How to Use Webinar Content to Fuel Long Term Microsites

This blog was originally posted on Shared with author’s permission.

Are your archived webinars gathering dust on your website? Breathe new life – and new viewers – into your expertise and insight by building a resource hub that engages with your audience whenever they need content most.

Microsites devoted to specific issues, industries, and even specific clients allow you to feature your firm’s guidance and perspective on the issues most relevant to the people you are trying to reach. They let you extend the scope and value of webinars and other content that your audience may not otherwise be able to find on your website.

Equally important, they provide you with a rich set of analytics and data that you can use to discover new opportunities, fine-tune your webinar and marketing programs, and optimize your content for SEO.

Here are three ways our clients are using ON24’s Engagement Hub – a drag and drop technology that provides a simple, out-of-the-box solution to create robust resource centers – to put their archived thought leadership back to work:

1. Add Value for Significant Clients

Organize past webinars and other content around the issues you regularly feature – the subjects that keep your best clients up at night, like cybersecurity or anti-corruption programs or managing employees (maybe even all three!) – to make it easy for viewers to access and appreciate your thought leadership.

…your top clients get comprehensive analysis and valuable insight on the specific matters they face every day

Online direct trading and investing company is doing this. They created an engagement hub to house their full suite webinars designed to educate and inform investors on a broad range of topics ranging from current global interest rate trends to tax reporting and more.

With a focused microsite, your top clients get comprehensive analysis and valuable insight on the specific matters they face every day. And you get detailed data on their viewing and reading habits, data you can use to guide future content marketing efforts (or, for that matter, in-person meetings): the issues of most concern to your audience, how much time and attention they devote to certain topics, the paths they follow to get to the information they need, and more.

2. Establish Leadership in New Service Lines and Niche Markets

Resource hubs that feature tailored content on niche or emerging hot-topic issues, like artificial intelligence in health care or the obstacles facing entrepreneurs in the emerging cannabis industry, provide an effective foundation for launching a new service line or expanding your reputation with traditional audiences. What’s more, because you don’t have to incorporate the site into your existing website, you can quickly build and publish resource centers as opportunities arise.

Global law firm Morgan Lewis is doing this particularly well with their Labor & Employment NOW hub that contains videos the firms has created to address employment and labor issues, like the NLRB’s “applicable law” provisions, workplace investigations, and employment arbitration.

Viewer analytics will tell you how well the issues resonate with your target audience, what’s relevant, what’s not, and what your next webinar should cover. What’s more, because viewers register for the site to access content, the portal functions as an effective lead generation and engagement tool to help you establish and nurture new connections.

3. Showcase Industry Skills and Expertise

Portals that bring together webinars and other content you’ve created to help clients respond to the challenges and concerns of specific industries and sectors – manufacturing, real estate, or food service, for example – let you repurpose content for new audiences while reminding existing connections of the depth and breadth of your experience and the solutions offered by your team.

One company that’s using Engagement Hub to showcase their expertise in IT workflows and cloud computing is ServiceNow. Their microsite contains the on-demand webinars their audience needs to understand business-critical technology issues, manage their people and processes, and improve results using technology solutions.

You can focus the content narrowly or broadly – for example, to target middle-market power generators active in emerging markets or retailers across the United States. You can do a deep dive on a single issue, like digital transformation in the publishing sector, or build a comprehensive resource for industry participants. Most importantly, you can easily modify the site to respond to viewer interest and current developments, quickly bring archived webinars back to the home screen, highlight popular content, and more, to customize your resource hub to the needs and interests of your audience.

Feature Friday: Tools For a Better Registration Experience

Capturing form fills and obtaining details about your audience is important, but lengthy and redundant registration experiences can hurt the customer experience and act as a major barrier to content consumption. Repeatedly filling out multiple registration forms with the same information  is frustrating for any audience trying to connect with your business and its message.

Registration experiences should be seamless, painless and ensure your audience can easily access your content without repetitious and complicated processes.

That’s why we’re continuing to refine our capabilities across the ON24 Platform to help you create a seamless registration experience that removes barriers and creates opportunities for ongoing content consumption.

New: One-Click Registration

First, we recently introduced a new feature, called one-click registration, that connects ON24 Webcast Elite and ON24 Engagement Hub With this feature, ON24 users can deliver an easy and seamless registration experience by empowering audience members to register once for all upcoming or on-demand webinars. .

After registering for their first webinar, each audience member will see a personalized message (e.g., “Hi Ryan”) for all subsequent webinars and only need to click once to register moving forward. With one-click registration, make it easier for your audience members to consume more content while increasing attendance rates and engagement for all your events.

One-click registration is easily enabled on the event level through a single toggle button.

Removing Barriers to Content Consumption

When targeting specific personas or accounts, creating a personalized experience means not having to ask the prospect or customer for their information again and again. You already know who they are. With ON24 Target’s seamless registration capabilities, ON24 users can easily pre-register audience members so they don’t have to enter their personal details each time you reach out with customized or personalized content. What’s more, managing registration to create a seamless experience doesn’t mean the loss of important engagement data, the ON24 Platform continues to  gather engagement details at the account and individual level.

After setup, simply use the updated URL when promoting your content experience to your targeted personas and accounts (check out how to set up customer hyperlinks with Outreach). Your target audience members will not only receive a personal email but also easily access the content experience you’ve created for them. Remove the barrier to content consumption and reap the benefits of actionable engagement data.

If you’d like to learn more about how the ON24 Platform powers seamless registration experiences, please contact us. If you’re already engaging audiences with the ON24 Platform, learn more in the Knowledge Center.

CMO Confessions Ep. 28: David Fortino of NetLine

Hi folks and welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions, our B2B podcast that examines what it takes to be a leader in the marketing and sales side of the business and the trends, technologies and fads that we all try to keep up with.

This week, we have David Fortino, Senior Vice President of Audience and Product at NetLine. David and I have been on somewhat of a speaking tour with our Scrappy Marketing webinar series, so we sat down finally discuss how he got to be where he’s at and he thinks marketing is heading.

In this episode, we discuss the dangers of Shiny Object Syndrome in marketing, why tech alone doesn’t make great marketing and why having customer advocates is so very, very important in an age that demands authenticity.

As always, you can find the full episode of CMO Confessions on Podbean here and an edited transcript of our conversation below.

You can learn more about what David has to say by following him on Twitter here and follow him on LinkedIn here.

If you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in Podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Table of Contents

What does David Fortino love about marketing?
What drives David nuts about marketing?
How bad marketers devalue marketing
Shiny object syndrome: too many tech toys and not enough tools
Tech doesn’t make great marketing
If you don’t believe in the product or solution, what should you change?
Walk the walk of your market, don’t just know their interests
The gold nugget of authentic marketing
David Fortino’s curated path
David looks back on 17 years of NetLine’s growth


Joe Hyland:

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions, a B2B sales and marketing podcast where we explore what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at On24, and joining me this week from the greater Philly area is David Fortino, SVP of Audience Marketing and Product at NetLine. David, how’s it going?

David Fortino:

Great, great. Thanks for having me on, Joe. It’s good to catch up. It’s been a what a whapping few days I suppose since our last digital exchange here. So, it’s always good.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, that’s funny. We’re doing this on a weekly basis now.

David Fortino:        

Right, right.


Joe Hyland:        

Okay, David. So I get asked this question a lot and I think it’s really interesting to get other marketer’s perspectives on it. Talk about what you love about marketing, what are you incredibly passionate about in terms of what you guys are doing today or what you’re seeing in the space?

David Fortino:        

So, I think there’s probably a few things that I love and some of them are personal while others relate to what we do as a company. Speaking for myself, I love every aspect of digital marketing. I love the progression of the space, I love the constant innovation, the clutter and cluster blank that it creates and also the ability to then find companies that solve problems.

This gets into more of our corporate things that I love. There’s nothing better for me to hear that a client has solved a major pain point. And for us, that specifically means using content to drive lead gen success that builds pipeline and ultimately wins business. Hearing that feedback from our clients that by running campaigns, using their own content across our platform and successfully pulling in a $100,000 order, whatever it might be, that is just immediately gratifying.

And it really kind of sets us down a path where, not only our content marketing strategy is centered around customer centricity and engagement, but also it affirms our ability to innovate on a product perspective too because we are small, we are about 80 employees, every ounce of our pipeline is directly fed by direct interactions with our clients.

Being that close with customers allows us to innovate quicker than most in our industry because of the fact that we’re just that close to them and hearing their pain points, their concerns and obviously the accolades we love to hear all the time. But we’re never really stopping from an innovation perspective and I think that really stems from our CEO. Prior to founding NetLine, he was a semiconductor engineer by trade, so he brings a lot of product discipline, iterative mindsets around releases, MVPs and so on, and that’s really rolled down through the entire organization, every discipline.


Joe Hyland:

That’s super cool to hear. And I want to come back to the notion of growth marketing and being a growth marketer. So I’ll come back to that in a couple of minutes. What about things that just drive you crazy about marketing? Because you referenced being excited about and loving digital marketing and reusing your own content to drive growth. Like, there’s a lot of great things about marketing today, but there’s a lot of really shitty things and I want to hear one or one or two of them from you. What just drives you nuts?


David Fortino:        

Yeah, I think, there’s the byproduct of shitty marketing, which unfortunately does damage to all of us regardless of where you play in the landscape. It devalues what a marketer’s capability can and should be to not only their customers, their audience, readers and/or their own employer. But beyond that, it creates so much freaking confusion in the space that you’ve got, we as marketers tend to feed this, unfortunately.

There’s always this shiny object syndrome that happens and I would say ABM is probably in the epicenter of that, at least in B2B marketing space right now. AI is being thrown around as if it’s the next coming of whatever. And yet it eventually will be, but it won’t be what is promised today. And it certainly won’t be what it is today, which is in most cases, AI truly isn’t AI today. They’re nothing more than simplistic algorithms.

And so I think the biggest concern I have is that there are countless events that we go to, to either speak at, sponsor or simply attend. And you’ll look at marketers in the eye and they look back at you with the face of complete and utter confusion. They have no idea how this ABM vendor is different from that one and that one and that one and that one and that one. And so this is due to bad marketing. It’s due to probably too much VC funding going into 19 companies that directly compete against each other and so on. Part of that is that marketers simply need to have solutions and be more focused on finding vendors that can quickly, easily articulate how they solve those pain points versus there’s a ton of me too’s, I commonly say there’s just too many toys and not enough tools for marketers to legitimately know how to use.


David Fortino:

And speaking to that, I printed out a quote that I just saw this morning, that I thought was perfect for this, which was by Brent Adamson over at Gartner — they’re holding a summit that I’m not at, which is Gartner CSO and Sales Leadership, I believe it’s in Austin this week or conference — and, he was speaking specifically to the biggest challenges that sales teams face and this quote really stuck out. So, “It’s not customers confidence in suppliers, but customers confidence in themselves and their ability to make good buying decisions that is in critically short supply.”

And to me, that really summarizes everything about there being too many toys and not enough tools and shiny objects syndrome is that marketers, although they want to find solutions, they’re also their worst enemy because of the fact that they’re constantly attracted to what’s next. And the fear of missing out that there’s this paralysis by analysis that occurs and they’re unable to make smart decisions because they just don’t have enough time to do them because they’re evaluating 19 different vendors that all do the same thing.

I don’t know how you solve that. And it’s a very, very big hurdle where there’s no clear assumption. And I don’t hear it enough in this space where people are recognizing that, yeah, there’s too much, and you see it almost celebrated Joe, where it’s like, you see the marketing landscape every year and it’s like, oh, now there are eight thousand vendors and it’s like, shit, what? Is that good?

Joe Hyland:        

Or how about the awards for you know the most, you know, creative or complicated tech stack? I mean, you know, I think they’re called the Stackies. Yeah, I know. It’s interesting. And I live in the land that is responsible for this, right? So, I live in San Francisco, that’s where we’re headquartered. Yeah. I mean, it’s almost an epidemic, you can’t help but bump into someone in the street and if they’re a founder the odds of it being a Martech company is high and you’re right. There’s like six or 7,000 of these companies now.

It’s interesting to admit this as a technologist, but technology is not what is not going to solve all of your marketing challenges. Right? And I think the pendulum sadly is probably swung wildly too far to one direction where young marketers are pretty fickle on just chasing the next hot thing, whether it’s ABM or something else. And implementing pretty complicated tech stacks that don’t integrate with each other is not ultimately great marketing. Right?

David Fortino:

Yeah, you hear it all the time where yes, someone, we have countless clients who come to us and they’re wrapping up a yea-long install of marketing automation system Brand X. I won’t out any of them, but it’s so common that they’re spending significant time on not only the software but the team and expertise around that and yet still struggling to have a system that does everything that it was supposed to do out of the box. Again, that’s bad marketing.


Joe Hyland:        

Tech isn’t great marketing, right? Like now, what’s amazing about what we know that the space we play in and what’s exciting about being a marketer today is, “look at what we can do now that we couldn’t do five or 10 years ago.” So, the technology when properly harnessed can, and properly leveraged, can lead to even better marketing. But just lining up all this tech on top of each other and assuming that this is going to lead to great customer experiences from the first interaction someone has with you on our website or you know, or an ad to all the way through to what it’s like being a customer — tech is not the only answer. It’s probably pretty low on the list.

David Fortino:

Yeah. And it’s, it’s interesting too, the accessibility to tech right now is difficult. I mean, we just got back from Content Marketing World, you guys were there obviously too. The amount of people that came over towards the end talking to us saying “What’s your minimum buy-in on our software?” And that varies dramatically. But at the core, there are companies that are just priced way above what a lot of the world can support, especially if they’re not going to risk their job on trying to engage with a vendor, specifically at certain price points.

And so we’ve used that as a way to augment how we’ve played in the market whereby we were always historically just enterprise only. And so you couldn’t really work with us if you didn’t have at least a couple of hundred thousand dollars allocated annually. And that was heavy service or [inaudible] business where we didn’t need to do a ton of amazing marketing there because it was very high touch, almost like a consultative type relationship.

We still have that. But on the flip side, we’ve now really kind of embraced the democratization of lead gen. And so literally any B2B marketer can flight a content-centric lead gen campaign in minutes. And so it comes down to, maybe making accessibility something that should be centric for a lot of these ideas. Cause it’s not just a price point thing. It’s a complexity thing. It’s the ability to, if you were building this product, could your grandmother launch it? If she’s going through that interface. A lot of the stuff that we so-called experts build and release and celebrate sometimes they’re just terrible, right? You go through the experience and you’re like, “Wow, this is really complicated.” It shouldn’t have to be that way. And so that’s, again, for the technology behind the scenes, it can be as incredibly complicated as it needs to be to support whatever that product is. But from a usability perspective that ties into marketing and positioning. Things don’t have to be that way.


Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. And, you know, I think an interesting company to look at, to inspire great marketing … have a great product. You’ve got to have, right, no one wants to market a shitty solution. Right? And truthfully you’re put between a rock and a hard place if that is the case. So if you’re a marketer at a company where you don’t believe in the product or solution perhaps you should look to change something whether that’s your career, and we’ll talk about that more in a second, or drive internal changes in what the product looks and feels like.

But I look at what Zoom has done. So Zoom entered an incredibly competitive space. So, the video collaboration market was not exactly ripe for disruption, right? There were a lot of players, it was a crowded market and Eric Yuan went in there, you know, from WebEx, where he was the head of engineering, so he knew a great deal about it and he just built the best product and had the best customer experience. And I think a lot of people didn’t believe in him or did not believe in their mission or the space he was trying to disrupt.

And they went public last year, their market caps around $20 billion I haven’t checked in the last month or two, wildly successful. And it was on the backs of putting customers first. I mean, he and that whole team led with customer experience. They actually had pretty loud but simple marketing. And it worked because they focused on the customer and they focused on ease of use. And I think, you know, Zoom is a product that would pass your grandmother or grandfather test, right? Like, and I think there’s a lesson learned in there for how we market because I think we have this tendency to try to make things too complicated.

David Fortino:        

And it also speaks a lot to don’t underestimate the power of what great design, clear and concise messaging can do for a product that is put up against incumbents that have been around for a decade or longer. And everyone’s telling you you’re crazy. He specifically had a ton of true knowledge about the space, understood the product’s limitations in the marketplace and thought that there could be a better way of doing this. And so with that knowledge and customer-centric transparency and accessibility of the product, yeah, it’s a recipe for a win. It’s still not a guarantee but I think that’s a beautiful outcome. That’s a good example that you brought up.


Joe Hyland:

Yeah, and I think any, you just referenced this, I think any market is prime for disruption if you look through the lens or view it through the lens of what is best for the customer, right? Like if you are customer obsessed, I think a company can do pretty well. And I think a lot of marketers have a tendency to shy away from that. And I’d love to get your perspective on this. I think a lot of marketers want to make things sound great. They want to, you know, maybe have a surface-level understanding of a product or an industry because they’re not going to write white papers, right? Like they don’t need to know everything. But I really feel like to do phenomenal marketing you need to be able to walk the walk of your addressable market more than just knowing what they’re interested in. So how do you look at that at NetLine and what are your views there?

David Fortino:

Yeah, I would completely agree. I mean, I’ve gotten to a point where I am so comfortable with what our customers can and or will say about us that it’s not uncommon like at Content Marketing World I was in a case study session, we presented with a client of ours and I specifically didn’t want to see their slides. I didn’t want to see any of their talking points.

I knew the underlying tone was positive, obviously. But aside from that, I’m very comfortable with it being a fully honest, transparent and owned message coming from our client. The authenticity bleeds through that. There’s no tone of NetLine massaging the messaging or anything becoming somewhat of a corporate tone there. Yeah. Then we can take that as a marketing team and craft different elements from there. Extract that into whether it’s a video or a webinar or afterward, perhaps it’s even just simple blog posts summing up the session.


David Fortino:

But the notion of having a customer-centric content marketing strategy, but also that the DNA of the company being comfortable with that has been hugely immense and immensely helpful for us. It’s something that wasn’t always that way. I would say over the past two years we’ve gotten really good at that, but it was a cognizant decision of basically saying like look a lot of our marketing our best stuff should be really created by our clients. They just don’t know that they’re creating our marketing. But they are the seedlings for all of it. And so if we’re coming around, like you said, trying to dream up the next best and sexiest way to talk about NetLine, odds are it’s going to come out, as you know, something that’s been either done before said before in similar veins.

Joe Hyland:        

We’re all biased, right? Like, I’m paid to say great things about ON24. You’re paid to say great things about NetLine. Hopefully, we believe those things. But yeah, if it can be authentic and come from your customers or the peers of whoever you’re marketing to like that’s gold.

David Fortino:

Yeah. And even when they sprinkle in something where it’s like everything about it has been exceptional, I just wish it had this feature. Like that’s, to me, it’s never a negative. That’s a phenomenal positive. Put it out there on G2. I could care less. Let’s use that and publicly respond then and actually be accountable to customers in a transparent way that other future customers can even see before they ever engage with us.

We know that the vast majority of buyers are making their decisions before they ever talk to anybody at NetLine and the same thing would be for ON24. And so the more we can have customers’ voices, their opinions, their pros and cons out there, the more authentic of a brand we become.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I couldn’t agree more, and you said something a moment ago that I wrote down authentic experiences. Like so much of marketing, and I think this is changing, however, so much of marketing is overly scripted, overly curated, overly produced — people see through that, right? I think what everyone wants is a real authentic human experience. And marketers have just gone so far to one extreme on volume and scale, that I think they’ve lost a little bit of that human touch. So I love what you just said.

David Fortino:

Well, I think that, I mean, look at podcasts, look at the advent of video in communication. I think both of those really speak to that being an authentic communication. I mean, even just this, right? Like, we’ve not had any rehearsal to this. This is us just talking.

Joe Hyland:        

We’re winging it.

David Fortino:

Right. And so there are surely there might be an element here where one of us flubs a word, who cares? That’s fine. We’re real. And then we may have some genius statement that we don’t even know what came out of our mouth and that’s going to be fine too. But yeah, I think it’s just extremely relatable and it comes back to a lot of things. You hear a lot of our, you know, so-called thought leaders in this space, talking about emotional intelligence, bleeding through in your marketing, humanization of marketing. As much as you hear these things, it’s like at some point it’s just common sense though too. And so, there’s a lot of hype around these things, but at the core, it’s just doing right by your customers or your constituents.

Joe Hyland:        

It’s funny, I think there are some tenants in life, in business and in marketing that we can, you know, kind of, we can lose our way. And you just listed one of them, right? Like great marketing is always about your audience; it’s never about you. And if you come across in a real authentic, human way people will probably be pretty receptive to your message. It’s just we all have so many great things to say about our own company that sometimes we lose our way.

David Fortino:        

And I think it gets lost too largely to internal just bureaucracy and process regardless of how big or small your company is. Marketers are tasked with taking a lot of the stakeholders’ opinions, perspectives, things that they hate as well, and channeling that into their final message that’s released to the public. And sometimes, maybe what your CEO wants you to say may not be the right message, but you’ve got to have a relationship that allows you to challenge that and articulate why and obviously test delivering a different message to the marketplace that is more customer-centric. But yeah, not everybody’s afforded those types of things though. So it seems set and done, I assume.

Joe Hyland:        

I’m sure no one listening can relate to having their messaging being essentially crowdsourced internally, particularly by executives. Yeah, you’re right. I mean, that’s where you get a disastrous duct tape set of messaging where it goes through too many people and you know, it loses its way really quickly.

David Fortino:        

You may have some execs that are happy, but I can tell you the sales team’s not happy cause they’re like, that’s not what our clients want. We hear this every day and anyone in client services or account management is like that’s not what we talk about every day. So where did those words come from? So then ultimately that poorly reflects on marketing which then even gets to like a lot of turnover issues that are systematically associated with high ranking marketing professionals. Yeah, it’s a tough one.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. I think a telltale sign of a crowdsourced value prop is one that has like three or four hyphens in it. It’s like, oh, we need to get data-driven in there. We need to get customer-centric. And all of a sudden before you know it, it means nothing.

David Fortino:

Right, right. Agreed.


Joe Hyland:        

Okay. So I want to hear this is another question we get a lot of career path. And you know, I think it’s common to think that there is a perfect path to become a head of marketing. You have a pretty unique path in that there’s some real longevity there. So talk to us and talk to me and our listeners on your curated path over the last 20 years.

David Fortino:        

Yeah, it is completely an anomaly up against any of my peers in the space. And so, I worked at a company called VerticalNet which was part of the dotcom era one. Typical rise and fall story. I highly encourage you to check it out. It’s highly documented, I believe it’s still taught at Wharton as a case study of what not to do.

Joe Hyland:        

Really, that bad huh?

David Fortino:        

Yeah. But it was exceptionally fun, and it taught me a lot about what not to do. And, I will forever cherish that period of my life. It introduced me to NetLine and so as I was there we were responsible for selling off of the business unit and I told our GM that once that transaction was done I was going to move on. And so I had loved NetLine from the outside looking in and that there was this little business in California and their business model was based upon getting content from marketers that are largely gated content. But I think they only had a couple of dozen pieces of content and getting that content across the web in front of professionals as they’re looking to learn and research various business and or technical problems.

So that was the client chasing value prop. The publisher facing value prop was publishers would pick up this content, inject it into their websites and get a revenue share from NetLine based upon qualified leads being delivered to those customers. And I thought that was a genius idea because at the time, and what turns out to be still pretty much today, everyone’s just focused on shoving CPM display ads down everyone’s throat. And so, as programmatic has grown tremendously and billions of dollars have gone into that space the byproduct is still the same. It’s an ad that’s a display standard governed by the IAB that yields of 0.04% click-through rate on average in the B2B space.

So all that money being spent. It’s questionable at best. I don’t get it and nor do I, will I try. So I kind of fell in love with content-centric and lead gen oriented business models and was fortunate enough to, I sent a hair-brained email to the president of NetLine and he flew me out. I said I’m not relocating. I think I can grow the business tremendously and little did we know now we’re 17 years later, I’ve got a team out here on the East Coast, we’ve grown as a business together tremendously over that period of time. But I’m really lucky to have a great management team that allowed that to happen. And that’s our president and our CEO largely responsible for that.

Joe Hyland:

You did not have, there was not a presence on the East Coast before you started working there I assume?

David Fortino:        

No, they never had even remote employees. So, yeah.


Joe Hyland:

So, what did this email say? Go back 17 years.

David Fortino:        

Oh man, I don’t even know. And I laugh at myself now. It’s like, who the hell did you think you were just being like, yeah, I can totally blow this up. And, but it turned out it was really hard and there were a lot of things that I thought about that were completely wrong. And then our president and I at the time, his name’s Werner Mansfeld shout out Werner.

Yeah, I spent a ton of time kind of unpacking what they did and then tried a million different strategies and we started getting traction. And then at that point also our CEO, Bob Alvin, is heavily involved in the business as well. And yeah, so we’ve kind of grown out from there. But it’s taken a ton of time and obviously, every side of the business is hugely important making that happen. So I like the urge to grow it and bring a publisher model to it but aside from that everybody else was partially responsible for it.

Joe Hyland:        

Well, you just mentioned a couple of cool things. One is that there’s a lot of preconceived notions that we all have that are wrong, like take risks, right? Like I don’t think anyone expects perfection or “no bad ideas.” I think the worst idea is not actually not trying new ideas. The second thing is you focus on growth and I think as marketers if we can lean into owning growth or at least being strategic and you know, fully understanding and, or trying to understand, what are the drivers for growth. Like how do we, what markets should we be in, what should our product offerings be and how do we tweak our go-to-market strategy to influence growth?

It’s easy to shy away from that because it’s scary to own or talk about things that we don’t fully, fully understand. And I think the dirty little secret is no one does, like, there’s no perfect answer for growth. And, so it’s refreshing to hear marketing leaders who sign up for these things fully knowing that not everything that comes out of their mouth will be correct or perfect.

David Fortino:

Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, looking backward, my goodness, we’ve tried all different types of things and a lot of them actually do work and then they stop working. So you think you’re on the right path and then all of a sudden it’s a dead-end and it’s like a year into that. So then, okay, well what the hell happened? Why? Learn from that and then go forward again. So I think that’s exciting about the space. It’s exciting about my role and the company itself. But yeah, I’ve been here for a long time.

I realize that’s not normal for a lot of folks in this industry. Like I was telling you before, I think to me it just comes down to two things. It’s one: am I being heard, as not only a member of the management team but anywhere in the company and am I helping to drive this business forward? And lastly, am I learning anything? Am I continuing to develop my craft? And if those two things are happening I personally don’t really care where I would be. I happen to be at NetLine and that’s why I’ve stayed. All the normal things everybody else cares about I care about too; being compensated well, having a good work/life balance, all of those things. That’s very important. But at the core, I think my two measurables are around it driving the business and learning and personal development.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, no, those are pretty foundational items that I hope everyone’s striving for whether you’ve been in a company for six months or 17 years.

Joe Hyland:        

So. David, this was fantastic. We’re at the bottom of the hour so I want to wrap it up. Thank you for the time, phenomenal discussion, and hopefully, everyone enjoyed listening to this.

David Fortino:        

Thanks again, Joe.

Three Ways Manufacturing Can Create a Better Digital Experience

Manufacturing has been one of the few industries to quickly and successfully adapt to the digital era. And, by all indications, the industry isn’t slowing down in its adept use of digital tools. According to a recent PwC survey, 72% of manufacturers say they’re planning to dramatically increase their overall level of digitization and expect to be ranked as “digitally advanced” by 2020.

This is a smart approach. Increased digital competency means manufacturers can swiftly react to market forces, coordinate efforts more easily and drive more pipeline and business.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve investigated the key areas manufacturers need to focus on to improve their digital efforts. These suggestions focus on using digital tools, such as webinars, to build better relationships with partners and distributors.

We’ve also surveyed our manufacturing clients to see how they’re using webinars in their digital efforts, and what successes they’re seeing. You can read what they have to say in our report, “ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report: Manufacturing Trends,” or check out our infographic at the end of this blog post for high-level takeaways.

So, how exactly can manufacturers improve their digital game? Here’s a brief recap of what we’ve found:

Build Better Relationships Faster

Manufacturers have to contend with a massive ecosystem. Partners, clients, distributors and more need the latest information to act on, understand trends and connect with new potential clients.

To coordinate all of these disparate elements, manufacturers are increasingly turning to digital tools. This is a wise decision. By using digital distribution tools, manufacturers can — at any point in the supply chain — provide critical partners with the latest information they need to take an appropriate or corrective action.

But these newfound digital abilities do more than just share information. They also open new business opportunities. Tesla, for example, is famous for using its digital channels to sell directly to consumers, bypassing car dealerships entirely. But these tools can also enhance relationships across a broad spectrum of partners.

Move Distributor Relationships From Tactical to Strategic

Distributors are a critical link in the manufacturing process. But the manufacturer-distributor relationship is a complicated one, at best. Manufacturers are increasingly turning to Amazon Business to distribute their wares, putting smaller distributors at a disadvantage.

While Amazon Business may be convenient for manufacturers, ignoring smaller distributors is a strategic mistake. Manufacturers would do well to view the distributor relationship as a strategic one where all parties can benefit by creating and nurturing revenue streams with a two-way conversation.

To transform this transactional relationship into a strategic one, manufacturers can use webinars to provide distributors with a reliable forum with the latest information. Webinars also provide distributors with the opportunity to ask questions, get clarity and provide a two-way knowledge transfer.

Fuel Pipeline With Educational Opportunities

Manufacturers need to fundamentally reassess how they market online. According to recent research by Content Marketing Institute, a slim majority of manufacturers (51%) say they prioritize promotional messaging over an audience’s informational needs when creating marketing content.

This is a backward approach. Modern marketing content must be made in the service of a well-defined audience. Manufacturers would do well to create and maintain educational content, or outright courses, for clients and prospects.

Doing so will help accelerate the overall buyer’s journey. Creating educational content for clients keeps customers informed of the latest trends and methods, builds brand trust and, finally, creates a community that engages with a manufacturer that has earned their loyalty. A successful engagement program, like those facilitated by Procore and Jackson Systems, generates pipeline and fuels recurring revenue.

Check out the infographic below to see how manufacturers are using webinars to improve their business and check out our report, “ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report: Manufacturing Trends.

71% of manufacturers say webinars enable them to reach targeted accounts.

It’s Time to End the MQL

This post was originally published on Shared with the author’s permission.

It’s amazing how much technology has evolved in recent years. We’ve seen unprecedented advances in smartphones, IoT, home AI assistants and more. Martech has similarly kept pace: we’ve seen the rise of AR/VR advertising, the continued growth of video, and AI and machine learning that has sharpened personalization and predictive efforts. In B2B marketing, account-based marketing (ABM) and an emphasis on aligning sales and marketing are both white-hot.

Are MQLs relevant anymore? On Nov. 6, we’re sitting down with CMOs from Allocadia, 6Sense, InsightSquared and Hushly to discuss. Register for the event (and its afterparty) by clicking on this link. 

But as marketing and technology has evolved at breakneck speed in both the B2C and B2B worlds, our metrics for measurement have lagged behind. More than ever, I’m asking my team: how are we measuring our impact? Is it connected to our company’s larger goals? And most importantly: if we do better on our marketing metrics, does our company increase revenue?

We must take a revenue mindset in order to gain their seat at the table. When marketers understand how their work impacts a company’s bottom line, that’s when they have the opportunity to advance their own career but also elevate marketing as a profession. No joke: with revenue comes respect. Marketers are frequently guilty of being disconnected from driving revenue. That’s often because we’re working toward outdated metrics, like conversion rates, download numbers, or video views. In other words, we’re tracking our marketing qualified leads (MQLs).

Marketers have become focused on aligning with sales teams, which is a worthy effort. But even as we’re aligning with sales, we haven’t changed how we measure our results. We’re still looking at our marketing KPIs – usually MQLs – instead of how our marketing efforts directly lead to revenue. It’s like measuring how good a football team is by how many home runs they’ve hit.

Instead of focusing on aligning sales and marketing, let’s focus on aligning our marketing metrics to revenue. This makes marketers more vital to a business. Marketers can understand what’s truly moving the needle with prospects and adapt accordingly. If events are driving the most revenue, or whitepapers, or webinars, marketers can move in real-time to double down on these channels and see results. The end result is that marketers own more of the funnel which is an empowering and powerful shift for us.

Let’s dive deeper into the disconnect between MQLs and ROI. Hubspot found that one-third of all marketers say MQLs are the most important metric they measure. And yet, marketers that prove ROI of their efforts on average see 1.6X higher budgets than those who don’t.

MQLs, by their very nature, are internal looking. Most outside of the marketing department don’t understand what makes a lead “marketing qualified.” That’s probably a good thing, as the ones who do understand would say that MQLs are arbitrary at best, entirely irrelevant at worst. They also don’t measure ROI. Let’s say you have 10 people input their information and download a whitepaper. These 10 are MQLs according to your team’s definition. But if all 10 are individual contributors who don’t have purchasing power, they may be an MQL — but they won’t earn your business a nickel.

MQLs were more relevant when we had fewer channels to engage with prospects. But now we tailor our MQLs to the marketing we are pushing on potential customers – so meeting MQL goals becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s not all our fault, as marketers have been under immense pressure to get our MQL numbers up. But the result is that a viewer who dropped off after 10 seconds of a webinar is lumped in as an MQL, just like the viewer who stayed for nearly an hour and engaged with polls throughout. Sales becomes overwhelmed with all these MQLs and doesn’t know which leads to pursue. Conversions drop and we wonder why.

Instead of looking at your MQL as a fulfillment of your channels, work back from won deals to see what channels are producing those leads. We should all develop a more nuanced view of our leads. How are they engaged? What’s the quality of engagement? What type of engagement usually signals an imminent purchase decision? This type of engagement data needs to be a part of your measurement. Then you can create your own MQL methodology that’s modern and relevant to your needs.

If you truly want to align your marketing team to revenue, focus on ROI. Revamping or moving away from MQLs is not an easy or simple solution. You could get pushback from those above and below you. After all, a CEO may be used to hearing about MQLs for years or even decades. The people you manage will have to revamp their approach to meet a different set of more revenue-focused metrics. And we marketing leaders need to start from scratch to truly understand what metrics align with ROI and revenue, and develop a new set of KPIs to measure our team’s work. All of this will take time, resources and patience. But it will also be worth it.

New Automated Captioning Enables More Audience Accessibility

The future of scaling digital experiences and audience engagement is dependent on content accessibility. More than five percent of the world’s population have a disabling hearing loss. That equates to roughly 466 million individuals who have difficulty hearing your webinar’s dialogue clearly, and they may not speak the same language as the speaker. Additionally, more and more of the general population are watching videos while commuting, at work or anywhere where they can’t listen to audio.

Subtitles and closed captions are having a growing influence on content consumption — from text to follow along with a video advertisement to translated subtitles to watch a foreign film on Netflix. More than ever, captioning has become one of the most effective ways to make your content highly accessible and to reach more audiences.

ON24 is excited to formally release auto-generated captioning enabling ON24 users to reach broader audiences around the world.

Easy-to-Use and Flexible Caption Controls

On-demand (including live webinars that convert to on-demand) and simulive events now can automatically generate captions. At ON24 we are always striving to give our users flexibility so we’ve added more customization and editing opportunities:

  • Make changes easily to captions with the new in-app editing tool
  • Download caption files to make changes in a different editor, if needed
  • Control whether captions are shown to viewers by default or allow viewers to choose to view captions

Scalability for Globalization

To effectively reach new audiences, you have to speak their language. And to expand your programs across different countries and regions, you don’t have to take remake your webinars or take language courses, but simply provide translated subtitles! Already Webcast Elite supports multiple languages, and our new automated captioning tool does too. Here’s what it supports:

  • 12 languages supported for automated speech-to-text file creation
  • Auto-translate captions into up to 62 languages
  • Ability to edit translated captions in-app

If you’d like to learn more about ON24 Webcast Elite, captioning and how to create more accessibility to reach viewers globally, please contact us. If you’re an ON24 customer, contact your CSM to get started.

Three Ways Webinars Help Reimagine Customer Marketing

Marketers know that keeping customers happy is an important part of driving revenue today. After all, a famous (now 20-year-old) study by Bain & Company, Earl Sasser and the Harvard Business School found that a 5% improvement in customer retention rates can improve profits by 25% to 95%.

That’s a lot of potential, but reaping such rewards requires a lot of work, patience and foresight. The best time to implement improvements to your customer marketing efforts — or even start it — is, of course, now.

Fortunately for marketers, it’s easier than ever update — or even launch — customer marketing program. Simply re-examine a webinar program and repurpose it to address customer needs.

Here are three reasons why an organization should turn to webinars to reimagine its customer marketing outreach:

Webinars Put Customers in the Driver’s Seat

Webinars put customers in control of their own experiences, allowing them to attend a live, simulive or on-demand webinar from virtually anywhere on any device.

For example, if a busy customer needs an update on a recent product release, or is wrestling with a new strategy or tactic, then they should be able to consume that content on their own terms. By using a powerful webinar platform, you can provide your audience with the ability to consume webinar on their schedule.

Being able to accommodate content consumption on-the-go is becoming increasingly important as the average commute time increases for workers. Listening to, or participating in, a webinar during a commute on, say, public transit, can save customers time and reinforce trust with your brand.

Customers should also be able to watch what they want to watch in the order they want to watch them in. Webinars empower them to do so while still interacting with a brand and its thought leaders directly.

For example, an organization can collect all of its webinar content on its various products and  services, and consolidate them into an organized self-service hub. There, customers can easily find the latest insights by topic or industry, discover new tactics promoted by your thought leaders and even continue their professional education.

Best yet, with the right tools in place, your on-demand customers can still ask questions, download resources and get information from your team well after a webinar’s initial launch date.

Webinars Refine Customer Experiences

By empowering customers to consume content on-the-go and interact with on-demand and simulive webinars, organizations can continue to collect data on the experiences customers actually want or need. With this data in hand, customer marketers can refine experiences and more.

For example, let’s say you have a new high-profile customer to onboard and little time to do it in. Webinars empower you to look at your historical data and identify the most valuable content previous clients consumed during their onboarding process. In addition to content, you can also identify the most common questions asked and other typical pain points.

With this information, you can easily create a single webinar (or series of webinars) that brings a single account up to speed on your product, how it’s used by similar organizations and chart a path to a successful implementation.

Finally, the ability to act on this data grows more powerful over time. Say a particular industry uses your product in a specific way. With enough data and content, you can create a self-service hub that guides new and old customers through a tactic’s implementation and provide a forum for discussing particular strategies with peers.

Webinars Amplify Customer Advocates

Finally, webinars are powerful tools for nurturing and promoting customer advocates, one of the most valuable marketing assets today. In fact, according to a recent research report from Forrester, prospects consider peers and colleagues to be the No. 1 resource for gathering information about a product or service during the discovery phase of a purchase decision.

This is because prospects at the top of the funnel are eager to hear of the value they can get out of a service from people who actually make use out of the product they’re considering.

Webinars provide the perfect forum for organizations to highlight customer advocates, educate prospects and customers, validate decisions and build a community around your solution.

For example, a single customer advocate webinar can provide attendees with resources on product use, highlight results realized from using your product, clarify any questions about using the product from a trustworthy source, validate your decisions around using your product and, finally, make your customer advocate feel like a rockstar.

All of these elements create a tightly-knit community around your service. And when you have more customer advocates in your webinar program, you can strengthen your buyer’s journey and realize the full value of your customer marketing program.

CMO Confessions Ep. 27: Sarah Kennedy of Adobe Marketo

Hello again and welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions, our B2B sales and marketing podcast that examines what real leadership looks like in marketing and sales organizations today.

This week we have Sarah Kennedy, Vice President at Adobe and former CMO of Marketo, an Adobe Company. Sarah has a fascinating story to tell about how she came to be CMO at Marketo and that her team navigated one of the biggest acquisitions in the martech world.

What do we discuss in this episode? Well, oddly enough, Jaime Foxx, the importance of keeping teams on track, why you should always, always be on finance’s good side and how teams can stay scrappy and agile even after being acquired by a large enterprise. It’s a great episode and we’re thrilled to have had Sarah on.

As always, we provide an edited transcript for you to scan below.

Check out what else Sarah has to say on her Twitter profile here and on her LinkedIn profile here.

If you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Table of Contents:

How was the first year since Adobe acquired Marketo?
Staying dynamic, scrappy and agile in a large enterprise
Instilling incredible efficiency and financial discipline
Get more out of every dollar spent on marketing
Marketers need to get a seat at the financial table through trust
What Sarah Kennedy loves about marketing
What drives Sarah Kennedy insane about marketing
How Sarah became a young CMO
Sarah’s interview with Jamie Foxx


Joe Hyland:        

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast where we explore what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24, and joining me this week from the Greater Denver area is Sarah Kennedy, Vice President of Global Marketing at Marketo Digital Experience, Adobe. That was a tongue twister at the end.

Sarah Kennedy:        

That’s a long title. It’s a little cleaner these days; it’s just Vice President at Adobe these days.

Joe Hyland:        

That’s cleaner. Okay. That is also some good marketing. Sarah, thank you for being here. I really appreciate it.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Sure, thanks for having me, Joe. I appreciate it.


Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, of course. I think most of our listeners recognize that you were at Marketo — hence the long title that I had and you guys were acquired by Adobe. So, how is that going?

Sarah Kennedy:        

It’s great. It’s actually, oh my gosh, it’s almost been a full year.

Joe Hyland:        

Has it been that long? That’s crazy.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Not quite, but it’s about to be the year anniversary, I think it was, in November. So we are now fully a part of the team and now saying words like we instead of they, which is a good thing, but it’s been incredible.

Sarah Kennedy:        

It has actually been a very, I would call it an exciting but also lovely place to land because it’s one of those companies where, you know, there was already this passion for marketing and Marketo was clearly that and had that as part of our DNA. So joining a company that was just as much, if not more so focused on the marketer and serving them well was quite a blessing in many ways. And for my team, I know it was even more energizing. I think it was the only company in the world I could have told them was going to be acquiring Marketo and my whole marketing team was pumped. It was an upgrade. In a sense.

So that’s been, it’s been quite a journey. We’ve had a lot of learnings along the way. That’s for sure. As businesses come together. You do. But it’s been awesome. Start to finish.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s super cool. And you’re right, I think Adobe’s kind of recognized for some great marketing. Not that Marketo was small, but everything’s relative. Right?

Sarah Kennedy:        

We felt big and then we got acquired by Adobe and it became very apparent that we were not very big.


Joe Hyland:        

It’s crazy. Right. So, how have you, or talk about what it’s been like in terms of staying pretty dynamic or scrappy or agile at just such a large enterprise? Like how’s that going?

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah, that was part of the thing that my team got most excited about whenever we were being acquired was the openness, number one, to the team that was on the Adobe side to understanding how we work because Marketo’s marketing team — they’ve been incredibly efficient over many years and I inherited a team that was very good at what they did. And also in a world where we were owned by a private equity firm, we got a lot more efficient also while maintaining being good.

And any startup, which is still what Marketo essentially is if you compare it to Adobe I guess, or was, is going to be a lot leaner I think in scrappier at getting work done because you just over time, a larger company has more resources and you kind of build up almost this tolerance for working in a certain way and being well-resourced, which is amazing, like it’s an amazing problem to have in air quotes.

But it’s been quite awesome because the marketing team on that side, they’ve been starting to learn from our team. And just an example of that, like in creative and content production, the way that our team worked is it was by design, it had to be incredibly efficient but also producing really high-quality work in that context to support a very robust demand gen engine was a big challenge that we had to solve for at Marketo. And it’s something that Adobe has taken on and adapted a lot of what that team had done quite well to their model now. And I think that’s been great.

We’ve also learned on the flip side, a lot of the ways that Adobe has scaled actually up into the enterprise space. Like we were just in the early days of building out a demand gen engine that was sophisticated in terms of moving upmarket and also having a message resonated and even a product and portfolio that resonated end to end has been, it’s been a really cool thing. So we brought a lot of compliments to one another. And you know, you can think about Marketo’s been a bit of a scrappy beast in a good way. And I think Adobe’s been a beast at scale and a good way for, from a marketing point of view and bringing those things together is really, it’s created a very powerful dynamic and there are some really cool synergies that we’re still just now even scratching the surface of.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. That’s man, that must be really exciting to be a part of.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah. It’s fun. It’s hard, but it is fun.


Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. Yeah, I bet. So you referenced the team you inherited at Marketo and of course, Vista had bought Marketo and obviously sold them to Adobe. And you’ve been pretty open about responsible growth and you know, kind of what you guys were able to accomplish. But at the time, you know, it wasn’t a sure thing. Many marketers are focused on doing really, really big things, maybe not doing it in a cost-effective manner. So what was that like? Cause that’s a really interesting balance to strike and I think marketers can learn a lot from it.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah, it was actually eye-opening. So I came from a background, before Marketo, at a company called Sabre where, you know, it was an incredibly efficient organization just because of the financial discipline that that company had. And I learned, later on, it was kind of funny, so the CFO at Marketo actually had been the CFO at Sabre for many years, Mark Miller.

He was a man who put in so much discipline and rigor around how Sabre operated that I didn’t even realize, long after he was gone from Sabre, I was operating still kind of in this Mark Miller regime, and I like to call it that because I then went to Marketo and I got to work as his peer and his partner in a much closer way.

It was really cool to better understand how he was taking a company that had not been profitable for a few years and turning it into a profitable business. And in Silicon Valley, that’s actually quite rare. It was a cool journey to go on with him because we got to partner in making that happen. And even just teaching my team how proud they should be over their contribution to EBITDA and efficiency was a big part of our journey. And I think it’s made the Marketo marketing organization or the past Marketo marketing organization, everybody who was a part of that, I was so proud because we were proud of both doing great work as marketers and being absolutely focused on our customer as much as we possibly could and not skimping in that area but doing that through rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work while also paying maniacal attention to exactly every dollar that was spent and the return on investment we would get out of that. And that was a discipline that both Mark brought but also Vista brought to us as well.


Sarah Kennedy:

It’s been such a healthy way for my team now to walk into Adobe because we’ve got that mindset and that foundation. So this team is always looking for both ways to, you know, do bigger, better things and scale. But also how do we get more out of every dollar we spend and every dollar you spend on marketing, no matter if it’s on brand or awareness or if it’s on like true demand gen, it’s content syndication. Like everything is part of the demand engine and every dollar actually feeds that beast in some way, shape or form.

It’s up to us as marketers to find ways to thread that together and to represent that and to track that and then to optimize based on that. It was a cool journey to go on because actually everybody who stuck around at Marketo, and those who left too actually — it’s unfair to say if it’s a lot of people were really energized by that being kind of the new flavor of challenge that we took on in our journey as a part of Vista.

And I think everybody was really proud to walk away from what we, I think played a big role in accomplishing the valuation of the business in every part is based on, somewhat is based on EBITDA in addition to growth. And I think that’s been for me, I can point back to our team and say, look at what we were able to contribute in a very positive way by being just a healthier operating marketing engine and then still driving also incredible growth at the top line for the business.


Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, I think that’s brilliant. I also love that you mentioned EBITDA a few times in there just because so many marketers don’t want to even if they don’t want to get that close to the operating side of the business. They don’t want to think about — this is the creative branch, right? Like this is where brilliant thoughts come from. Like, different business leaders, the finance department can think about profitability and if marketers want to be taken seriously, they need to speak the language [Amen – Sarah] and the lingo that you just had, like you are right. Like we’re marketers are not just the make-it -pretty department, but if you act that way, you won’t have a seat at the table.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah. You have to have the CFO trust you. And that’s the thing, that’s been the most, I just love we’re kind of like the moteliest crew whenever it’s the CMO and the CFO get together, but that’s actually the that was the person I spent the most time within my time at Marketo and now also actually it’s true at Adobe as well. I’m spending more time with finance than any other team and that may be wrong, but for me, it’s been really important because getting close to the numbers and getting close to the details of the business, the foundational context that I can then operate and make decisions within.

It just makes it easier for you to go back and say, “Hey, if something in a given quarter or month isn’t going perfectly or you just need more juice or you think you can get more out of doing this, X versus Y,” it just makes it so much easier for them to trust you and to activate those dollars quickly instead of meeting three or four meetings to review, review, review. I think it’s a direct correlation in terms of how much finance trusts marketing in terms of how many review meetings you have to go through to get incremental dollars approved to spend.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, you’re right. Time to dollars being unlocked. Well, you know, you said trust there, right? Like I think so, again this goes back to a lot of marketers I think being reluctant to kind of open up the Kimono and have full transparency because not everything works. And I’ve been in so many presentations, and I try to not be in them now cause I’m responsible for it, but so many presentations where you’re saying everything worked just great. Every campaign we ran worked, we exceeded all of our targets. And that’s not believable. That’s not credible. If you do that, it becomes a kind of a lockbox. And then finance or other organizations don’t really trust marketing and you’re in a conundrum.

Sarah Kennedy:        

And that’s just been, trust for me is big. And I do think that us building that, across every team for sure, and I think that’s actually been a learning at Adobe is there are so many more stakeholders that have a “GM like hat” on and a seat at the table that run the digital experience business for Adobe, that’s actually quite refreshing cause everyone comes to the table with that mindset. But everyone’s also focused on a narrower area of responsibility with broader impact.

It’s an interesting and different dynamic than obviously, Marketo was. It’s like we had fewer leaders with broad responsibility across many different disciplines and I think everybody at Adobe actually comes in with that same mindset. But I think having a cohesive approach to how we build trust with one another, that’s all with the same foundation and it’s with financial discipline and operating a healthy business in mind is it’s really, it’s a great way to just start from a baseline of commonality.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. That’s fantastic. All right, let’s switch gears a little bit and I want to hear things that you’re super passionate about. Like, what do you love about marketing today?


Sarah Kennedy:        

Oh Gosh. It’s hard. So my job actually has evolved so going from, you know, the CMO of Marketo and then coming into Adobe, my job is, even as I just described, it’s now, it’s now broader in terms of the impact. And I’ve got a team that’s three times the size as the one I had at Marketo. But the areas of responsibility are fewer because we have an amazing corporate marketing engine, that Ann Lewnes, runs and it supports all of our creative and content and communications needs and PR and social, etc. And they do great work across the board, but it’s reduced the scope of responsibilities where I focus; I’m focused solely on just (to get air quotes), the demand gen engine which is an important thing.

Joe Hyland:        

That’s easy stuff, right?

Sarah Kennedy:        

The growth engine. Yeah. And we’ve actually, it’s been the first time Adobe, maybe not the first time actually, I’m probably misspeaking there. In the last couple of years, let’s say it’s been the first time that we brought together sales development and marketing. I’ve got both of those under my remit right now. But the one thing that hasn’t changed about what I’m passionate about is, and this is gonna sound cheesy, but I mean it sincerely and I’ll describe that. But like my customers, I get really passionate about because I’m fortunate enough to market, still at Adobe now even on a broader scale, to marketers in many respects. And certainly, now I’m serving a broader base of customers in IT with the CIO being a critical partner to the CMO. I still get so passionate about thinking about how do we unlock more value and being career catalysts for marketers is a really cool reason to get out of bed in the morning for me.

And I swear to you, like every time I get in front of our, we have what we call the Marketo champions that are now evolving to become a broader part of the advocate community for Adobe. They are our strongest supporters and the most tenured you know, well versed Marketo in a sense that could actually run circles around even all of us in my own marketing team with their knowledge of Marketo. But we hosted them actually recently at Adobe’s headquarters for the first time in a forum, and I just get emotional in a way that’s just so mom-like, and it’s like ridiculously not professional, but I just, the way that they that they pour their time, energy and effort into our business in a very altruistic way, I feel like because they’re there, they’re a part of a community that is there to help each other because somebody else before in their own career helped them. And that’s why a lot of them say they participate in this is because they’re kind of paying it forward in a sense.

And I get really nerdy and passionate when I talk about them because they’ve been the answer to every hard question I had in my first CMO gig at Marketo. I had a hard first, really three to six months and didn’t spend a lot of time with them cause I was just getting my feet under me, didn’t understand really what the community was all about and how passionate that group was.

As soon as I started spending more time with them and actually got to meet them at Marketing Nation Summit they became one of the most powerful sources of insight for me that have both fueled our team’s energy and the kind of “why we get out of bed in the morning.” But also you know, they’ve been such a great source of insight for how we answer the questions that are the hardest questions that we’re trying to solve for as marketers. Just because they’re doing the same thing in their job day to day. And so doing that for them and then figuring out how do we help accelerate their careers and then connect even with their bosses in a powerful way that can be, again, a career accelerant has been a really cool part of my journey.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, that’s amazing. I love that. Great marketing is always about them. It’s never about you. Many organizations get that confused, right? And you just learn so much from your customers and it also makes for easy marketing. I mean, if you have…

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah, it does. It makes my job easier.

Joe Hyland:        

Right? Yeah. You know, advocates are, as you guys call marketing nation that just makes marketing what you do a little bit easier, which is, you’ll take.

Sarah Kennedy:        

For sure. I will.


Joe Hyland:        

Okay. all right. That was all super positive and, and I don’t think it was corny at all. So let’s flip it over though. What drives you insane? Like there’s a lot about B2B marketing today that gets under my skin and I think kind of drives a lot of people crazy. Give me one or two items for you.

Sarah Kennedy:        

So it’s probably not even specific to B2B, but it might be, and it’s actually unfair for me to even say that it’s not because I’ve really only lived in the world of B2B marketing up until joining Adobe even. I increasingly am surprised by the lack of just in some pockets of marketing, like, we touched on it earlier, like shying away from accountability — and people are well-intentioned. It actually is not, you know, because people are trying to shy away from it. I think it’s almost like there’s a lack of awareness when it’s happening that maybe people misinterpret what marketing actually is in 2019 and 2020.

So I view marketing so much more increasingly as an operational and again, it’s a growth driver and it’s an operational discipline in many respects. There is absolutely a critical need for creativity and having the art come together, but with a heavy, heavy emphasis on the science and having the balance of the two things and that they always have to do with one another. They’re never separate and independent.

I think bringing those things together, I see such a lack of that in some pockets of marketing that I’m surprised cause it’s just not an — and I don’t, by the way, I don’t suppose to be the one to know it all or assume that I have all the answers, but I just, I get, I’m surprised because I feel like why go to work every day if you don’t want to be the one who’s like leaning into raising your hand to be the one to be accountable for something. And I think that that fulfills me and my team, I know every day in our jobs is to do even more of that. I just get disappointed if I don’t see that across the board in marketing sometimes.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, I agree. I also think in business — that’s just so well respected and received, meaning I think other organizations, other individuals when they see someone step up and say, “I’ll own that and I’ll sign up for that, I’ll own pipeline,” you know, that’s okay, let’s put together a plan and work on it together. And if you don’t hit all your goals, that’s okay. I just think you’ve just got to be striving for progress. And yeah, I think you’re right. I think a lot of marketers, there’s probably no mal-intent, but trying to fly below the radar or shying away from it is I think, kind of missing the point.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah. And I think it also reminds me of the other thing that is the biggest pet peeve. Well, there’s two more, actually. I’ll be introspective on it a little bit.

But I think just, you’ve mentioned this earlier a little bit too, but just rose-colored glasses. I cannot handle it. My team knows this, but if I ever get anything that feels like an excuse train, not understanding the why and I want to deeply and intimately be able to go through, it’s okay when the answer is not great or what we hoped for. The bigger problem is if we pretend that it is still okay or we present what is a lack of urgency around and a lack of awareness around knowing when it’s wrong and knowing when it needs to be better or needs to be different.

My own, this is like me talking about my own team and I will fall into this trap too because I have to just, we have to catch ourselves because but I always take on the ear and the eyes of my peers that I’m presenting to when I hear from my team what they’re presenting to me and I want to be, and I’m probably harder on my team than I should be in some respects here. But I do not like, I do not like the overly optimistic view of the world. Not that we shouldn’t be optimistic and positive, but marketing takes some punches and that’s part of our job. And we’ve got to be more focused on explaining the why and really deeply, intimately understanding the explanation behind how we got to X and Y so we can change it to get to Z. And that’s, that’s a big focus for my team.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. And being introspective. Right. Get going back to what I think other people respect is, listen, we don’t have all the answers, not every hypothesis will turn out to be correct. Just own it and say, “Hey, we had this theory. Here’s what happened here with the good things. This didn’t work. We’re analyzing why. ” Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore.

And you mentioned the data as well. That’s another area. It’s like, we know platforms like Marketo very much help with this. We have so much data at our fingertips. So just saying things like, “I think that subject line should work.” It’s like, well, have you AB tested this? Or like, what kind of data do you have to show, look at, let’s look at open rates, let’s look at engagement or conversion. I don’t know.

know it’s just such an amazing time to be in marketing, but you always run the risk of becoming a little bit antiquated, right? So I think marketers have to lean into the data even if it’s not necessarily natural for them.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Absolutely. And I think that was actually my third pet peeve is when I can’t get access to data. If you asked my team what they would probably say is their pet peeve about me, it’s how much access I want to have to data and I’ve done all those like personality tests, whenever I’m under stress, apparently I move from, I’m a red personality, surprise, surprise, but I move red into green, which is super analytical.

So when things aren’t going right or whatever, I’ll nose dive to way too deep of a level into data. And when I can’t get access to it, it drives me up the wall. So I’m learning a new organization now and there’s actually, Adobe has, Marketo actually we had a ton of data in marketing and it was easy to get access to that. And so I never really had a challenge there, but in a bigger company, there’s actually more data at Adobe than I could have ever imagined. It’s just figuring out which data to dig into and probably also not do it myself. It’s my, again, my team would probably say that’s their pet peeve about me.


Joe Hyland:        

I like this. This is a very honest assessment. Okay. You talked about Sabre earlier and I think your career growth is interesting because on the one hand, I think it would be natural to say, wow, you became a CMO so young. And I was fortunate as well. I got my first head of marketing job around 32 or 33. So similar for me. But I get the question a lot around career planning and you know, should you move jobs every 18 months to two years and that’s how you get growth. You really hunkered into one company and it seemed like did everything under the sun for marketing. Can you talk about that?

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah, it was a surprise to me as well. I remember, so I started actually in the ad agency world before I went back to grad school. And then in grad school, I had a professor who really encouraged me to go try. He had said to me I’ve shared before that he’d said to me that I was meant for working in a large corporation and he just wanted to see me go try. And I was like, that might be an insult, like, I don’t know and I trusted him so much, it’s Professor Hazzard at UT in Dallas and he was so great. But I trusted him and I certainly trusted his judgment and it’s how I ended up at Sabre in an internship.

And I remember thinking probably in a typical, I’m an older millennial, but I’m still a millennial and I remember typical millennial fashion, I was like, “Oh, I’ll probably be here for like two years maybe you know.” But I fell in love with Sabre during my internship because it was the pinnacle of complexity in a good way. It’s like the entire engine behind the travel industry.

So it’s like the cool behind the scenes, impossible problems behind one of the coolest industries in the world. It’s hard to not be passionate about travel. That was a really neat place for me to land and to be able to start learning B2B because it’s almost an entirely B2B business in many respects.

So I got to dive into what was a very traditional part of the business and it’s been like the cash cow of the business and learn it from the ground up and learn the whole inner workings of that industry before I was then stepping into more front-facing marketing roles. And I got, after the second year, I think it flew by so fast and the company was so diverse in terms of how many different types of audiences it served.

So one business unit was focused on aviation and other was focused on hospitality another was focused on online travel companies like Expedias of the world. And it was such a diverse set of audiences that I got to kind of dabble in all of those. And every job felt like a completely different challenge and almost like a different company just with the same culture and the same core set of values. That was a really cool place for me to be able to stretch and grow. And also when I came in the door, there weren’t a whole lot of millennials working there and it became a catalyst for, they were very open to my ideas and I was empowered because I just came in with a different point of view to start to stretch what I could bring to that business.

I was always really inspired by working there. But then I ended up in my last job as the CMO of the hospitality business unit. And that was incredible cause I got to serve all of the CMOs of some of the most discerning B2C brands in the world who were buying our technology as their underpinning to their entire guest experience and their commerce play.

That was really a cool learning ground for me because it was also a business unit that was similar in growth to what Marketo was doing. Whenever I made that jump, it made that transition a lot easier because I had a really strong foundation that I had learned at Sabre and then was able to take that and apply that in completely different business and in many different industries, which was the really neat new thing for me in that role. But I had done it and I came in confident with a very strong foundation that I had gotten there. It was like year 10 and I was still enjoying my time there. But I was like, “Oh my gosh, no one’s going to think I’m ever going to leave here if I don’t push myself out of the nest.” I spent about a year just kind of thinking through what that might look like next. And then my absolute dream job came along at Marketo and I could not say no.

Joe Hyland:        

That is so cool. And I’m noticing a trend line which is growth, right? So you, you really focused on growth at Sabre. That was the name of the game at Marketo, particularly when their PE-backed and look what you’re doing now.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Yeah. And it’s a whole new world too ’cause Adobe’s just now I feel like it’s funny because Adobe’s been in the business of enterprise software for many, many years and having an experience platform has been at the core of their strategy. But I think we all agree we’re just barely scratching the surface of what’s possible at Adobe to serve the needs of the marketer and the CIO and everybody across the spectrum that are trying to actually have an influence on their own customers’ experience in a powerful new way.

And the series of acquisitions that have come together over the years with a lot of diverse viewpoints and people who actually come from high-growth entrepreneurial backgrounds that have come together to form this business unit. And it’s a very large business unit. Now we’re all figuring out how do we help our customers scale and create these incredibly compelling experiences at the same time we’re doing that in our own business. It’s kind of this very meta, a value proposition that we have going on right now on both fronts. But it’s a really cool challenge to be a part of.


Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, that is so exciting. Okay. I have one final question, which is, what was it like interviewing Jamie Foxx on stage in front of 5,000 people? Cause I was there. I was there. I purposely not brought this up with you yet. That was an unbelievable interview for anyone who didn’t see it. He was, he was running across the stage at one point. He, Jamie, was stretching his hip flexors in front of Sarah. I don’t know why? You rolled with it.

Sarah Kennedy:        

And I can’t explain to you like I had a view nobody else did.

Joe Hyland:        

Yes, it’s true. That is true.

Sarah Kennedy:        

It was honestly, there were a whole lot of horrifying moments of Summit for me because I had never been in front of an audience that big. And I had so many other components of that, our whole board of directors was sitting in the front row. And the thing that scared me most was interviewing Jamie Foxx. I was completely freaked out and cause Steve and I had gone back and forth.

We actually hadn’t decided until two days before who was going to interview whom and we, I was originally to interview Lindsay Bond. And we decided at the last minute we were like, no, we’re going to flip it. And because I’m from Texas and I was like, I know Jamie Foxx. Like I actually have watched him for so many years, have been such a fan of him growing up.

And I know Steve, feels the same way about Lindsay Bond, I was like we just need to go with like where we have passion. But then, so I met him behind the stage and we were like randomly wearing almost the same thing, which was kind of funny. We were Twinkies. So that worked out well. And then when he got on stage and he started sprinting, it was, I didn’t know what to do ’cause I was so nervous and I had actually prepared for this more than my keynote, more than my opener like everything, I was prepared for that because I was so nervous at how it would go.

And of course he just, the lid comes off immediately and he is sprinting across a hundred-yard stage and singing and stretching and doing whatever. And it threw me off totally because he then just sat down in the wrong chair and I was like, “Oh my God, I’m in the wrong chair. I can’t see my monitor. I don’t know what questions I was supposed to ask.” Yes, my monitor was like, it was turned perfectly for the other chair. And I’m  trying to squint and see and I’m just going, “Oh my God.” I was like, “Thank goodness I have note cards but I don’t like looking at note cards cause then I’m not paying attention!” I got lucky ’cause he was so gracious and he was a great interviewee and it was stressful though. I will say that. But, he was so great.

Joe Hyland:        

It was epic. I thought it was a phenomenal interview. You did a great job of that whole event, it was a great Summit. But that interview for me capped the whole event. I was sitting in the audience with my wife and two minutes into the interview she turned to me and said, this is going to be interesting. It was like, how do you control such a big personality and you kept it on topic. You were incredibly flexible ’cause you had no choice but you could have been rigid and that could’ve gone very badly. So I think there’s a lot of lessons in there.

Sarah Kennedy:        

It was funny, I did for him being unpredictable and I was like, guys, what do I do with my hands? Like, where do I stand if he just decided to go do something else? I’m like, what do I, I don’t know what to do when it was it was great. My team was fantastic at preparing and we did deep, deep research on him, but he’s such a dynamic talent and he was so gracious. He was the best pick that we probably could have made just to make that a fun, fun way to cap things off. So it’s great that you were there to see it in person.

Joe Hyland:        

Life’s about experiences, right? So that was one hell of one.

Sarah Kennedy:        

That was a bucket list moment for sure.

Joe Hyland:        

So cool. Well listen, Sarah, thank you so much. This has been great. We’ve used up a perfectly good half an hour. I think people will really like this. And again, thank you for all the time.

Sarah Kennedy:        

Awesome. Thanks, Joe for having me. I appreciate it.

Announcing the W.E.B.I.N.E.R.D. EDU Superlatives

A few weeks ago, we wrapped up the W.E.B.I.N.E.R.D. Educational program, a course designed to teach webinar practitioners how they can get more out of the ON24 Platform. As extra credit, we asked our course participants to highlight themselves, or a colleague, to identify the superlative webinerds among us.

We got a lot of submissions, but we whittled them down to seven superlative winners. Here they are by category.


Your webinar program wouldn’t be a success without the help of your talented teammates. Through your collective efforts, you guys push the boundaries on webinar creativity and crush goals.

Winner: Abit Luempert of Ulmer & Berne LLP

We’re doing our best to improve, become self-sufficient and best utilize the many, many tools offered by ON24.


When it comes to your webinar program, you totally geek out about the data and analytics and can’t wait to report back the metrics to your stakeholders.

Winner: Jocelyn Robertson of Edelman Financial Engines

I have read nearly all of the articles in the Knowledge Center a few times like an obsessed person needing to know every inch and functionality your platform brings. From that knowledge, I can solve any problem super quick that might arise before/during/after a webinar so that no one would even know we had an issue. Also, I have created a few hacks for getting things done that might not be super straightforward to do on the platform. Not to mention trying to integrate ON24 with as many other platforms as I can to help increase my productivity. I geek out about technology and all the fun things you can do with it! So bring on the apocalypse!


You’re prepared for everything and anything. When it comes to your webinar program, you have a backup plan for your backup plan.

Winner: Stacy Combest of Hootsuite

Picture it: A zombie just spotted me! But I don’t panic. My next steps are determined by what type of zombie I’m dealing with; are we talking Walking Dead Zombie, World World Z, Zombieland, or worse! Night of the Living Dead zombie! (Brains not included.) Always a cool cucumber under pressure, I take aim and fire! Crisis averted, zombie dead and the webinar is a success!


You always bring an element of fun and creativity to your webinars. Whether it is the occasional dad joke to get your audience’s attention or catchy webinar title, you prioritize turning boring webinar topics into sessions that wow.

Winner: Brian Higgins of Collette Travel

Our team has gone through a transition, with our Webinar Manager moving into a different role and a new Webinar Coordinator joining the team as we simultaneously were shifting focus from sales and marketing to also be part of the Learning Team. Despite still being a small Webinar team of 2 people, we continue to produce hundreds of high quality live and on-demand webinars each year.

As a presenter, I always try to keep it lively and engaging; sometimes that means adding a little joke or fun fact to keep the audience on their toes, while also using my presentation style to make sure they don’t fall asleep on their keyboards – I don’t want to see what that would look like in the Q&A!


Mark Bornstein, the man, the myth, the webinerd legend. If you don’t know him or his work, refrain from nominating for this superlative. 😉

Winner: Allison Snyder of RSM US LLP

I share Mark’s passion, energy and overall geekdom for all things webinars!


You recently joined the ON24 #webinerd family. And guess what? You love it. The newcomer of the year is someone who has fully embraced the #webinerd community to learn and level up their skills.

Winner: Becca Wolfe of Relativity

I was handed the project of scheduling and coordinating webinars weeks after starting my role and ended up flying to SF for Webinar World 2019 that upcoming weekend! I went to the event, not knowing much at all about the platform, having only once attended an ON24 webinar. I dove right in and not even five months later, I’m running our webinars like it’s no big deal! I’m working to bring more to our continuing education and ask the expert programs by trying new features that our company has never used. I’m learning more and more each day and have completed the Webinerd Certifications as well. I now lead my quarterly webinar meetings rocking my #Webinerd bomber I earned through the network. I feel like I’ve come a long way since March!


You started out as a complete webinewbie, but now you’ve embraced the webinerd lifestyle to its fullest. Your webinar program is a well-oiled machine that delivers results.

Winner: Pam Granzin of SCOR Global Life Reinsurance of North America

I’ve been using ON24 for two years, but I’ve learned more about features, functions and the fun of the platform during the past eight weeks than in the prior two years. I wasn’t a total WebNewbie, and we aren’t quite a well-oiled machine (yet), but I have created a playbook and a creative brief template. I’ve added CTAs to our console design for the first time. I’ve spoken to our presenters about using Webcams for webinars vs. just showing their slides with voiceover. I have a list of questions to discuss with my tech rep at ON24. I have a list of goals for the webinar program and ideas to achieve them. I have been energized by this training and look forward to wearing my WEBINERD label with pride!