On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role at Sigstr and how you got here.
I am now the CEO at Sigstr. Over the past twelve years, I was blessed to have the opportunity to work at ExactTarget and then join Salesforce, when they acquired the ExactTarget business. Over my career, I’ve built and lead teams in sales, services and most recently in the product organization at Salesforce as the Chief Product Officer of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
I decided to walk away from Salesforce to create something totally new. My vision is to build a product that creates the next frontier of email marketing. When I was looking for a company to lead, I looked for a product that every business in the world could leverage. Something prolific that could provide value to the businesses in every vertical, industry, B2B, B2C, or B2B2C. Every business in the world runs a corporate email system and very few marketers are taking advantage of this owned media channel to market to their customers.
Sigstr can personalize each and every one of those corporate email interactions to drive sales, brand compliance or even employee behavior like HR promoting open enrollment registration. This completely changes the way brands think about corporate email as a marketing channel.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
There will continue to be consolidation as the mega clouds work to deliver on their promise as a one stop shop. This has happened before in our industry and I believe we’ll see marketers try to put all their eggs in one basket. By doing so they will give up 20-30% of the functionality they could get by going best of breed. Some organizations will tolerate that deficit for a corporate standard, and others will focus on being on the leading edge of innovation. I think those on the leading edge will win out.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Artificial intelligence is the biggest trend that will impact every industry. There is clear evidence that machines are better than humans at many things and, therefore, it makes sense to put machines in situations where this is true.
I believe that the changes we will see with AI are what I call ‘Small AI’. Small incremental improvements in the way products work or services are delivered will be how AI will roll out. This will result in changes in the way we purchase products and receive services as we will become so accustomed to the AI. Kind of like Wifi on the airplanes, we’ll all expect it and when we don’t get it we’ll be upset.
MTS: How should CMOs build their Mobile-First strategy?
Mobile is a ubiquitous device for marketing, or for everything. Everyone runs their businesses from Phone. As a CEO, I spend most of my time on phone. Companies need to have a really truly Mobile-First approach to deliver their services. Customers, B2B and B2C, are using mobile to connect inwards and outwards. In my mind—every enterprise should have mobile marketing goals clearly laid out.
MTS: What are your thoughts on video marketing?
Just make your video short! Nobody watches a long video.
MTS: How should CMOs build their content management system?
Today, marketing is less about content, and more about how that content is activated. You should have a smart activation tool, across your touch points. Sigstr very much evolved in the world of content marketing, and is already helping marketers run CTA campaigns inside corporate email that is consistent with their web, social and other formats.
Invest smartly in Content management systems. Focus on your in-house resources. Employees themselves create billions of content impressions, spending 28% of their time every day in emails… Be it selling prospects or creating customer success — employees should be the first point-of-contact for any organic content.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
With regard to technology, CMO’s should focus on time to value. How much time will it take to get live and start receiving an ROI for the investment in software? Too often they focus on things that delay time to value and projects derail!
Today, I see a race among CMOs looking to build out the Mega Marketing Cloud phenomenon inside their stack. Marketing Clouds are simply a set of acquired products that are being integrated together. For marketers, they just buy the idea and put all their eggs in one basket—whichever that is. The marketing cloud today is all about integrations and additional features that CMOs can pick from anywhere.
Picking what suits you from what’s available in cloud is another challenge.
MTS: What would be your advice to CMOs when they start planning to invest in Marketing Technologies?
Put your customer at the center of all of your thinking. Walk a day in your customer’s shoes. Observe the entire value chain of the customer’s experience, literally every step of how your product or service gets delivered. And see how you can integrate marketing into every step to make it a better experience.
Talking about marketing technologies that deliver, CMOs should be smart in picking their clouds. As I said earlier, Marketing Clouds are bunch of acquired companies that go on to expand by partnering other technologies. However, not one cloud solution delivers everything CMOs want, because it’s just Big Cloud versus Mix-Breed/Best of Breed Cloud. I would recommend CMOs to tune balance between the two.
MTS: A lot of martech companies are preparing for an IPO. What are the factors that a CEO considers before filing an IPO?
Every business is different… For some businesses as they grow, it makes sense to go Public, when they are ready. Others don’t have the scale to go public.
The decision to file for an IPO comes when your business is ready— when you have the momentum of growth under your belt. Going too early can be devastating, especially in marketing technology industry.
I would say, higher growth companies can be good candidates for IPO storytelling. At the end of the day, it all depends on adapting the business changes that IPO brings.
MTS: What start-ups are you watching/keen on right now?
I am watching the upcoming marketing automation systems. With the acquisitions that have happened in this space, a number of companies are coming up that are playing in a niche areas and having success. Companies like DemandJump and Intercom are two examples of many that are up and coming in this space.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
We run campaigns inside our corporate emails—called ‘Driving event registrations’, promote on social, and website. They are specifically for marketing and sales revs within our organization, and it performed very well as part of our Dynamic Campaign product.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
I am very clear on this — No technology provider excels in providing every technology in one tool.
I have a quick theory when I think about Artificial Intelligence —
There is Small AI and then there are AI fundamentals. Small AI, is just there, present in every technology, with incremental features. You just don’t notice it, it’s just there. However, when they disappear, you realize what you’re missing.
When I think about the AI fundamentals, I always quote NLP (Natural Process Learning). Many marketers don’t know about NLP, MI or cognitive, and can’t tell the difference between each of them.
Every marketer should know underlying elements and fundamentals of what AI is. Connecting AI to marketing is great if you know how much of it can be run without your supervision.
From purely marketing point of view, I would say – First, understand the different kinds of AI technology. There are many AI models and algorithms, and it’s hard to crack and employ all of these in one place. NLP, Machine Learning and Deep Learning are all very different disciplines. Marketers should understand what these (models/algorithms) are, how they work and who is leading in these spaces, before planning to invest in AI for their marketing and sales processes.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools do you love using for your daily life?
Amazon, LinkedIn, Travel Apps and LiveNation.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
High level, channels, every touch point matters.
Marketers should maximize their leads for B2B, or drive consumers through the funnel-B2C.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
The Lean Start Up, Inspired (how to create great products) and I listen to the SaaStr Podcasts.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Act and behave like you are in your manager’s job. Don’t be a boss, but offer your peers the same kind of help and assistance your boss would. Look at the things your manager does and become great at those things too. Then, when you get promoted you will be more prepared for the next step.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I set very specific and measurable goals on a regular basis. I write them down and put them in front of my desk every day. Once I achieve the goals, I create the next set.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Jim Cramer CNBC— MARTECH
MTS: Thank you Bryan! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
A software executive with a focus on Marketing SaaS. Specializing in product vision, product management, user experience, product marketing and go to market.
I have created and led technology related consulting services, sales and product teams. I have subject matter expertise in shipping product, implementing product, building new product lines and developing partnership/alliances. I have contributed to both business development and corporate development efforts.
Specialties: Passion. I love building innovative software, working closely with customers and creating career opportunities for others. I believe if you do those three things well, good things happen.
About the MarTech Interview Series
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.