On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here.
I’ve been neck deep in tech for more than 20 years, and wouldn’t have it any other way. I started out at a small marketing and PR agency in London back in 1996. After a move in-house, I ended up spending 10 years at NVIDIA working with, and learning from, probably the best technology marketing people in the business. A relocation to Silicon Valley later, and some really interesting years working with a couple of start-ups in the audio space, and I landed here at Webscale.
Webscale helps businesses move their critical web applications to the cloud, where we give them awesome performance, make them resilient to provider outages and downtime, and protect their customers’ data.
Essentially, we help mid-market e-commerce and enterprise businesses deliver an awesome user experience. My role is air cover for sales. I focus on elevating our brand above the noise of the incumbent players, whose businesses we are disrupting, communicating our unique story and differentiation to our target audience of e-commerce and enterprise businesses, and driving strong leads into the sales team.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
As someone who remembers the time before email, I was really excited when technology and automation became tools that a marketer could leverage to get in front of more targets, more often, and with much more reliable and actionable insight into the ROI.
What still surprises me is the level of complexity – specifically when you look at tools like Marketo that require a solid developer resource to achieve the level of customization and integration I want when creating campaigns and tying them into other tools in the marketing stack.
I’m personally looking forward to meeting the companies that are working to reduce this complexity, and what they will bring to the space.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Looking at our 70+ e-commerce customers, I see common challenges that map pretty closely to this particular subject. They’re all dealing with a demanding online shopper that will go elsewhere if their storefront takes longer than three seconds to load. They are also managing a highly dynamic environment consisting of potentially millions of products that is personalized to the user browsing at that time.
Add to that a myriad of potential target platforms – mobile, desktop, tablet, wearables, IoT –and you have a user experience headache the likes of which a mountain of Advil won’t fix.
I see the same technology and social trends affecting marketing. Attention spans are short, personalization is critical and the need to deliver a consistent (and delightful) user experience across a host of devices, while also hitting those “micro-moments” with the right message at the right time, are key to success.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
In a rapidly growing space like martech, biggest challenge is finding the right blend of vendors that not only have a great product, but are also aligned with your business and are committed to working with you as a partner. This has never been more important.
Expect to kiss a few frogs along the way.
Then there’s the inevitable “sea of data”. Single pane of glass management is the holy grail, and there are some good dashboard solutions out there today, but there is still a way to go before extracting actionable analytics from an array of disparate applications is as easy as everyone would like it to be.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
Mostly our competitors in the Cloud ADC (application delivery controller) space, but there are a few I am looking at in the social ad space. ListenLoop, for example, has some great IP for targeting accounts with innovative pre-roll ad designs.
Personally, I’m also watching a few VR startups doing some amazing work in medicine and education. Truly amazed at how many times that technology has died and risen again from the ashes. I actually think this time they got it right.
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’re just actually getting ready to execute our first major account-based marketing (ABM) campaign, targeted at the e-commerce segment, which I’m pretty excited about. I mentioned before the importance that personalization will continue to have in the work we do, so this approach is enabling us to go after our top accounts with a highly-tailored campaign, that’s closely aligned to our pre-existing sales effort, without draining resources.
Come ask me again in a couple of months how it went!
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
Embrace positive change! As marketing professionals, the concept of trial and error is, or should be, baked into your DNA. So, when it comes to a new way of looking at a problem, or having a problem identified for you, embrace it, because it might just change everything.
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
For work – it’s our marketing stack plus Gmail, Google Docs, Dropbox, Slack and Skype which I use predominantly to communicate with our great team in India.
Personally – LinkedIn, Facebook, Pandora, Uber, Flipboard and Waze. Oh, and DoorDash – man’s got to eat!
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I’m a list-maker and proud of it. Old school notepad, hand-written checklist and the endless joy of striking completed tasks from the list. It usually gets drafted on a Sunday night, and I’ll block off time on my calendar to work on the big things. Life in a start-up marketing department will always be interrupt-driven to a point, but allocating time to focus on key deliverables is critical.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
Like almost everyone in Silicon Valley, I spend a lot of time in my car. Honestly, self-driving cars can’t come soon enough for me, but in the meantime, if I’m not on calls, I’m listening to audiobooks.
I just finished Chaos Monkeys – felt even slightly bad for Facebook afterwards – and I’m just getting intoThe Upstarts, which focuses on Uber and Airbnb. These are two companies that didn’t just disrupt industries, but fundamentally changed how we think about public transportation and hotel accommodation.
Webscale is disrupting its segment, so I’m going to see what tips I can pick up! Hoping someone does the same for air travel soon as that’s an industry that really needs help.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Don’t take it personally.”I put my heart and soul into everything I put out there, so it’s harder than it sounds.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Good writing is something that takes years to be reasonable at, and even longer to perfect. Taking complicated, tech gobbledygook and turning it into clear, simple messaging that hits all the right notes with a target audience is something I like to think I’ve become reasonable at over the years.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Shawn Adamek, EVP at Monitor 360
20 years’ experience in managing marketing communications including branding, creative direction, media relations, websites, social media, events, and collateral.Highly creative, with a solid track record of impactful brand and corporate design projects. Talented writer with the ability to bring together disparate elements to create cohesive market positioning, complex whitepapers, case studies and more. Seasoned storyteller with a passion for transforming technical subjects into digestible and meaningful messages. Executed launch campaigns for more than 100 hardware and software products and initiatives throughout career. Trusted communications expert, proven to be persuasive and diplomatic in complex situations with key stakeholders, at all levels of an organization. Built and managed internal and external teams, contractors and outside agencies. Consistently met objectives while working within tight budgets in volatile, fiercely competitive markets.
Webscale is the world’s first and only integrated Web Application Delivery Platform, bringing infinite scalability, high performance, security and control to ecommerce and enterprise websites worldwide. If you’re doing business online, we are critical to your success.
Webscale proactively, and infinitely, scales both the application backend and the delivery infrastructure to handle surges in traffic, while delivering blazing-fast performance globally, and a fully secured web presence.
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.