Three Takeaways from the B2B Forrester Summit

By : Louisa Smythe


This past week, around 3000 sales, marketing and product professionals gathered in Austin, TX (along with numerous virtual attendees) for the Forrester B2B conference. Forrester is a market research firm built on reputation for delivering innovative frameworks to help its audience grow their businesses. The conference offered plenty of exciting and provocative thought-starters for leaders and practitioners across the business, with a central theme around acting as a bold agent of change. And, as with everything Forrester does, everything presented was ultimately in service of being customer obsessed. 

Below are three of my top takeaways for the future of content measurement (You might even notice some familiar themes from Jay Pattisal’s Intelligent Creativity Energizes Marketing Productivity).

I. Metadata, metadata, metadata

By this time, most marketers have a very good sense of what it means to measure content engagement – that is, the behavior side of the customer journey that pertains to content. Views, clicks, conversions. Some marketers have even become experts in stitching this engagement data together across platforms and channels.

However, in this increasingly digital world, prospects are waiting longer and longer to talk to a salesperson or sometimes even skipping that step altogether, opting instead to do research on their own. That means that in addition to measuring engagement, marketers need a way to infer a buyer’s intent based upon engagement alone. 

What might that page view mean when coupled with various impressions across other channels? It’s here where there is work to be done. A good content strategy comes with knowing the core message and end goal long before crafting a message and now there’s the added challenge of defining and assigning the metadata that has to come along with it. Who is this content intended for? What stage of the buyer’s journey does it address? In essence, metadata helps us understand what we can learn about those who are consuming the content just by virtue of the fact they’ve engaged. 

II. Less content, more formats 

Contrary to what you may think, this is not about more, more, more. It’s about meeting your customer wherever they may be across devices, channels, and yes, even google chrome profiles, with a consistent message and story. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated a blurring of the lines between one’s ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ digital profile, forcing marketers of all types to make use of more formats than ever before. 

With all this fragmentation, it’s important for the marketer to know that the core message and creative they’re putting into the market is consistent and clear. Thus, the more modular and interconnected the content for any given brand, the better. Furthermore, as attention spans continue to decrease, the repetition in message across these bite-sized impressions on the small, medium, and large screen help drive home value. 

III. The marriage of human & machine

This may seem like a familiar refrain, but hopefully I can convince you of a new twist. We have come a long way since Isaac Asimov introduced the concept of a ‘Robot’ – a sentient mechanical being that might one day replace humans. Now, we know machine is nothing without human – and for a truly successful content measurement strategy, the inverse also needs to be true. There can never be a full replacement for human intuition of creativity, but artificial intelligence and machine learning are critical to amplify and scale the effects of those capabilities that make us uniquely human.

For example, imagine a world in which upon recognizing its visitor, a website dynamically builds a content experience customized for that individual based upon past browsing history. In effect, every digital experience you begin to interact with is as custom to your tastes and preferences as your Netflix home screen or TikTok For You Page (FYP). To really achieve that level of automation and customization at scale, you need a human to set the rules and a machine to apply them. 

This marriage of human and machine also dovetails nicely into the now familiar challenge facing every marketer: how do we lead the charge in digital transformation in pursuit of a better customer experience? My two cents. Find technology that lends the simplest possible solution to complex problems. In this case, the key functionality I’ll be looking to build into my content technology stack are as follows. 

  • -Technology that can do the data aggregation for me. The fewer data sources I need to pool together, the better.
  • -Customizable and intelligent tagging solutions, so I can track what matters to my business and it can get smarter the more I use it.
  • -Solutions that help me transfer core and primary content into multiple different formats.