CMO Confessions Ep. 24: Cherwell Software’s Scott Gainey

Hello and welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions. I hope everyone is gearing up for a great Fourth of July break, getting out of your respective homes and offices and enjoying some well deserved rest and recuperation.

For our Fourth of July edition of CMO Confessions, I sat down with Scott Gainey, CMO at Cherwell Software. Scott is a multifaceted leader with experience in the technical nature of business (how many CMOs do you know who can code in Fortan, C and C++?) and brings a holistic approach to his work.

In this episode, we sit down to discuss why marketing leaders must be able to show real progress in their work, how they can assess progress and how they can use data to make smarter marketing decisions. It’s a great episode with a lot of insight into the day-to-day of what a CMO actually does.

If you’re interested in what else Scott has to say, you can find his Twitter profile here. If you’re interested in his extensive background you can check out his 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 Scott got into marketing
What Scott thinks of marketing’s recent changes
Using data to make smarter marketing decisions
The importance of making, and sticking to, a plan
Shedding light between sales and marketing
Making Big Hairy Audacious Goals
Scott’s marketing passions
What grinds Scott’s marketing gears

Transcript

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 Denver area, is Scott Gainey, CMO of Cherwell. Scott, how you doing?

Scott Gainey:

I’m doing great, Joe. Thanks.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Thank you for the time. I’m excited. I’m excited for the discussion.

Scott Gainey:

Yeah, yeah, no, likewise.

How Scott got into marketing

Joe Hyland:

All right. So, I think, one thing that I get asked a lot of, and a lot of people on the show talk about this, is their path to becoming a CMO. And I think a lot of marketers, particularly younger marketers, naturally feel like there is a like a preplanned evolution that every head of marketing has for their journey. And I think that is seldom the case. So I’d love to hear about how you first got your head of marketing job or first marketing opportunity and what your path looked like.

Scott Gainey:

No, I definitely didn’t take that path. Let’s see, I was late major change. I wanted to be a sports doctor. I did a couple internships, actually did an internship with the Los Angeles Lakers, which was fun — almost a dream job if you’re heading down that path to being a sports doctor. But I actually decided I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to head down that path, so I did a last minute change.

I happened to take some programming classes in Fortran, C, C++ and Microsoft was recruiting on campus so I said, “I’m going to put my name in a hat and try and get one of these jobs that they were recruiting.” And that was kind of my quick transition and start into tech. I started out in customer support and worked. I was sort of the back line to the back line kind of that bridge between the escalation engineers and product management. And so that was kinda how I began my career in technology.

From there, I moved more down kind of an inbound path sort of stayed close to development, product management kind of along the way and picked up some experience in marketing. I think the first real foray was with a product I was working on that didn’t have any marketing support. So I had to write the initial set of collateral to go on and do the sales training and enablement. And thought, “Oh Wow, this is kind of fun. I sorta like this getting out of the office.” And then from there sort of picked up a little bit more responsibility towards marketing along the way. And I think I got…I’ll call it a break.

I got my first real break working for a company, Nuova, that was getting acquired by Cisco and we were launching a new product, an entirely new product, for Cisco. Then through the acquisition I got asked “Hey, you want to come over and be the first marketer for this new product line, UCS?” Which is this computing product line. And so I was, Marketer Number One and responsible for basically everything launching this new product, through Cisco and ended up building up a team from there.

From there I really never looked back, stayed outbound focused from that point forward. I took on another marketing head role at Cisco for their security business and then moved over to Palo Alto Networks to increasing responsibility there in the marketing group; product marketing, demand gen some of the technical marketing and then from there I was just kind of felt ready. I felt ready to step in and take a CMO role, which I did a the next company after that, took a CMO position at that point it was all on me and I had no one to blame but myself.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. The job you’ve always wanted and then you realize, oh shit, it comes along with a lot of responsibilities.

Scott Gainey:

Oh no, I have to sit in front of this board and the rest of the leaders. Yeah. So that was the path. Yeah. I started out definitely more technical and then ultimately moved into more of an outbound kind of position.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Okay. That’s very, very interesting. And I always find it fascinating when people come up through the product side. You mentioned being more technical, my sense is, the better you can understand your customer, the better you can understand your market.

Truthfully, the better you understand your product offering the more effective marketer you are is I think a lot of marketers, particularly 10 or 15 years ago, maybe that was less of a concern. I’m seeing more and more marketers take a path like yours.

Scott Gainey:

Yeah, I agree. I think there’s this old misnomer that marketing is just simply there to make things look interesting, right? I have advised a lot of people who ultimately want to move into a CMO role. And I’ve always just said, get to know your customer, get to know your market, get to know your technology and what differentiates you first and foremost. Spend time, go invest in sitting with engineering, sitting with the SEs in the field, talking to customers who will talk to you.

I think that serves as the foundation that will only benefit you down the road. As you’re writing a press release or working on a presentation where you’re going to stand in front of your sales team at SKO. There’s any number of different outlets that you’ll get involved in as a CMO and having that foundation will really serve you well.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think foundation is a great word there. Having a superficial knowledge of anything in life, I don’t, maybe you can BS your way through a few things, but ultimately you need real substance and depth and breadth and knowledge. I think the deeper you can go in any, in any space that you’re serving as a marketer, the more successful you’ll be.

Scott Gainey:

Yeah. Oh yeah. No, one hundred percent agree. One hundred percent agree.

What Scott thinks of marketing’s recent changes

Joe Hyland:

Okay. So, you referenced something that I love talking about, which is, how marketing has evolved and marketing’s role at many companies now, not all, but has really evolved over the last 15 or 20 years from the make it look pretty department to like the tip of the spear for growth. I’d love to hear how you’ve seen that evolution, assuming you agree and kind of what your day-to-day looks like in terms of driving growth.

Scott Gainey:

Yeah. I know. I mean I love where the role of CMO heads evolved in the last I’d say maybe even three to four years I think. And even as part of that evolution I think, what I’m seeing now is some acknowledgement that CMOs could actually take that step and ultimately become CEOs of their company. I think CMOs now have that seat at the table. We are there, we’re a part of the strategic planning of the company.

I sit with our board members routinely, I sit with, obviously, and work with, the executive staff regularly on just the strategic direction of the company. What are our imperatives? What do we need to do to reach our targets? Not just in this year, but in future years? And I think that being part of that conversation, being engaged in that conversation and bringing something to the table has helped in this role definitely evolve.

And I think bringing something to the table though is a critical requirement. And, and so I lean on myself and the team. We have to be experts in the segments that we want to target. We have to make those recommendations and bring that data into those strategy planning sessions. And so I really kind of evolved myself too. I’m a data mongrel. I, pour through, look at our customer base [inaudible] how is that segment, what is our historical [inaudible]…

What’s going on at a macro level with markets? Should we be focusing on in an area that we’re not today because indicators are that that could be a positive area for sure? And bringing in that information into the table. I think it just sheds a very different light on the role and what CMOs can provide as part of planning process.

Joe Hyland:

That was a great answer. There was a lot in there. I think I could talk for an hour just on the last two minutes that you just said. I think many marketing departments, as we both said, are becoming more strategic and you need your head of marketing to be leading that charge.

I was just emailing with one of our board members this morning on kind of his suggestions on some, he’s a creative guy, new markets we could serve, which is always interesting to have that discussion. But I think you’re head of marketing needs to be thinking about your go-to-market plan and kind of determining, or helping to determine at least, how you’re going to grow and how you’re going to operate as an organization.

Using data to make smarter marketing decisions

Joe Hyland:

I don’t see, kind of jokes aside, obviously your visual aesthetics, your brand, of course that’s still coming out of marketing. I’m just seeing so many marketing departments do so much more. And I love that you’re talking about data and how to use data and how to use data to make smarter decisions.

You reference living in spreadsheets, so do I. I’m not sure if I love it at all times. But I think as marketers become more and more kind of familiar and comfortable in that role they can take on more strategic positions within the organization.

Scott Gainey:

I mean it does begin with the brand. I come in, even to this company that I’m at right now, at Cherwell, we had a founding and leadership team that operated with many different taglines. There wasn’t [consistency], contrary to the message that they were delivering around the company, it’s hard to establish despite investment. It’s hard to establish a good sound brand if your executive team all uses different presentations, different messages, particularly to provide value to the company.

So you get to that continuity message, even your visual brand and identity in order to ultimately build strength into the market. And then from there as far as partnership with sales, I think a lot of CMOs tend to shy away from committee to numbers.

And I think we also live in an era where you gotta draw a line in the sand and say what marketing will contribute in terms of your business objectives. In our case, it’s all about new logo production, right? That is our sole focus is how many new logos are we going to bring in as a company thus what share can we capture year over year? And I set a challenge for myself and some of that was sort of suggested by one of our big investors.

But it made it a challenge. It made a commitment that the challenge that I got from KKR — as one of our big investors in the private equity houses — was that can marketing contribute 55% of those new logos that we want to attain this year? And there it becomes a spreadsheet exercise, right?

We follow the SiriusDecisions, waterfall process to reengineer waterfall processes. We work backwards and look at what our historic close rates are for opportunities in the funnel. Our conversion is from meeting the opportunity. What my conversion is from qualified lead, to meeting, from initial inquiry to qualified opportunity. And then that net was with the investments that we’ve made across the team and the change we made, I came back and said, “You know what? I can actually do 56%.”

Joe Hyland:

That’s crazy. I love that.

Scott Gainey:

But if you don’t live in the data, if you don’t take the time and energy to understand your historicals, your conversion rate, know where you are getting those contacts from and what investments are producing the best conversions down-funnel, then you’re going to be guessing on that, right? And the board, the leadership team, people are going to see right through that and you’re going to lose credibility instantly as a CMO.

The importance of making, and sticking to, a plan

Joe Hyland:

I love that you just walked through that process cause that’s actually something that I’ve never talked to anyone on the show about. I think it’s incredibly important for marketers to understand. Any great plan you, particularly if you’re growth oriented, needs to start at the number, the sales number. And then you work backwards and you work backwards based on historicals, conversions where you feel like you can get improvements. Then, from there that’s when you come up with your marketing programs and your creative ideas and how you’re going to see those improvements.

But yeah, if you just start there you’ll never truly be viewed as strategic. And it’s a fun exercise. It really is. It’s one of my favorite times of the year is planning for growth and then coming up with a model for how you can get there.

Scott Gainey:

I’d be happy to share this with anyone. You can always ping me over Linkedin, but I mean, I have three simple sheets. The first I get from finance that has our whole operating model, you contain it within a single sheet and including the breakdown of revenue. Next sheet is based on conversions, not just historical conversions but how we want to be better as a team. What that means is from top, middle to bottom of the funnel. And then the next sheet I’m also responsible for our BDR organization. Next sheet is okay, what are the expectations for our BDR team in terms of intercepting and converting those into meetings and ultimately qualified opportunities and that sheet everyone the whole leadership team gets? It goes into our KPIs on the year and we track it monthly as a team just to make sure we’re staying to plan.

And and it is interesting. We ended up writing it so our leadership team runs almost like a sales leadership team would run. We’re constantly looking at monitoring that data and determining from that do we make any course corrections, do we need to move money in an area? What do we stop doing? It takes honestly a lot of, I think the pressure off and tension that you might feel trying to hit some audacious goal when you’re tracking it and maintaining it that closely.

Shedding light between sales and marketing

Joe Hyland:

First of all that, that’s fantastic. That I have pretty strong opinions on this. I think that’s how every organization should be run. There’s full transparency and visibility. It sounds, from what you just described, that sounds like that would eliminate any BS that may exist between groups.

I think a lot of marketers struggle with this in terms of how to have a real productive relationship with sales because different organizations, different pressures sign up for audacious goals that mathematically make sense, eliminate the BS, have full transparency and then it’s a partnership versus what’s sales doing versus what’s marketing doing.

Scott Gainey:

Yup. Super easy. And then I display that in a very simple format. I mean, it’s a presentation. Five slides on the left; it’s key initiatives on the right. It’s KPIs tied to those key initiatives. And I think that the board and the leadership team appreciates the transparency because they know, okay, I know what you’re working on now cause I can see your key initiatives, I also know how you’re going to measure success and failure against those.

I think that’s mistakes CMOs of the past have made is not having that transparency in terms of how are we going to hold ourselves accountable to delivery? It’s very easy for engineering. Cause they do [inaudible], did you get the release out on time? Did you hit the features that you had planned ahead? Sales; it’s very easy. You’re driving to a linearity on your sales goals, customer support. A lot of organizations that across a company are held accountable to a regular set of KPIs and think marketing to have that seat at the table, yeah, you have to sign up for that too.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. No. Yeah. That is very, very, very well said. And I love when an aggressive number was suggested to you, you said, “Let me go back and run some math,” but then you signed up for a point higher. And I think that just sends the right message of like, you guys are in it, like you’re in it for to sign up for growth.

Scott Gainey:

Yeah. I mean, I don’t know that my [inaudible] team loves it, but, you see, I want a number that makes you slightly uncomfortable as a team. It has to be grounded in real data. So that you actually have more than a chance of hitting those targets. But you should be stretching yourself every step of the way.

And then you can look at upstream indicators to truthfully see trouble before it hits. So, for us by segment, I have some strong opinions and MQLs, we’re still very much tracking them of course. For us it’s a sign of, are we in good shape for pipeline in a month or two or oh shit? Are we falling a little behind? So yeah, I think a mathematical equation helps to plan and helps to realize when you’re going to be entering troubled waters before you’re actually in troubled waters.

The only thing I’ll add, too, is I think there are shared aspects of what those goals are. But then I think it’s also important to bring those KPIs down to individual teams. So everyone will mention I have responsibility for BDR, I also have technology alliances. You know your product marketing function, demand-gen and then my corporate communications and corporate events. Those are the key functions across my organization and every one of those has a set of KPIs that map to what those top level objectives are that I’m sharing with the board and the executive leadership team. Don’t be shy obviously in parsing those down and holding those sub-teams accountable for what I say are sort of the pillars right there, the legs of the stool that you need in order to hit those bigger objectives.

Joe Hyland:

I couldn’t agree anymore.

Scott Gainey:

I don’t believe in soft soft goals, right?

Making Big Hairy Audacious Goals

Joe Hyland:

So for us two things for us. We call them north stars, which is, “What are our kind of guiding principles? What are the three or four things in our department that have to happen?” And then, underneath it, between and product marketing, demand-gen, corpcom, customer marketing. What are the key areas that they absolutely own to give us a shot in hell of hitting these big numbers.

I think goals are really interesting. It’s easy to misinterpret goals as well. I think a lot of people point to what Google did with OKRs. And so a lot of organizations now have these OKRs which are actually I think somewhat misinterpreted. People sign up for really achievable goals, the whole purpose if you go back to the original OKRs were stretch goals that so like stretch your organization, you shouldn’t be hitting 100% of anything. I feel like a lot of people miss the mark on that.

Scott Gainey:

No, I definitely, I love … if you ever have the opportunity, I went to a great leadership training program at West Point through their leadership development. And so these are courses taught by basically colonel or higher from a ranking perspective. And these guys used to always talk about this notion of BHAGS, those Big Hairy Audacious Goals, right?

It’s amazing, you set a BHAG for the team, in this case, beat 56% logo contribution. And you’d be surprised, right? How creative and intense people get in hitting those targets. And I think we had a gut check, I said, “Before I send this off to the board, I want to make sure that everyone … that we’re all on the line together and so set your big hairy audacious OKR and then let your team surprise you.”

Joe Hyland:

I love that. I’m familiar with that and I haven’t heard it for a while. Yeah, I think it’s, it’s a pretty simplified way of signing up for really aggressive goals. I think that’s great. Big hairy audacious goals. I’d forgotten that.

Scott’s marketing passions

Joe Hyland:

Well, switching gears a little bit it sounds like you’re passionate about a lot of things, which is something I just love in life. what are things that you love about marketing today? And that could just be like what we’ve talked about, like signing up for these big aggressive goals or really knowing your market really well. And then afterwards I’ll ask the conversing statement of what actually frustrates you and what drives you crazy about marketing. But you can start with what you’re passionate about first.

Scott Gainey:

For me, what I really like is, I think in this role and function, you really get to work across the entire company. We touch every part of the business. I mean, obviously we work with sales every day. So that is perhaps the closest relationship. But also closely with engineering, with our customer support organization, with professional services. I like the aspect that in the role you get to touch really all the different aspects of the business. I think you get a good bird’s eye view of how companies work at the end of the day.

So I like that. I appreciate that. I appreciate the customer contact too. I something I do actually for the team, every year I hold an event for my team and invite a bunch of customers in just cause not everyone on the team gets a chance to sit there and talk to and listen to living, breathing customers. And so I love the energy and excitement they bring, the realism. To me, they are the boots on the ground, they’re who we’re trying to market to.

And so I like that — certainly, particularly if you’re in a global role capacity. It’s exciting to me to see how different business is run and performed in, let’s say China compared to Mexico. Or Canada compared to the Middle East. I like that broadness. And the ability to kind of think about, from a how do you attack a market perspective, all of these cultural nuances that need to come into play.

Joe Hyland:

I think that’s wonderful. And I think it’s, I think that is a very smart exercise you put your team through. Not everyone’s customer facing, but it’s incredibly important that everyone understands the plight of the customer. And you’ve got to do something which is pretty simple as meet and talk to them to understand that.

Scott Gainey:

Yeah. It’s fun. There’s nothing like sharing a beer with a customer. Just, the information starts pouring.

Joe Hyland:

No, it’s true. We actually, just last night, we in the month of January, ran something called our Webinerd Appreciation Month, which is, we call our customer base webinerds, we are a Webinar company. And so we had every office, in five offices around the world, on January 31, we had we had this customer meetup is really all it was.

And so we had it in San Francisco yesterday and it was really cool seeing the person who writes the case studies on my team having a beer with a customer and I just, he doesn’t get that many opportunities to actually meet with customers in person, even though he’s writing these case studies. And I think it helps to understand the persona.

Scott Gainey:        

Absolutely, yeah. I think there’s absolutely a lot of goodness. I have no regrets. I wouldn’t change a thing in terms of the career path that I’ve taken and where I’m at.

What grinds Scott’s marketing gears

Joe Hyland:

Very cool. I would be remiss if I didn’t make you list a couple of pet peeves though. So, give me a pet peeve on marketing today because there’s obviously lots of them.

Scott Gainey:

I mean it may have more to do with the function, right? And just some of the historical, I’d say, maybe job descriptions I guess, I just always bugs me and maybe this might be symptomatic of just U.S. headquartered companies. But I always struggled with, and tried to overcome this, the difference that you see and get between field marketers based in the U.S. supporting a U.S. headquartered company versus the regional marketers.

I feel it right in Europe and Asia and I think there’s, there’s some historical aspects of that. And I’m trying to evolve just the notion of that role.  I think I’ve always said  if you’re a field marketer or regional marketer you’re one in the same. You’re in essence the CMO for your region. And so you need to be thinking not just about putting together some events, but you need to think about how do I build my brand in the region that I’m in control of, right?

Engage closely with partners; obviously with sales. You have to think of the full mix, not just getting contacts, but how do I build nurture streams against those contacts? Are the BDR team prepared and ready to receive the fruits of my labor in terms of new leads? And I just I think that is something that definitely I’ve tried to overcome with the last couple of companies has really changed kind of how they see their role going forward. So, I think that’s maybe more of a self created annoyance.

Joe Hyland:

I think you’re right though.

Scott Gainey:

Yeah. I mean, I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t complain about probably two or three emails I get each day from somebody that had great appointment setting opportunity. That or some lists that I need, right…

Joe Hyland:

Two to three it’s more like 30 to 40 every day. I mean, it’s literally an epidemic among marketers.

Scott Gainey:

I mean, the beauty is that the tools that are out there today that you can utilize are amazing, right? I mean, back when I think of what we’re using in just our BDR team with things like Outreach IO for data sequencing [inaudible] alerts and phenomenal for us that data clarity that we get out of things like Dun & Bradstreet. I mean just, it’s amazing what you have at your fingertips today.

You know, I think maybe one challenge that I face is still is marketing is a line of business within the company, is a large purchaser of technology. It’s a big part of our business, it’s how we get to build, develop very efficient, qualified leads for BDR and sales organizations. And I think I still struggle with just this balance of IT wanting to have control and say over purchasing across the company.

But it’s really hard, unless you live in this business world, it’s really hard to apply a filter unless you really know and understand the role of marketing. So I think it’s a balance, right? And working with IT. So it’s not, it’s not a nuisance but it’s just added work. So if I had to complain maybe that would be it.

Joe Hyland:

That’s not a wasp. It’s a mosquito.

Joe Hyland:

Scott, listen, thank you for the time. I think a lesson to be learned by any marketer is not being afraid to sign up for big, big targets regardless of the area of the business. So go sign up for big, hairy, audacious goals everyone and Scott, listen, thank you. Thank you again for the time.

Scott Gainey:

Yeah, yeah, no, I appreciate it. Thank you for having me.

Three Webinerds Share Their Scrappy Marketing Examples

Marketers are in a constant battle against time. Email campaigns, blog posts, social media, webinars — all of it takes more time than we have. What’s a busy marketer to do? If you’re short on time and resources and want to see great results it might be time to turn to some scrappy marketing examples.

What does scrappy marketing mean? Scrappy marketing means getting rid of perfectionism and being comfortable with pushing marketing campaigns that aren’t polished to the finest sheen. It’s about being creative, discovering the ways to get the most out of your marketing efforts even when you don’t have the answers.

To get a better idea of how webinerds get scrappy everyday, we ran a small contest asking our customers how they make use of scrappy marketing tactics to get things done. We got a lot of responses and, ultimately, three great winners. These winners include Allison Brown (AB), Senior Marketing Programs Manager at Dynatrace; Olivia Chapman (OC), Digital Producer at Devex; and Meghan Conan (MC), LMS and Training Content Administrator at ASTM International. 

If you want to see how these webinerds got scrappy, you can check out their stories at the links below or just scroll through to get all of the stories.

How Dynatrace Gets Scrappy
How Devex Delivers
ASTM International Gets to Training with Webinars

How Dynatrace Gets Scrappy:

Q: What webinar experiments, tests or changes have you made? Why?

AB:

This one is really simple. After seeing our overworked ops team taking time to manually set up confirmation, reminder and follow up emails in Marketo, we encouraged them to try something new! We tested using ON24 automated emails for registration confirmation, reminders and follow up.

Q: How did your experiment go? What results did you see?

AB:

What a hit! No room for errors in translating dates and times into Marketo tokens and emails — such a time saver. We also did not see any impact on user experience for our database. ON24 operational emails = happy campaigns and ops teams!

Q: Tell us about a time you got “scrappy” to make things happen with your webinar program.

AB:

Back to our ON24 email test, instead of involving our whole marketing org we decided to just go ahead and test these emails (ask for forgiveness right?). We just loaded the Dynatrace logo and went for it!

Q: Do you have any plans or ideas for future scrappy webinar experiments?

AB:

We all know it can be hard to get a webinar program and registration page live way before the webinar date, so a test that has been on my mind — [which] I heard about at Webinar World — was creating a form option to have someone register for a series or webinar and they will receive the confirmation once the program is ready. We run a Power Demo series and I think our audience would pre-register for the next session even if the full description isn’t built out yet.

How Devex Delivers 

Q: What webinar experiments, tests or changes have you made? Why? 

OC: 

Our latest innovation has come in the form of snappy conference call style events.

We have always produced very structured, hour-long, moderated panel style webinars for our audience. While great for meatier topics, these webinars are very time intensive logistics-wise. Wrangling three high-level speakers — often across different timezones — requires that I (as our singular digital events producer) usually plan our webinars more than a month in advance. As a media company, however, we often have breaking news stories that would definitely be worthy of a digital event… IF we had the time to put one together.

As a solution we came up with a “conference call” vs “webinar” distinction. The conference call is just 30 minutes long; and instead of a series of presentations via slide deck, the speakers on the “call” simply broadcast their audio conversation about a topic, informed by audience questions submitted in advance and during the live event.

Q: How did your experiment go? What results did you see? 

OC: 

The “conference call” has been successful in a number of ways. We’ve been able to dramatically increase our event output, often putting together events in just a few days in response to breaking news. In survey responses, our busy professional audience has frequently highlighted the convenience of a snappy half-hour event that they can listen to during the workday. They don’t always have the time or desire to watch a lengthy webinar presentation.

On the speaker side, it’s been an easier sell as well; busier presenters are happy to jump on a call and chat with one of our reporters versus preparing a 10-15 minute slide-based presentation for a full webinar. The conference calls are super mobile as well — so far we’ve done live calls with our reporters from press centers at the World Bank Spring Meetings in DC and the World Health Assembly in Geneva, making our readers feel as if they’re also on the ground at these events and a part of the conversation.

And finally, these events are fun and easy to market. With just a few days until the live event, we’ll put out a few tweets, link the event in our daily newsletters, and a send out a quick Marketo invite (using a smart list based on readers of the news coverage). 

Q: Tell us about a time you got “scrappy” to make things happen with your webinar program. 

OC: 

Devex has a number of paid subscription types using paywalled webinars in a variety of ways — from a Career Account offering access to CV trainings and panels with recruiters and HR reps to a Business Intelligence Account sharing insights and industry forecasts from Devex data analysts and M&E and funding experts at top international development orgs. 

Access to exclusive webinars is a big selling point for all of our membership types. In order to ensure that prospects are not only being nudged to upgrade prior to the webinar, we create a post-event article for every event which we publish on our website. The article features an embedded 3-5 minute excerpt of the webinar at the top, followed by a summary of the event with the featured panelists and key takeaways. A few paragraphs down behind the article paywall is the full recording of the webinar. We link to this article in our event thank you emails (which go out to attendees and no shows, and also to those who attempt to register but don’t upgrade their account). It’s a great way to reuse live webinar content, drive traffic to our site, and use “old” webinars to generate new subscriptions.

Q: Do you have any plans or ideas for future scrappy webinar experiments? 

OC: 

To get even more mileage out of our digital content via our webinar program, we’ve started putting together downloadable .PDF reports with summaries of our news coverage and data visualizations on certain topics. I’m excited to make these comprehensive reports available for download in the resource widget versus linking to lots of individual articles on our site.

Additionally, for our teams that put on demos or trainings (where the content remains relatively consistent over time) we’re looking into pre-recording demos and/or the simulive option to save time, give prospective members immediate access to product demos, and keep content evergreen. 

We’re also working on rolling out new digital event series — keeping a predictable pipeline (i.e. every first Friday) and tailoring our content to specific subsets of our audience. For example, our #OnMessage series (hosted by our communications director) has been well-received by comms specialists in our sector.

ASTM International Gets to Training with Webinars

Q: What webinar experiments, tests or changes have you made? Why? 

MC:

We have experimented with multi-host seminars to share updates on new course content which is the primary focus of our department. The hope was that we could host an online session in a very interactive environment and engage the learners to add more training to their program. 

Q: How did your experiment go? What results did you see? 

MC:

The experiment went well with one glitch. The second host was not as engaged as we would have liked and did not attend the practice sessions we held. This showed in the live session as he fumbled through his portion of the slides.

Q: Tell us about a time you got “scrappy” to make things happen with your webinar program. 

MC:

Since I am called the pitbull of our department I imagine a lot of what I do is considered “scrappy”. One of the biggest initiatives I have recently worked on for the program is to create an engaging and ongoing series in a hot new area for us of Additive Manufacturing. These series showcases both amazing instructors and incredible presentation on how the world is changing thanks to Additive Manufacturing.  

Q: Do you have any plans or ideas for future scrappy webinar experiments? 

MC:

Moving forward I would like to try to use the webinars as more of an engaging marketing plan to support our live training courses. I feel that a personal glimpse into a potential program is a lot more inviting than a paper based flyer (yes we still send these 🙂 ) or an email.

 

New at ON24: Better Navigation, Journey Tracking and New Media Management

A transformation is underway! For the second quarter of 2019, we’ve introduced new improvements that deliver a better user experience to the ON24 Platform. These new enhancements are designed to help you to create the most engaging digital experiences.

Here are some highlights on what we’ve been working on:

Build Digital Experiences With Ease with the New Navigation and Workflows

We’ve been working on improving our user interface and workflow to drive efficiency. Our improved UI not only is more pleasing to the eye, but also eliminates any annoying searches for the items you need. Users can easily access the entire product suite to seamlessly manage digital experiences.

Drive Efficiency and Scale Programs with the new Media Manager

 

We’ve also introduced a robust new tool where users can easily upload, manage, edit and publish content that’ll be used across ON24 Engagement Hub(s) or Target pages. By organizing and accessing all content pieces in one place, you save time, get rid of redundant workflows, and, most importantly, scale programs. All the features in the new Media Manager tool are focused on enabling users to efficiently make new content experiences and engage more audiences without exhausting more resources and time.

Easily Provide Closed Captioning to Expand Audience Accessibility

You may have attendees who are hard of hearing or may be in a loud space when trying to connect to your webinar. To ensure audiences can engage with your content at any time, we’ve introduced automated closed captioning. When a live webcast goes on-demand, a closed captioning file will be automatically created, allowing on-demand viewers to choose to watch with closed captioning right from the media player.

Increase Business Impact Using Prospect Engagement Profile Enhancements

Prospect Engagement Profiles now have even more valuable prospect intelligence data for you to use and act on. These new data segments help you to:

  • Easily send a list of Recommended Content the prospect, based on their activity, enabling sales teams to continue a prospect’s content journey and to have better conversations.
  • Continue conversations through the new content journey chat, which consists of all the content that the lead has engaged with, when they viewed the content and engagement levels for improved and well-informed nurturing and follow-up.

We’re always working to improve the ON24 Platform of products so both our users and their audiences stay engaged and have a great experience. Stay tuned to stay abreast of what else we’re cooking up!

Coming Soon to The Webinerd Channel: Eli Lilly and Superior Speaker Management

When you’re a global market leader, there are a lot of people you need to connect with. For one, you need to connect with your workforce. You also need to connect with to customers, prospects, shareholders, technicians, supply chain managers and everything between. But most of all, you need trusted speakers who can confidently communicate all this time and time again.

And speaker management is one of the hardest parts of running a large webinar program.

On July 10 at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET), Jim Spilman, Associate Information Consultant at Eli Lilly & Company, will join us on The #Webinerd Channel to explain how he brings speaker management Eli Lilly’s webinars. During this event, Jim will explain the basics of presentation practice, the need for slide control, how he facilitates tech support and how he manages every type of presenter — from divas to scaredy cats and more.

If you’re getting your webinar program up and running, or if you’re trying to take your webinar program to the next level with live hosts, next Wednesday’s webinar event is the one for you. But you don’t have to wait until July 10 to learn some great speaker management tips. Check out these blogs below to get a head start on better webinar presentations:

Meet the #Webinerd: SAS’ Erin Hathaway

At ON24, we love all things webinerd. That’s why we wanted to take the time to celebrate the ultimate webinerds out there: you. To do this, we’re going to share some of the #webinerd personalities that make ON24 what it is.

This week, we have Erin Hathaway, Campaign and Events Specialist at SAS. Erin is an event organizing guru who’s seen it all. Tradeshow booths, user conferences, executive receptions and, now, webinars. These are all helpful skills to have when it comes to explaining SAS and sharing how the company makes advanced analytics work for organizations across the globe.

What else is there to know about Erin? Check out our Q&A below:

Q&A with SAS’ Erin Hathaway:

Q: To you, what does it mean to be a webinerd?

Erin: To be organized, innovative, and encouraging.

A: What’s an app or tool you can’t live without?

Erin: My calendar and task reminders – it’s all about keeping things on track and moving forward.

Q When you’re not in the office, you are…

Erin: Making pens on my lathe, weaving chainmaille jewelry, or hiking somewhere near a river.

Q: What is one of your career highlights? What are you most proud of in your career thus far?

Erin: Finding small efficiencies that can add up to big time or monetary savings.  It’s been a recurring theme in my life and I’m constantly on the lookout for new ways to save.

Q: Okay, what do you love about ON24?

Erin: It offers so many ways to engage your audience and customize it to fit your brand.

Q: Final question. Why is the ON24 #webinerd community important to you?

Erin: As a newer user, it’s helpful to have a group to ask your obvious questions and provide feedback on your efforts.

 

Using Engagement Data to Delight Your Audience

When it comes to delighting your audience with surprises and turning attendees into brand advocates, engagement data goes a long way. Engagement data identifies your company’s biggest fans, gives them the recognition they deserve and shows your organization is invested in its community.

How do we do this at ON24 with the #webinerd community? Simple. Any person who attends a webinar hosted on the ON24 Platform has a tabulated 1-10 Engagement Score based on how they interacted with a webinar experience. Before we reach out, we ask ourselves if the audience member…

  • Answered the poll questions?
  • Completed the post-webinar survey?
  • Asked any questions?
  • Downloaded any of resources?
  • Or if they did all of the above?

The Engagement Score takes all of these webinar interactions into account. Many ON24 customers take this supercharged data point and include it strategically into their lead scoring models and lead routing, but there are additional high-touch use cases to consider.

Gamify your webinar, award prizes to top engagement scores

Using engagement data and gamification is a great way to encourage audience participation! When you’re promoting your webinar, advertise that you’ll be raffling off something, like conference tickets, a book or gift card based on audience engagement. Once the webinar is over, use your top engaged audience members to choose your winners.

For example, here at ON24, we’ve taken this approach when promoting free tickets to our annual conference, Webinar World, along with roundtrip travel and lodging.

Surprise your most loyal followers

Our friends at the Content Marketing Institute decided to surprise and delight their most loyal webinar follower. They ran a report on previous webinar attendees and realized that there was one customer who had attended every single webinar over the past six months with high engagement. To reward this super fan, they decided to gift a nice pair of headphones that he could use to tune into the upcoming webinar with.

You can do this too. Here’s how to find and delight your biggest fans in these easy steps.

Step 1: Pull the Data

With the ON24 Platform, you should be able to generate a Power Leads Report that’ll provide you with a lot of insights into your attendees. The reports show how many webinars an attendee has attended, the number of minutes they’ve had of viewing and their average engagement score. The higher the score, the more time they’re spending and interacting with your brand. This is a good indicator of a fan you might be able to connect with.

Step 2: Decide on an appropriate gift and who should say thank you.

Try to get creative or provide options. I’m a huge fan of Loop & Tie for gifting. Perhaps you have an internal SME that your audience looks up to. A few nice words from them goes a long way.

Step 3: Connect!

Send a gift and request a call to get to know them better. Along with your message, you can offer opportunities to highlight them on your blog. Sit down and ask your top advocates how they use your platform/technology and develop tips based off of those interviews. And, who knows, you can learn something new about your client in the process.

How To Combat Marketing’s Greatest Enemy: Time

This article was originally published on MarketingLand.com. Shared with the author’s permission.

In recent days I’ve started thinking about our second half of 2019 plan and came across an old file, a 2018 planning deck. I looked through a few slides, remembering how much time my team had put into getting campaigns aligned, our calendar precisely mapped out, and priorities outlined.

We barely followed any of it. As the boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

Though we’re not in a boxing ring, the sentiment applies to marketing: needs and priorities change in the blink of an eye, other trends emerge and pull you in different directions, new executives shakeup the vision for your business strategy. And none of that you can truly plan for.

Marketers like planning because it gives us a sense of control, organization and vision for how things will rollout. While we go to painstaking lengths to create these plans that detail our actions, though, the market is evolving. By the time you’ve conceived the perfect plan, it’s no longer what the market needs anymore.

Time is the magical, but a forgotten ingredient in many marketing initiatives. But our antiquated “planning” mindset hinders us in today’s always-on world. Instead, you need to foster a scrappy mindset amongst your team. At its heart, marketing at its heart is about putting out a message. Scrappy marketing is about doing that quickly and resourcefully. Don’t worry about getting things perfect,; worry about getting things done.

Here’s how you can maximize your team’s time, get scrappy and get ahead of your competitors.

Become a trusted, go-to resource

All of us have websites we visit every day and trust. These have usually been news organizations, but more than ever there are brand voices that provide valuable content and insights. From CMO.com by Adobe or Woolly Magazine by Casper, more consumers are looking to brands for their expertise and opinions.

Developing your brand into a trusted news source is therefore a double-edged sword: readers are more receptive to taking your content seriously and engaging with it. But there’s more competition and noise than before. It’s critical that you carve out a strong voice and identify the areas where you truly want to be a thought leader. It’s best to start with a narrow focus and gain credibility for your expertise than to go broad initially and not be taken seriously. You can always expand the number of topics you discuss.

Many of us trust or don’t trust certain news sources in our personal lives; and that mindset is starting to bleed into our professional lives, too, as more people view brands as news producers themselves. You want your audience to trust and rely on your company’s insights.

Distinguish from competitors by being always on

The news cycle is 24 hours a day, and can change in the time it takes to publish a single Tweet. If your marketing is not always on as well, you’re already behind. You need to have a relentless, steady stream of content that’s ready for your audience whenever they are.

How so? Have a proactive, not reactive marketing strategy. Develop avenues to get real-time feedback from customers and prospects to understand what they’re most curious or concerned about, and adapt your marketing accordingly. This feedback will help you discover where there’s white space in your industry, and what you should focus on when it comes to content creation.

Then develop the channels to get that content out – like a webinar series with weekly insights. Conductor’s 30 | 30 webinar, which recaps the last 30 days in search, social and content, is a good example. So is App Annie’s weekly Mobile Minute blogs, which provides insights into how mobile is impacting current events and consumer trends.

Whatever your channel, don’t let perfect get in the way of good. If there’s a news cycle that’s breaking and set to impact your market, do a quick video or webinar explaining what it means for your audience and what they should be watching for in the days to come. Send out an email with a couple paragraphs explaining the latest trend in simple, digestible bits of content. Re-use that email copy for blog and social posts. Share a quote from your CEO with relevant journalists who can copy and paste it into articles they are working on about this breaking story. Creating a strong voice is half the battle, but beating your competitors to the punch is also vital.

Structuring your team for success

You can’t plan for the unexpected, but you can create a flexible team. As a marketing leader, think about how your team is structured: are channels from demand gen to brand to public relations siloed? In reality, what aspects of marketing aren’t related to demand gen, brand, and your public relations? They’re all interwoven and when you’re siloed by channel, that’s the opposite of agile marketing.

Agile marketing is about an integrated scrum mindset, where all can collaborate and move things forward, together. Marketing shouldn’t be an assembly line, with team members waiting on others to finish their job to keep the ball rolling. That’s why siloed teams create execution gaps. So if you’re struggling to get your team all pulling in the same direction, you should revamp your team’s organization to be agile and react in real-time. Just remember that any moment spent waiting to publish is a moment where a prospect could be consuming your content. Through an always-on approach, scrappy, agile marketing allows you to build both visibility and engagement as your prospects enter the buying journey.

As you gear up for your second half plans for 2019, know that you’ll have to always create a general outline of priorities and initiatives. But ensure that everyone understands how much these priorities will (and should) change. If you are doing quality marketing and if you truly value your prospect’stime, then your marketing will actually be aligned with the times — and not with any rigid, outdated plan.

Feature Friday: The ON24 CTA Tool, Webinars and You

As part of our effort to extend audience content journeys, ON24 has built a Call to Action (CTA) engagement tool to drive ongoing engagement after a live or simulive webinar ends. This new CTA tool invites your live audience to continue their content journey with you.

For example, live webinar viewers can choose to register for upcoming events, automatically driving registration to upcoming events or send attendees directly to an ON24 Engagement Hub or other web destination to view more content. Finally, they can also open an email to engage directly with your sales team.

All audience interactions with the CTA tool are captured within the event report so you can track conversion and better understand your audience’s interest and intent.

How To Use The CTA tool

The CTA tool comes in two flavors, “always on” and “end of the webcast.” Both are useful in different situations. Let’s take a look at them now.

CTA, Always On

Available for live, simulive and on-demand webcasts.

With this method, the tool appears as a window in your webinar console. The colors, text, background image and CTA(s) are all fully customizable. It’s a great way to call attention to more of your awesome content and further engage visitors.

End of the Webcast

Available for live and simulive webcasts only.

At the end of the webcast, the other tools and windows will disappear, and the CTA(s) will take over the audience console. Think of it like the suggested videos you see on Netflix or YouTube. Similar to the always-on version of the tool, the colors, text, background image and CTA are all fully customizable. If you want to foster a bingeable experience, this is a great way to do it. No more dead ends!

So go ahead, jump into your ON24 engagement tool options and give the CTA tool a try. Be sure to let us know what you think!