Expert Interview Series: Kate Athmer of Integrate on the Challenges of Demand Generation

Kate Athmer, Director of Demand Orchestration at Integrate,  leverages creativity, data and technology to build revenue-driving marketing programs.

We recently asked Kate about the common challenges businesses face with demand generation and how they can overcome them. Here's what she shared:

Tell us about Integrate? What's your mission? How are you hoping to impact the world of marketing?

Our mission is to transform demand marketing by empowering demand gen marketers, marketing ops pros, agencies and media providers to automate top-of-funnel demand marketing efforts. Our Demand Orchestration Software works with marketing automation and CRM systems, as well as ABM and predictive software, to build holistic demand marketing engines for B2B marketers to predictably scale sales pipeline and revenue.

We want to help marketers eliminate time-consuming, frustrating tasks to focus on strategic programs that drive revenue.

What are some of the challenges you find companies commonly experience with demand generation?

Traditional demand gen campaigns and channels are managed individually, and are almost never integrated with marketing automation or CRM systems. So marketers spend all their time managing publishers, testing lead sources, formatting and scrubbing spreadsheets, arguing over returns and loading leads into their database– without much insight into what’s actually working. Plus, all the manual components make it nearly impossible to scale for gains in marketing attributed revenue.

How can these challenges be overcome? Why is it so critical that companies have a solution for better demand generation?

Demand orchestration software is the way to solve all this at once. It enables you to:

  • Centralize and manage demand gen campaigns, channels and sources, and lead data in one dashboard
  • Validate, dedupe, enhance and standardize lead data to be automatically added to your marketing automation or CRM platform
  • Optimize demand investments in real-time using closed loop reporting to tie revenue opportunities back to sources or channels

Marketing organizations invest billions in top-of-funnel marketing programs to generate new prospects, but CMOs don’t care about leads and MQLs anymore, they care about revenue. So marketers need a way to maintain and scale demand gen efforts, while also freeing up time to focus strategic efforts that turn leads into revenue and customers into advocates.

What makes automation a useful tool for lead generation? What are best practices for automation at the top of the funnel? 

Simply put, automation saves you from doing “marketing janitor” work like scrubbing and formatting spreadsheets, finding and vetting new sources, and arguing with publishers about returns, so you can focus on strategic work that really matters. It also helps keep your database clean and marketable, so you aren’t paying to house data that isn’t even valid.

When looking to automate at the top of the funnel, start with assessing your current processes; adding technology will only help if you put solid processes in place first. Of course, you’ll want to make sure any technology you select is capable of integrating with your existing priority tools – and that it will continue to be able to do so in the long run. And finally, make sure you have the right people in place to manage the tools and processes.

What are common mistakes you see businesses making in demand marketing right now? What should they be doing differently?

The biggest mistake I’m seeing is marketers failing to effectively use their time, and spending too much energy on low-value, repetitive tasks. Instead, marketers should be focused on prioritizing the hard, business-advancing initiatives that can truly drive revenue. I’ve found that the two most important keys to actually doing this are: know where to apply "good enough" marketing, and stop doing tasks that can be automated.

What tools are essential for more efficient and effective demand marketing today? What tools or practices do you find companies still using that are outdated and ineffective?

The answer to this question is going to be different for every business, but in general everyone needs systems to organize their customers, prospects and marketing activities. CRM and Marketing Automation are table stakes at this point, but they don’t reach far enough. Marketers should take a look at where they are investing the most resources, and see if there’s a tool that can help them be more successful in that area. At Integrate, we see a lot of room to gain efficiencies at the top of the funnel.

I think the idea of using BANT criteria for qualification is outdated. Thanks to the internet, prospects now do so much of their own research before even speaking to someone at your company. In our view, this means that by the time a lead is BANT qualified, it’s too late to start the conversation. They’ve potentially already made up their mind about the value of your product to their business, and your conversation will be too oriented around price.

What should businesses be doing today to prepare for future of demand marketing? 

Paying more attention to data compliance standards. Demand marketing organizations are collecting tons of detailed prospect data, while simultaneously facing higher data compliance standards than ever before. Upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) changes are going to further prove difficult for many marketing organizations, and businesses need to act with speed and precision to stay ahead of it.

What marketing trends or innovations are you following today? Why do they interest you?

AI is the obvious answer here. I like the potential of AI to take more manual tasks off the shoulders of marketers and make us more efficient. But with an increasingly automated, digital world, personal touch will become more rare – and therefore more powerful. I’m especially excited about tech that will enable more personal touches, whether that be direct mail, live video, personalized landing pages, or something we haven’t seen yet.

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