On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company)
I’m the founder and CEO…but also occasionally IT and janitor.
Working on ad platforms at Microsoft, Peter (co-founder at CTO) and I saw the complete lack of connection between how marketers paid for online ads and the actual value that they get from it. It was all about impressions and clicks and not about revenue, particularly for companies with sales teams and long sales cycles. That’s where the seed for the Bizible tree came from.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
In the B2B martech space where we are, the complete market is huge, but if you look at which vendors have significant traction, it’s actually quite a bit smaller. The fact that there are thousands of small martech companies with good ideas, coupled with where we are in the martech maturation curve, I expect to see continued consolidation from the major players. Martech startups offering one product will either evolve and expand or get sucked into bigger “marketing platforms.”
From a product perspective, I see machine learning and, eventually, AI becoming increasingly involved across all of marketing technology. For data to be useful and actionable, it must be analyzed. Machine learning technology is making that process faster and and more effective than ever.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Understanding the actual business impact of marketing efforts. Too many companies are still spending thousands and millions of dollars on content and ads without actually knowing which are driving revenue. The growth and improvement of attribution data (data that connects marketing to revenue) is a big development. Machine learning, as I mentioned in the previous question, will have a big impact in this space.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
Right now, it starts with marketing operations. Companies with the best data, that can also make sense of the data, will win. So the question for CMOs is how to create a best-in-class tech stack and develop a team and culture that can leverage the technology and data. On the tech side, the challenge is discerning which technologies provide data and which provide insights that solve real problems. The CMO is now very much also a CIO.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
Outreach and TinyPulse.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
We see attribution, the CRM, and email automation as the core of our marketing stack, so Bizible, Salesforce, and Hubspot. Everything else connects to and runs through that core.
The rest of our stack consists of Datanyze, Outreach, Optimizely, Trello, Slack, GoToWebinar, Adroll, Google Analytics, PFL, Siftrock, and CallTrackingMetrics.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
I think the best campaigns happen, especially in a B2B space, when marketers provide their target audience with something truly valuable — not just a clever tagline or a funny video. A few years ago, we started this annual research project, the State of Pipeline Marketing Report, that surveys hundreds of marketers across a number of industries, company sizes, etc. and asks them about their marketing priorities, goals, metrics, technology, and more. The data and insights we get from the report every year are really interesting and actually affect our marketing strategy. Since we are building a new category, data like this lets us take an educate first, sell second approach.
This year, we made it even bigger and invited a handful of partners to get involved. This allowed us to expand the research and gave us more perspectives to analyze the data. In addition to the report, there were a handful of “deep-dive” blog posts, an infographic, a webinar, and a podcast. We measure all of our marketing against touchpoint engagement with target contacts/accounts, net new leads, sales opportunities/pipeline, and revenue — the primary metric.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
AI is most powerful when you start with really good data. Your data is the foundation, so if the data is bad, whatever you build on top of it isn’t going to be as effective as it should be. Right now, we’re focused on collecting rich and meaningful data about our customers and prospects so that as we layer on machine learning and AI, it will be powerful.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Bizible, Salesforce, and Gmail.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
For me it’s all about focusing and prioritizing. At all times, there is only one thing that matters. Identify it and focus on it.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
As far as recent books: “Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets”, “The Undoing Project”, and “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius. “Getting to Yes”, “0 to 1”, “Good to Great”, and “5th Discipline” are some favorites.
I also regularly keep an eye on the Bizible blog, Saastr, TechMeme, & Geekwire.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Overall, I believe: “perfect planning” is grossly overrated.
From agile software development: “Working software over comprehensive documentation.” This is true not just for software, but for all systems including companies, organizations, and products.
Business corollary: “Operating business over perfect business plan.”
Fighting corollary from Mike Tyson: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Focus on the details in everything. Products win when the creators are obsessed with details.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Matt Heinz – President, Heinz Marketing Inc.
MTS: Thank you Aaron! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Aaron Bird is the full-stack CEO and Night Janitor at Bizible, a venture-backed startup that makes marketing measurement and reporting software for B2B companies. He holds an MBA from Pepperdine University and a B.S. in Computer Science from UCSB. Previously, Aaron worked at Microsoft on Bing Ads.
Bizible is a B2B marketing measurement and reporting solution dedicated to helping companies make smart marketing decisions with data. Bizible’s attribution technology connects all marketing activity (both online and offline) to downstream metrics including revenue, enabling revenue credit to be accurately distributed to the marketing channels that are making an impact. This advanced, multi-touch attribution technology allows marketers to do more effective and more efficient marketing.
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.