, the IT community also HQ’d in Austin, uses Marketo to target visitors from key B2B accounts. For example, “Are you a marketer at HP?” content blocks steer HPers down a narrow path to a showcase page showing their existing relationship and simplifying the up-sell/cross-sell process. This account-based marketing play drives 12% click-through-rates vs 1-2% for standard content. School Dude, a SaaS platform for educators, makes sure their site shows the right phrases to the right audience. For example, visitors from higher ed see the word “college” and aren’t put off by smallish-sounding words like “school,” driving 400% increases in page duration. It’s the little things that matter, right?

2. The MarTech Orgy

It seemed like most of the 1,876 marketing technology vendors on Scott Brinker’s martech supergraphic logo slide were at the Marketo Summit vendor expo. OK, maybe it was closer to 115. But it was still an amazing display of the marketing technology ecosystem, with folks from Adroll to Zoominfo. As someone who lives and breathes in the marketing automation space, I still had to wade through the vendor taglines to make sense of things and who did what. Pity the marketer who doesn’t do this stuff every day but is tasked with delivering a data-driven and compelling customer experience and sorting through the software tools to create a customer engagement stack.

3. iOT and Pill-Bottle Marketing Teams (not)

One of the more exaggerated, but memorable comments at the show was on marketing silos. As the internet-of-things (IoT) wave builds, marketing teams will be well-served to avoid a reactive re-org to align by the newest shiny object. “Just because our home appliances and prescription bottles are getting wired doesn’t mean marketers should spin up a pill-bottle marketing team.” Instead, focus on organizing by customers, since customers expect consistent engagement regardless of device, screen or channel.

4. The LinkedIn Gorilla

In one of the more salivating moments for B2B marketers, Marketo announced the integration with LinkedIn Lead Accelerator. This kind of top-of-funnel play solves some nagging challenges for B2B marketers who need new ways to intelligently engage their audience: up to 90% of the buyer’s journey can be over before a prospect reaches out to sales and 95% of website visitors leave without providing an email address. The LinkedIn partnership enables marketers to engage anonymous visitors, known contacts, current customers and churned clients with relevant display and social ads across social and mobile.

5. Watch Your Tone

The always-lovable Ann Handley (@annhandley) from MarketingProfs and author of “Everybody Writes” continued in her quest on “waging a war on mediocrity in content.” Find your tone of voice and toss the jargon. Crowdrise, a crowd-funding site, plays the guilt-trip well: “if you don’t give back no one will like you.”  Crema‘s differentiation is simple: “coffee is our one thing.” Freaker USA provides beer cozies FTW and has fun at the same time. “When you sell a product that most people get free at a trade show, your voice is the start of the thing that sets you apart.” – Lauren Krakauskas, Freaker USA.  For another evangelist pushing the power of the good word, see Without Bullshit, Josh Bernoff’s new soapbox. The longtime Forrester analyst and author is stellar at calling out lame writing, echoing David Meerman Scott’s Gobbledygook Manifesto and Harry Frankfurt’s “On Bullshit” from a decade ago.

6. Know your ABCDE’s

Marketo’s CMO Sanjay Dholakia (@sdholakia) led the preaching-to-the-choir session on the need to engage with customers as people, delivering content and experience in context of where they are in their journey. The engagement marketing message is captured in a memorable mnemonic: ABCDE.  The five principles of engagement marketing are about connecting with people…

As individuals. Not segments or companies.
Based on what they do. Not their title or demographic.
Continuously over time. Not one-and-done ad-hoc campaigns.
Directed towards an outcome. Since you’re running a business.
Everywhere they are. Across devices, screens, channels.

7. Spreading the Gospel

The keynotes were marvelous and great storytellers.

Arianna Huffington’s (@ariannahuff) talk was one-third disruption (HuffPo) and two-thirds inspiration (how slowing down can make teams Thrive). Since it’s start in 2005, HuffPo has expanded beyond news and politics to become more of a persona-based content publisher, latched onto the contributed post model and counters the if-it-bleeds-it-leads news model by finding and spreading good news stories like The Future Project. Arianna’s current soapbox is centered on work-life balance, after her lightbulb moment in 2007 when she collapsed from exhaustion. Today, HuffPo bans devices in exec meetings, provides nap rooms to recharge creativity and encourages staff to unplug after 5pm.

Salman Khan, Founder and Executive Director of the Khan Academy, showed how sticking to a mission (“to deliver free, high quality education to everyone”) can be fulfilling personally and how staying a non-profit and resisting the herd mentality to become a VC-backed startup and race to exit-events. “We are born to learn. There was a time Einstein couldn’t count to ten.” Watch “You Can Learn Anything” and a great story on how education is changing lives.

John Legend connected the dots from his inspirational grandmother and her love of music, the mind-numbing powerpoints and spreadsheets of his BCG consulting days (!) all the way to working with will.i.am and winning Grammies and Oscars. The message to marketers: whatever your passion, believe in yourself and treat your creative endeavor with respect. Have a process, schedule your time, do the work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JC82Il2cjqA

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