What Is Marketing Operations and What Advantages Does It Offer?

Last month, ON24 ran its Insight50 session on B2B Marketing Operations – Using People, Process, Tech and Data to Maximize Revenue. Each month we offer 50 minutes of expert advice to answer your questions.

Below is just a brief wrap up of insights from Rebecca Le Grange at Sojourn Solutions and Bekkah Lyman at Oracle NetSuite – and of course, you the viewers! If you didn’t manage to see it, view it on-demand here.

About half of the attendees to this Insight50 webinar said that marketing operations is delivering almost all of their marketing team’s value right now. But, at the same time, another portion of attendees report being at the other end of the spectrum, not even knowing what marketing operations is.

So, how does marketing ops benefit marketing and the business at large? Here are just a few insights our panelists shared for the benefit of those in the dark.

What Is Marketing Operations?

There are individuals who may come from a traditional B2B marketing background where the use of tech and data isn’t as prevalent. As such, they may be uncertain about what role marketing ops plays. Rebecca helps to define what marketing operations does and its importance to the company as a whole:

“Ultimately, marketing operations has the responsibility of taking a look at the overall marketing strategy and then looking at what does the organization have in place around the way it uses its team, the way those teams are structured, the way the processes are defined. Not only within marketing, but between marketing and sales and potentially other departments within the business and then how the martech is utilized to support all of that…The other consideration is this is the team that has access to data and understands the holistic strategy. They have this unique position within marketing to be able to ask some really tough questions. Are we being truly accountable for the budgets that we’ve been given and are we using them in the smartest way?”

Additionally, Bekkah equates marketing ops to Batman’s computer in order to help understand what marketing operations do and their importance to the overall team:

“We are the computer that has all the information, all the details. We have insights into the data, we have insights into the technology, we have insights into the process and the strategic alignment from the business. And, if you think about it, Batman’s computer is always on, it always has the answer and it’s able to give it back to them in relatively quick order, providing an answer that is digestible to whoever’s reading it.”

What are the Advantages?

Having a team that asks difficult questions and is also able to provide answers has definite benefits. Rebecca believes that marketing ops helps marketing be more efficient and effective:

“It’s about how is marketing using all of those resources that it has at hand as wisely as possible, in alignment with the overall marketing strategy and to drive ROI… [It helps to answer] how we can use all of those resources and in the best way.”

Part of driving ROI is making sure sales has the leads they need to do their part in the overall process. Bekkah emphasizes the role marketing ops plays in this process:

“A marketing operations organization is supposed to make sure that leads are constantly flowing and are going to the sales reps, and ensuring that they have activities to act upon in a concise and clear manner. We can do that by leveraging multiple technologies. We can also ensure that our sales team provides us with feedback as to how those leads are performing. Then we can identify ways to improve our data collection or the facilitation of that data over to them.”

Hear more on our Insight50 session

The quotes above are just a small sample of what was discussed and answered on this Insight50 session. Make sure to register to watch on-demand and find out more about what was shared.

Insight50: What’s up with B2B Marketing Operations?

This month’s Insight50 session will be on B2B Marketing Operations – Using People, Process, Tech and Data to Maximize Revenue. Whether your company is just getting started or you’re looking to take your marketing operations team to the next level, sign up to the session to get your questions answered.

Technology has provided B2B marketers with the ability to deliver results that would have been unfathomable a decade ago. A single marketer can reach many thousands of prospects and win their attention in just a single day’s work. But as covered in ON24’s e-book on The Engagement Imperative, it’s all too easy to use technology poorly – and switch buyers off as a result. Plus, with all the potential technology available, it can be a challenge to make the most out of what’s available.

The development of marketing operations has come about to help address this issue, but for many businesses it’s still early days. Ahead of the webinar, here are a few key points to provide some food for thought.

Great marketing operations can deliver a great customer experience

When thinking about marketing operations, it’s easy to think of the benefits that arise internally. Just a few might include:

  • Freeing other members of the marketing team to focus on messaging, creative and content rather than spending too much time on making systems work properly.
  • Using prospect data to automatically trigger timely and personalized marketing campaigns that increase the number of marketing qualified leads.
  • Having leads pass seamlessly and instantly to exactly the right salespeople.
  • Being able to connect opportunities within a CRM system back to marketing, helping to prove its value and contribution to revenue.

However, there’s another more important benefit – being able to deliver great customer experiences at scale. For example, effective marketing operations can help with the following:

  • Making sure that prospects and customers only receive high-quality communications, based on well-maintained and accurate data, rather than irrelevant approaches.
  • Enabling better conversations with sales and customer success teams by sending key insights and conversation points through to CRM systems.
  • Ensuring prospects and customers are served as soon as possible by reducing the workload on team members that need to engage with them.

Many B2B marketing leaders feel underprepared

Despite the potential that effective marketing operations offers for outsized results, a study by Sojourn Solutions and Econsultancy found that about one-third of senior executives at companies with marketing operations in place feel that marketing isn’t yet aligned to key business outcomes such as total revenue contribution, market share or customer lifetime value.

A contributing factor to this challenge is that only one-quarter of these senior executives feel their marketing operations teams “fully” possess the knowledge and skills to support all functions expected of them.

It’s more than the tech – the right people are critical

Even the best marketing technology doesn’t do the work itself. Connecting multiple different systems, ensuring that data flows accurately and aligning technology and processes all requires significant expertise. Furthermore, soft skills can be just as important when it comes to bringing together stakeholders from outside of marketing to help drive the best possible results.

Although building a top-performing marketing engine isn’t easy, when the pieces fall in place there can be outsized results. One only needs to look at examples such as Sage Intacct – which drives 50% of its pipeline opportunities through automated daily webinars – to see what is possible.

To find out more, and ask your questions, make sure to sign up to our Insight50 webinar on B2B marketing operations.

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.

How Marketers Can Break Through The Automation Noise

Today’s marketers are all about automation. And why wouldn’t they be? It empowers marketers to do more with less, helps campaigns reach a global scale and provides us with the time we need to come up with The Next Big Thing. But the problem with marketing automation today is that everyone is doing it — and almost everyone is doing it poorly.

For example, how many times have you seen an email in your inbox address you with the good old fashioned “Hi [ENTER NAME],”? Or how many times did you get a follow-up email explaining that, oops, the previous email wasn’t meant for you? Automation can make marketing so easy that we literally forget about the human at the other end.

Buyers Want Personal

Let me throw some numbers at you to ensure this point hits home. According to an ON24-sponsored report from Harvard Business Review, four out of five marketers say they value human and personalized interactions over automated interactions. But those same marketers say the digital tools they use make it difficult to build genuine human interactions. In essence, we love personalization, but the everyday tools we rely on get in the way of building genuine connections.

And there are other reasons why marketers need to prioritize personalization. One great reason: personalization pays. According to a 2018 MarketingProfs study, marketers found a 19 percent increase in sales when businesses personalized web experience for a target account. In addition, a 2016 McKinsey study found personalization actually helped to cut acquisition costs in half.

So where does automation fit into all of this? Digital marketers are starting to understand how to make the most out of the marketing automation technologies they have and use them for a singular purpose. That purpose, from what I’ve seen at countless conferences and have discussed in just about as many conversations, is a better overall marketing experience. When used in service of a higher purpose, and combined with the right digital tools, automation can become the engine behind great, engaging, and genuine, experiences.

Marketing Automation Where It Counts

Take, for example, landing pages, the beating heart of many digital events. Under the right conditions, marketers can use automation to eliminate form-fills, one of the most tedious and registrant-repealing parts of signing up for digital events. We did this recently at ON24 and by getting rid of that small tedium — putting in names, numbers and email addresses — we crafted a better experience for return attendees and collected more accurate data in the process. This little experiment-in-automation was so successful, in fact, that we managed to see a significant jump in the number of registrants for a webinar series than we normally see.

The real way to harness the power of marketing automation is to pair it with interactive marketing tools, like webinars, that help you to build experiences and give you the ability to capture every action a prospect takes, assess that activity and share it with the sales team. There are two main reasons why recording and assessing activity is so great. First, it helps marketers hone in on their best leads and better understand audience behavior — creating the foundation for better deals and better content. Second, and best of all, feeding these qualified leads straight to sales provides a seamless conversation.

From Noise to Engagement

Webinar platforms can capture every click, question, download and more. This type of behavioral data will give you a much better picture of who your best leads and what their primary interests are. But that’s not all! By combining this webinar data with marketing automation and CRM systems, we can place these leads with this powerful conversational context into the hands of salespeople. Instead of following up on a webinar, salespeople are following up on a question, a download – even a theme if a prospect is watching a series of particular webinars — they’re continuing a conversation instead of trying to start one.

If you take a look from a 30,000-foot perspective you can see the big picture: that marketers and salespeople are starting to shift away from technology just for the sake of scale and towards technology for the sake of building an experience that converts. That’s something great. That’s something tangible. And that’s something that has to happen if we’re to get the most out of automation today.

CMO Confessions Ep. 23: PayPal’s Penny Delgadillo Valencia

Hello and welcome again to CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast covering the world of B2B marketing and sales.

We have Penny Delgadillo Valencia, Head of Global Partnership Marketing at PayPal, on this week’s episode of CMO Confessions. Penny has worked her way through the ranks at Microsoft and SAP before making her way to PayPal.

Along the way, she developed a few skill critical sets that are in high demand in the digital marketing arena. Chief among them is the ability to manage, work with and support channels and partners. In this episode, we go over how she does partner and channel management — as well as what she focuses on day-to-day and why taking risks is critical to anyone’s career.

Penny has some great insights when it comes to marketing at both a big-picture level and when sweating the details is key. If you’re interested in discovering what else Penny has to say, you can follow her on Twitter here. If you’re interested in her background and what she’s sharing with like-minded peers, you can check out 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


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 Los Angeles area is Penny Delgadillo Valencia, Head of Global Partnership Marketing at PayPal. Penny, great to have you on the show.


Thank you, Joe. It’s great to be here, I’m very excited to be talking to our fan base.


Joe Hyland:

Fantastic. So let’s, let’s dive right in. So you think about our careers now, or specifically your career now, I’d love to get your perspective on what you know now versus what you knew when you started this journey. And really, you know, what a lot of other marketers are probably challenged with or struggling with in terms of what they really should know about the B2B marketing world.


Yeah, no, that’s a great question. And I think some of my insights probably apply to a lot of different things. Not just sort of your career path as a marketer. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some, many, many, fantastic marketers. And one of the things that struck out at me and stayed with me is this one quote that talks about planning the work and working the plan.

And so I think first and foremost, if you don’t have a plan or a vision of where you want to go, wherever that is, as a CMO or not, I think it’s going to be hard for you to work the plan. So always be mindful about planning the work and working the plan. I think the second big thing for me, and you can see this in my career trajectory and where I sort of place my bets, is that I looked at opportunities where there was a high risk, high reward.

And so a lot of the work that I did at Microsoft was all on incubation businesses where we were really trying to transform into the cloud. These businesses were not highly funded like Windows, or breaking glass every day and really believing in the long term strategy that we needed to move the company. And you really have to have the tenacity and the appetite to work on those types of businesses. And so I always encourage people to look for those not bright spots but dark spots because those are the ones that are really game changers in your career.

And then I think the last piece is, and again, I think this applies to life in general, is understanding your sixth sense, right? If things feel good, then they feel good for a reason. If things don’t feel good, they don’t feel good for a reason. And I think that third eye sort of sixth sense people ignore and it’s probably the most critical factor that’ll drive you to probably the breakthroughs in your career.

Joe Hyland:

I love that. I think that’s fantastic advice. I think a lot of particularly your second point on taking risks and really going for it. I think marketers, and not just marketers, marketing departments, companies that are bold or marketers that are bold; I think you can do really powerful things and I think it is all too easy in one’s career but also in a marketing plan to have your end goal, as you said, planning the work, to set yourself up for, sign up for things that are pretty easy to achieve because that way you’re not, you won’t miss the mark. And I think in doing so, you will miss the mark, so to speak. And I think that that’s brilliant advice. I’d love to hear more on going bigger, taking bigger risks and shooting for the stars.



Yeah. I mean, the first thing is that organizations don’t really reward failure, right? They reward success. And I think one of the things we talked about at Microsoft was, hey, how do we reward failure living in a meritocracy and where we have to be a little bit more self-deprecating, right?

So I think taking risks, failing fast and learning and iterating is probably one of the biggest things that we have learned from the likes of brands like Amazon. And I think that is one of the things that rings true in the way that they drive their culture and the way that they run their business. And so I think, you know, one of the key things is to take the risk, learn how to fail and fail fast.

I feel that organizations need to look at how they could reward failure versus successes. And I think the true reward with failure is taking the leap of faith, failing fast and then iterating quickly. And I think if you look at a brand like Amazon and the culture that they have there, and the way that they drive their business, they have been able to iterate and move the needle on game-changing technology that if they didn’t have that mindset, probably would never exist. And I can’t imagine life without my Alexa.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think that’s brilliant. That’s a great example too. Yeah. I’ll be really honest, this is something that we’ve struggled with on our own marketing team because I think it’s just natural for, as you said, for businesses and companies, but also individuals to think, “Oh, I need to succeed at everything. Like I should get an A in life and I should only do things that I can actually accomplish.” And you need to take risks, right? Like, yeah, Amazon’s a great example. Microsoft’s done really cool things here too, where, yeah, you sign up for, I heard this the other day, one of my previous guests talked about, BHAGS, big hairy audacious goals, which is actually something I had not heard about before.


That’s a good one!

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think it comes from the military. And yeah, that’s where we do great things, signing up for things that you know you can accomplish. Like, well, I’m not really sure if that’s really a good way to go through life and probably not a good way to go through one’s career. But yeah, innovative companies get ahead of that and they encourage that. Yeah, and I think anyone listening should really heed that advice because if you want to get ahead in your career you don’t want to be conservative. Do big, bold, really cool things.


Joe Hyland:

Okay, cool. So, I’d love to hear your perspective more and more in the channel world and in partner marketing and if the challenges that we’ve been talking about and the opportunities that we’ve been talking about for just general B2B marketers, is that the same in a partner world? Is it different? What does that world view look like?


Yeah. To me, it’s the same with a nuance. And so if you think about what B2B marketers need to know in this day and age is that marketing, whether it’s channel or direct, is really at the tip of the sphere, to lead disruption and transformation, right? That’s what we do as marketers and we need to figure out the way that we align with our customer’s needs and be that customer-first perspective for the entire organization. So, I talk about the concept of a new COO and it’s actually not what you think. It’s actually Chief Orchestration Officer.

So I think if you go into brand marketing and you run your P and l if you become a product marketer, if you become a channel marketer, you’re going to be that COO of your business and you’re going to have to orchestrate across every single discipline in your organization, whether it’s sales, marketing, digital, brick and mortar, customer success, right?

All of these touch points now are aligning to really hone in on what that end to end customer journey is. And at every moment, we need to put the customer first on that journey. And that’s one of the transformations that we’re going through at PayPal, right? Looking at how does our partner experience look like from an end to end perspective and what are our partner’s wants and needs at every touch point with PayPal. And how do we make that the best in class, most successful experience for them, whether they’re talking to us daily or whether they’re engaging with us on the web once a month.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. It is so easy for us as marketers to put ourselves first, whether it’s done purposely or accidentally, and it is a very basic point of course, but it is always about them never about you. So it’s just a different audience, right? So, you’re putting, you’re ensuring, and I love the COO concept, you’re ensuring that your partner’s needs whatever they are, that those are on the forefront of what PayPal is doing, right?


Correct. And look, we’re all consumers, right? We’ve seen this convergence of B2B and consumer marketing coming together several years now. And as a partner, you have the same expectations as a consumer that your partner, in this case, PayPal, is going to know what you need, when you need it, how you need it, where you need it. Right? And that’s the consumerization of IT and marketing that we’ve seen happen over the last few years.


Joe Hyland:

Yeah. One, yeah. And you’re totally right. We need to look no further than just how you and I and everyone listening consumes content, consumes items, how we handle ourselves in a commerce situation. But what’s interesting is in my stint, my brief stint compared to yours, in the partner world and in the channel world is I find that a lot of companies have a hard time putting their partners first. And I think that that’s short-sighted, and it, but it takes a really world-class partner marketing and really partner-first mindset to ensure that you are treating your partners just like you would your customer base or your employees. They really need to be front and center.


Absolutely. And I think both at Microsoft, at SAP and even now at PayPal, we clearly realized that partners were at the forefront center and at the leading charge of driving transformation with our customers. Right? They are the unspoken salesforce. They are the unsung influencers of the world. And in some cases, they know more about our customers than we do. And so if we’re not engaging them early with training, if we’re not engaging them early on how we’re moving the needle in the market, if we’re not engaging them in our sales operations piece of the business earlier in the buying cycle, then we’re really not leveraging the power and the strength of what a channel can do for a company.


Joe Hyland:

Yeah. That’s well said. Yeah, particularly being close to the customer, right? I mean that’s incredibly valuable insight. Okay, so I think the landscape has been set up. I’m curious to know what the biggest challenges for you? So you just described what this should look like or maybe does look like, but that being said, what are the day to day challenges that you’re facing?


Yeah, I mean, for us at PayPal, I think it’s just the sheer scale of opportunity and we want to make sure that we do it right. Right? And we do it right and we do it right by the customer. I think it’s a staggering statistic, you know, and I was working on the Microsoft ISD business that today Microsoft has a channel of 400,000 partners and on any given day their onboarding 7,500 net new partners a day. So the sheer scale of what we need to do as we start to look at partners and customers all needing commerce solutions and PayPal being the platform to enable them to do that is probably one of my biggest challenges. And I think there are probably three areas that I’m squarely focused on. I talked about the partner experience because you have to start with a world-class partner experience in order to be able to deliver.

I think the second one is the narrative, right? What is the story that we want to tell our partners and that we want our partners to tell our customers? Because if we can’t get clear on the narrative and we can’t articulate the value that we see, then it’s going to be hard for our partners to do that and our customers to understand it.

And I think the third one is the conglomeration of martech, right? There are so many ways, tools, vehicles that we can engage our partners with. And so it’s really landing on what is that martech stack look like? What is the engagement touchpoints that we want, you know, with our customers? And then how do we get the technology to work on them. So I’m spending a lot of time on customer journey mapping, narratives and technology roadmaps.


Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I love talking to marketers about, not just their tech stack, but how they’re engaging with their audiences in a manner that scales because there’s nothing more engaging than what you and I are doing right now. It’s just like a great one to one discussion.

But when you have the kind of scale that you talked about at Microsoft and what you have now at PayPal, I’m guessing there were, you know, there aren’t as many one-to-one discussions as any of us would like. So how do you do that? Talk to me about, you know, how some of the ways you do engage, with the partner community?


I mean I think there’s a couple of ways that we engage with them. Right? At the top level we have very deepened relationships with our largest partners, right? And we spend a lot of time listening and learning from them because I think, you know, they have the same challenges we do, right? They have ecosystems, they have partner programs, we’re a partner in a myriad of partner opportunities for them. So, really sharing best practices and learning and listening to what they need from us and bi-directionally I think is super important.

I think at the lower scale, right, because we have a large scale of partners where they’re digitally managed, you know, we try to look at surveys and qualitative feedback from them to help us guide us and grade us on, hey, are we on the mark? Are we off the mark? Right? And I think having those quarterly checks and balances bi-annual checks and balances and really just taking the feedback to heart is where you truly develop that trust and being a partner for life.


Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think that’s fantastic. I’d love to dig deeper in listening and learning because there’s nothing worse than any relationship in life where you feel like you give feedback and perhaps the other person, the company, you name it doesn’t listen. And with a partnership, it by definition should involve both sides and ensuring that there is listening, there is learning and hopefully, there are adjustments if need be. So, yeah, how do you incorporate that feedback and how much of that is in your marketing versus kind of what you need to do perhaps on the product side or go to market?


Yeah. And I think that’s a great question. I mean, I think for us, we definitely take a multipronged approach to that. Right? I think one, we have to set the tone that starts with what do we want to achieve, right? What do we want to achieve from a joint brand standpoint together? What do we want to achieve from a revenue and sales goals together?

And so getting that clear alignment on what it means to have that mutual partnership and having those quote-unquote KPIs aligned so we’re all sort of swimming towards the same ocean or island, which you know, is where it starts, right? I think the second one is the monitoring, right?

So making sure got your scorecards in place and that you’ve got that closed-loop feedback, whether it’s in a QBR or whatnot, to make sure that you are actually swimming to the island and things are going well. And then I think the last one is honesty, right? If you can’t have those honest conversations, let’s say look we failed here, but we can do better here. Or hey, this was a great success how do we capitalize on it and have those somewhat, sometimes hard conversations. It’s not that it’s assigning blame, but it’s more of, hey, how can we all do better together? And so I think if folks take that approach to any type of partnership relationship, that’s really where you build the trust.


Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I love that. I love where you ended there. I think a lot of great marketing is about empathy and trust. I mean, it’s easy to slip on this slippery slope, but so much of what we do in marketing is highly produced and highly curated and very well thought through and maybe you’ve got like your brand agency in the room with you when you’re constructing that go-to-market message and plan. But the best marketing is authentic and it, you know, it is just overflowing with empathy. And yeah, you’re right. I think that’s so important for partnerships. I also think it’s just great advice for marketers.


Absolutely. I think you need to be authentic especially going back to some of the things that we talked about around the consumerization of IT and marketing, right? And as an example in our portfolio, we’ve got some very authentic brands. And I’ll give you an example of Etsy. They were just recently named the number two e-commerce site in the U.S. by Netimperatives, right? Etsy was born out of the fact that we had thousands and thousands of people that we call casual sellers that had some unique and interesting goods that they wanted to sell. Right?

And what better place to do that than online? And so if you go there they have a curated portfolio of thousands of sellers where some of these unique, brands and items would have never been found unless maybe you traveled, right? And so I think thinking about how we enable cross border trade, how we enable cross border transactions, how do we bring the uniqueness of some of these countries in a commercial fashion online is one of the things that, you know, we’re here to solve for with our platforms and really enable that any type of seller, right, can be a business and drive success.

Joe Hyland:

Wow, I love that. I mean this is really impactful work you guys are doing and pretty cool reach, right? That’s a powerful story. I love what Etsy is doing and it’s cool that you guys are powering a lot of that and partnering with them. Do you share those kinds of stories with your broader partner community or meaning do you kind of tell this like here’s what great looks like XYZ partner plus PayPal or is your communication always focused around just specific things that you can do and are doing with that individual partner?


I think as marketers, we have the opportunity to be storytellers and I think great marketing starts with storytelling. And honestly, if I could rate ourselves, we could probably do better in that category. You know, being transparent and honest and building trust. Right? And so I think we need to, again as we look at putting the customer first, keep an eye on how do we drive a storytelling mentality? Because at the end of the day, any one partner or customer isn’t going to want to know the solution that you’re selling them. They’re going to want to know what is the business outcome that I’m going to get if I invest in your solution.

And I sincerely think that storytelling means being outcomes based, being empathetic to where the customer wants to go from a business perspective, not a technology perspective, and not really focused on the speeds and feeds off it, but how is it going to grow their business? And we’re spending a lot of time understanding the impact of how a partner with PayPal can grow their business and what are the exponential things that we can do and bring to the table for them to be that partner for life because we are enabling their growth. So it’s not just selling them technology or selling them a platform, but selling them a vision of where their company can go if they partner with us.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you just said that so perfectly – where their company can go, right? Like, that’s not about PayPal. You can help them get there and that’s through a partnership with PayPal but I think that is focusing on what matters most. Yeah, I think for marketers, and I’m seeing a lot of good marketing today, there’s also a lot of bad marketing, I won’t call anybody out, but focusing on outcomes and results and whether that’s revenue or increasing market share or helping your partner be more successful.

Penny, I love that. I think more and more marketers, but just more and more companies in general, focusing on the actual business outcome, is what we need to be doing, but we need to be doing it in authentic real human ways. And I think you said it really well. It starts with storytelling. It starts with a customer-first mindset.

And I’ll end it with, because I just loved that you started us off this way, plan the work, work the plan. I think that’s brilliant advice and if you don’t see the whole picture, it’s really hard to march towards the end goal that you have in mind. So I highly encourage all marketers to think big, think audacious, and take that advice. So, Penny, I want to thank you again for the time. I really enjoyed the discussion.


Thank you, Joe. Same here anytime.

Joe Hyland:

All right. Thanks so much.


All right. Bye.

GDPR: One Year Later, How Has It Changed How We Market?

Last week, ON24 ran its latest Insight50 session on how GDPR has made us better marketers – where we provide fellow Webinerds with 50 minutes of expert insight and answer the questions that are important to you.

Below is just a brief wrap up of insight from Hellen Beveridge at Data Oversight, Sean Donnelly at Econsultancy, James McLeod at Leadscale – and of course, you the viewers! If you didn’t manage to see it, watch it on-demand here.

Last year, at this time, GDPR was on everybody’s lips with companies wondering if their practices were compliant with these stricter regulations and marketers wondering what stricter data would mean to how they did their jobs.

It has now been a full year since GDPR came into force. What impact has it had on the way we do marketing? Below are a few insights from the webinar.

Have data regulations made us better marketers?

While more than half (58%) of webinar attendees said that GDPR has somewhat improved their organisation’s marketing performance and practices, another one-quarter (25%) say that there hasn’t been a change at all. Luckily, only 17% report that their marketing performance has suffered a decline since GDPR went into effect.

Although the jury is still out for James McLeod as to whether GDPR has made us better marketers, he does think it has made marketers more cautious. On the other hand, Hellen Beveridge, who consults on data protection practices, has a positive view of what stricter data has done for marketers.

“I actually think that data protection has made marketers clever and more thoughtful because they have to look at everything they do through the lens of lawfulness, fairness and transparency. So, I’m firmly on the side of yes, this has been a really good thing.”

Sean Donnelly has also seen indications that GDPR has had a positive effect on businesses in general:

“Of the companies that we surveyed (about 12,000), all those marketers that identify their companies as being mature with regards to customer centricity indicated that GDPR has been more of an opportunity for them than anything else.”

What Best Practices Can Marketers Put Into Place?

The majority (60%) of webinar attendees reported that one of the benefits to stricter data regulations has been a shift from quantity to quality. However, 43% also said that their lack of knowledge of how to market in a GDPR world has proven to be a challenge for them.

So, what practices can marketers put into place to ease this challenge? James shared several best practice tips:

“I think [when it comes to acquiring new data] number one is transparency. You need to know where your data is coming from and what it is. Number two is to maintain brand safety… Then be on the lookout for any of those fraudulent activities that unfortunately do mire the B2B landscape… Everyone is talking about compliance, but I think it’s also very important that we talk about accuracy when we’re talking about best practice.”

Hellen is in agreement with the importance of data accuracy and elaborates on the fact that part of what causes data inaccuracy is that marketers are asking for too much information at one time and the data is unstructured. To alleviate this problem, she strongly advises investing in a single customer view.

“If you have a single customer view, where all your marketing is going after one fact, as a living piece of data, and constantly adding more and more information to this single customer view, it’s accurate, and it’s alive, and it’s useful. Then, by default, it will become compliant.”

What Are Some Top Tips For Marketing With Stricter Data?

As a closing to the webinar, the panel was asked to give one top tip as a takeaway.

First off, Hellen advises that having a good relationship with your data protection officer (DPO) has its advantages:

“Do involve them at an early stage. A knowledgeable data protection officer will save you from the really boring bits. You don’t have to know about all the article compliance; we can do that. We can summarize it and make it look pretty. Remember that at the end of the day, what you want is fit data and not fat data and the DPO can make your data fit.”

While Sean agrees with Hellen’s advice, he also adds that knowing the language of data protection can be beneficial:

“Equip yourself with some of the vocabulary around the operational aspects of data. Because, if you can do that, then you can understand some of the different use cases and you will be better able to collaborate with your DPO.”

And lastly, James reiterated the importance of data accuracy:

“Make sure that all the data you’ve got coming into your business and your funnel through all of your different channels is accurate and usable.”

Hear more on our Insight50 session

The quotes above are just a small sample of what was discussed and answered on May’s Insight50 session. Make sure to register to watch on-demand and find out how stricter data can work in your favour.

Build Better Email Marketing Campaigns (With Tips From Webinar World!)

At ON24, we’re all about webinar marketing. But webinars are more than just the event — they require a full suite of marketing expertise. That’s why we’re thrilled to share this article by Betty Kaufman, Senior Director of Content Marketing for Position² . In it, Betty lays out the email marketing rules — inspired by Webinar World 2019 — you need to abide by. This article originally appeared on Position².com. Shared with the author’s permission. 

Email continues to be a critical piece of most demand-gen marketing campaigns. But sadly, email doesn’t always perform the way you need it. Often leaving you to wonder if the email was opened, was it just deleted, or even worse, was it seen at all?

You know how it is, we have all done it. We skim through the long list of emails we receive daily and delete the ones that do not grab our attention. We are busy, in a hurry and usually on a different mission.

I recently attended Webinar World and took away a lot of great ideas that apply not only to webinars but also to email marketing.

Many of these ideas you will probably know, but do you use them on every email? Do your emails grab your email recipients’ attention and hold it long enough for them actually to open the email, and click through?

What can you do to send an effective email and to improve that email’s performance and get better click-through rates? If you follow these seven tips to improve emails, you’re likely to see much better open rates and marketing ROI from your email marketing strategy.

Email Tip #1: Enhance your Emails

Start with your email subject line. This is where you will grab or lose your email recipient’s attention. Spend a little extra time on your subject line. Treat this as if you were creating a thought-provoking, engaging blog headline. However, keep the length in mind. The optimal range should be between six and ten words. Keeping subject lines short and sweet will ensure that they look and read great for both PC and mobile users. Subject lines that are too long are often cut off on mobile devices. Thus, your reader will not get the best view of your email and may delete it or send it to the spam folder.

Your subject line should include action verbs that help direct the reader before they even open the email, and:

  • Be disruptive
  • Address a specific pain point
  • Promise change
  • Build curiosity
  • Create a sense of urgency

Try titles like these:

  • Top 10…
  • How to…
  • Insider’s Guide to…
  • 2018/2019 report…
  • Solving…

If you really want your email to have personality, consider adding an image, an icon, a dynamic gif or an emoji to the subject line or header. This will help use fewer words but get more information in a fun, engaging way.

Make sure to optimize images using alt text to help give a context for your email images. This helps if your images get blocked by the spam filters or email clients. Also, if you can, make the whole email clickable. If not, at least make the entire header clickable.

Try to alternate between HTML and plain text. Include images and colors along with plain text with no graphics or formatting.

Email Tip #2: Prepare Preview Text

The preview or preheader text is a quick snippet of text that follows the email subject line. Many email programs show a preview to help you decide whether to open the email or not, especially on mobile devices. If you use the preview text in the right way, it presents an extra shot at picking up the reader’s interest and sway them to read past the subject line. However, you only have a few characters to do so.

Remember to:

  • Keep preview text short and engaging
  • Keep the keyword or buzzwords to the beginning of the preview
  • Keep your headline promise the same through your preview text
  • Include a sense of urgency

Email Tip #3: target your Target Audience

Writing email copy that meets the needs of your audience can improve conversion rates tremendously. When you know your audience, you can better target their need and provide solutions. Build out a persona list before drafting your email copy. Use a segment list and sort it by demographic, gender, age, and type of industry. One piece of advice is to target the subscribers who interact with your emails the most.

There are times when people will look, but not download an asset. Send these people an email saying something like “We know this is very important to you. Here is one last reason why you should look at…” Make these on-the-fence emails look different from other marketing emails. Build those loyal customers and clients, one email at a time.

Email Tip #4: Personalize

Forget those email templates. Address the reader by their name and make them feel like a friend. Personalized emails can improve open rates tremendously and keep your email from being sent to the spam folder. Let’s face it; when we see our name, we feel a sense of belonging and feel that the email is created especially for us. Stay away from templatizing your emails and create them on a more personalized level by signing off with your own name instead of a generic company name. By keeping your email personal, you are instilling a sense of trust.

Improving Emails Tip #5: Use more you and less we – write in the second person

Keep your email targeting towards the reader. Try to refrain from the “me, our, we,” syndrome. Create your emails by using the pronouns “you,” “your,” “yours,” keeping the focus on the brand of the customer. Remember to give them answers that explain what is in it for them, how you can help them or their company.

Improving Emails Tip #6: Short, Sweet and Scannable

Recognize that the earlier somebody is in the sales cycle, the less time you have to talk to them. Get to your enticing point or value proposition quickly. Be respectful of their time. Do not use technical or sales talk. Keep it jargon-free and in layperson’s terms. Steer clear of overly promotional claims. Overall, create your email for those that scan read with subheads, bullet and numbered lists and small bite-sized information that is quick to digest.

Don’t forget those images!

No one said it better than Elliott Erwitt. “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” Images help support your marketing email message and tell your story.

Email Tip #7: Make those Calls to Action Shine

Never send an email that doesn’t have a follow-up call to action. If you want to increase your conversion rate, you need to think of your email campaigns as a customer journey. Each email should be an experience for your email recipients. Remember, when you’re on a journey, you’re always looking for the next step. So, figure out what path or following action you want the email recipient to take as a result of reading each email. Use your calls to action to make that step crystal clear.

A Couple Email Marketing Tips Beyond Email Content

Share your Information First

Forget about getting names as a priority strategy. This was the hardest takeaway for me. However, I am going to try to abide by it. The moment you ask people to fill out a form, you get pushback. How many people do not download your asset because they are not ready to tell you who they are? Therefore, you do not get their name or information. However, if your information is so valuable that everybody should see it, let everybody see it. Share it instead of hiding behind it. Wait until the bewitching hour – perhaps when somebody’s ready to request a demo – to get their information. This will also help with your subscriber list.

A/B Test Everything and Learn from Every Drop

Remember your email marketing strategy does not stop after sending the email. Don’t write all of your emails in advance. Learn from each email drop. Build a stronger marketing strategy by A/B testing everything – from the titles to the headers to the text to the images. Use what you learn to create subsequent emails to make them more effective.

Remember, your email copy and subject lines are only a part of a larger email marketing strategy. Get the strategy right and follow through with compelling email messages to get better open rates, conversion rates, and marketing ROI.

I hope these email tips have a positive impact on the performance of your next email campaign.

CMO Confessions Ep. 22: Hired Inc.’s Katrina Wong

Hello and welcome to CMO Confessions, our weekly podcast encapsulating what it means to be a marketing and sales leader in the B2B space today.

This week on CMO Confessions we have Katrina Wong, Vice President of Marketing at Hired. Katrina is a friend of mine and we have had the good fortune to discuss all things marketing over the years.

As the head of Hired’s marketing efforts, Katrina is tasked with marketing to two significant audiences: businesses and consumers. Her solution to addressing these audiences — to bring them together into one — is an effective one, and one I hope more businesses adapt.

In this episode, Katrina and I discuss a range of topics, including her move to business-to-human marketing, how companies like Hired are reimagining in-person events and the difference between building a brand and building a high-growth engine.

If you’re interested in discovering what else Katrina has to say, you can find her Twitter profile here. If you’re interested in her background you can check out 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

What is B2H Marketing?
Katrina’s Pet Peeves About Marketing Today
The Creation of a Director of Marketplace Operation
The Wow Factor: Inject Whimsy and Humor Into Your Marketing
Building a Brand Vs. Building a High-Growth Engine
Are Customer Engagement and Demand-Gen Worlds Merging?
Partner With Your Customers To Bring In New Customers
Customer Engagement to Retain Happy Customers


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. Today I’m super excited to have my friend and colleague Katrina Wong on from Hired. Katrina is the VP of marketing over at Hired. Katrina, how are you doing?

Katrina Wong:

Good, thanks Joe for having me on. I am super excited to be speaking with you.

Joe Hyland:

I feel like you and I have had this same conversation probably 20 times over a drink or over a coffee. So this is going to be super natural other than the fact that we have recording devices in our face.

Katrina Wong:

That’s right. That’s right.

Joe Hyland:

All right. Let me dive into your world and what you’re doing. And kind of throughout this discussion, I want to talk about the convergence that is occurring between B2B and B2C marketing. I think few companies have that happening within their own organization. So talk what you guys are doing at Hired and how that impacts your marketing because you guys are actually doing both B2B marketing and B2C marketing.


Katrina Wong:

That’s right. We are a two-sided marketplace and we really work on matching tech talent, primarily engineers candidates, with employers that are hiring the tech talent. So, on one end we are marketing to candidates and on the other end we’re marketing to companies. It’s been a fascinating journey. I really come from a B2B background. And one of the first things that I noticed was that you know, when I started leading the team was that we were very separate.

It was you were either a B2C marketer or a B2B marketer and you know, over time, I’ve been a huge proponent of you are just marketing to humans and it’s really not so much B2C or B2B, it’s B2H. Right. And there’s some other mega themes around that consumerization of, you know, business. We’ve been talking about it, but it’s been a great journey cause I’m witnessing this live and we now don’t have — I kind of took that away — we don’t have B2C marketers and B2B marketers we’re just marketers, one team. And we’re starting to see that the same campaigns really, really resonate with both tech talent as well as business decision makers.

Joe Hyland:

That’s interesting. So when you arrived, you’ve been at Hired for around a year, is that right?

Katrina Wong:

A year and a half.

Joe Hyland:

A year and a half. Man, time flies fast.

Katrina Wong:

It’s been about 18 months.

Joe Hyland:

Okay. So they were, in fact, separate organizations within marketing or within Hired. Did you have a like a B2C side and the B2B side?

Katrina Wong:

That’s right. They were separate organizations all within the umbrella of marketing. But really, I initially just led the B2B team and I barely even knew what we were doing on the B2C team. So a lot has changed since then and you know, we’re now fully integrated.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Okay. That’s fascinating. And to me it makes a lot of sense, but I can understand why they were separated at one point. How do you guys look, how do you view the, how do you handle the personas for each? Because at the end of the day, people are all people, but they have very different goals and objectives and even backgrounds. So you guys have these two groups under one umbrella. Do you just treat them as different personas, different use cases? You’re trying to accomplish different things, like what’s that look like?

Katrina Wong:

Definitely further into the funnel. And especially on a B2B side, we do have developed personas and it is different. But in terms of just top of the funnel, you’d be surprised. We’re starting to do campaigns that are healthy start workouts and that’s appealing to candidates as well as to prospects. And there’s no real agenda other than start your day with a dose of cardio with Hired.

And what was interesting is in kind of today’s times, and we can kind of touch on this later, in such a metrics oriented, I guess, phase of marketing in measuring ROI, we’re getting the same ROI and all of a sudden I was like, “Huh, you know, maybe going to a fun event and it’s not so hefty, not a panel is just as effective as the traditional B2B tactics where we’re doing the data-centric panels,” for example.


Joe Hyland:

That’s kind of interesting, isn’t it? How do you look at measuring; and I promise you I’ll get off this topic, it’s just so fascinating to me, so I’ll get off of it in a second. How do you handle measurement for these two kinds of wildly different groups you’re going after, even if they might be trying to accomplish the same thing in some settings?

Katrina Wong:

Well, you know what? We actually created a brand new role. So we have a Director of Marketplace Operations. And so if you think about the funnel, it’s almost a double funnel on one side with candidates, on the other side we have employers. And this person is in charge of understanding where we stand from a metrics perspective every step of the funnel; but guess what, in real-time. And we’re matching supply and demand also in real-time. So, think of this person as, his name’s John, as an air traffic controller. Right? And at any one time, we’re having to really adjust our marketing efforts in real-time on the B2B side because of dynamics on the marketplace. And same thing on the B2C side. So we had to create a new position. So there’s somebody dedicated full time on this every day.

Joe Hyland:

Okay. Sounds like John’s got a pretty important role.

Katrina Wong:

Absolutely. Absolutely.


Joe Hyland:

Okay, cool. So I have my answers particularly since I am living squarely within the B2B side even though I’ve seen convergence as well between consumerization and B2B marketing. I’d love to hear your probably somewhat unique perspective on some of your pet peeves for marketing today and totally your call if you want this to span B2B and B2C or just B2B. But I’d love to hear what kind of irks you and maybe keeps you up at night.

Katrina Wong:

We can talk a little bit about both. In the B2B sphere content marketing, we know that it works. And because the sales cycles are longer, the best marketers really use that window to educate, to share knowledge, and just provide overall value, right, to the audience. So one of my biggest pet peeves is when content is just created so quickly and it’s generic and it falls flat on its promise. And coming from a demand gen background, I know that creating pipeline is hard and sometimes you really are under so much pressure to offer up content quickly and frequently. But, ideally, you really do want to deliver value each and every time.

So there’s a lot of quality information out there that’s available to buyers. The bar is really high; it’s a good thing. And part of that bar of being so high is because on the B2C side of things it is easy to create fun, engaging, whimsical content. So that really elevated the bar for B2B marketers.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think that’s a great answer. I haven’t thought about this for maybe even the last four or five months. I think you’re right. So there’s this huge move to creating kind of short form, very consumable content. That’s great. I think what I’m seeing a lot in our world is a lot of clickbait, BuzzFeed, Ask content that says nothing. And it’s frustrating, right?

I’m pretty vociferous in terms of consuming content. I love it. I think it’s one of the things that’s important when you lead a marketing team. And I can’t tell you the number of times that I click on something and what I actually read has no substance and I don’t even know why I’m reading it at all, and 30 seconds in I just throw it away. But I feel like marketers are creating more and more of that content.

Katrina Wong:

I know. And that’s where, you know, on the B2B side, even though the content should be fun and once people engage in it, it has to provide value and so when the lines are blurred, even more these days, it is that fine line and it’s sometimes it’s hard to walk that fine line.


Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Do you guys, how do you look at, you mentioned fun and whimsical a couple of times, and I have my own opinions on this, but how do you look at injecting humor into your marketing?

Katrina Wong:

One of the campaigns we did was a nice blend of that. So it was a B2B campaign, but they were a lot of B2C elements to it. So, last year we ran a campaign, we simply called it Nike Talks and we brought in customers to speak and prospects to attend. So it was your standard customer panel, but it was a VIP event at a Nike store. And then we started doing it in all the different cities.

And so the topic was it was about hiring, but the attendees got a gift card and we rounded out the evening with a dedicated shopping experience. So the fun, the whimsical, we call this the “Wow Factor.” So it’s not that common in B2B types of events where we’re combining two brands, it was power of the Hired brand plus drafting off of a larger brand, Nike. So it was the amplification of Nike on top of our brand. So that’s an example of the two spheres kind of coming together and that was kind of fun.

Joe Hyland:

That’s a fantastic idea. Is Nike a customer or did they look at this as like a little partner opportunity or was it’s more just that they were willing to lend out their stores?

Katrina Wong:

They were willing to lend out their store. But since then we’ve actually started partnering with larger brands because now we have this on video and we’re selling ourselves. So without giving too much away, we run an annual equal pay day campaign. So a staging for that, we’re going to be partnering with some larger brands.

Joe Hyland:

Wow. That is awesome. I love that. I love that campaign. That’s really creative. It makes, it makes me think of something that my wife went to a few years ago. It was, I don’t know if it was during Dreamforce, but it was during one of the big conferences. Salesforce rented out the flagship Levi’s store here in San Francisco. And it was a woman. It was pretty funny actually. It was, it was a Woman in Technology kind of event. And they held it Levi’s because, you know, they felt women love shopping. And my wife said to me, “I’m kind of offended at that. Like I don’t like that gross generalization.” But she still went and she came back and she said, “Joe was the best event I’ve ever been to.” I said, “what about the gross generalization on women and shopping?” And she said, “they gave out $200 pair of jeans, so whatever, I’ll take it.”

Katrina Wong:

Oh my God, that’s so funny. But see, right, like the appeal, the Wow Factor, right? She’s a business person, but as well as a consumer. So yeah. So anyway, it’s been, it’s been really fun. This a fun time to be a marketer.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Well I think it speaks to something else as well, which is get creative. Like, you know, I think of myself as blurring lines on what’s what’s possible in a B2B world. And I would have never thought of doing something like that. So Kudos to you and your team. But you don’t have to do, you know, a roadshow at the W every time and have it be following certain rules and protocols for how you engage with customers and prospects like in a get out of the box and do something different.

Katrina Wong:

I really credit the fact that here at this company we have both B2C marketers by training as well as B2B marketers. So it’s been so wonderful working with this team and the synergies that — because once we kind of removed that artificial line the ideas just started flowing. Just started flowing.

Joe Hyland:

And you’re right in the B2C world, of course, you naturally think of that is in fact what you’re doing, you’re marketing for or with brands. It’s really interesting. I think as consumers, you know this has happened in the last 10 years, we’re all so used to finding our own information; we all self-research, all that bs that we’ve all talked about forever. We’re also used to a certain experience, a certain intuitiveness with products starting with whether it’s using our iPhone or Android, no one’s at least I haven’t looked at a user manual in what feels like five or ten years.

And so the old school way of developing business software is changing. And I think more and more technology is intuitive in the business world. But I haven’t, I’ve thought about it less on the persona and profile of marketers. And that’s a super-interesting point that if you have marketers who have been on the consumer side and they bring that thought process and experience of consumer marketing to the business world, that’s pretty cool.

Katrina Wong:

It is. It is.


Joe Hyland:

Okay, cool, all right. Let’s, speaking of consumerization and the consumer side where building a brand is so important and I’ll push you a little bit in the B2B direction for a moment. Talk about building a brand versus building a high-growth engine, and not that they need to be mutually exclusive, but I think traditionally they have been.

Katrina Wong:

That’s right. I think these days the other super-high bar is measurable results, period, as a marketer. And I think that in past years building a brand was perceived to not be as measurable and that building high-growth engine was almost perceived to be kind of boring and it was just about the numbers.

These days with the tech tools out there you really can do both but at the end of the day if I had to pick one or the other, like I really hang my hat on being able to drive revenue for the business and that just does require the high growth engine, the rigor, the discipline and the tracking, honestly.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I agree, I mean, you and I are cut from the same cloths and we both come from pretty strong demand-gen backgrounds, right? So, I wake up thinking about how to grow the business and that’s what I love. You’re the same way. Does that mean you then lean on other folks in the organization to have strong creative or brand leadership underneath you? Because I think one thing that I see a lot of smart leaders doing is knowing their strengths and what they naturally lean into and ensuring that you have strong people around you to kind of fill out or round out the entire sphere.

Katrina Wong:

Absolutely. I mean, you really can’t be an expert in everything. What’s worked out for this team, I mean, we don’t have someone dedicated to owning brand. And in terms of corporate marketing, just really being both mar-comm and visual design. But what’s worked well for us are just working sessions and brainstorming sessions and that’s where I bring everyone into the room. And it’s optional if you don’t want to brainstorm about a particular campaign, you don’t have to, if that’s not what you’re currently working on. And that’s kind of worked really well. So at our company, and the team’s about 25 people big it’s we’re all contributing to a brand creative brand ideas. Yeah, so it’s been another amazing part of the journey.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think that’s, I like that you just said that because I think a lot of people have a “needs to be invented by them” or by a certain group or team. We probably to a fault here at ON24 in our marketing team, we have a pretty similar size by the way, it’s about 25 people, we have these creative brainstorms. We just had our two-day offsite actually earlier this week. Yeah. It’s fantastic. We try to have this, this mindset of there’s no such thing as a bad idea and I think brilliant ideas come out through that creative brainstorming process where there might be someone on the demand-gen team who comes up with a really creative treatment for a campaign or we tend to have a really strong brand leader, so I’m lucky in that sense. But we have kind of an open source model as well in terms of coming up with creative ideas. A little similar.

Katrina Wong:

Yeah. And you know where I see the seeds just kind of growing in terms of creativity it’s certainly all over the place, right? It could be somebody on the growth side, it could be somebody on the demand-gen side, somebody super operational. It’s been interesting to really look at where the hands are being raised about an idea and we definitely don’t quite fall into the stereotypes. Some of the most creative ideas are coming out of groups that aren’t really tasked to do so.

Are Customer Engagement and Demand-Gen Worlds Merging?

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. That’s cool and that gets everyone engaged. Right? I think that’s a really smart thing to do within a team. Okay, so another area I’m curious to get your take on is we’ve talked about a lot of convergence here, so customer engagement and demand-gen and your Nike Talks event kind of makes me think of this. So I think a more traditional view of how to run a marketing team is there is a side of marketing that is doing customer engagement and kind of what happens after someone signs on as a customer, at least in the B2B world. And then there’s the demand-gen side, all they care about is prospects and bringing in new net leads and driving demand and pipeline, which is wonderful, incredibly important. Are you seeing those two worlds merge at all? And I bring this up after you talked about the Nike Talks event. Do you have events where you say, I want customers to be there and but I really want prospective customers to also come and participate or do you separate them still?

Katrina Wong:        

Oh, ours is blended because when possible, right, and you have customers there, they’re your best advocates. And when you mix customers or prospects with no prep, they naturally sell for you. Right? And I think it’s because they come to a Hired event, they’re going to get asked questions about our platform and so I’m a huge fan of mixing the two. Even on our panels, believe it or not, our whole customer panels, some of them are prospects and want deals that way.


Katrina Wong:

We also have our own podcasts. And many of our podcast guests are not customers yet and we’ve certainly closed some business off of just simply talking about our craft. So it’s been amazing to me. I’m excited too.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think that’s well said. Your last point is I think it’s, I think as marketers you’re really careful to not be too aggressive and talking about their product or offering a solution when trying to convert someone from being a prospect to a paying customer. Nothing sells like knowing their space or the space that you serve; nothing sells better than that. Right? So it’s a great point. You have people on your podcast, you’re probably not talking about how they can utilize Hired’s solution, you’re talking about the space and their challenges. Right? And maybe, in the end, they think “Boy, Hired really gets me and gets what we’re doing. We really should partner with them.”

Joe Hyland:

Good for you that’s pretty creative and I think smart. So my take is pretty similar to yours on this one. We see eye to eye on a lot of this stuff. One, I think your best marketing is done by your customers. That you are going to be somewhat biased about Hired, I’m going to be somewhat biased about ON24, but a Hired customer or an ON24 customer, they’ve got no skin in the game. It comes across as very authentic. And I think customers appreciate that. Some of our, not just in this role, but in past roles, some of my greatest advocates have been happy customers because they feel like they researched a space, they made an investment, they made a selection and they want to see that company succeed. So, if you can partner with your customers, man can they help bring in future customers.


Joe Hyland:

So what about, in the example we just talked about, it’s a customer kind of speaking on your behalf, helping you sell, even if even if that’s not the only goal. What about your team, how do you guys look at customer engagement to ensure that you’re retaining customers and your customers are happy and healthy and want to be Hired customers for the long term? I assume you have a services group, which of course that’s their day-to-day responsibility, but does any of that ongoing best practices or communications sit within marketing?

Katrina Wong:

Yes. Some of the believe it or not very transactional types of triggers from within the application currently sit in marketing. So this is also a borrowed concept from the B2C world of life cycle marketing. And so we within the life cycle marketing, we have two team members and Harley for example, is he works with the candidate side to really get engagement up. And then the other team member, Tai, what he does is he will do the same thing, but for the corporate customers, for our employers. So there’s a fair amount of marketing being done just to ensure that we have engagement and hitting milestones from within our application.

Joe Hyland:

I’m seeing a lot of that in many, many, many organizations where more responsibility on the customer side and customer engagements sits with marketing. I think historically that it just really hasn’t companies would hire a whole bunch of CSMs and cross their fingers and hope for the best throw bodies at it. We have a pretty similar model that we put a lot into our customer community the last few years, but less so on the life cycle. For me that’s a really big push is to ensure that our customers are getting the most out of our offering but it’s really an engagement play.

And then the other side is we call it awareness. I try to be really careful on upselling customers too much from our vantage point so we try to make sure that customers are aware of everything that they could use from ON24 without actually giving an aggressive push. But a lot of that sits in marketing now, whereas in the past it sat in our CS organization and our sales side. So we’re trying to own more of that customer journey, which I think is an exciting, an exciting venture.

Katrina Wong:

Super. Awesome to hear. One idea that we’re almost ready to execute on is yet another B2C concept with engagement. So, in terms of the signed-on and signed-off experience, how can we delight and wow them. So without giving all that away it’s been really kind of cool to kind of work on and I’ll drop a hand, it’ll feel like ecommerce and it’s kinda nice. And we’re going to use that as a vehicle to get more engagement within the app.

Joe Hyland:

That’s cool. Well I told you this would happen in a blink of an eye. We’ve gone through our half hour or so we’re at the bottom of the hour.

Katrina Wong:

I know, time flew!

Joe Hyland:

It did. Thank you. Thank you so much to all of our listeners out there, I think the days of a chasm between B2B and B2C marketing is coming to an end. So stop thinking of them as two wildly discreet universes and get creative. I love the Nike Talks campaign, can’t wait to hear what you guys are doing next. Creative marketing doesn’t have to just live in a B2C world it very much can live in both. So Katrina, thank you so much. I really appreciate the time.

Katrina Wong:

Thank you. It’s been great speaking with you, Joe. Until next time.

How Can We Humanise the Digital Marketing Experience?

Each month, the team at ON24 puts together Insight50 – where we provide fellow Webinerds with 50 minutes of expert insight and answer the questions that are important to you.

One of our recent sessions was on humanising the digital marketing experience. With just about every marketer singing the praises of the benefits of personalisation, how can it be done at scale without losing the personal touch and putting off prospects?

The below is just a brief wrap up of insights from Joel Harrison at B2B Marketing, Leanne Chesco at Demandbase and Matt Heinz at Heinz Marketing – and of course, you the viewers! If you didn’t manage to see it, view it on-demand here.

As we move further into the world of digital, keeping marketing personal and human can prove to be difficult. While it is one thing to be able to personalise the experience for one or even a few targets, it’s another to do it at scale.

So how do marketers use the technology available to them to work at scale, keep it personal and make it human? Here are a few insights from our panel of experts.

Why is it important to be human at scale?

You could probably look in your inbox right now and find an email that was meant to be personalised, but somehow failed for any number of reasons. In fact, more than 4 in 10 (43.3%) of webinar attendees reported that on a weekly basis, they received ‘personal’ emails that were clearly automated and as a result became irritated. Another one-third (33.3%) said they receive these types of emails daily.

It’s clear that receiving emails where it is apparent that no one bothered to research who the recipient is, what their organisation does or the specific needs of the organisation are can be off-putting to the recipient and counterproductive for the sender.

For Joel, the importance of being human at scale is because as marketing continues to become more digital, it becomes more difficult to get more traction in brands and to see through what is not relevant.

“As much as we need to be digital, we need to be human. That’s what creates traction with our audience. I think it’s fair to say that B2B buyers are becoming more and more cynical so I think that, for me, that’s the importance of being human.”

At the same time, Matt Heinz warned about getting too caught up on efficiency and scale at the expense of the experience for the buyer. He reminds the audience of the importance of creating a one-on-one experience for their customers.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind that no matter what your campaign is, no matter where you’re sending it from, for the recipient, for the buyer, for your customer, it is always a one-on-one interaction. They don’t care how many other people you’re sending that message to. They are just thinking about themselves. And they’re receiving that message as one person as an individual.”

How can automation be used more effectively?

When webinar attendees were asked to describe their organisation’s approach when it comes to automation 39.3% said they did not use marketing automation and 28.6% said they use automation in a limited way.

One-fifth (21.4%) said they do use automation more than before, but it still sometimes appears stilted and unnatural. For these organisations who reported using automation but maybe not in the most effective way, Matt suggested stepping back away from working in ‘fire drill mode’ and looking at what automation can do for the organisation.

“What you’re doing in eight hours, you could do in two. What you’re doing to impact 100 customers, you could impact 10,000 customers. And yes, you’re going to have to step back and do some work to put that in place. But that investment and creating those automated systems is going to have a far-reaching, scalable, highly valuable impact on what marketing can do not only with those customers, but the impact marketing can have on sales and revenue.”

For organisations that have marketing automation in place but their sales teams are not taking advantage of it, Leanne suggests that marketers get that data into the hands of reps. Providing them information like intent data can help validate that their prospects are showing buying signals, while behavioural data from target accounts can inform salespeople that their prospects are visiting their website.

“Say a customer is coming up for renewal, you can look at things like intent data to understand actually what that company is looking at. That includes content that’s on your website, but also content that could be on your competitor’s website. That’s definitely the type of data that is great to get in the hands of your salespeople to help them validate that this account is in a good position to either engage in a sales cycle, or that the sales cycle looks healthy.”

What are the barriers to making the digital marketing experience more human?

One of the barriers to humanising the digital experience for one-quarter (25%) of the webinar attendees was a lack of time and personnel to develop processes and campaigns. Other barriers to a lesser degree included legacy technology, integration between systems and internal disagreements about the best approach to take.

However, the biggest barrier for one-third (33.3%) of attendees was a lack of quality data. Leanne recommended that organisations make sure they are targeting the right accounts and that they have a good contact acquisition strategy in place so they know they are targeting the right stakeholders.

“If you’re leveraging those different technologies or tools out there to show you that those accounts are active and showing you active buying signals, I think that’s definitely going to help with engagement and improve your quality of data.”

Hear more on our Insight50 session

The quotes above are just a small sample of what was discussed and answered on this Insight50 session. Make sure to register to watch on-demand and strengthen your topical marketing campaigns for the year ahead.