I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that today Demandbase, the largest and most complete ABM platform, has completed its acquisition of Engagio. This is a big milestone for our stakeholders – including our employees, customers, partners and investors – and it’s a game-changing day for the B2B marketing industry, probably the biggest news since Adobe/Marketo. Together, I am confident that Demandbase and Engagio provide the dominant platform for Account-Based Marketing and will be able to transform the way B2B companies go to market.
I’ve long held a belief that the way companies buy B2B products has changed a lot, but the way most marketers (and their tools) operate hasn’t evolved nearly enough to keep up. My article, I Predicted Marketing Automation and it Changed Everything – Here’s My Next Big Prediction, explained this point of view, arguing that:
- Non-linear buying has broken the traditional “baton handoff” model embedded in traditional marketing automation, requiring new ways for marketing and sales to work and work together;
- Marketing’s traditional focus on “new business” pipeline has resulted in systematically ignoring massive post-sale opportunities including cross-sell and retention; and
- Companies are increasingly looking to consolidate their martech stacks, and the future of B2B marketing is one in which companies will merge account-based strategies and traditional demand generation motions into a single platform.
These gaps are what led me and my cofounder Brian Babcock to start Engagio back in 2015 with a mission to create a next-generation marketing platform. Since then, we’ve grown to support over 200+ customers – including Anaplan, Atlassian, Coupa, Cognizant, New Relic, Snowflake, Trend Micro, and Vonage – with their account-based engagement efforts. We’ve literally written the book on account-based marketing, with over 20,000 downloads of our Clear and Complete Guide to Account-Based Marketing. And we’ve helped to push the entire ABM technology category forward to new levels of innovation.
A Shared Vision for B2B Marketing
Through it all, we’ve been driven by our mission to build the next-generation marketing platform; delivering on that mission has driven every strategic decision we’ve taken, and this is no exception. This acquisition came about primarily because Gabe Rogol, Demandbase’s CEO, and I realized we had the exact same vision for what’s required in a next-generation B2B marketing platform, and that – despite the fact that many people could consider us competitors – we had taken perfectly complementary paths to get there. We mapped out what each platform was best at, and we realized that combining them together would create magic: the industry’s most complete ABM platform with industry-leading functionality in every aspect. Individually, we were both leaders – together we would be truly unbeatable.
Consider these aspects of a comprehensive platform:
- An AI/ML-based technology foundation. The number of possible actions and total amount of data available have grown exponentially since the days of Marketo. The rules-based “if-then” campaigns found in marketing automation no longer cut it. AI and Machine Learning are essential to help synthesize the enormous amount of data required to understand intent signals and other account-based insights. Additionally, this technology is essential to deliver personalized next-best actions in real time at scale. However, despite machine learning being an area of expertise for Engagio’s cofounder Brian Babcock, we have not had the time or resources to invest significant R&D effort in this area. In contrast, deep AI, machine learning and natural language processing expertise are towering strengths of Demandbase’s technology foundation.
- Data (B2B customer data platform). A customer data platform, or CDP, is at the heart of any comprehensive marketing platform. It starts with the ability to connect to various data sources – including CRM, marketing automation, and email/calendar data – and ingest massive amounts of data (including detailed activity data). It then requires lead-to-account mapping (L2A) to ensure a comprehensive view of accounts and people. And finally, the ability to create and segment audiences used natively within the platform or exported to other marketing and sales applications. Engagio’s account-based foundation took our marketing automation heritage and built a robust solution here – but we focused on unifying 1st party data (e.g. information you collect directly from your prospects and customers). We didn’t include 3rd party data from outside sources, so customers always had to work with additional vendors for data and intent. But that is exactly what Demandbase excels at: patented IP mapping, native intent data, rich 3rd-party B2B data, plus advertising and website data. The combination delivers the leading CDP for B2B companies.
- Decisions (planning, orchestration and measurement). From defining the account journey to understanding accounts to measuring engagement to orchestrating cross-channel plays to measuring ROI, Engagio delivers the #1 account-based engagement platform. One area Engagio particularly excels at is the orchestration with Sales, providing rich engagement intelligence and the ability to coordinate actions between departments. To all this, Demandbase brings automated account selection powered by AI; deep website analytics; a unique ability to show lift vs. control groups; and a rich ability to stream data to your existing data lake or warehouse.
- Delivery (omnichannel campaigns). Ultimately, marketing and sales need to take action with the data, insights and audiences they create. Engagio took an aggressively open strategy to this, integrating with 3rd party channels including advertising (LinkedIn), sales engagement (Salesloft, Outreach), direct mail (PFL, Sendoso), and more including web personalization and marketing automation / email. While an open strategy is great, customers wanted a ‘one-stop shop’ and were asking for native applications to engage accounts and buying teams, including B2B advertising and site personalization. And once again, these are exactly the areas that have helped Demandbase become a leader in ABM: the industry’s only DSP built for account targeting / B2B advertising; and rich website personalization with integrations to leading platforms including Drift, Uberflip, Pathfactory, Folloze, and more.
- An intuitive user experience. B2B marketing technology users are too busy to tolerate opaque, challenging UIs. Engagio’s user interface again relies on our marketing automation heritage and is immediately familiar to anyone who has used Marketo or other MA platforms.
As you see, the combination of Demandbase and Engagio creates the world’s most comprehensive account-based marketing platform. One that spans people and accounts. One that manages the complete buyer’s journey. One that is truly omnichannel, from ads to email to sales activity. And one that truly aligns marketing and sales so they can reach their goals together: to acquire, grow, and retain more customers.
In Spite of COVID…
Our companies are coming together at a unique time riddled with economic uncertainty and change as companies adapt to the global pandemic. You may be wondering, did this deal happen because of COVID? I can confidently tell you the opposite is true: this deal came together despite the many challenges COVID put in our way. Neither company “had to” do this deal; on the Engagio side, we had plenty of runway and momentum in our business, and on the Demandbase side, they had a funded roadmap and plans to build all the pieces they were missing. And yet, at a time when many companies are hunkering down to try to survive, Gabe and I saw the opportunity to come together and emerge from this period with a complete solution that would clearly dominate the category. And so we bashed through every obstacle and planned, negotiated, and closed this deal completely over Zoom. And that’s truly a testament to the compelling nature of the joint solution.
I’m extremely proud to be joining Demandbase’s executive team as Chief Product Officer, where I’ll be responsible for developing, communicating, and ultimately delivering on our shared vision. Brian, my cofounder, will be joining as CTO, and almost the entire Engagio team is also joining Demandbase. As another example of how this deal was “meant to be,” Gabe and I came to realize that the two companies have remarkably similar cultures and ways of operating. I can’t wait to see what these two awesome teams can do, together.
I’ll finish, as is customary for posts like this, with a deep thank you to everyone who has helped me and Engagio get to this point. Thank you to our customers who believed in our vision and approach to ABM and bet their success on us. Thank you to our partners who have integrated solutions and developed joint marketing programs. Thank you to our investors and advisors who have supported me not only with capital but also invaluable advice and the occasional pep talk. Thank you to our employees and executives who have made every day of this experience special – I couldn’t imagine doing this without you. Thank you to Brian, my cofounder, who helped build our incredible platform and me lead the company with sound thinking and compassion. And thank you to my family, who put up with me and supported me every day during this five-and-a-half-year journey. Thank you. THANK YOU. I couldn’t have done this without each of you, and I’m excited to work with many of you on the next step of this journey.