CMO Confessions Ep. 8, Redback Consulting’s Sara Gonzalez

Hi everyone and welcome to yet another edition of CMO Confessions. Last week I promised you a double-whammy and I’m here to finally deliver. This week, we have someone truly special — Sara Gonzalez, CMO of Redback Consulting.

Sara took the time out of her busy schedule to speak to a few key items that I think us marketers here in the Americas need to keep in mind. First, things in the Americas aren’t all that different from things in APAC — and that’s largely due to their scrappy, agile nature to service a truly massive region. Second, that the ideas of B2B and B2C markets are largely a misnomer — people tend to buy things the same way. Finally, and this is something I could not agree with anymore, that marketing needs refocus its energies on strategy — and not to confuse it with tactics.

A few housekeeping items to take care of before we dive into it. First, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in Ppodbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Second, Sara has helped pen an excellent eBook entitled, “10 Things I Hate About Marketing,” which you can find here. She and her colleague, Rob Brown also hosted a webinar on the subject, which you can listen to here. I highly recommend it.

Third, well, there’s not much for third. It’s time to get into it. Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.


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 all the way from Sydney is Sara Gonzales CMO of Simple. Sarah, you doing?

Sara Gonzales:

Good morning, how are you?

Joe Hyland:

Good afternoon. All right, so just a little bit about you from my perspective Sarah and feel free to jump in and then we can dive into what we’re going to talk about today.

Sarah, you help marketers removed the complexity and becoming more efficient through the reinvention of marketing resource management software. That rolls right off the tongue. Give us a little more from your take on what that means.

Sara Gonzales:

You did pretty well. So, thank you. Similar to yourself — marketing to marketers — and one of the things that we see here at Simple, and we see it globally as well as its massive issue of complexity when it comes to marketers. So, we’ve got so many channels to market. We’ve got so many, you know, abundance of tools that we need to use as well and, you know, MarTech space is getting bigger and it’s getting more complex.

So, Simple provides software to actually manage all those tools and connect the brand the customer experience. So, think of it as your strategic up-planning tool to manage execution tools below.

Joe Hyland:

That’s fantastic and you’re doing some really cool things — I can’t wait to talk about it. One thing I’ve been asked by my team to point out was below in the description we’ll have a link to your ebook, “10 Things I Hate About Marketing,” where you discuss everyday modern marketing drags and how you combat that, fight against it and bring the joy back to your job.

So, with that do you want to start off? I’m a pretty optimistic person but I’ll start off on a pessimistic topic — let’s start with what you don’t like about marketing. What are some of the drags of marketing?

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, the big pain points I think that grind us every day. I think one thing I don’t like, especially about B2B marketing, is that we call it B2B marketing still. I find, that marketing in general we talk about it being around the customer experience, but we tend to treat customers different; their buying behaviors,  the customer journey — based on whether we’re selling B2B or B2C — and I feel like every single person buys the same way. If you’re the CEO of a company or, Joe, you’re the CMO, you know when you actually go and buy something personally or B2B it’s a very similar journey.

So, I feel like sometimes we get really bogged down in there and I think that’s impacting especially B2B marketing and the way that we go out there and the way that we market. I don’t know what your thoughts on that are, but I just feel like if we want to own the customer experience, maybe we should understand the customer a little bit more.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, these are people, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. Funny story, I won’t name the company but I worked for an electronic payments company — I was in product marketing so I did not own the brand at the time — and we came out with a new corporate template and it was pictures of buildings.

And they said, “Oh, our CEO loves this because we sell the big banks.” And I said, “Yeah, but there’s those are people we sell to, like we don’t sell to  skyscrapers.” Yeah, so this is people that people marketing, right? It’s not business-to-business marketing.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, and I think just on that and I know the customer experience thing is massive and we’ve actually just done some research into our later study. We’ve done some research into the customer experience and how people, as marketers, actually manage or try to manage it. And one of the stats that came out of it is 59 percent of marketers actually said that their CMO or their marketing team was responsible for managing that customer experience and 87 percent said the brand consistency is really important, but it’s you know, very, very rare that they have any control over their messaging or their visual appearance or their personalities.

So, it’s sort of like we own it and we want to but we’re not really doing anything about it. So, I feel like there’s a bit of confusion for marketers which sort of gets my grind a bit. And, you know, the rest of the company has to sort of own that as well.

You need to be able to have control over those points if you want to own the customer experience in a true way. So, I think that’s something um that know I struggle with on a daily basis.

Joe Hyland:

I think that’s a fantastic point. Not that I’ve been doing this forever, but the coming up on a couple decades now — I got my haircut yesterday and there was a shocking amount of white hair on the on the ground— I saw in the last ten years, I’ve seen a real rise in the strategic nature of marketing, which is exciting. I see more and more marketers earning pipeline, which I think is really cool. But I think you were right that the next big movement, in my opinion, among marketers and marketing is going to be owning the customer experience. Because, you and I aren’t just doing our job if we get the message out and we help companies or people come and buy from us, right? Like what’s that experience? Like the entire life cycle? I think we should own that.

Sara Gonzales:

And, you know, at my previous company we had a lot of people come into our office to actually run events and a few other things and one of the things we made sure of is that we also in we also met with the customer support team on a regular basis — the frontline people. So, you could do everything as a marketer and you could create this brand and you create this, you know, there’s personality behind what you’re doing and then someone answers the phone for someone who calls the support line and they really piss someone off — there you go, that’s shut down. But you know, we started to work with our actual physical company, if you like, when people came in and our close ratio, when sales people brought people into the office actually increased because people came in and they felt this, “Oh, actually I get what your culture is like and I get them people and I want to be part of that journey.”

So, I think if you can start to own that or find ways that you can impact that then, you know, it’s a quick win almost and it’s something that’s just going to tie everything together.

Joe Hyland:

That’s a good point. That’s a more manageable way to start owning the experience, right? And then perhaps the real North Star, or utopia, is owning the digital experience. So you’re right that you got to start somewhere, right? So why not have it be the experience of when someone comes into the office?

Sara Gonzales:

Yes, absolutely.

Joe Hyland:

Okay. So, Sarah and I were in Sydney — was that four weeks ago, Sarah? It was about a month ago.

Sara Gonzales:

It’s gone really quick, yeah.

Joe Hyland:

So Sara spoke at our conference, Webinar World Sydney. I had to travel a little further than you did. We talked about some cool things. One of the things we talked about was the perception of marketers in Asia-Pacific.

First I love that, I like that those of us in the U.S. think that Asia-Pacific’s a really small region. It’s kinda big. Like a little big. No, but seriously, what is it about your market — the market, at least your region because your global — but where you live, where marketers tend to discount the sophistication of your marketing. That seems absurd to me.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, I feel like it maybe has stemmed back before my time.

Joe Hyland:

There we go.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, just the fact that Australians especially have been behind, or, you know, everything can come a little bit later than Americans, especially. But I feel like that now, we’re seen as being part of the APAC region now — you even got Japan in there as well. There is so many amazing things happening over here, but I don’t know if it’s the time delay or the accent or the weather.

Joe Hyland:

I think it’s the accent.

Sara Gonzales:

It has to be something…

Joe Hyland:

Here’s what’s absurd about it to me. So, you and I are both fortunate enough to run marketing for pretty cool companies. So, that’s fantastic. But we have the same challenges.

So, I don’t necessarily view that my challenges any different from yours, suddenly. They’re different companies. So, first, the challenges are the same. When I was down there — and I came down twice now in the last year — I saw really sophisticated digital marketing from you and your peers. So, I guess I don’t really see how this is grounded in reality.

Sara Gonzales:

I think, and you know what, I think it is changing now, slowly. And I think one of the reasons why people are actually looking to this region and saying, “You know what, you guys are actually getting shit done and you actually know what you’re doing,” is the fact that we are a lot smaller and we’re actually starting to take advantage of that. Because, now that we are smaller, we’ve taken a step back and said, “You know what, we can be a little bit more agile and we’re more nimble.”

That means we can increase our velocity and we can also get stuff done and we can be sort of trailblazers in certain key areas. And yeah, we don’t have the capacity a lot of companies, especially a lot of startup companies, down here. We’ve sort of you know, we’re the second round of Silicon Valley if you like. And we look to you guys over there and we’re like, “Oh.” You know, and start ups are massive over here. And we’ve got massive hubs that are invested in startups down here as well.

So, I think there’s a lot of learnings that we’ve taken from you guys over there and I brought them down here. But we’ve just sort of adapted them and we made them our own. So I think now, you know, Simple, as well, our company, we’re doing the opposite of most companies where we’re a start-up Down Under and we’re taking that to the U.S.

Obviously, there are some challenges there. But I think a lot of companies over in the U.S, —and you would know this at ON24, Joe, starting up in Australia — there are a few little differences. But, like you said, a lot of it is the same challenges, and it comes down to that fact that we’re all people. And we all you know, wake up. We all go to bed. We all do the same thing. I think the perception has to change — not necessarily around a location or what we’re doing — but the fact that it’s person-to-person marketing if you like.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no. No, that’s right. Every individual at a company has a goal, a challenge, whether it’s personal or professional and great marketing is still mapping how you can solve those challenges, right? So, for me, that’s why it’s just a little silly. I think, joking aside, a lot of it is the time difference. I think that you’re in the middle of some pretty big oceans and it’s very far away from from the U.S.

I even see — I do this as well. I set up a call for us on Friday for the team and our team in Sydney said, “Is it okay if we don’t call in? It’s Saturday at 2:00 in the morning.” I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. So I think it’s just because it’s so far away. Very front of mind — a huge focus. But yeah, you can call in on Saturday at 2 a.m., right? That’s okay.

I have one question that I feel like Australians are quite proud of and they would in no way think that they’re behind America in which is coffee. So, the only complaint we got from our conference was “Conference was great, loved the content, speakers were phenomenal, the venue was first-class — you had absolute shit coffee.” So, talk to me about how Australians view their coffee.

Sara Gonzales:

You know, I did notice that at the conference — and I was looking for proper coffee because you guys have just the copy that you pour. Just like basic coffee…

Joe Hyland:

…You see? Just like classic Americans, right?

Sara Gonzales:

…Kettle coffee, we call it. When I was over there I remember sitting down one morning and I had a bit coffee and they came up — I was in San Jose — and she’s like, “Refill?” And I was like, “No no, no, it’s fine. Keep that away from me.” Yeah, it actually all started in Melbourne.

So, Melbourne is like the hipster place of Sydney, if you like. Marketing genius as well. Like, I couldn’t live in Melbourne because I’m not cool enough to live in Melbourne — that’s just a fact. I’d have to judge myself, what I wear every day,  “Is cool enough? Is this a few weeks ago?” You know, the trend.

Yeah, they’re very trendy and it’s all about the beards — and if your Barista who’s making your coffee doesn’t have a beard or a man bun, I think.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s a non-starter. Yeah, you got to have a man bun.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, exactly. So, let’s come over here and Sydney’s trying to be a bit like that. But, yeah, coffee is massive over here.

Joe Hyland:

Are they are they are they good marketers in Melbourne or is this just more hipster coffee scene?

Sara Gonzales:

I think just Baristas and coffee and, you know, the whole — even the coffee cups that you got us — there’s is outrage over here now because… So, I don’t know if you know this at ON24. So, simple one of our pieces of swag was a keep cup.

Joe Hyland:

I didn’t.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, the cups where you keep and you walk around and you put your coffee in them because the actual coffee cups over here — a lot of marketers actually use them in terms of branding. So, if I was, you know, in selling something that was related to coffee I could go and give the coffee shop cups and say, “Hey can use my cups?” And, you know, people walk around with them. It’s great exposure. However, those cups are not really recyclable. And they don’t actually break down. So, now they’re actually proposing that they — over here on cigarettes, they have those warning labels with disgusting images — and proposing they do that on coffee cups now.

So, the coffee is great, but the amount of controversy that’s coming around coffee right now is whole other level.

Joe Hyland:

That would not fly over here. Do not tell Americans what to do. Do not regulate a thing. Yeah, that wouldn’t. That well, actually, it’s not true — in San Francisco that would be very popular.

Okay, we’ll get back into things. So, one of the things I love most about my job is, like, this. Like, how cool is it that part of my job is having a discussion with a peer? Like having a marketing discussion. Your role is cool and what you guys do at Simple as cool because I think at least, you’re helping marketers with their strategy.

I’ll talk to a lot of marketers and they’ll do one of two things. I’ll say, you know, “What’s your strategy, what are you trying to accomplish?” They’ll either list a whole bunch of tactics — I’m gonna do a white paper, I’m gonna do a webinar, I’m gonna do a blog — It’s like, okay, well, let’s not confuse a tactic with it a strategy. Or, and this is particularly bad here in Silicon Valley, we’ll just list a whole bunch of types of technology. “Oh well, I’m doing ABM, right? I know, I’m redoing my website.” And they list all this tech that they’re using — which is cool, but again, I don’t know if it’s grounded in a foundation of how to solve their business problem. So, you get to help marketers with their strategy, right? Like, I feel like that would be empowering and really cool.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, so, obviously managing, having a place to manage all those channels is important. And, in essence, that’s part of what our software does, but the other part of it is taking a step back.

One of the things we’re looking to do is getting markers to remember why they even fell in love with marketing in the first place. And I think a lot of that is, you know, there’s so much data around now and you know, it started off with creativity. And one of the things people are saying to us, you know, originally why they fell in love and why they still come back to marketing is that perfect blend of art and science together.

So, we’re no longer the crayon department and we’re no longer just about pretty pictures. We’ve got data or we’ve got science and we can actually use that — not to only justify what we’re doing and prove what we’re doing — but we can also start to make that impact. When it comes to revenue, and like you said, on the sales side, managing pipelines, but one of the things that we find is the tool that we don’t have actually piece this all together is — hate to plug ourselves but something like this — so, you know briefing, right? You know, you’ve got to write a brief. You’ve got to get a campaign out and for someone like myself, and even a lot of marketers we speak to, the brief seems to be the other forgotten child almost. Let’s do a brief, a few bullet points let’s put it together. Let’s suddenly run a campaign and then, you know what, suddenly the campaign doesn’t work.

So, you look to the tool that you use, or you look to your budget, or your look to the people who ran it and you look at all these tactics and you don’t actually look back to the brief and actually align that with the goal that you had in the first place. So, we find that’s a massive disconnect over here. So, what we’re trying to do is bring intelligence into this and say, “Okay, how can we use the brief and get marketers a place where they can actually keep going back to the brief and use it as their anchor point, almost. So, then they can actually fully understand how their tools are performing, what’s actually happening, how everything comes together.”

Because otherwise, I feel like we’re just blaming it on, you know, because we’ve got MarTec there and that, so we’re going to blame it on the piece of technology or, you know, we’ve got a sales team. So they’re going to turn around and blame it on that, but we’re not actually looking at the full picture and we’ve got way too much data.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, we have too much data I could talk about all day long. I think the problem is even worse than what you just described. I think so many marketers — and there’s so much — it’s a good problem to have, marketing isn’t just the pretty colors anymore so there’s pressure on marketers to grow and there’s so much pressure that we just want to do more, and more, and more and do it quicker, and quicker, and quicker and it’s like don’t worry about analyzing it — we’ll just figure it out. We don’t have time to analyze.

I think a lot of marketers — when you talked about a poor man’s or a light brief — I question how many marketers are even putting together a brief before a program.

And are they doing a proper post-mortem? I would criticize ourselves.  A couple years ago — so I’ve been running our marketing for three years — a couple years ago we ran a campaign, we had a brief. Like, I think we put a lot of thought into it, ran a campaign; it didn’t work. That’s okay, not everything will work — and there were people on our team that didn’t want to do a post-mortem. It was like, “We don’t have time to analyze why it didn’t work. We need to move on to the next thing.” It’s like well, “Don’t you think we’re at risk of just repeating the same mistakes if we don’t actually go back and analyze it?” So, I think that is more and more common than many people realize.

Sara Gonzales:

 And you know, there’s this some look it up, if you don’t know about it, there’s this famous campaign over here in Australia called, “Dumb ways to Die,” and it’s pretty much it’s hilarious, the creative is amazing and it’s about cartoon characters showing. The whole idea was to — a lot of people actually die on train tracks over here. So, a lot of young kids so cross the train tracks, I’ll get hit by a train or they’ll be graffiti on train tracks. So, it’s actually a really big problem.

But there they actually put a spin on it and it was literally the little cartoon characters with their bodies getting chopped off. And they had this really catchy song and it was great. And the amount of views and the amount of virality it got ‚ it just went everywhere. It was really shareable, social media went off. But actually — everyone spoke about that and they won all these awards — but when they actually go back to it, and this is something they didn’t actually advertise, obviously, more people actually died on trains that year.

So, that’s an example of, you know, you’ve got something out there and we’re like we want to be more than just a creative department and we want to be more than just pretty pictures. But you’re actually measuring your success by something creative if you’re not actually measuring results.

So, to me, that’s like, well, you know we want this but do we really? Is it just easier to sort of just tick something off the box and win an award for it? So I feel like yeah massive disconnect once again.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think that’s a super good point. I agree that great marketing is the mix of Art and Science — it’s what’s fun about marketing for me. I love the intersection of these two things.

I found a couple of things interesting here. One, I think a lot of marketers didn’t go into marketing because they’re data-driven if you will, though I don’t really love that phrase, but so I think sometimes it’s a challenge. I think, you know, it’s not necessarily a first love. And then the second point I would make is —our observation — is that there’s so much data today. Like, I find in — we use Marketo — so, if you open up a lead record in Marketo and you look under the activity history or their interesting moments — there might be hundreds of interesting moments. What am I supposed to do with that?

I find it’s hard to make sense or see trends in these seas of data.

Sara Gonzales:

And it’s funny because I feel since automation has come about — and I’m a massive Marketo fan as well — but automation has come about and we’ve got all these data but I feel like you sort of manually need to go through it. And you need to actually have this Instinct. So, there’s the instinct that comes into marketing because you’ll go through it — and there are certain things that you can’t have a robot pick up, right? — so If you do go through those hundred records, you’re going to need an inside sales person or someone to go, “Oh actually that’s interesting” and in their head tie it back to something.

So yeah, I find it really interesting as well and I think you know — on that point — the whole impact of AI and how it’s going to impact marketing and all the machine learning and everything like that. You’re still going to need people there because you’ve still got — marketers have that instinct about certain things and I think it’s probably maybe 25 percent of what I do. That feeling, it’s like, “Oh I know this is right and I’m looking at data there and I can see the patterns.” So yeah, I think that’s an interesting point.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, and the art doesn’t go away like I don’t I um, I don’t yeah, the Geeks are kind of coming into to marketing. I mean, I think that influx has occurred. But one of my one of my first bosses — I was a year out of college — and I said, “Well actually doesn’t matter what the email copy is and what the subject line is, we’ll test everything, we’ll A/B test it.” And he said, “Well, you know, any idiot or a monkey can just throw a dart board and just keep adjusting but like great marketing is knowing your audience.” And like right like there is some gut feel and there is really knowing your personas inside and out so you don’t have to A/B test everything. So, yeah, people aren’t going anywhere. Marketing departments when they get more money, they’re still hiring people, right? Like, I don’t see everything being outsourced or everything being automated.

Sara Gonzales:

Yea absolutely.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, what are your views on AI in marketing? Are you guys using any? Are you anti-AI? Do you think it’s the wave of the future? What are your thoughts?

Sara Gonzales:

Well, our new platform has been built on Microsoft. So, we’ve got massive potential to bring the intelligence into it. And we will. But I feel like for us it’s so big. And over here there’s so many conferences and every now and then — you have these run of conferences every year, Joe,  and you go to them — and there’s something really shiny people love, you know. Two months ago it was all about blockchain. It’s all about machine learning and it’s all spoken — up here.

So, as a marketer you go there and you get really excited and you go back to your desk and it’s like, “Oh, you know, this is what I learned and it’s like, well, how does it actually apply to me as a matter? How am I going to use that?”

So I think that the potential is massive and I think, like you said, I’m not scared of it — I think if anything it’s going to increase jobs within marketing because you still need that human element. But what I do think is that there’s very few organizations, especially software companies, out there telling us how it’s going to impact what we do every day, how it’s going to help us tie everything back to that customer experience. And you can have great technology, but it’s not going to solve all of our problems. And I think, as marketers, who are selling technology out there, you need to if you could go out and say, “Here’s how this is going to impact what you do every day and here’s how you’re going to be able to tie that back to your goals.” If you do that, you’re going to go into a winner.

So, I think, as a company, that’s our next challenge and how we do that. Because, like I said, we’ve got so much potential with so much technology, but not everyone needs it all.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no, totally. Great marketing is about the “why” not the “what,” right? Like, I think if I could give advice to myself 15 or 20 years ago, it would be always focus on the strategy and the foundation first and don’t rush the tactics. I think we all sprint to the deliverables — they are tactics and they’re critical to executing on the strategy, but it, in fact, starts with the strategy.

Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. So, I have a question, which I don’t think you’ll see coming. So, when we were over in Sydney, I was…

Sara Gonzales:

It’s early for that

Joe Hyland:

It is early there, right? Yes, but I won’t stop you. This is actually easy for you. But I don’t think you think I’m gonna ask it. When I was over there, I was incredibly impressed with how sophisticated you are with your digital and webinar marketing — and we’re not going to be able to show that over a podcast, right? But, I think our listeners would benefit from hearing you talk for a minute or two on your views on digital marketing how you’re doing content and webinars,  how you look at your strategy to drive attendance, keep engagement during a live event, actually have an on-demand strategy. Like, you’re doing some really cool things and I was pretty impressed and I think people would love to hear it for 90 or 120 seconds.

Sara Gonzales:

Firstly thank you. It’s nice to hear that.  Secondly, I think and I mentioned this to you while you over here that webinars are pretty dirty over here —and they’ve got a bit of a bad reputation.

I think, for us, webinars are not just something that we have to do as a tactic. So, going back to your point, they’re part of the bigger picture. So our content — we create a lot of content because marketers love content, right? And part of our content strategy you know webinars come into that. So like I said, they’re an extension of the content that we create. So, any given month we have a key theme, and like I said, too, we’ve released its research report and this is probably a good example because I was really impressed with how this worked out two days ago.

We created this research report. We went and interviewed 300 marketers and we came up with these amazing results. So we’ve got the results, we’ve got some nice pretty graphs, but how do we actually disseminate that information actually start a conversation around it?

So ,firstly we partnered with the Australian Marketing Institute over here. As the peak body and to also give them credibility and then we did a co-webcast with them. On the webcast, though, and our webinars — I call it a webcast but this sort of interchangeable, arrive? I don’t want to get caught up in semantics.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, same yes,

Sara Gonzales:

And this is great, having a webcam, but in terms of engaging marketers and I think even, you know, understanding that webinars are an extension of your brand we have panel discussions. So, it’s almost like TV on the internet, if you like.

So, everyone who downloads the report gets invited to a discussion, but the people on this discussion is myself, who’s interviewing one of our key customers in the financial services — and she’s really big on compliance and she’s passionate about probably three key areas that we were speaking about — another one of our prospects and then also our chief product officer.

So we started having this conversation around the results. First of all, within the platform we started, people — before we went into the results, for example — one of the questions might have been what’s your biggest struggle with briefing? We actually use polls to actually ask the audience what their struggles were and then we actually showed them the results so they can actually feel like they’re part of the study.

Joe Hyland:

So you make it interactive, right? Rather than just like a talking PowerPoint for an hour, like you’re literally asking people for their feedback and then the dialogue changes based off what they say.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, and then compare it to the actual study and then have the people talkin about the studies. So it’s much more of a conversation. Utilize the resource folder to actually then upload the report and other pieces of content that we have relating to the report. Because once people are actually on that event the more you can engage and the more sort of content you can give them is obviously going to benefit you and also the data you’re collecting. But now that we’ve got that we’re actually going to break down that panel discussion into — I think we know that down into eight different short videos that we can use and repurpose for marketing content.

So, one of the things that I said to you as well afterwards is not everyone wants to sit down and watch a 45-minute recording. And we only had 40 percent attendance on that event. But those are the 60 percent of people, they can choose to watch the 45 minutes or they can choose to watch maybe a five-minute segment or something they’re interested in. So, it’s really…

Joe Hyland:

I think that’s an important point and I’ll interrupt for one second because… So,you’re right so you got four out of 10 people who registered to show up. It’s easy to focus is easy to just say, “Okay, well, that’s my new audience. That’s all I care about.” You keep them really engaged with these polling strategies right and making it interactive but then afterwards you have a different strategy for the 60 percent.

Sara Gonzales:

Yep. Yeah, right. So I love that. Yeah, and that way we’re engaging people, you know, not just within that one day and you know our investments for that one hour then turns into a six to 12-month investment as well.

Joe Hyland:

Ah, yeah, that’s smart. Have you measured — speaking of Art and Science ‚ the impact of sending follow-up emails to the those who registered but didn’t attend —with the shorter content versus the full 45-minute discussion panel webinar — did you see different results?

Sara Gonzales:

Well, one of the things we do with our webinar marketing before during and after we’ve got sales development reps and we get those guys involved. So, first of all their text-based emails and their conversations with people, as opposed to an HTML email going out from marketing. So, it’s from a person her name’s Jenna she’s had contact with them for a while, and we actually see in terms — even the quick ratio that we get for people watching the on-demand content — it’s probably around 30 percent of the people afterwards actually go to watch those shorter videos.

Joe Hyland:

Okay, that’s great.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, it’s something we’ve only started this year and it is a little bit more difficult with the editing process afterwards. But,  even looking back like you said to their profile in Marketo and saying, “Okay, this person has actually downloaded a lot of content that revolves around compliance. So let’s make sure that they receive the compliance video.” And in the flow, we make sure that they’re receiving using keywords to actually send them content that they’re probably more interested in as opposed to something like reporting.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Um, yeah. No, that’s fantastic. And I think it’s also really smart that you guys have your SDRs involved throughout the process. I mean, if it’s a demand generation use case, which it sounds like this is, I think having pre-sales involved from the start is smart, right?

That way doesn’t feel like a jolting experience and afterwards someone is reaching out to them.

Sara Gonzales:


Joe Hyland:

Okay cool. Well, we are at the top of the half hour. You and I could do this probably for the next 45 minutes and I feel like time would fly by, but I want to wrap things up.

Sarah, this was this was fantastic. I’m gonna look up Dumb Ways to Die. I was not familiar with this campaign. So I’m excited. It sounds like you guys are on a mission over at Simple to make marketers great again. That is a phrase that is …

Sara Gonzales:

You always have to throw that in, right?

Joe Hyland:

I said very similar…

Sara Gonzales:

 I’m not making that a thing, Joe. I’m not going to use it — stop trying to…

Joe Hyland:

Sorry, once I say it for the third time it sticks. You said webinars are dirty over here, so we’re gonna have to dig into that next time. But it seems like you’re cleaning things up and you’re doing a great job with it. So that…

Sara Gonzales:

I’ll take one for the team.

Joe Hyland:

You’ll take one for the team, thank you. With that, let’s wrap up Sarah. Thanks again. This was this was fantastic.

Sara Gonzales:

Thanks, Joe.

Joe Hyland:

All right by everyone.

It’s Time to Wake Up Your Scale

Let’s talk about scale. As a concept, it’s simple enough — you take an item or set of figures and expand or contract — proportionally — as needed. Projectors, for example, can scale from a small frame to a massive frame with little effort. Similarly, you hold down the “shift” key when expanding a picture in PowerPoint or Word you’re making that image scale.

As a concept, scale is great.

Scale is great, of course, unless you need to scale revenue-generating ideas. Programs, people, pipeline — they’re all easy to scale in concept, but executing proportional growth for an organization is very, very difficult — doubly so if your role depends on it.

The ON24 Engagement Platform removes the difficulty from scaling your webinar events. It provides you with the tools you need to take a webinar from a few viewers to thousands or whittling an event intended for a massive audience down to a select few. Whether you’re using a global or account-based campaign, you have the power to stretch, shrink and scale your webinars to suit your needs.

Even more impactful is the platform’s ability to scale your programs — whether it’s marketing, certifications, continuing education or more — to your next market. ON24 makes it easy for you to push your hard-fought-for programs, and the ON24 platform, to peers in any region, regardless if they reside in a different county, state, country or global region. In fact, with ON24’s easy-to-use platform, you can teach distant co-workers and co-marketers — through ON24 and its robust, interactive widget — on how they can build and scale webinar campaigns and programs. This provides your organization with both marketing power and regional marketing programs that can scale specifically for a particular theatre of operations — extending your brand, your messaging and your values anywhere on the planet in a one-to-one scale.

So go ahead, expand your marketing efforts. Push your demos overseas. Send your campaigns on a round-world trip and tip off your regional peers on the power of scalable webinars. It’s time to wake up your webinars and your scalability.

GDPR, Marketing and the Shift to a Privacy-Centric World

It’s been a little over a month since the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, became law. The statute, taking effect on May 25, 2018, launched a slew of privacy update emails and last-minute data wrangling efforts from various companies across the globe. It has since inspired similar regulations, most recently California’s California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (AB 375). Additional regulations, originating from different countries or states, could be on the way.

Why all the hubbub?

There are a few reasons why GDPR inspired so much scrambling and continues to do so after its implementation. First, it affects companies on a global scale. Second, it shifts an organization’s control over collected data from companies to individuals. Third, organizations can only collect data on an individual if they actively ask the individual for consent or if that individual has a legitimate interest in that company’s dealings.

Not only that, but organizations also need to clearly explain why they are collecting data and what for. Companies will need to demonstrate they can easily delete collected data if either A). an individual requests it or B). if the data is no longer relevant to the reasons it was initially collected in the first place. Data cannot be kept indefinitely for no particular reason.

The central issue, and why this regulation impacts companies across the globe, is that it regulates any data belonging to any E.U. citizen, regardless of where that data, or the company using that data, resides. If, for example, a company hosts an E.U. citizen’s data in Canada, that company still needs to comply with GDPR or risk up to 4 percent of its global revenue.

So, yeah — GDPR is a big deal. And both companies and governments are still trying to wrestle with both its implications and its enforcement.

Ultimately, though, GDPR is good, even if it’s still unclear to many. It empowers individuals to control their data and gives companies the scaffolding they need to shift their marketing and data retention policies to focus on individuals who are actively interested in what a company has to offer. Think of GDPR — and similar legislation — as an opportunity to both better organize your data and shorten your marketing funnel by engaging with folks who are genuinely interested in your business. It’s an invitation to stop interrupting and start engaging by putting your audience’s interests first.

To help you on your journey, we’re putting together a GDPR webinar. We’ll give you the low-down on the new law and how webinars can act as a powerful tool to help you stay in compliance and generate better pipeline. If you’re in the European market, join us on July 12 at 11 a.m. BST. If you’re in the United States, join us on July 17, at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) to get a better understanding of what GDPR means for you and how you can use webinars to get ahead of privacy regulations.

It’s Time to Wake Up Your Revenue

Webinars are a vanguard. For marketing, they lead the company’s messaging, ferrying actionable, engaging content to a sea of prospects. For sales, they signal qualified leads with the real, contextual data needed to earn a close. They capture attention. They educate audiences. They semaphore good and bad quarters for leads and push messages to a swath of listeners on a one-to-one level.

Ultimately, though, webinars. drive. revenue.

That’s because webinars act as a catalyst, enhancing your content and messaging and bringing actual qualified leads to the table with all the data dressings necessary — from what the lead has read, asked, and more — to make a close. The ON24 marketing platform makes this possible by collecting up to over 40 data points for every attendee — allowing your team to analyze content performance and lead quality from an aggregate perspective to a single attendee. With each webinar, your organization has the makings of a more effective scoring model and a better understanding of your best prospects.

Place thought leadership content in front of attendees curious about your solutions. Give demos to those seriously considering it. Provide product updates, industry panels and best practices guides to clients. The point is, for every stage, there’s a webinar use-case that’ll help you to accelerate your pipeline and enhance your messaging.

With ON24, you’re provided with a robust platform that adds dynamic, interactive layers to your content. With these layers in place, you can make a one-way conversation, two, and get a better understanding of the people behind the personas.

Deliver relevant, timely messages with live and on-demand events. Get your audience to lean into your content with interactive features like polling, chatting, surveying, and more. Turn those connections into actionable insights your whole operations team can use — from measuring campaign performance and benchmarking webinars to refining personas and accelerating pipeline. Make the move to smarter, deeper experiences. It’s time to wake up your webinars — and your revenue.

To learn more about how you can wake up your webinars and drive more revenue, head on over to or simply click this link.

It’s Time to Wake Up Your Webinar Data

Businesses crave data. The more collected, the more companies can investigate the hidden insights into why personas act the way they do, what they want and what they truly need. Data fuels business intelligence and peels back a persona’s layers — giving businesses a better understanding of the people behind the concept.

The ON24 platform wakes marketers up to engaging prospects at scale with engrossing webinars and events across the buying cycle. But ON24 provides more than engaging webinars. It also provides marketers with the tools needed to peel back a persona’s layers.

The tools are in ON24’s intelligent analytics. Measure interest through engagement. Appraise interest through polls. Research curiosity through downloaded resources. Qualify leads by merely asking. By collecting an average of 40 data points per-webinar — not just one — ON24 gifts marketers and sales with actionable data that drives real pipeline results.

That’s because ON24’s intelligent insights supply marketers with detailed analysis on each webinar attendee — scoring them on engagement with a company’s messaging, time spent watching a webinar, questions asked, resources downloaded and much, much more. These data points help marketers better qualify leads, sifting the not-yet-ready for sales from the “let’s talk” prospects.

For example, let’s say a new lead joins at the beginning of a campaign. With ON24, a marketer can track that lead’s progress through the campaign, measuring which messages resonate, which don’t and what the prospect is interested in learning. ON24 even gives marketers the tools to measure the success of a campaign over various webinars.

The ON24 marketing platform enables marketers to accelerate the sales process by making data simple to understand and act on. Get granular with your data. Get grand with it as well. Get reports on your webinar audience in real-time and respond in real-time. With ON24, you have more data, better leads and the tools to better understand your audience. Get intelligent with your webinar data today.

To learn more about how you can wake up your webinars and get better insights into your audience, go here

It’s Time to Wake up Your Brand

A good brand carries a lot of weight. It gives prospects and clients a name to trust, a business an identity to promote, and a name to attach to quality.

That is, of course, only if your company puts its best brand foot forward at every engagement opportunity. Every interaction needs to be high-quality and to make your company shine. Often, this means focusing your efforts on weightier content sources, like webinars, to make your brand and its values stand out.

As the front door to your brand, webinars are uniquely positioned to showcase the maturity of your organization and how it interacts with audiences from across the funnel. Often, this means empowering attendees through interactive events and giving them the ability to craft their own experiences with the brand.

Only the ON24 Engagement Platform arms organizations with the tools to produce interactive, end-to-end brand experiences that leave an impression on audiences.

That’s because when audiences attend a webinar, they’re often expecting a meeting with a presenter, a set of slides, and a half-hour or so of their lives. These are not engaging experiences, and they risk damaging your brand by making it easy for attendees to tune your message out. That lost interest impacts your bottom line. ON24 provides the tools you need to help your brand capture and retain attention across the buyer’s journey.

Virtual events are the first step to capturing audience attention — be they webinars, virtual conferences, or learning centers — and extending your brand’s values. With the ON24 Engagement Platform, colors, logos, in-event widgets and more are easily tailored to reflect the brand style or adapted to coordinate with an integrated campaign. Each element, of course, can be customized to reflect a given topic.

But, more importantly, organizations can use these events and digital tools to give audiences a genuine interaction with your brand and its values — one which puts attendees in control of their experience.

For example, attendees can use ON24 widgets — like Q&A and more — to guide the event’s conversation as it develops. Resource lists, group chats, and even idea-generating brainstorm widgets also provide another two-way street for audiences to interact with your presenters, your team, and your brand.

Deploying these interactive tools can also help your organization extend its presence across both internal and external networks. Social widgets can help thought leaders interact with an event over platforms like Twitter. Email widgets give attendees an easy way to share informative and thought-provoking events with internal colleagues. By providing such a responsive and rich experience, you extend your brand’s voice and digital footprint.

Two-way, branded conversations are critical for businesses today. It gives your organization — whether established or just gaining a foothold — an interactive and professional touch that goes beyond expectations. Exceeding expectation could be the difference between business won and lost in a crowded, competitive digital landscape.

Don’t make it easy for your audience to turn away. Learn how you can make your brand shine with ON24.

To learn more about how you can wake up your webinars and make your brand shine, head here.

ON24: GDPR Ready

I hate rules. And, I think the best marketers are those who break them.

Which is why I’m surprisingly ok with the larger mission of the EU’s forthcoming, and discussed-to-death General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Yes, it’s a pain in the ass, but I fundamentally believe the challenge is one all marketers should embrace, inside or outside the EU. Let’s use the deadline of May 25th to ask ourselves some big, uncomfortable questions about the way we’re engaging with prospects. Is the interaction human? Are you getting any more besides an unsubscribe notice from your very generic email?

It’s time to take a step back and examine whether all this marketing technology is adding or taking away from the relationship we’re all relentlessly trying to build with our customers and prospects. And, of course, make sure your technology is GDPR-ready.

The good news is that ON24 has you covered on both aspects. We’ve built our platform to make engagement more human through live, on-demand and personalized experiences. And, our privacy and product experts have worked very hard to ensure the data you collect along the way is kosher with the EU’s new policy.

So, we’ve got your back, webinerds… Keep on breaking (most) rules, stop spamming, and start engaging!

Mastering the Webinar Introduction Script

It’s funny, when it comes to webinar best practices, the one thing that rarely gets discussed is the opening. And openings are important. I have attended and delivered a LOT of webinars in my life and it occurs to me that the most boring section of most webinars is actually the intro. There, the host will greet everybody and go through some kind of housekeeping section that feels like the presenter would rather be doing anything else in the world. It’s often painful to listen to, even if some of the information is important.

Do we will still need to do webinar intros and housekeeping? Sure — they establish the host, set the tone and provide valuable information to the audience about how to navigate the next hour. Can this be done better? You bet. Here are a few tips that will help make your webinar intros much more effective.

Set the tone

So many webinar presenters have a weird misconception by about tone. They believe that webinars have to have a dry, professional, but personality-less feel to them, and tend to speak to the audience in a monotone voice, like they are reviewing tax documents. Horrible!

When you greet your webinar audience for the first time, do it with energy and enthusiasm. Let them know that they are amongst friends. Give them a warm greeting and show them that they are in for a non-painful, and perhaps even fun, hour of education and inspiration. Even if you are delivering webinars for a serious industry such as healthcare or financial services, that doesn’t mean that your webinars should feel emotionless. There is nothing wrong, EVER, with greeting your audience with a smile.

Don’t read your abstract

Another strange thing I see companies do at the beginning of webinars is to read the abstract or email promotion for the event they are already attending. Hey, they are there, you don’t need to convince them again! They know why they signed up and are in your webinar and ready to go. The best way to keep your audience is to get on with the show.

Master the webinar basics:

Script the intro, carefully

I often get asked if webinars should be scripted and my answer is always a definitive no… except for intro scripts. There is simply too much detail to review with your audience to try to memorize it all. You have enough on your mind just preparing for your presentation. Also, you want to make sure that you get the instructions right. There is nothing worse than someone stumbling through housekeeping recommendations, confusing the audience before the presentation even begins.

Housekeeping: Be thorough but quick

If you have set up a bunch of features for your audience, you certainly need to point them out. There is nothing wrong with reviewing all of the features of your webinar (free content downloads, Q&A, links to other assets, etc.) but do so quickly. Try to review them in order, perhaps reviewing widgets from left to right to make it easy to follow. And don’t leave your smile at the door. Maintain your happy demeanor, even as you read the script.

Choose one CTA to emphasize

Most of the extra webinar features that you make available to your audience are there to elicit an action. Perhaps you are linking to a free trial or a demo. Maybe you are using your webinar to promote another upcoming event. There is a limit to how much you want to do in your housekeeping, so try to focus on one key CTA that you can emphasize as something that your audience should pay special attention to.

Use a visual

A lot of companies actually create a housekeeping slide to show what is available in the webinar console. The speaker can either highlight what is on the slide or simply let the audience view for themselves during the welcome, saving more time for content. If you do this, however, it’s as important to make sure that you are constantly updating that slide as you customize each webinar console.

Some companies have even made housekeeping videos that run before the webinar starts. This can be a fun way to check the housekeeping box — but it’s hard to make changes to a video, so be aware.

Save the intros

One thing I always thought was awkward is when webinar hosts introduce speakers, then pause to review the housekeeping, then go back to the speakers. The audience can get confused as to who is who, and you end up having to re-introduce the speakers all over again. This is especially true for audio-only webinars. Welcome your guests, review the housekeeping and then segue to your speaker and content introductions. It will make everything flow so much better.

A webinar is just like any other type of entertainment. People can lose interest quickly if the beginning isn’t engaging and the show isn’t easy to follow. Greet your audience with a smile, quickly let them know what they need to know, and get on with the show.

Give Webinar Marketing a Personal Touch

When it comes to large-scale communications with a personal touch, you can’t beat webinar marketing. Unlike white papers — or even massive in-person events — webinars really give you a chance to get personal and get real with your customers and prospects.

In last week’s live webinar, “How Personalization Can Drive Webinar Success,” Mark Bornstein walked us through some simple steps to make a real connection with webinars. In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights:

Send a thoughtful invitation

People are much more likely to respond to an email when it feels like you went the extra mile for them. So make your webinar invites more meaningful! It only takes a little effort to make a huge impact.

  • Write like a person. It’s all too easy for marketers to fall into bad habits and churn out emails that sound like a corporate jargon generator. Yuck. Remember that you’re writing an email for a real person with real concerns. Use “you” a lot and focus on what they’ll get from the event.
  • Segment your database. Not all customer needs were created equal. If your email service allows it, try sending a different, customized message to your most important segments.
  • Personalize the subject line. Nothing grabs someone’s attention like their own name. Try adding a variable field for first name or company to your email’s subject line: “Hey Jon! You’re invited to a webinar”

Be a considerate host

Whether you’re throwing a party or delivering a webinar, it’s no fun for anyone else if you make it all about you. Instead, look for ways to turn your presentation into a conversation, and get the audience engaged.

  • Don’t be too formal. The old slides-and-presenter webinar format can be a lot of fun, especially if you have a great presenter. But why shake things up a bit? Try different presenter formats, such as interviews, expert panels, or coffee talks.
  • Give them what they want. After really great webinar, the audience walks away full of ideas about what to do next. Pack your webinar with valuable info and actionable tips.
  • Listen. There’s nothing people love more than sharing their own experiences. Include polls, surveys, and Q&A to give your audience a chance to talk about themselves.

Let them know they matter

Show your audience how much they mean to you by inviting them to engage with your company again.

  • Stay in touch. Most leads start to go cold pretty quickly, so reach out within 24 hours with a follow-up call or personalized email.
  • Show them you were listening. But don’t just make a generic follow-up call! Ask them if they had any questions about the webinar they just watched. If the lead asked questions or responded to a poll, use that as a starting point for your next conversation.
  • Offer a fresh experience. It’s a good idea to offer them another piece of content, but make sure it isn’t more of the same. The next step should take them deeper into the buyer’s journey, whether it’s a white paper, a data sheet, a live demo, or an invitation to another webinar on a different topic of interest.

By making your webinars into genuinely personal experiences, you’ll increase attendance, engagement, and interest in your brand. For more great tips like these, watch “How Personalization Can Drive Webinar Success” on demand.