On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role at Marketo and how you got here (what inspired you to join a martech company).
It’s always been a dream of mine to run a high impact software company that makes a difference in the world, and Marketo is one of those great companies. That and the future for Marketo is incredibly bright, we get to play the role of thought leader and innovator in the world of marketing technology! I just returned from my first Marketing Nation Summit where 6,500+ marketers came to San Francisco, with nearly 1,000 CMOs and senior marketing executives, to hear our vision for the future of digital engagement marketing and how we can win together. The energy and excitement was palpable.
Lastly, our technology is second to none. Before taking the job, I called 20+ customers to get their feedback on what they thought of Marketo as a company and product. What was arresting was how passionate customers are about the product. That type of enthusiasm and love for a product is difficult to engineer. Marketo just has that “magic”.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see martech evolving over the next few years?
First and foremost, I see the landscape getting more complex, not less. Which is daunting, given there are over 4,500+ MarTech vendors in the space today. CMOs and marketers will look to us to help them simplify their engagement with customers and that’s a sharp contrast to our competition.
Additionally, there’s no question that new technologies, channels, and touchpoints have fundamentally changed the relationship between buyers and sellers. Marketers no longer get to define the terms of a relationship with their consumer.
The whole acronym – CRM – is fundamentally flawed because it implies that we get to “manage” our customers. They don’t want to be managed, they want to be engaged. It’s a fact that buyers are in now charge, and they demand brand experiences that let them feel valued, align with their values, and connect with them on a personal level. I call this concept the Engagement Economy, and succeeding in this new world means engaging with customers continuously – at every touchpoint, on every channel – throughout the entire lifecycle.
Deeper, more meaningful engagement is the only way for a marketer to win, and we’ll continue to see an acceleration of adaptive and intuitive applications and technologies that will enable the marketer to deliver consistent and personalized experiences at scale. It’s this powerful combination – the marketer and the machine – that will enable marketers and brands to build life-long customer relationships.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
A transformation from Marketing Automation as a tool to a broader platform is a big macro trend, followed quickly by advances in the “automation” of marketing becoming more machine defined and driven vs. human defined and driven – i.e. artificial intelligence.
With the ever more crowded MarTech landscape, it’s somewhat self-fulfilling in that the weight of complexity will cause marketers to have a near allergic reaction to all this technology. Every time a new buyer touchpoint emerges, a new marketing point system seemingly pops up to address this opportunity. While that may seem helpful, it exacerbates the complexity challenge faced by digital marketers.
As for advances in automation, we are heading rapidly towards a point where marketers will be able to select an audience and desired outcome, with AI systems designing and defining everything in between. The marketer will still squarely be in control, but the efficiency of design and execution of campaigns, for example, will become radically more efficient thanks to artificial intelligence.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
Most CMOs express frustration with their inability to have a single, holistic view of their customer or buyer, no matter where that customer may be in their “journey”. No CMO will gain this “holy grail” of visibility without a platform that ties into all the various technologies and data sources used to drive the activity of marketing and engagement. While investing in an underlying platform to integrate disparate marketing technologies can seem daunting, it’s not as challenging as one might think and the ROI is astronomically high compared to traditional MarTech investments.
The bottom line is marketers need a platform that is open and scalable which offers the speed and performance to deliver carefully curated customer experiences at just the right moment on the channel preferred by each customer.
MTS: What would be your advice to CMOs when they start planning to invest in marketing technologies?
I like to think of the CMO as the other CEO – the chief engagement officer – because they own engagement and the entire brand experience for not only their customers and prospects, but partners and employees too. That means they need technologies that will enable them to deliver experiences that drive engagement, advocacy, and life-long relationships consistently, at scale.
My advice would be to ensure the platform that you choose can scale to meet the demands of your organization, are open to fit into your current and future technology systems, and enable your teams to engage uniquely and authentically with every person. Furthermore, design a MarTech stack on that platform that is simple, then guard that simplicity with your life!
Lastly I’d encourage marketers to do their research. Check out the leaders in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and read reviews on G2Crowd and TrustRadius. There’s powerful information there to help a marketer in the search for the right technology partner.
MTS: What start-ups are you watching/keen on right now?
AI, Analytics, and Data Management. The latter two points will always need a better mousetrap and the first point, Artificial Intelligence, will change the landscape of the next decade in ways we have yet to imagine!
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
Artificial intelligence, adaptive or intuitive technologies – however you want to refer to it – is already here, and it’s playing a big role in helping marketers listen, learn, and engage with their customers.
As I mentioned above, one of the biggest challenges for the marketer is harnessing all the data about their buyers. Being successful in an AI world is all about really knowing your customers by listening and learning from every single interaction, and using that knowledge to effectively engage at just the right time with the right message.
AI technologies will continue to empower marketers to go even deeper in their understanding of their buyers so they can engage with them even more meaningfully. Marketers need to embrace these new technologies and test, tweak, and tune them over time so they work with their teams to deliver the kind of brand experiences that build long-term relationships and advocacy.
MTS: Thank you Steve! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Currently driving/increasing Marketo momentum and value in the Enterprise market and focusing on customer success everywhere!
Senior executive with multi-billion dollar organizational leadership and operating experience in the software industry with demonstrated ability to drive high growth and margin at industry best levels. Prior roles include President and GM of SAP’s Enterprise Platform organization spanning Database, Analytics and PaaS markets.
Marketo, Inc., offers the leading Engagement Platform that empowers marketers to create lasting relationships and grow revenue. Consistently recognized as the industry’s innovation pioneer, Marketo is the trusted platform for thousands of CMOs thanks to its scalability, reliability, and openness. Marketo is headquartered in San Mateo, CA, with offices around the world, and serves as a strategic partner to large enterprise and fast-growing organizations across a wide variety of industries.
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.