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Get your front row seat for the race to be the B2B revenue platform of record



There’s a positioning battle going on across B2B sales, customer, data, and marketing technology providers. Aiming to organize these diverse B2B solutions into a mega-category — we’ll call it “revenue technology” — the race is on to develop more modern, effective systems to generate customers and manage revenue. And while no one system can do it all, it’s clear a big payoff is awaiting the providers who can get it right in this next B2B era. 

Grab your popcorn and beverage of choice. This should be fun to watch. Well, not so much for the marketing, customer, sales, and operations execs who have to pick the right horse(s) to compete in today’s market while also placing bets on the future. 

Before we get into who is competing in this race, let’s talk about the “why” behind the positioning battle underway for the minds, hearts, and wallets of the B2B go-to-market (GTM) teams. 

For the past handful of years, B2B teams have been trying to transition from generating volumes of leads to focusing on the buyer and account engagement that more effectively, efficiently, and predictably generates revenue and relationships.

Developed well over a decade ago, marketing automation platforms (MAPs) have been the system to help marketers generate leads to support sales. CRM has been the default system to manage customers and customer data, primarily with the lens of an internal sales process and management. A range of ABM tools have supported account engagement.

MAPs and CRMs, while workhorses, haven’t been entirely effective in enabling marketing and sales teams to execute the transition. And it’s even more true today as the buying-selling environment is quickly evolving, becoming far more dynamic and complex. 

The B2B buyer-seller relationship makeover needs something different

Today, sales has less direct access to the B2B buyers and accounts they must identify, qualify, and win as customers. In fact, according to Gartner, B2B pros spend only 17% of their buying journey with vendor sales pros. And this is combined time — not just with the chosen vendor! This all translates into Marketing’s, Customer Success,’ and other functions’ requirement to play a larger, more initiative-taking role in the revenue- and customer-generation effort. Generating leads and supporting sales is not enough with today’s reality. 

This means our customer, marketing, and sales systems of record the last decade-plus must do more. Consequently, there’s a huge opportunity for evolved types of systems (and set of providers) to play a bigger role. Many providers see these market shifts as an opportunity to broaden their product visions. Rather than developing systems for singular functions, they’re gearing up to become the B2B revenue system of record. In reality, and as we have learned in other technology markets, it will take five to seven years (or more) to develop technology that can support the evolving buyer- and account-centric approaches that today’s buyers demand. But the flag is up and the race is on. 

Sizing Up the Race for the Next B2B Revenue Platform

The technology and platform options for B2B sales, marketing and customer pros are diverse. And as stated earlier no one solution can deliver what’s required today, nor in the future. But gaining an understanding of the different options and where they fit, both today and leaning forward, is essential for delivering on our customer- and revenue-generation mission. 

Let’s take a look at the platforms vying for top billing in today’s B2B revenue stack. Note, this is a not a deep vendor-to-vendor comparison but a look across the B2B landscape to gain a sense of perspective. And we recognize more categories can be added to this positioning list. The mission here is to simply provide context of what’s happening in the market.

Lastly, this underlines the critical need to create and fund talent in the area of revenue and data operations (marketing, sales and customer success) — talent that can align technology, systems, data and processes with your revenue and business goals. 

  • Marketing Automation (MA) platforms. This large group of providers, who once were the center of B2B marketing stacks and demand gen marketing activity, have decreased in popularity. This is largely because their legacy lead-centric architecture doesn’t align well with the full customer lifecycle and prevailing account-centric requirements. In addition, with the acquisition of the major MA platforms by enterprise software players, namely Salesforce, Oracle, and Adobe, innovation has not kept pace with today’s rapidly changing needs discussed earlier in this article. Primary user = marketing. 
  • Account-Based Marketing (ABM) platforms. Because of the popularity of ABM, this category of providers is broad and deep. Vendors that play a role in developing and executing account-based strategies and campaigns are categorized into this group; in other words, most ABM solutions support only some individual elements of ABM strategies and, therefore, must be cobbled together with other systems and platforms. The providers include the predictive and intent solutions required for account-based GTM strategies, the original account-based advertising solutions providers, and the hundreds of providers that deliver account-based demand generation tools, campaigns, and data. Primary user = marketing with sales access. 
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms. With deep roots in managing and tracking sales organizations and creating a single view of the customer, CRM is the sales system used by every B2B team today. Today, we have all-in-one CRM platforms (sales, marketing, customer success/service, data clouds, etc.) and industry-specific platforms that focus on the requirements and nuances of vertical markets. But like MAPs, those major players have consolidated the CRM category, hindering the innovation required to keep up with evolving strategies. This has opened the door and requirements for additional systems to play a role in revenue and customer generation. Primary user = sales with marketing and customer success. 
  • Sales Engagement platforms. Focused on solving the huge sales productivity challenge, sales engagement platforms work alongside existing CRM and email systems to streamline the ways sales communicates with prospects (email to voice to social, for example). The value and promise of these platforms are increased sales productivity via streamlined process, tracking and analysis to deliver more impact at a time when sales has less and less access to buyers. Primary user = sales. 
  • Customer Success (Management) platforms. These applications, with roots in the SaaS/subscription business environment, help customer success teams to manage existing customer relationships. The software relies on pulling data from other systems like email, CRM, live chat, product utilization, and customer satisfaction-scoring systems to understand a customer’s current status, adoption, and likelihood to churn or renew their agreement. The rise of these platforms is directly correlated to the need to increase customer stickiness and lifetime value (LTV). Primary user = customer success.
  • Customer Data (CDP) platforms.  According to the CDP Institute (yes, there is such a thing and it’s pretty informative), CDPs are “packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems…It centralizes customer data from all sources and then makes this data available to other systems for marketing campaigns, customer service and all customer experience initiatives.” Primary users = marketing and data teams. 
  • Demand platforms. This is also a broad category, primarily made up of media, marketing services and demand gen providers who are developing technology to migrate from a services-based offering to a SaaS-based subscription model. They are offering some mix of SaaS-based tools, analytics, and data with the promise of making third-party demand gen more efficient, more effective, and more predictable. Primary user = marketing. 
  • Data and Intelligence platforms. There are hundreds of data providers, from sophisticated multi-billion organizations to niche solutions offering access to B2B data. These providers typically offer access to data sets, contact and account records for enhancement, and predictive and intent data with the promise of making data science teams more valuable, sales and marketing more productive, and customer and prospect campaigns more intelligent. Many of these providers also compile data from multiple sources and turn it into intelligence because most teams don’t have the time, resources, or talents in house. Primary users = marketing, sales, and data teams. 

Understand the field before betting on the winner

2023 is just around the corner and the platform positioning and road maps are expanding rapidly. As you lock in your 2023 GTM strategies and business goals, now is the perfect time to take inventory of your systems and processes, identify your needs and gaps and understand the revenue technology landscape.

The good news is there are both incumbent and emerging options. The challenge in this positioning battle is understanding what’s right for your business, what’s real, and what’s next.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

How to turn the great buyer resignation into B2B career

Scott Vaughan is a B2B CMO and go-to-market leader. After several CMO and business leadership roles, Scott is now an active advisor and consultant working with CMO, CXOs, Founders, and investors on business, marketing, product, and GTM strategies. He thrives in the B2B SaaS, tech, marketing, and revenue world.

His passion is fueled by working in-market to create new levels of business and customer value for B2B organizations. His approach is influenced and driven by his diverse experience as a marketing leader, revenue driver, executive, market evangelist, speaker, and writer on all things marketing, technology, and business. He is drawn to disruptive solutions and to dynamic companies that need to transform.

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The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader



The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader

Introduce your processes: If you’ve streamlined a particular process, share it. It could be the solution someone else is looking for.

Jump on trends and news: If there’s a hot topic or emerging trend, offer your unique perspective.

Share industry insights: Attended a webinar or podcast that offered valuable insights. Summarize the key takeaways and how they can be applied.

Share your successes: Write about strategies that have worked exceptionally well for you. Your audience will appreciate the proven advice. For example, I shared the process I used to help a former client rank for a keyword with over 2.2 million monthly searches.

Question outdated strategies: If you see a strategy that’s losing steam, suggest alternatives based on your experience and data.

5. Establish communication channels (How)

Once you know who your audience is and what they want to hear, the next step is figuring out how to reach them. Here’s how:

Choose the right platforms: You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform. Pick two platforms where your audience hangs out and create content for that platform. For example, I’m active on LinkedIn and X because my target audience (SEOs, B2B SaaS, and marketers) is active on these platforms.

Repurpose content: Don’t limit yourself to just one type of content. Consider repurposing your content on Quora, Reddit, or even in webinars and podcasts. This increases your reach and reinforces your message.

Follow Your audience: Go where your audience goes. If they’re active on X, that’s where you should be posting. If they frequent industry webinars, consider becoming a guest on these webinars.

Daily vs. In-depth content: Balance is key. Use social media for daily tips and insights, and reserve your blog for more comprehensive guides and articles.

Network with influencers: Your audience is likely following other experts in the field. Engaging with these influencers puts your content in front of a like-minded audience. I try to spend 30 minutes to an hour daily engaging with content on X and LinkedIn. This is the best way to build a relationship so you’re not a complete stranger when you DM privately.

6. Think of thought leadership as part of your content marketing efforts

As with other content efforts, thought leadership doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It thrives when woven into a cohesive content marketing strategy. By aligning individual authority with your brand, you amplify the credibility of both.

Think of it as top-of-the-funnel content to:

  • Build awareness about your brand

  • Highlight the problems you solve

  • Demonstrate expertise by platforming experts within the company who deliver solutions

Consider the user journey. An individual enters at the top through a social media post, podcast, or blog post. Intrigued, they want to learn more about you and either search your name on Google or social media. If they like what they see, they might visit your website, and if the information fits their needs, they move from passive readers to active prospects in your sales pipeline.

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How to Increase Survey Completion Rate With 5 Top Tips



How to Increase Survey Completion Rate With 5 Top Tips

Collecting high-quality data is crucial to making strategic observations about your customers. Researchers have to consider the best ways to design their surveys and then how to increase survey completion, because it makes the data more reliable.

→ Free Download: 5 Customer Survey Templates [Access Now]

I’m going to explain how survey completion plays into the reliability of data. Then, we’ll get into how to calculate your survey completion rate versus the number of questions you ask. Finally, I’ll offer some tips to help you increase survey completion rates.

My goal is to make your data-driven decisions more accurate and effective. And just for fun, I’ll use cats in the examples because mine won’t stop walking across my keyboard.

Why Measure Survey Completion

Let’s set the scene: We’re inside a laboratory with a group of cat researchers. They’re wearing little white coats and goggles — and they desperately want to know what other cats think of various fish.

They’ve written up a 10-question survey and invited 100 cats from all socioeconomic rungs — rough and hungry alley cats all the way up to the ones that thrice daily enjoy their Fancy Feast from a crystal dish.

Now, survey completion rates are measured with two metrics: response rate and completion rate. Combining those metrics determines what percentage, out of all 100 cats, finished the entire survey. If all 100 give their full report on how delicious fish is, you’d achieve 100% survey completion and know that your information is as accurate as possible.

But the truth is, nobody achieves 100% survey completion, not even golden retrievers.

With this in mind, here’s how it plays out:

  • Let’s say 10 cats never show up for the survey because they were sleeping.
  • Of the 90 cats that started the survey, only 25 got through a few questions. Then, they wandered off to knock over drinks.
  • Thus, 90 cats gave some level of response, and 65 completed the survey (90 – 25 = 65).
  • Unfortunately, those 25 cats who only partially completed the survey had important opinions — they like salmon way more than any other fish.

The cat researchers achieved 72% survey completion (65 divided by 90), but their survey will not reflect the 25% of cats — a full quarter! — that vastly prefer salmon. (The other 65 cats had no statistically significant preference, by the way. They just wanted to eat whatever fish they saw.)

Now, the Kitty Committee reviews the research and decides, well, if they like any old fish they see, then offer the least expensive ones so they get the highest profit margin.

CatCorp, their competitors, ran the same survey; however, they offered all 100 participants their own glass of water to knock over — with a fish inside, even!

Only 10 of their 100 cats started, but did not finish the survey. And the same 10 lazy cats from the other survey didn’t show up to this one, either.

So, there were 90 respondents and 80 completed surveys. CatCorp achieved an 88% completion rate (80 divided by 90), which recorded that most cats don’t care, but some really want salmon. CatCorp made salmon available and enjoyed higher profits than the Kitty Committee.

So you see, the higher your survey completion rates, the more reliable your data is. From there, you can make solid, data-driven decisions that are more accurate and effective. That’s the goal.

We measure the completion rates to be able to say, “Here’s how sure we can feel that this information is accurate.”

And if there’s a Maine Coon tycoon looking to invest, will they be more likely to do business with a cat food company whose decision-making metrics are 72% accurate or 88%? I suppose it could depend on who’s serving salmon.

While math was not my strongest subject in school, I had the great opportunity to take several college-level research and statistics classes, and the software we used did the math for us. That’s why I used 100 cats — to keep the math easy so we could focus on the importance of building reliable data.

Now, we’re going to talk equations and use more realistic numbers. Here’s the formula:

Completion rate equals the # of completed surveys divided by the # of survey respondents.

So, we need to take the number of completed surveys and divide that by the number of people who responded to at least one of your survey questions. Even just one question answered qualifies them as a respondent (versus nonrespondent, i.e., the 10 lazy cats who never show up).

Now, you’re running an email survey for, let’s say, Patton Avenue Pet Company. We’ll guess that the email list has 5,000 unique addresses to contact. You send out your survey to all of them.

Your analytics data reports that 3,000 people responded to one or more of your survey questions. Then, 1,200 of those respondents actually completed the entire survey.

3,000/5000 = 0.6 = 60% — that’s your pool of survey respondents who answered at least one question. That sounds pretty good! But some of them didn’t finish the survey. You need to know the percentage of people who completed the entire survey. So here we go:

Completion rate equals the # of completed surveys divided by the # of survey respondents.

Completion rate = (1,200/3,000) = 0.40 = 40%

Voila, 40% of your respondents did the entire survey.

Response Rate vs. Completion Rate

Okay, so we know why the completion rate matters and how we find the right number. But did you also hear the term response rate? They are completely different figures based on separate equations, and I’ll show them side by side to highlight the differences.

  • Completion Rate = # of Completed Surveys divided by # of Respondents
  • Response Rate = # of Respondents divided by Total # of surveys sent out

Here are examples using the same numbers from above:

Completion Rate = (1200/3,000) = 0.40 = 40%

Response Rate = (3,000/5000) = 0.60 = 60%

So, they are different figures that describe different things:

  • Completion rate: The percentage of your respondents that completed the entire survey. As a result, it indicates how sure we are that the information we have is accurate.
  • Response rate: The percentage of people who responded in any way to our survey questions.

The follow-up question is: How can we make this number as high as possible in order to be closer to a truer and more complete data set from the population we surveyed?

There’s more to learn about response rates and how to bump them up as high as you can, but we’re going to keep trucking with completion rates!

What’s a good survey completion rate?

That is a heavily loaded question. People in our industry have to say, “It depends,” far more than anybody wants to hear it, but it depends. Sorry about that.

There are lots of factors at play, such as what kind of survey you’re doing, what industry you’re doing it in, if it’s an internal or external survey, the population or sample size, the confidence level you’d like to hit, the margin of error you’re willing to accept, etc.

But you can’t really get a high completion rate unless you increase response rates first.

So instead of focusing on what’s a good completion rate, I think it’s more important to understand what makes a good response rate. Aim high enough, and survey completions should follow.

I checked in with the Qualtrics community and found this discussion about survey response rates:

“Just wondering what are the average response rates we see for online B2B CX surveys? […]

Current response rates: 6%–8%… We are looking at boosting the response rates but would first like to understand what is the average.”

The best answer came from a government service provider that works with businesses. The poster notes that their service is free to use, so they get very high response rates.

“I would say around 30–40% response rates to transactional surveys,” they write. “Our annual pulse survey usually sits closer to 12%. I think the type of survey and how long it has been since you rendered services is a huge factor.”

Since this conversation, “Delighted” (the Qualtrics blog) reported some fresher data:

survey completion rate vs number of questions new data, qualtrics data

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The takeaway here is that response rates vary widely depending on the channel you use to reach respondents. On the upper end, the Qualtrics blog reports that customers had 85% response rates for employee email NPS surveys and 33% for email NPS surveys.

A good response rate, the blog writes, “ranges between 5% and 30%. An excellent response rate is 50% or higher.”

This echoes reports from Customer Thermometer, which marks a response rate of 50% or higher as excellent. Response rates between 5%-30% are much more typical, the report notes. High response rates are driven by a strong motivation to complete the survey or a personal relationship between the brand and the customer.

If your business does little person-to-person contact, you’re out of luck. Customer Thermometer says you should expect responses on the lower end of the scale. The same goes for surveys distributed from unknown senders, which typically yield the lowest level of responses.

According to SurveyMonkey, surveys where the sender has no prior relationship have response rates of 20% to 30% on the high end.

Whatever numbers you do get, keep making those efforts to bring response rates up. That way, you have a better chance of increasing your survey completion rate. How, you ask?

Tips to Increase Survey Completion

If you want to boost survey completions among your customers, try the following tips.

1. Keep your survey brief.

We shouldn’t cram lots of questions into one survey, even if it’s tempting. Sure, it’d be nice to have more data points, but random people will probably not hunker down for 100 questions when we catch them during their half-hour lunch break.

Keep it short. Pare it down in any way you can.

Survey completion rate versus number of questions is a correlative relationship — the more questions you ask, the fewer people will answer them all. If you have the budget to pay the respondents, it’s a different story — to a degree.

“If you’re paying for survey responses, you’re more likely to get completions of a decently-sized survey. You’ll just want to avoid survey lengths that might tire, confuse, or frustrate the user. You’ll want to aim for quality over quantity,” says Pamela Bump, Head of Content Growth at HubSpot.

2. Give your customers an incentive.

For instance, if they’re cats, you could give them a glass of water with a fish inside.

Offer incentives that make sense for your target audience. If they feel like they are being rewarded for giving their time, they will have more motivation to complete the survey.

This can even accomplish two things at once — if you offer promo codes, discounts on products, or free shipping, it encourages them to shop with you again.

3. Keep it smooth and easy.

Keep your survey easy to read. Simplifying your questions has at least two benefits: People will understand the question better and give you the information you need, and people won’t get confused or frustrated and just leave the survey.

4. Know your customers and how to meet them where they are.

Here’s an anecdote about understanding your customers and learning how best to meet them where they are.

Early on in her role, Pamela Bump, HubSpot’s Head of Content Growth, conducted a survey of HubSpot Blog readers to learn more about their expertise levels, interests, challenges, and opportunities. Once published, she shared the survey with the blog’s email subscribers and a top reader list she had developed, aiming to receive 150+ responses.

“When the 20-question survey was getting a low response rate, I realized that blog readers were on the blog to read — not to give feedback. I removed questions that wouldn’t serve actionable insights. When I reshared a shorter, 10-question survey, it passed 200 responses in one week,” Bump shares.

Tip 5. Gamify your survey.

Make it fun! Brands have started turning surveys into eye candy with entertaining interfaces so they’re enjoyable to interact with.

Your respondents could unlock micro incentives as they answer more questions. You can word your questions in a fun and exciting way so it feels more like a BuzzFeed quiz. Someone saw the opportunity to make surveys into entertainment, and your imagination — well, and your budget — is the limit!

Your Turn to Boost Survey Completion Rates

Now, it’s time to start surveying. Remember to keep your user at the heart of the experience. Value your respondents’ time, and they’re more likely to give you compelling information. Creating short, fun-to-take surveys can also boost your completion rates.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Take back your ROI by owning your data



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Other brands can copy your style, tone and strategy — but they can’t copy your data.

Your data is your competitive advantage in an environment where enterprises are working to grab market share by designing can’t-miss, always-on customer experiences. Your marketing tech stack enables those experiences. 

Join ActionIQ and Snowplow to learn the value of composing your stack – decoupling the data collection and activation layers to drive more intelligent targeting.

Register and attend “Maximizing Marketing ROI With a Composable Stack: Separating Reality from Fallacy,” presented by Snowplow and ActionIQ.

Click here to view more MarTech webinars.

About the author

Cynthia RamsaranCynthia Ramsaran

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.

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