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Is martech in a revenue bubble and how soon will it burst?



Is martech in a revenue bubble and how soon will it burst?

Fasten your seatbelts. This article will be hotly debated. 

The martech industry is actually in a revenue bubble, like the dot-com bubble of 1995 and the housing bubble of 2008. And there’s no telling how soon it will burst. 

The revenue bubble happens when go-to-market teams, and the technologies they use, organize as one central group with one goal: Sales. The role of the chief revenue officer and the function of revenue operations emerged from this.

The problem? What started as a rallying cry for marketers to drive more impact has sadly devolved into a sea of sameness, with business brands that are eerily identical in how they look, sound, and engage customers. 

Before you get too upset, hear me out.

As a career B2B marketer, I’ve always been a champion of revenue. One of my favorite books is “Revenue Disruption” by Phil Fernandez, co-founder of Marketo. Every activity should lead to a sale! That was the motto. 

But the more I worked in marketing, the more I started to see that some of the best companies didn’t focus on revenue alone. There was more to their success, which we’ll explore in this article. 

Without revenue, what’s the point?  

Here’s why the revenue movement became popular. Marketers were tired of being treated like sales assistants. They were sometimes referred to as the arts and crafts department. I’ll admit, the revenue movement did a fine job in changing this perception.

The problem? The focus on revenue is short-term. 

And I may be biased, working for a company that obsesses over customer experience at the expense of short-term profits, but let’s look at both sides. 

Three powerful, durable spears pierce the revenue bubble. They are community, product-led growth and brand.

1. Community

Community is not, and never should be, about revenue. And while you can tie some attribution to community-led efforts, trying to extract money out of a community is inauthentic. Customers can smell inauthenticity. We’ve often seen members abandon communities that try to milk them for every last cent. We’ve also seen communities help skyrocket companies to become market leaders. Marketo and Salesforce are great examples, but there are many others. There are different skills and competencies required to grow a community, which revenue-focused operators may lack. 

2. Product-led growth 

Product-led growth refers to creating such a good product experience that users refer others, which becomes the primary method of adding new customers. The focus here is obsessing over user behavior and feedback, and implementing quick changes. A short-term focus on revenue (closing big deals) can be counterproductive to this effort. 

You’ve probably seen this first-hand in your organization. A team has dozens of planning and negotiation meetings with a vendor, only to discover that employees have already started using a different platform they paid for with their credit card. 

That’s not to say that enterprise sales and field marketing are irrelevant. Both can drive tremendous growth and awareness. However, product-led growth is tangible proof that there is more to the story than mere revenue. 

3. Brand 

Branding is the most obvious contradiction to the revenue movement. It’s incredibly difficult to attribute deals to branding. You can track branded search terms or ask, “how did you hear about us?” but much of the influence that brand has occurred without our knowledge. Branding is what happens when a buyer needs something at the moment, and your company is top of mind. Brand transpires when a buyer doesn’t make a rational decision based on facts but emotion. 

For example, I selected my car insurance provider solely because I liked the jingle “Nationwide is on your side.” Such a good tune! As a final example, take 10 seconds and think of your top three favorite companies. Got them? Now the question: Do you think they got to where they are today by aligning around revenue? 

The problem with every employee having the goal of revenue 

The problem with everyone having a revenue goal is that other critical aspects, such as customer experience, can fall to the wayside. Not to mention the historical examples of immoral company leaders who focused on revenue above the customer and drove the company’s reputation and stock price into the ground. 

But let’s take a practical B2B approach. Should graphic designers be given a revenue goal? What about corporate communications? What about legal and those who protect the security of customer data? And to take it a step further, if those roles do not have revenue goals, does that mean that those roles are unimportant? 

Here is where the revenue bubble begins to burst because if everything should be about revenue, nothing else matters. 

But other aspects of business do matter. And successful brands know that very well. 

How to stop the revenue bubble from growing and bursting

The solution to the revenue bubble is tension. Healthy tension, healthy debate and a natural, productive conflict that forces one side back into balance when it gets out of line. Should there be a revenue goal? Yes. But there should be a customer experience goal set in parallel. Customer experience can be measured by satisfaction, NPS, engagement, opt-out, and other indicators that show customers like (or dislike) your brand. 

Should there be a new sales goal? Of course. But in parallel, there should be a community-growth goal, a branding goal and a product goal not tied to sales. 

Balance your revenue goals with the customer experience and balance sales with your brand. 

To sum up, while companies have benefited from the alignment that the revenue movement has created, they need to be careful not to lose sight of the less measurable aspects of the business that can differentiate a brand in the long term. And while many operators are looking to revenue as the single answer to solve their business problems, the reality is that business, like life, rarely boils down to a single thing. 

About The Author

Darrell is an award-winning marketer and Martech professional. He was named one of the top Martech Marketers to Follow in 2020, won the Fearless Marketer award in 2018, is a 2X Marketo Champion, and is a certified Salesforce Administrator. He has consulted for several Fortune 500 companies including General Electric and Abbott Laboratories and currently leads marketing operations at Amazon Web Services where he helps empower hundreds of marketers to build world-class customer experiences. Darrell is a frequent speaker at martech events, and regularly posts thought leadership content on Linkedin and Twitter.

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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1



HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

This afternoon, HubSpot announced it would be making cuts in its workforce during Q1 2023. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it put the scale of the cuts at 7%. This would mean losing around 500 employees from its workforce of over 7,000.

The reasons cited were a downward trend in business and a “faster deceleration” than expected following positive growth during the pandemic.

Layoffs follow swift growth. Indeed, the layoffs need to be seen against the background of very rapid growth at the company. The size of the workforce at HubSpot grew over 40% between the end of 2020 and today.

In 2022 it announced a major expansion of its international presence with new operations in Spain and the Netherlands and a plan to expand its Canadian presence in 2023.

Why we care. The current cool down in the martech space, and in tech generally, does need to be seen in the context of startling leaps forward made under pandemic conditions. As the importance of digital marketing and the digital environment in general grew at an unprecedented rate, vendors saw opportunities for growth.

The world is re-adjusting. We may not be seeing a bubble burst, but we are seeing a bubble undergoing some slight but predictable deflation.

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About the author

Kim Davis

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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Advocate | DigitalMarketer



Advocate | DigitalMarketer

Happy customers love to share their experience, but sometimes they need some encouragement to do so. The cool thing is, once they do, they become even more loyal to your brand.

So, at this stage of the Customer Value Journey, ask people to share their positive experience with your brand by writing a review or sharing a social media post.

Once you get to stage seven, the Customer Value Journey is going to get a whole lot easier for you. This stage is all about learning your customer’s experience, and building up your testimonial database. 

The most important part of this step is asking these four questions. 

What Was Your Life Like Before Finding Our Solutions? What Challenges Were You Facing That Caused You to Consider Us? 

These questions are great not only because it gives you some really good stories, but because it gives you some insight on how you can provide similar prospects with that AHA moment. Understanding the average day of your clients is important in reflecting on your Customer Value Journey, and helps you understand what really set you apart from your competitors.

What Key Features Had the Biggest and/or Fastest Impact?

Not only is this going to get you to really specific stories, you will understand the specific things you provided that gave the biggest impact. The answers to these questions will not only give you great insight and testimonials, it will provide you with ideas for new lead magnets. This part is a new Entry Point Offer goldmine! 

What Has Been the Impact or Results in Your Life or Business Since Using Our Product or Service? 

This is a fairly broad question, and that’s why we put it after the others. You will have already gotten all of the specifics out of the way with #1 & #2. But when you ask this question, this is where you get the most valuable stories. You can use this part as testimonials, as an order form, as a sales page, this part is testimonial gold. 

If You Were Asked to Justify this Purchase to Your Boss or a Friend, What Would You Say? 

This is our favorite question by far. If you had to go back in time and justify this purchase, what would you say? I promise you what we’re going to find is a lot of great ideas for the jobs that your product or service has done. You’ll get a lot of great ideas for your core message canvas. This question is about backfilling all of the assets that you may not have. Here you’re going directly to the customer who are already happy, and using their justifications to help you sell to new customers. 

Hopefully you now understand just how valuable the Advocate stage could be, as well as the key questions you need to ask to get your customers talking. Here’s how it works for our example companies.

When it comes to fashion we all love to show off our outfits. So a good example for Hazel & Hems would be to have customers write reviews for a discount code or points towards their next purchase. 

Better yet, follow up with the customers to ask them to share and tag themselves wearing the items in a social media post and providing them with something valuable as a reward.

For Cyrus & Clark Media, hopping on zoom meetings or a streaming service for live talks about them and their business could generate valuable awareness for them, and a live case study for the agency. They can use the questions Ryan provided during this lesson to conduct the interview.

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Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions



Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions

Through deals and coupons, Instacart has saved consumers more than $700 million in 2022. As we dive into 2023, the leading grocery technology company in North America has big plans to help consumers save even more while also helping CPGs generate sales. Instacart recently announced an advertising solution that helps both sellers and consumers called Instacart Promotions. This exciting feature is designed to help drive conversions, boost sales, and generate overall engagement on the app.

Interested in this feature and how it can help your business on Instacart? Read on as we dive into everything you need to know about this ad solution including benefits, how to get started, and more.


What are Instacart Promotions?


Instacart Promotions is an advertising feature that’s now available to all brand partners, including emerging brands, within their open beta program. Promotions give CPGs the opportunity to offer new deal structures, promotions, and incentives with Instacart Ad campaigns. With this feature in place, consumers will have access to more promotions, coupons, and deals that are tailored to them within the Instacart Marketplace.

“With the launch of our new Instacart Promotions, all of our brand partners now have the ability to set up coupons and promotions that can drive meaningful business results while also passing on more savings opportunities to consumers. We’re proud to continue expanding our portfolio with additional self-service capabilities, ad formats that drive results, and measurement that brands need to understand the true impact of their campaigns on Instacart.”


– Ali Miller, VP of Ads Product at Instacart


Source: Instacart


How Do Instacart Promotions Work?


Promotions, now available in Ads Manager, gives consumers the ability to discover more promotions and savings opportunities within the Instacart app. These promotions now show up directly on product item cards before checkout for easy accessibility. Promotions allow advertisers to customize their campaigns to sync with their goals and objectives whether that be driving sales, building baskets, or boosting trials.

Instacart shared a recent example of a brand successfully utilizing Promotions… 

Athletic Brewing, General Mills, Sola Company, and Wells Enterprises (maker of Halo Top) are strengthening campaign performance by pairing Instacart Promotions with ad formats such as Sponsored Product and Display. Instacart Promotions include two new flexible and customizable structures: Coupons (“buy X units, save $Y”) and Stock Up & Save (“Spend $X, Save $Y”). 

According to Instacart, in the coming months, the company “will work to further enhance the new offering with new deal structures such as Free Gifts and Buy One, Get One (“BOGO”). The new deal structures will help brand partners run “Free Sample” programs that can win new customers and serve personalized discounts for different customer segments, such as “new to brand” and “new to category.”  


Example of Instacart Promotions

Source: Instacart


Instacart Promotions Benefits


Deliver Value and Savings to Consumers


With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to deliver value and savings that will have consumers coming back for more. With this savings feature, your brand can stand out among the competition and offer a variety of deals to shoppers ie: “Buy X units, Save $Y”.


Hot tip: Ensure you are selecting products for your promotion that are well-stocked and widely available.  


Tailor Your Campaigns to Specific Objectives


With a variety of savings options available, your brand can structure deals to fit specific business goals and objectives. 


Hot tip: If you’re looking to drive visibility and awareness, try pairing promotions with Sponsored Product campaigns. 


Access Real-Time Performance Insights 


The Promotions beta program is live and can be accessed within Instacart Ads Manager. Within Ads Manager, advertisers can access real-time insights to maximize performance and adjust campaigns as needed.


Hot tip: Make sure your budget matches your discount and objectives.


“As an advertiser, Instacart’s unique offering to self-manage promotions is so exciting! Historically, making adjustments to offer values and other promotion parameters was a more manual process, but now we’ll be able to easily make optimizations in real-time based on redemption performance.”

Emily Choate

Emily Choate, Senior Specialist, Marketplace Search at Tinuiti


Interested in Instacart Promotions?


With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to reach new customers, build bigger baskets, and drive sales. Interested in testing out the beta program or looking to get started with advertising on the app? Drop us a line – we’d love to help elevate your CPG brand on Instacart.


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