On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here.
I run marketing at Openprise. Our data automation solution solves the “garbage-in/garbage-out” problem for data-driven marketers by automating the process of analyzing, cleaning, enriching, and unifying marketing and sales data. In my previous role, I was running demand gen at Jasper, and I was originally an Openprise prospect. I realized that the data quality and data management issues I was facing were the same ones I faced throughout my career in marketing, and I saw that no one was addressing these challenges. It was clear to me that with more and more companies adopting increasingly complex martech solutions that require good quality data to be effective, like ABM and predictive, there would be huge demand for Openprise solutions. I was so sold on the Openprise vision and its position in the market that I decided to join the company.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
Certainly, there will be a shakeout in the market, and that’s a good thing. There are way too many martech players vying for marketers’ limited attention.
That said, I’m seeing an increasing number of companies that have made big investments in martech and are now realizing that their house data is in such poor shape that they’re not achieving the full potential of those solutions. For example, ABM programs that are having trouble figuring out who is in an account, impersonal personalization, poor segmentation, and predictive tools that aren’t very good at predicting anything meaningful, to name a few. In the next few years, I see marketers’ giving more attention to their marketing and sales data, and I see them viewing it as more of a strategic asset, rather than just the result of their campaigns.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
I see more CMOs embrace the “data-driven” marketing mantra. Previously, marketing operations and demand gen folks were running their departments based on their key metrics, but in last couple of years, we’re seeing more of that same discipline higher up in the organization. I’m seeing more scientists and fewer poets in the c-suite. This is going to have a big impact on the evolution of marketing and on the way marketing teams are managed.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
I’ve seen a lot of CMOs get caught up in publicizing the latest, shiny new technology they’ve deployed, and I see CMOs who collect martech solutions the way kids collect baseball cards. The biggest challenge for CMOs, though, isn’t in acquiring all these data-driven technologies; it’s in getting their own data in good enough shape to unlock the potential of these systems. Unfortunately, most CMO’s marketing teams are ill prepared for the challenge. They’re going to need to invest in the people, processes, and technologies to improve their data quality so that all these exciting new martech solutions achieve their potential.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
Openprise customers tend to be more technologically sophisticated marketers. Quantcast has really caught my attention. As a data-driven marketer, I can appreciate what they’ve done in building an advanced data-intelligence platform. Definitely worth checking out.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Our stack starts with our system of record, which is Marketo, and of course, we use Openprise, our data automation solution, to do data onboarding, lead routing, data cleansing, lead-to-account matching, and data unification across our stack. We also use Openprise Data Marketplace to standardize data from multiple third-party data providers like ZoomInfo and SynthIO. Salesforce, LinkedIn, and Crazy Egg are important components too. I like what the folks at CabinetM have done to help marketers share martech stacks with others. You can see the full Openprise stack here: https://www.cabinetm.com/mstack/227ejt3kav.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
That’s actually one of the few things we don’t openly share at Openprise. Given the huge number of martech companies all vying for attention from the same decision makers, we view our most successful campaigns as trade secrets.
I will say that we’re the antithesis of the “spray-and-pray” spamming mentality that I see so many companies adopting. Absolutely nobody wants to receive an email from a company they’ve never heard of that starts with, “Did you see my last message?” or “I wanted to get in at the top of your inbox.” Marketers need to do better.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
Marketers need to start thinking about the potential of AI in all kinds of areas like content curation, dynamic pricing, and segmentation. No doubt, there are hundreds of startups out there reimaging every martech category with an AI layer. I think that marketers need to take a step back and look at each of these AI-infused apps and think about how these fit into their go-to-market strategy and their priorities. It’s likely that a lot of marketing teams are going to get swept up in the excitement of AI and focus on the wrong things. Marketers also need to think through the potential benefits and risks. They only need to Google the phrase “Microsoft Tay” to get a glimpse into what can go horribly awry.
THIS IS HOW I WORK
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
I start with the fundamentals—buyer personas and our brand promise—and build everything up from there.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
There’s nothing I can’t do without, but some of my favorites are Owler to keep tabs on the competition, Google Docs for internal document collaboration, and Crazy Egg for website analytics.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Turning everything off. Multitasking simply doesn’t work. Whenever I can, I close down all my apps, close out email, and focus one on just one thing. Nothing hampers productivity and creativity more than unnecessary interruptions.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
Right now, Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup. In business school, I had a short course with Jim Collins, and I’ve taken to heart his advice not to read more than three business books a year (including his own). Good ideas come from everywhere. I’m also hooked on the Flipboard app for news.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
John Buie, my first mentor, was the head of sales in my first job. He was a great boss and former airborne army officer. His advice was that when you’ve got all the information you’re going to get, you always make a decision. You might be right or wrong, but straddling a picket fence hurts you and everybody else. Make a decision.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Gather the data, make decisions based on data rather than emotion, then move on.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Allen is marketing professional with extensive experience bringing new solutions to market and increasing market share. Specialties: Lead generation, lead nurturing, branding, product and company positioning, content development, website design, search engine optimization (SEO), marketing metrics, public relations (PR), analyst relations (AR), competitive analysis
Openprise is a data automation solution that lets you automate the analysis, cleansing, enrichment, and unification of your data.
Unlike traditional data management solutions that are designed for IT departments and require coding, Openprise is designed specifically for non-technical professionals, so it contains the business rules and logic you need, and it seamlessly integrates with marketing and sales automation systems like Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, and Salesforce.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.