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How to Use Instagram Insights (in 9 Easy Steps)

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How to Use Instagram Insights (in 9 Easy Steps)


Instagram Insights shows you engagement analytics that empower you to improve your Instagram for Business strategy.

You no longer have to guess about what works for your audience; Instagram Insights will tell you. You’ll therefore be able to get more likes, earn more followers, and grow your profile exponentially.

In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Instagram Insights and how to leverage it to improve your Instagram profile.

Why use Instagram Insights?

Instagram Insights allows you to get access to important user engagement data for your business profile. It’s not just enough to know the raw numbers, such as the amount of likes you get for one post. It’s important to understand your audience, too.

That’s where Insights comes in. It tells you how they do things, what they prefer, and who they are. You can certainly make business decisions based on gut feeling, but you’re much more likely to hit the mark when you can validate assumptions with cold, hard facts.

how to use instagram insights: insights overview page

Data and analytics help you measure the impact of your marketing efforts across different channels to see if there’s something you need to do differently — like target a different audience, post at a certain time of day, or experiment with a new content format.

Social media isn’t any different from other aspects of your marketing in the sense that it can be measured and improved upon. That’s why you’ll be able to create a more effective Instagram strategy using Instagram Insights.

To use Instagram Insights, you must first have a business profile. The good news? If you’re already using a personal account, you can switch to a business profile right from your phone. Here’s how to convert your account in a few simple steps.

1. Open up your profile on the Instagram app.

You can convert your Instagram profile to a Business account directly from your Instagram mobile app. First up, open up the app and click on your profile picture on the bottom right-hand corner of your feed.

how to use instagram insights: access account

2. Access the Settings page.

Next, it’s time to head to Settings. On your profile, click the hamburger icon on the top-right corner.

how to use instagram insights: click menu

On the pop-up, click “Settings.”

how to use instagram insights: click settings

3. Tap “Account.”

A list menu will come up. Tap “Account.”

how to use instagram insights: access account settings

4. Click “Switch to Professional Account”.

By switching to a Professional account, you can get access to Insights immediately — even if you’re not a business.

how to use instagram insights: switch to pro account

5. Choose your category and click “Done.”

Choose the best category that describes you. Once you’re finished, click “Done.”

how to use instagram insights: category

After, go back to your profile. Here’s what it will look like:

how to use instagram insights: professional profile

As you can see, you can immediately access Insights with a Professional account. If you’re a freelancer or content creator, you can stay as is, or you can take the extra step of switching to a Business account.

6. Optional: Switch to a Business account.

If you’re a business, organization, or brand, you’ll want to take the additional step of turning your Professional account into a Business account. A Professional account gives you full access to Insights, but is designed for independent digital creators. A Business account is more apt for companies.

Note that turning your account into a Professional account always comes before switching to a Business account.

To turn your account into a Business account, click the hamburger menu in the top right corner of your profile. Click “Settings,” then “Account.” At the bottom, click “Switch Account Type.”

how to use instagram insights: switch account type

Then click “Switch to Business Account.”

how to use instagram insights: switch to business account

Done! You’re now a Business account with access to Insights.

7. Optional: Connect your Facebook page.

Lastly, if you have a Facebook Business page, it’s important to connect it to your Instagram Business or Professional account. To do so, go to your profile and click the “Edit Profile” button.

how to use instagram insights: edit profile

Under “Profile Information,” click “Connect Facebook page.” Follow the prompts to connect your Page or create a new one.

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how to use instagram insights: connect fb page

Be sure to already have a Facebook account prior to connecting your page. Click here for instructions for setting up your Facebook Page if you don’t already have one.

Once you’ve set up your Professional or Business Account, you can begin to use Instagram Insights.

Before we get into specific instructions for using it, however, here are the analytics on this channel that marketers need to know and understand — and how to use them.

Instagram Insights Explained

how to use instagram insights: insights overview page

Let’s look at Instagram Insights from a bird’s eye view and zoom in piece-by-piece.

Insights Overview

Insights Overview is the “home page” of Instagram Insights. Here, you’ll see how you’ve fared overall.

You get several pieces of information on this page:

  • Date Range: This represents the days and weeks of data on the screen. You can change the amount of time by clicking “Last 7 days” on the top left-hand corner.

how to use instagram insights: change date

  • Information: If you’re ever lost or don’t know what something means, you can click on the “i” button on the top right-hand corner and get definitions for the terms on the screen.

how to use instagram insights: information

  • Accounts Reached: Accounts Reached refers to the number of unique users who have seen your content — posts, stories, reels, videos, Live videos, and promoted ads — at least once.

how to use instagram insights: accounts reached

  • Accounts Engaged: Accounts Engaged refers to the amount of users whom 1) you’ve reached and 2) interacted with your content in some way. Interactions can include likes, saves, comments, shares, and replies.

how to use instagram insights: accounts engaged

  • Total Followers: Total Followers refers to the number of people who follow you.

how to use instagram insights: total followers

  • Content You Shared: This section gives you the overall number of posts, Stories, reels, videos, Live videos, and promotions that you’ve shared.

how to use instagram insights: content you shared

Now, let’s go into “Accounts Reached,” “Accounts Engaged,” and “Total Followers” in more detail.

Accounts Reached

how to use instagram insights: accounts reached pageIn Accounts Reached, you’ll see more specific information about the users who have seen your content and interacted with your profile in some way or form.

Lets’ break down the different pieces of information you’ll find in this page.

  • Reached Audience: The reached audience section shows you how many unique users have come across your content. Your reached audience will be broken down by follower status, gender, age, countries, and cities. You can also see the amount of people you’ve reached via ads and promotions.
  • Content Reach: The content reach section allows you to see which types of posts have reached the greater amount of people. You’ll first see a graph with the number of people who’ve seen your posts, stories, reels, IGTV videos, and Live videos. Underneath, you’ll see your individual top-performing posts based on reach.

how to use instagram insights: content reach

  • Impressions: Impressions refers to the number of times all of your posts have been viewed — including repeat views by the same users.
  • Profile Activity: Profile activity breaks down the actions users take after visiting your profile. You can see the number of website taps, business address taps, call button taps, email button taps, and text button taps. For these metrics to show up, however, you have to have set up those buttons.

Accounts Engaged

how to use instagram insights: accounts engagedAccounts engaged refers to the number of users who interacted with your content beyond just watching it or scrolling past it. Let’s break down the sections on this page.

  • Engaged Audience: The engaged audience section shows you how many unique users have liked, commented, saved, shared, or replied to your content. Your engaged audience will be broken down by follower status, gender, age, countries, and cities.
  • Content Interactions: The content interactions section shows you the total number of times people have liked, commented, saved, shared, or replied to your content. It then breaks down this number on a per-post basis. You’ll also see your top-performing posts per category.

how to use instagram insights: content interactions

Total Followers

The total followers page of Instagram Insights allows you to see the total number of users who follow you. You can also see follows, unfollows, top locations, age ranges, and genders.

Under total followers and its demographic breakdown, you’ll then see one more section: most active times.

  • Most Active Times: The most active times section shows you the hours and days that your followers are most often on Instagram. This allows you to determine the best times to post so you can engage the greatest amount of followers.

Next, let’s go over how you can see insights for individual posts on Instagram.

How to See Insights for an Individual Post

  • Navigate to your profile.
  • Navigate to the individual post you’d like to see insights for.
  • At the bottom of the post, there will be a banner. Tap View Insights.
  • You can now see how many likes, comments, shares, and saves your post received.

How to See Insights for a Reel

  • Navigate to your profile.
  • Navigate to the individual reel you’d like to see insights for.
  • At the bottom of the reel, there will be a banner. Tap View Insights.
  • You can now see how many plays, likes, comments, shares, and saves your reel received.

How to See Insights for a Story

If your Story is currently live on your profile:

  • Navigate to your profile.
  • Click on your profile picture.
  • Scroll up on the story.
  • You’ll immediately access insights for that Story, including replies, exits, link clicks, forwards, and more.

If your Story has already expired or more than 24 hours have passed:

  • Navigate to your profile.
  • Tap the Insights action button at the top of your post grid.
  • Under Content You Shared, tap the row of Stories you’ve shared in the past.
  • Swipe up on the individual story you’d like to see insights for.

How to See Insights for a Live Video

If you’ve just finished your Live video:

  • Tap View Insights immediately after finishing your video.
  • You’ll now be able to see the number of viewers, likes, drop-offs, comments, and other interactions.

If you broadcasted your Live video in the past:

  • Navigate to your profile.
  • Tap the Insights action button at the top of your post grid.
  • Under Content You Shared, tap the row of Live videos you’ve shared in the past.
  • Click on the old Live video you’d like to see insights for.

How to See Insights for a Video

  • Navigate to your profile.
  • Click the Play triangle button (▶) right above your post grid.
  • Tap the video you’d like to see insights for.
  • Tap the horizontal (⋯) or vertical (⋮) three dots on the corner of the video.
  • Tap View Insights in the pop-up menu.

Next, we’ll get into how to use Instagram Insights in your day-to-day. 

How to Use Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights is a fantastic tool, but it can be hard to know what to do once you gain access. Here are some of the most useful ways you can use Insights as you grow your Instagram profile. 

1. Measure reach.

how to use instagram insights: accounts reached

Click the Accounts Reached section. As mentioned, reach reflects the number of unique users that have seen any of your Instagram posts.

Within this category, you’ll see insights for:

  • Top Posts: The posts that generated the most reach.
  • Top Stories: The Instagram Stories posts that generated the most reach.
  • Top IGTV Videos: The IGTV videos that generated the most reach.
  • Impressions: How many times your posts were seen.
  • Profile Activity: Profile visits, website taps, and other activity.

Some of these insights can be expanded for more insights.

2. Track profile visits and followers.

On the Accounts Reached page under Account Activity, you’ll be able to see Profile Visits.

Profile Visits reflects the number of times your profile has been viewed.

Find out how many of your profile visitors are turning into followers by dividing your number followers by the number of visitors. Track this number over time to find out whether your “conversion rate” is increasing or decreasing.

3. Determine website clicks.

Website Taps can also be found under Accounts Reached > Profile Activity. This insight reflects the number of times any links you’ve included in your business profile have been clicked.

5. Track content interactions.

how to use instagram insights: content interactions

Navigate back to Insights Overview and tap Accounts Engaged. This will bring up a page that shows how your content is performing in terms of engagement, breaking down the metrics by content type.

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Likes speaks for itself, reflecting the number of users who liked your post. As with likes, Comments reflects the number of comments left on your post. Saves highlights the number of unique users or accounts who saved your post. If any of these numbers are low, it’s important to reevaluate your Instagram strategy.

6. Track your followers.

Navigate back to Insights Overview and click Total Followers. You’ll then reach the Follower Breakdown page.

This page reflects how many followers you’ve gained or lost over the past week, as well as the average times of day when your followers are using Instagram — data that can be highly beneficial when planning posts.

7. Learn which actions were taken on your post.

To view insights for a specific Instagram post, start by visiting your profile. Tap on the post you’d like to look into, then click View Insights below the image

Under the “Profile Activity” section, you’ll find out the number of actions that users took on your profile as a result of seeing your post — things like visiting your profile, then taking an action like clicking on your website link or following you.

8. Use “Reach” to see where your post showed up in feeds.

how to use instagram insights: post insights reach

Previously named “Discovery,” Reach indicates where your post was seen — or discovered — the most, including how many accounts weren’t already following you when they first saw the post.

This section includes metrics on Impressions, which reflect the number of times your post was discovered from a particular place within Instagram, like the user’s home feed, a search, your profile, a location tag, or a hashtag.

Reach insights also include data on a post’s reach — which reflects the number of unique accounts that saw your post.

9. View Story insights.

Instagram users with a business profile are able to view insights into their ephemeral Stories.

To view your Story insights, navigate back to Insights and scroll down to Content You Shared section on the Insights Overview page.

Scroll down to the Stories section, and you’ll be able to see insights for older stories, as well as any that have not yet expired.

Next, we’ll get into the more specific insights you can explore.

Impressions

This insight represents how many times your Story was seen.

When viewing these insights, keep in mind that you’re able to add multiple images or videos to your Story. When you do this, every piece of visual content in your Story is counted as a single photo or video in your post.

Let’s say you add six photos to your Story. Whether someone only views one or views all six, Instagram only counts your entire Story having received one impression.

The same goes for Story content that has been viewed by a single user more than once. Instagram still only counts that interaction as the entire Story having received one impression.

Reach

This insight reflects the number of unique users that have seen your Story.

Taps Forward

This insight reflects the number of times a user taps your Story photo or video to skip to the next piece of media.

Taps Back

This insight reflects the number of times a user taps your Story photo or video to go back to the previous piece of media.

Replies

This insight reflects the number of times users send messages through the Send Message text box on your Story.

replies field inside an instagram story

Swipe Aways

This insight reflects the number of times users swipe to skip to the next account’s Story — not to be mistaken for “tap forward,” which reflects users skipping ahead to your next piece of Story media.

Exits

This insight reflects the number of times a user leaves the Stories section entirely to return to the home feed.

Measuring Your Effectiveness With Instagram Insights

Now that you know how to access data to inform your strategy with Instagram Insights, you can analyze that data and determine what’s working for your audience (and what’s not). From there, creating content that gets a ton of engagement will be a lot easier as you consider those benchmarks.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 but has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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MARKETING

What is marketing automation?

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What is marketing automation?


Marketing automation software can improve marketing productivity and increase lead quality. Here’s what you need to know before adopting a marketing automation platform.

Marketing automation is the use of software and web-based services to execute, manage and automate repetitive marketing tasks and processes to more effectively market through multiple channels (i.e., email, mobile, social media, and websites). Marketing automation focuses on the definition, scheduling, segmentation and tracking of marketing campaigns, allowing the marketing and sales organizations to nurture leads with highly personalized content aimed at attracting and retaining customers.

Today, marketing automation is one of the core activities of a marketing department — whether for a small local business or a large consumer or B2B enterprise. But the platforms that power these activities continue to evolve.

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes



What is marketing automation?

Investments in marketing technology continue to be a priority for businesses across the board, as they strive to meet increased demands for personalization and a need to collect, authenticate and analyze rapidly increasing amounts of consumer data to improve the customer experience (CX). For B2B players, this often means using a marketing automation platform.

Most marketing automation solutions provide tools for email campaign development and execution (including landing pages), as well as lead capture, scoring and nurturing. The platforms also typically provide centralized marketing databases and a basic level of reporting on web traffic, visitor behavior and campaign results.

Combined, the core features offered by most marketing automation platforms profiled in this report include:

  • Email marketing and landing page development;
  • Lead management (i.e., capture, scoring and nurturing);
  • Native CRM integration; and
  • APIs or app marketplaces for faster martech system access.

The more basic functions of marketing automation have become somewhat commoditized, so platform vendors mostly look to differentiate their offerings based on the ability to scale (especially to new marketing channels), usability, ease of implementation and customer experience features. One area growing especially quickly involves the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to suggest audiences or messaging.

Platform vendors are also looking to differentiate themselves by offering more support for increasingly sophisticated customers who have adopted the software and who are looking to justify the investment by proving ROI.

All of this means market is quickly evolving, as marketers demand integrated marketing functionality that rapidly translates into bottom-line return. Vendors continue to add more advanced features to provide marketing end-users with the ability to build, track and manage campaigns across channels and/or devices, and monitor the flow of leads as they move from marketing to sales.

These features include, but are not limited to:

  • Dynamic content generation (email, landing pages and/or website);
  • Email deliverability tools;
  • Account-based marketing (ABM);
  • Mobile marketing;
  • AI-based predictive analytics; and
  • Social/lead profile integration.

Dynamic content generation

Virtually all marketing automation platforms provide the ability to create, send and measure personalized email campaigns. Where they differ is in how email, landing page and website content created and personalized. Some vendors offer wizard-based campaign design or content templates, while others provide a more customized approach.

There are also differences in static vs. dynamically generated content, which adjusts on the fly as prospects interact with a website or form. Progressive profiling is often offered to pre-populate forms with known data and uses a drip approach to capture additional prospect information each time they interact with campaigns.

Message deliverability is also an important factor to consider. Some B2B marketing automation vendors offer dedicated IP addresses to improve deliverability, and/or monitor deliverability by including their own email deliverability services or those from partners. Email previewing is an advanced function but may be critical to marketers that want to reach their audience through mobile devices and see what their message will look like on smaller screens.

The market is quickly evolving, as modern marketers demand integrated marketing functionality that rapidly translates into bottom-line return.


New features are making marketing automation platforms more powerful than ever. Learn about trends and capabilities of marketing automation software in the latest edition of this MarTech Intelligence Report.

Click here to download!


Lead management

Lead management comprises three functions: lead capture, lead scoring and lead nurturing. Leads are captured from a variety of sources that feed the marketing automation database, including (but not limited to) website visitors, social media, paid digital campaigns, email marketing respondents, trade show attendees and purchased third-party lists. Tools will vary based on the ease with which additional lead sources can be captured, such as through an open API, or whether the software offers landing page optimization.

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Lead scoring assigns a value to each lead based on a predetermined set of rules or criteria. Traditional lead scoring models are generally based on two sets of data values: behavior (i.e., site purchases, browsing, social posts) and demographics/firmographics. Many digital marketing automation tools now offer predictive scoring driven by machine learning, which can incorporate hundreds of data points by sourcing websites, social networks and internal systems such as the CRM and marketing database itself to calculate scores.

Lead nurturing is the process of keeping prospects engaged with the brand through periodic, personalized communications or campaigns until they are ready to buy. Marketing automation software may offer a number of pre-built nurturing steps or actions, as well as allow users to customize their content and process. These efforts are meant to build a relationship between the brand and its prospects, and drive interaction with sales if and when the prospect is ready.

Predictive analytics

Virtually all of the marketing automation platforms profiled in this report provide a standard set of analytics that track quantifiable data such as website visitor activity, pages viewed, time spent on site, emails opened, content downloaded and campaign responses. More vendors are offering predictive analytics and models based on machine learning, which uses algorithms to process data and surface trends or insights that enable marketers to customize visitor experiences and marketing campaigns.

Several platforms have invested in artificial intelligence (AI) to go a step beyond machine learning and use technology to “mimic” human intelligence and recommend marketing actions or outcomes. These may include highly personalized website content or product recommendations based on analysis of consumption trends, on-site behavior, firmographics and CRM data. Other vendors rely on plug-and-play integration with predictive analytics tools to offer greater analytics and personalization capabilities.

Mobile marketing automation

Creating an engaging experience for mobile prospects and customers is a must-have capability. As a result, many B2B marketing automation software include responsive templates for email, landing pages and web forms. Several vendors integrate with email testing tools such as Litmus, to allow users to preview email marketing messages across email clients and devices.

More advanced mobile marketing features include SMS/texting, in-app marketing and remote platform management from mobile devices. In-app marketing features can include “push” notifications or ads based on geography (i.e., geo-fencing or beaconing) or during events. Marketing automation vendors have also expanded platform access to mobile users, moving beyond automated alerts and remote data collection to full platform management.

Most marketing automation software profiled in this report provide a standard set of analytics that track quantifiable data such as website visitor activity, pages viewed, time spent on site, emails opened, content downloaded and campaign responses.

Lead nurturing is the process of keeping prospects engaged with the brand through periodic, personalized communications or campaigns until they are ready to buy.

Account-based marketing (ABM)

Aligning marketing initiatives with sales teams has become a leading account-based marketing (ABM) priority for marketers. The goal is to target marketing programs to prospect or customer buying teams, rather than individuals (who may have moved into new positions or firms.) Most of the time, a B2B buyer is not a single person but a buying group. The larger the purchase, the more people and departments are involved. Marketing automation vendors continue to add new ABM features to their platforms to enable marketers to address the buying group as well as individual members, including enhanced account nurturing and predictive scoring capabilities.

Social/lead profile integration

Most of the B2B digital marketing automation vendors profiled in this report provide some level of social media publishing, sharing and tracking within the platform for networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Some platforms provide more advanced social media tools to monitor social posts and add social behavior to lead profiles, often using social engagement as a scoring factor. Other platforms enable the use of social media sign-on to capture social profile data and build lead profiles.

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Native CRM integration

With more businesses seeking to align marketing with sales, native or out-of-the-box integration with CRM systems has become a critical feature for marketing automation systems. Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle NetSuite and SugarCRM are some of the most commonly available connectors.

Data is synchronized between the two systems and shared in both directions at frequent intervals. For example, data that is added by a sales rep to an account record in the CRM will be automatically added to the record in the marketing automation tool for marketing end-users to view and act upon, as well.

Third-party software connectivity

B2B marketing automation vendors continue to open their platform architectures through APIs and app marketplaces to offer customers access to an expansive array of third-party software systems. The app marketplaces provide faster “plug-and-play” access between the systems, although there may be additional fees to purchase the marketplace apps.

If a preferred app is not available on a digital marketing automation vendor’s marketplace it doesn’t mean that the two systems won’t connect – it means that some customization will be required. API use does incur additional charges, generally on a per-call basis for each data download

Proactive recommendations based on AI

Martech vendors in many categories, including B2B marketing automation, are working to incorporate functionality that smooths the workflow for marketers using their software. One significant focus is providing users with proactive recommendations or suggestions for best next steps based on aggregated data and historical usage patterns.

Why do you need a marketing automation platform?

Marketers at companies of all sizes can gain these benefits from a marketing automation platform:

  • Increased marketing efficiency. Automating time-consuming, manual tasks around content creation, management and personalization; campaign scheduling and execution; data hygiene (i.e. duplicate or inconsistent data residing in various silos); communication with sales; and lead nurturing saves time and improves productivity.
  • Enhanced ability to generate more and better qualified leads. Marketing automation can combine multiple criteria, including demographic, firmographic and behavioral data (pages visited, downloads, filled out forms) with a lead scoring system to generate and identify sales-qualified leads.
  • A multichannel view of prospect behavior. Today’s digital marketing automation platforms are integrating multiple channels and devices – including social media and mobile — to create more comprehensive prospect profiles and holistic views of prospect behavior.
  • Better alignment of sales and marketing goals. Marketing automation software can help align sales and marketing efforts to ensure that sales reps are working with sales-ready leads. By working cooperatively to set scoring parameters and define qualified leads, sales and marketing become one team. Marketing works on building relationships with early stage leads to enable sales to focus their efforts on the most highly qualified prospects.
  • Improved lead conversion and ROI. Numerous studies have found that using a marketing automation system can increase conversions. Forrester found that B2B marketers implementing marketing automation experience a 10% increase in their sales-pipeline contribution. Marketing automation can result in a 15% increase in sales productivity as well as a 12% decrease in marketing overhead, according to tech research firm Nucleus Research.

Explore marketing automation solutions from vendors like Marketo, HubSpot, Salesforce and more in the full MarTech Intelligence Report on marketing automation platforms.

Click here to download!


The role of marketing automation platforms

In May of 2019, Forrester’s Laura Cross, VP and principal analyst for demand- and account-based marketing, speculated that MAPs have “not evolved to keep up with the needs of the modern demand marketer.” Indeed, marketing automation platforms are so well-established as to be rarely discussed. For example, it’s difficult to find independent projections on marketing automation spend, with the latest numbers from Forrester projecting global spend to reach $25.1 billion by 2023, up from $11.4 billion in 2017. However, that was published in April of 2018 as its Marketing Automation Technology Forecast, 2017-2023.

As of yet, though, there’s no sign of marketing automation platforms going extinct. However, companies in the MAP category expanding into areas like “multimedia marketing hubs” or “CRM lead management” or “account-based marketing.” Notably, marketing automation platforms had no spot at all on Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing, 2021. Could this be because it has already transitioned to what Gartner calls the “plateau of productivity”?

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Where marketing automation providers seem to be giving up a little bit of territory is from customer data plaforms, which are sometimes taking over the data management and audience segmentation tasks previously handled by MAPs.

At the same time, these CDPs also still feature integrations with marketing automation platforms because they still perform functions that other systems lack.

Will CDP’s replace marketing automation platforms?

The must-have, much-hyped customer data platform (CDP) appears to have its eyes on B2B marketers, promising to handle vast amounts of data to deliver highly-personalized customer experiences. 

Adobe’s Real-time CDP announced new features aimed at B2B brands in November 2020, which include a pre-built connector to its B2B Marketing Automation Platform, Marketo Engage. Dun & Bradstreet, with its D&B Lattice CDP, also understandably has a primarily B2B focus.

Though CDP platforms are still relatively new, adoption has been rapid and these tools could eventually pose a threat to marketing automation platforms as they provide some of the same tools and functionalities.

Who’s who in B2B Marketing Automation: The vendor landscape

The enterprise B2B marketing automation market is concentrated among a few cloud vendors, including Salesforce, Oracle and Adobe. Acquisitions by these players aimed at consolidating their positions at the top of the market have now been largely integrated.

Oracle made its acquisition of Eloqua in December 2012, becoming the first to add this capability to its offerings. Salesforce followed by adding Pardot in 2013 when it acquired ExactTarget, which had purchased Pardot the year before. The foundation of Adobe’s capabilities in the space is its 2018 purchase of rival marketing automation platform Marketo for $4.72 billion. It had previously bought Magento Commerce for $1.68 billion.

2019 saw a great deal of action in the space. The year saw Acoustic formed as a standalone company after IBM spun off its Watson Marketing operation. IBM’s Unica marketing automation platform went to HCL Technologies that year.

Among independent martech providers that year, we saw the acquisition of Mautic by open-source cloud platform Acquia for an undisclosed sum in May of 2019, only to have the parent purchased by Vista Partners in September for $1B. Also in May, SugarCRM picked up Salesfusion and re-branded it Sugar Market, in a deal in which terms were not publicly disclosed.

The pandemic year of 2020 saw acquisitions of smaller players, for the most part. CRM company Pipedrive purchased Mailigen for an undisclosed sum in March of 2020. Facebook picked up Kustomer, largely described as a CRM firm but also boasting messaging automation functionality, in November 2020 for a reported $1 billion.

December 2020 saw marketing automation/attribution player Springbot acquire Matcha, giving it content management capabilities. Meanwhile, Thryv Holdings acquired Melbourne, Australia-based Sensis in March 2020, rebranding it as Thryv in September 2021.

Date Transactions
2021 – Maropost acquires e-commerce platform Neto in March 2021 for $60M plus additional consideration,
subsequently rebranding the platform Maropost Commerce Cloud.

– Constant Contact purchases SharpSpring for $240M, adding to its stable of offerings for SMBs.

– ActiveCampaign raises $240M in Series C funding that values it at more than $3B, following a 2020 round of $100M. The company says it plans to invest in product development, expansion and building its partner ecosystem.

2020 – Springbot buys Matcha. Deal terms weren’t disclosed.

– Facebook acquires Kustomer for a reported $1B.

– Pipedrive buys Mailigen for an undisclosed sum. Thryv Holdings buys Sensis for $200M,
later rebranding it as Thryv.

2019 – Acquia acquires Mautic (terms not disclosed). Vista Equity Partners later (Sept 2019) buys Acquia for $1B

– SugarCRM buys Salesfusion (undisclosed amount); rebrands it to Sugar Market. The acquisition followed the company’s buy of Collabspot and preceded its purchase of Corvana. These units are now called Sugar Connect and Sugar Discover, respectively.

– Mailchimp acquires Sawa (undisclosed sum)

– Infusionsoft rebrands as Keap; launches CRM

– j2Global acquires iContact for $49M

2018 – Salesforce acquires Rebel (undisclosed sum)

– Infusionsoft (now known as Keap) secures $20M in Series E funding led by ORIX USA Corp.

– Adobe acquires Marketo for $4.75B

Salesforce acquires Datorama for $800M

– Adobe acquires Magneto Commerce for $1.68B

– Salesforce acquires Mulesoft $6.5B and CloudCraze (undisclosed sum)

Source: Third Door Media, Crunchbase

There will likely be more acquisitions and positioning shifts to come, as marketing automation capabilities are combined with categories like CRM, lead management and campaign automation.

The consolidation kept coming in 2021, with Maropost acquiring e-commerce platform Neto in March 2021 for $60M plus additional consideration, subsequently rebranding the platform Maropost Commerce Cloud. In September, Constant Contact purchased SharpSpring, adding to its stable of offerings for SMBs.

Get the in-depth scoop on B2B Marketing Automation in our buyer’s guide. Download it now!

 


About The Author

Pamela Parker is Research Director at Third Door Media’s Content Studio, where she produces MarTech Intelligence Reports and other in-depth content for digital marketers in conjunction with Search Engine Land and MarTech. Prior to taking on this role at TDM, she served as Content Manager, Senior Editor and Executive Features Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since its beginning. She’s a former managing editor of ClickZ and has also worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.



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What is a customer data platform (CDP) and why do marketers need one?

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What is a customer data platform (CDP) and why do marketers need one?


A customer data platform, usually called a CDP, is a marketer-managed system designed to collect customer data from all sources, normalize it and build unique, unified profiles of each individual customer. The result is a persistent, unified customer database that shares data with other marketing technology systems.

The idea of a single view of the customer has been on marketers’ wish lists for years. But disruption caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic has raised interest in precisely the types of solutions that CDPs deliver, which includes that single-view of the customer. With pandemic concerns spurring the movement of customer interactions – both B2B and B2C – to digital channels, marketers are increasingly interested in technologies that collect data from those interactions, unify them, deliver insights and enable campaign orchestration.

CDPs enable marketers to create a single view of the customer by gathering data from software deployed
throughout the organization. High expectations, along with the proliferation of possible customer touchpoints, make cross-device IDs and identity resolution — the ability to consolidate and normalize disparate sets of data collected across multiple touchpoints into an individual profile that represents the customer or prospect — critical for helping marketers, sales and service professionals deliver the ideal total customer experience. CDPs offer this consolidation and normalization and also make the data profiles freely available to other systems that deliver campaigns, webpages and other interactions.



What is a customer data platform (CDPs)?

As the marketer appetite for CDPs has grown, existing companies with various backgrounds — from tag management to analytics to data management — have seen the opportunity and refashioned themselves in the CDP mold. Meanwhile, others have started up with the CDP category in mind from the start, and some well-established players have responded to market pressure and developed a CDP capability.

A CDP is not a CRM, DMP or marketing automation platform. A CDP provides a unified, persistent customer database that provides data transparency and granularity at the known, individual level. A CDP can identify customers from many different data sources by stitching together information under a unique, individual identifier. The CDP then stores its own copy of the data.

CDPs also give marketers control over customer data collection, segmentation and orchestration through native (out-of-the-box) integration that minimizes the need for IT or developer involvement. And lastly, CDPs offers data integration of both known and anonymous customer data with any external source or platform, including CRM, point of sale (POS), mobile, transactional, website, email and marketing automation.

We support the CDP Institute’s definition of a “RealCDP,” which requires it be able to do the following five things:

  • Ingest data from any source.
  • Capture full detail of ingested data.
  • Store ingested data indefinitely (subject to privacy constraints).
  • Create unified profiles of identified individuals.
  • Share data with any system that needs it.

Virtually all of the CDP vendors that meet that criteria provide the following core capabilities:

  • Data management (collect, normalize and unify customer data in a persistent database),
    often after IDs have been matched by other systems.
  • Features designed for use by the marketing organization and other departments, without the
    aid of IT or data science resources. (Though some functions, like building connections to other
    platforms and performing sophisticated data modeling, still require additional resources.)
  • Connections to and from all external systems on a vendor-neutral basis.
  • Structured and unstructured data management.
  • Online and offline data management.
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CDP vendors differentiate by offering more advanced capabilities that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Native identity resolution to stitch customer data snippets from disparate sources.
  • The number and breadth of robust pre-built connectors to other martech systems. The near-universal availability of APIs means connections are always possible (with more or less developer involvement), but offering pre-built, tested integrations adds value.
  • User interface (UI). The vendors differ in the user-friendliness of their interfaces and the methods people use to do things like create segments, view profiles, etc.
  • Analytics, including those powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, that surface insights, enable journey mapping, audience segmentation and predictive modeling.
  • Orchestration for personalized messaging, dynamic interactions and product/content recommendations.
  • Compliance with vertical industry and international data regulations.

Now, let’s look at the key considerations involved in choosing a CDP.

Customer data management

Data collection and maintenance is a core CDP customer data management platform function. All CDPs provide a central database that collects and integrates personally identifiable customer data across the enterprise.cFrom there, however, CDPs vary in their abilities to manage the following:

  • Data ingestion capabilities: CDPs use various mechanisms to ingest the data that goes into the unified customer profile — mobile SDKs, APIs, Webhooks or built-in connectors to other platforms. Identity resolution: The platform “stitches” together customer data points, such as email addresses, phone numbers, first-party cookies and purchase data, from various channels matching them to create a single customer profile.
  • Identity resolution: The platform “stitches” together customer data points, such as email addresses, phone numbers, first-party cookies and purchase data, from various channels matching them to create a single customer profile. Some players partner with other providers for this capability, while others have their own systems.
  • Online/offline data: The platform leverages identity resolution or an identity graph to stitch together behaviors in order to create a unified profile.
  • Data hygiene: The platform enables users to clean and standardize customer records.
  • Structured/unstructured data: CDPs differ in their capabilities to manage unstructured data (i.e., social media feeds, product photos, barcodes), which may comprise up to 80% of all data by 2025, according to IDG.

The importance of each of these data management capabilities will depend on a particular organization’s business goals, and whether it has a significant mobile presence, direct mail budget or brick-and-mortar stores and/or agents.

Analytics

CDP vendors offer data analytics capabilities that can do some or all of the following: allow marketing end-users to define and create customer segments, track customers across channels and glean insights into customer interest and intent from customer behavior and trends.

The functionality provided can include predictive models, revenue attribution and journey mapping. To one extent or another, many of these capabilities may utilize machine learning or artificial intelligence to surface insights about audiences and proactively offer suggestions about the best next step to move a prospect through their purchase journey.

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Orchestration

A select group of CDPs provide campaign management and customer journey orchestration features that enable personalized messaging, dynamic web and email content recommendations, as well as campaigns that trigger targeted ads across multiple channels.

The customer data platform often automates the distribution of marketer-created customer segments on a user-defined schedule to external martech systems such as marketing automation platforms, email service providers (ESPs), or web content management systems for campaign execution.

For example, the CDP could deliver targeted content to a web visitor during a live interaction. To do this, the CDP must accept input about visitor behavior from the customer-facing system, find the customer profile within its database, select the appropriate content and send the results back to the customer-facing system. A customer data platform may also facilitate digital advertising through an audience API that sends customer lists from the CDP to systems (i.e., DMP, DSP, ad exchange) that will use them as advertising audiences.

Data regulation compliance

CDP vendors vary in the support they provide for compliance with the wide range of vertical market and international regulations that safeguard customer data privacy. Some build compliance features into their platforms, while others rely on outside systems. The European Union’s GDPR was implemented in May 2018 and impacts all U.S. marketers and data firms handling European data or serving customers in the EU. Brands marketing to Canadian consumers through email must also comply with the country’s CASL (Canada Anti-Spam
Legislation). Meanwhile, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect in January of 2020.

Marketers in the highly regulated healthcare market must follow HIPAA and HITECH regulations. In addition, all organizations that accept, process, store or transmit credit card information must maintain a secure environment that meets Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), as well.

Third-party systems integration

CDPs streamline integration of customer data by providing out-of-the-box (or native) connectors for many martech systems, including CRMs, DMPs, marketing automation platforms, DSPs, and campaign analytics and testing tools. Most marketing organizations have assembled a marketing stack that contains many of these types of platforms. But integrating the data that resides in the martech ecosystem is a huge challenge — one that costs U.S. brands millions of dollars annually. The majority of CDPs profiled in this report also provide at least a basic API to enable custom integrations.


Explore platform capabilities from vendors like Blueconic, Tealium, Treasure Data and more in the full MarTech Intelligence Report on customer data platforms.

Click here to download!


What are the benefits of using a CDP?

Marketing executives today are in charge of dozens of martech applications to manage, analyze and act on a growing volume of first-party customer data. But despite increasing efficiency, the emerging martech ecosystem has created problems with data redundancy, accuracy and integration.

Automating customer data accuracy and integration through a CDP can provide numerous benefits to marketers and to other functions across the enterprise.

These include the following:

Expanded enterprise collaboration. A CDP fosters cooperation among siloed groups because it gathers data from throughout the enterprise and supports customer interactions across many touchpoints. The unification of data allows enterprises to see how strategies for audience, customer experience and execution all fit together – and enables audience portability to ensure a more consistent, informed customer experience.

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Improved data accessibility. A CDP is a centralized hub that collects and houses customer data from every corner of the enterprise. Pieces of data are normalized and stitched together to build unique, unified profiles of each individual customer. The result is a persistent customer database whose main purpose is to gather and share data more easily and efficiently across the organization

Streamlined systems integration. A CDP unifies data systems across the enterprise, from marketing and customer service, to call centers and payment systems. By creating a single “system of record” for first-party customer data, data redundancies and errors can be minimized, and data can flow more quickly into — and out of — marketing automation platforms, email service providers (ESPs), CRMs and other martech systems.

Increased marketing efficiency. A CDP unifies individual data with unique IDs that create more robust customer records. Many manual tasks are also automated by the CDP, allowing marketers to focus on the creative and analytical tasks they are trained for. The result is more accurate modeling, targeting and personalization in marketing campaigns, and more relevant customer experiences with the brand across channels.

Faster marketing velocity. In many cases, CDPs are “owned” by marketing, minimizing the need for IT or developer intervention to collect, analyze and act upon data. With control in marketers’ hands, the time to segment and build audiences, execute campaigns and analyze results significantly decreases. That said, engineers may still be needed to perform deep data analysis and facilitate integrations. This is especially true as CDPs extend beyond marketing and into sales and service functions.

Stronger regulatory compliance. A CDP creates greater internal control over customer data, streamlining data governance to comply with the many regulations now impacting brands worldwide. Marketers in the healthcare industry must comply with both HIPAA and HITECH regulations. Businesses that handle European data or serve customers in the EU must also comply with GDPR and those dealing with Californians must deal with CCPA
(California Consumer Privacy Act). The majority of CDP vendors are both ISO and SOC certified for best practices in handling personally identifiable information (PII).


About The Author

Pamela Parker is Research Director at Third Door Media’s Content Studio, where she produces MarTech Intelligence Reports and other in-depth content for digital marketers in conjunction with Search Engine Land and MarTech. Prior to taking on this role at TDM, she served as Content Manager, Senior Editor and Executive Features Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since its beginning. She’s a former managing editor of ClickZ and has also worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.



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Real Story on MarTech: Beware of vendor bullying

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Real Story on MarTech: Beware of vendor bullying


Let’s say you work in martech for a large, well-known enterprise. It’s a global firm, a recognized brand. Ideally, you’d want to follow a structured, test-based approach for how you bring new technology into the enterprise, and you’d expect participating vendors to follow your lead in the vetting process — out of respect, if nothing else.

Well, reality can prove itself quite different. In Real Story Group’s role as a buyer’s advocate for martech stack leaders, we’ve noticed a recurring trend where larger software companies often disrupt well-reasoned martech selection strategies through aggressive and frequently questionable tactics.

Of course, none of this is new, and perhaps vendor bullying today is more subtle than in years past — but it remains just as persistent.

A typical scenario

Imagine this scenario: You and your team go through a proper technology selection process. You do everything right. Your team comes to an educated consensus decision. Based on empirical testing, you are on the verge of selecting a platform not sold by one of the big vendors.  However, these big vendors are aggressive, publicly-traded companies, not used to getting turned down.

So they approach a board member or senior exec at your firm, trying for an end-around your process. Unfortunately, there’s a long history in software sales of “selling up the chain.”  Back in the day, this meant deals on the golf course; more recently, it’s cajoling over lunch, at executive councils, and boardroom get-togethers.

Now it might seem anachronistic to talk about a supplier bullying a customer. As the buyer, don’t you have power in this situation? But that’s just the point. Large martech vendors employ specific methods to disempower enterprise selection teams.

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How it works

Here’s what I often see:

  1. High-ranking executives from the major software vendor demand a meeting with your boss’s boss or a C-level executive. Given that this vendor may work with other parts of your enterprise and everyone wants to maintain this relationship, they typically get the meeting. Or they have already networked with your leadership at industry events.
  2. The vendor touts traditional, one-size-fits-all analyst rankings to prove they are “a leader.” If you select anyone other than a leader, it means a risk to the customer’s business (and, by implication, valuations and careers).
  3. They belittle the enterprise selection team: “They’re not strategically thinking like you need to do…”
  4. They belittle the selection process: “They got lost in the weeds and focused too much on functionality.” (This is a particularly ugly allegation because the most bully-prone vendors tend to carry the most technical debt, so they often want to avoid test-based selection processes.)

If all else fails, the vendor may dramatically slash their pricing at the last minute as a defensive move or even give something away cheaply or for free. This isn’t exactly bullying, but it warps the process for sure. Just remember, technology is never truly free.

A tale of two enterprises

Recently, I’ve witnessed two dramatically different outcomes to these tactics taken by one of the most notorious of these vendors. (If you’re an RSG subscriber, contact me to hear the gory details.)

The vendor bullied Enterprise #1 into selecting an ill-fitting solution against the wishes of an interdepartmental selection team, persuading a senior executive sponsor that only that vendor’s array of platform offerings would prove robust enough. The implementation was so difficult and expensive that it did not launch after two years. They’re now engaged in a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

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Enterprise #2 said no to the same bully. The alternative system they selected has recently launched, and while no technology is perfect, the reception has been positive so far. The losing vendor’s calls and threats haven’t stopped completely. But when questions come from upper management, because the process was grounded in user-centered design thinking, the activation team can prove that their choice will lead to the best adoption and drive better business value.

Ultimately the fate of your enterprise is often going to depend on the strength of your leadership and, by extension, your ability to connect your decision to strategic business objectives. If you can cast your decision in terms of key metrics you’re trying to move, it becomes less susceptible to outside manipulation.

What you should do

First, recognize that often the biggest martech vendors carry the biggest risks.  That doesn’t mean you should avoid the über-players in these markets, but it does mean you have to prepare for them to try to bulldoze over you should you not tip things their way.

Since the bullying is real – and so are the long-term consequences of making bad technology decisions – you need to give your team and leadership the ammunition to push back. Let me know if I can help. In the meantime, feel free to share your experience with this phenomenon via the hashtag #VendorBullied on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Real Story on MarTech is presented through a partnership between MarTech and Real Story Group, a vendor-agnostic research and advisory organization that helps enterprises make better marketing technology stack and platform selection decisions.


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


About The Author

Jarrod Gingras is Managing Director and Analyst at Real Story Group, a customer-focused technology analyst firm. Jarrod specializes in DAM and Content Technologies, as well as helping large enterprises make good decisions around martech of all kinds. Twitter: @jarrodgingras LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jarrodgingras/

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