MarTech Interview with Julia Stead, CMO of Allocadia

“Content and email channels now bear a heavier load thanks to COVID and the switch to making everything digital. But their blueprints for success have changed.”

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Hi, Julia. Please tell us about the role and team / technology you currently handle at Allocadia.

As CMO,  I oversee our entire marketing function and partner with our executive team on our company’s vision and market strategy to drive growth. Our marketing team is broken down into three core areas – demand gen, corporate and product marketing, supported by a strong operational foundation that is co-owned with sales.

Our tech stack has the core, critical pieces, which from my point of view include marketing automation (Marketo), budget and strategic planning (Allocadia), multi-touch attribution (Terminus), content publication (PathFactory), video (Zoom), and project management (Asana). It’s supported by some channel-specific tools which enable us to be more effective and efficient – chat/conversational commerce (Drift), account-based digital advertising (Terminus), direct mail and gifting automation (PFL), and email signature branding (Sigstr).

What do you think about Marketing teams cutting down on their budget during the pandemic, and still expecting results from ongoing marketing campaigns?

When it comes to budgeting during the pandemic and on the path to recovery, there are two critical pieces you must start with. First, measuring and reporting on the ROI of spend, in order to prove marketing’s business impact and advocate for budget to drive more.

Second, looking at the business’ short- and long-term strategic goals and determining where marketing can deliver the biggest impact to achieve those goals. This helps shape which areas marketing should prioritize and invest in. If you’ve got both those pieces in place, then you can have meaningful discussions on the impacts of cutting marketing budget, where to align dollars to impact current company KPIs, and what type of ROI can reasonably be delivered with the resources at hand. If you don’t have those two critical pieces in place yet, now is the time to fix that problem.

If budgets are cut, expected results need to be adjusted, period. There are often areas for optimization, but it’s usually not realistic to expect the same (or better!) results with significantly fewer resources. If you’re faced with fewer resources, it’s all about focusing on supporting the areas most strategic to the business and making sure the goals and KPIs you’re setting for ROI align to those areas – while being comfortable with saying “no” or re-adjusting expectations in other areas.

Marketing Operations goals have changed significantly in the last 6 months. With so much happening in Content and Email marketing, how do you keep a tab on your omnichannel marketing goals?

Content and email channels now bear a heavier load thanks to COVID and the switch to making everything digital. But their blueprints for success have changed. What worked seven months ago won’t necessarily work now, and successful marketing teams are testing out all kinds of new offers, messaging, formats, and timing when it comes to their digital campaigns.

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Marketers must have a clear set of early indicators and ROI metrics they track, not just by channel but by individual tactic and campaign. Often measuring ROI takes time, based on longer sales cycles and multiple touch points along the path to purchase. That’s where early indicator metrics have rightfully begun to get more scrutiny from marketing leaders than in recent years. Looking at open, click, time spent, engagement rates with new offers, formats, and messaging in content and emails is the best way of determining future success and ROI in a world where historical results don’t hold up.

COVID-19 has made all businesses explore localized marketing strategies. Could you tell us about Performance Marketing tactics for Omnichannel commerce teams?

Localized marketing strategies are very important these days, as the ongoing impacts of the pandemic can differ widely from region to region. It’s all about segmentation and measuring engagement and results by segment.

Develop different product offerings, messaging and possibly even persona campaigns by region, and make sure you have the reporting and analytics feedback loops in place to measure what’s working. Think of potentially restructuring parts of your marketing organization to be more regionally focused than they were before.

3 practical ideas / advices using Marketing Analytics that work best for a B2B Tech company: 

Nail your taxonomy. It has the word tax in it and doesn’t sound exciting. But making sure you have the right foundation for how you group, categorize and measure channels, campaigns and offers, in a way that maps back to how you structure your budget management, is the key to successfully measuring ROI.

Don’t overdo it.

Pick a handful of KPIs that at the highest level your whole marketing organization is aligned on as the “north star” of success. Keep measuring those consistently. Each functional area of marketing should have a solid set of leading indicator metrics that demonstrate whether their areas are driving the outcomes they’re looking for. But then don’t get everyone bogged down with dozens of different metrics they are reporting on. Whenever I see marketers throwing more and more stats and data points into their reporting mix, I always ask them, “What is your capacity to, and how are you going to act upon these data points?” If the answer is “I’m not,” I tell them to stop worrying about it.

Start with an important business question you’re trying to answer and work backwards from there on what analytical tools or datasets you’ll need. Don’t add data points and analytical tools that sound cool or that everyone else is using.

Tell us about the Technologies / tools you use for your Marketing, Sales and Customer Communications.

The tools in our marketing stack are largely the same that we use for customer communications. However, when it comes to sales, there is a whole other layer of technology that helps us with data management and effective communication. Zoominfo, Outreach and LeanData are the main ones.

Tell us how you work with AI and Machine Learning. 

Right now, our marketing team is mainly leveraging AI through chat and AI-powered conversational commerce on our website, with Drift. We’re able to engage with prospects and customers in an automated fashion that gets their initial questions answered in real time and helps us match these visitors quickly with the best person at Allocadia to continue the conversation.

Which tools / technologies are you keenly following in the AI ML space?

There’s been a lot of hype about AI and ML over the past few years, and, frankly, I don’t think every solution needs an AI component. So, I always start by thinking about a business problem I need to tackle and whether there’s a genuine way that AI can solve for it, instead of wanting AI for AI’s sake. Right now, I’m interested in true personalization and discovering buyer intent at scale and the ways in which machine learning can enable that.

Any advice to the young Content marketing professional to deal with COVID-19 trends:

Keep it agile and don’t plan too far in advance right now. You don’t need a six-month content calendar this year; you need a six-week one. Topics and messaging should continue to evolve on a weekly and monthly basis during the pandemic, so it’s important to stay abreast of what your audience is experiencing, feeling and caring about on a regular basis and then using that to shape your content strategy. Also, don’t just focus your own reading and research within your industry – look at general news and broader business trends and use that to add relevancy and context to your content.

Read Also: MarTech Interview with Christine Rimer, VP of Customer Experience and Advocacy at SurveyMonkey

Hear it from the pro: How do video content / audio content help to reach goals for B2B product websites? 

I love both these formats, for different uses right now. Buyers don’t want to just see or hear about your product – they want to see it and experience it. Video should be at the forefront of your marketing strategy, showing off product features, use cases and benefits. This helps buyers to self-educate and gets them ready to buy, faster. Keep videos short and engaging. I recommend a single topic for video, no more than 4-5 minutes absolute max, and using as many engaging elements (like spotlights, call-outs and text overlay) to keep audiences engaged. As for audio, I think this is a powerful format for storytelling – sharing customer stories, doing interviews, and really expanding beyond your core product messaging to deliver the narratives and people behind the technology.

Any first hand account of your experience with podcasting / webinars you wish to share with our audience:

Podcasts have become very popular over the past few years, and webinars have become the go-to for all B2B marketers, as everything is forced to the digital realm.

But we need to remember that while these are popular forms for content, our audiences don’t magically have more time in the day to spend with them. So, I think it’s important to keep the format short, fresh and, in the case of podcasts, consistent on what you deliver. I’ve seen many tech companies launch podcasts (because they were “hot” and marketers felt that they had to have one), only to see them abandoned a few months and episodes later. It takes a while to build brand recognition, familiarity and sustained interest in something serial like a podcast. So, this is one area where even in a COVID-19 world, I’d seriously consider a long-term strategy and debate internally whether a podcast aligns with your strategic objectives right now or not.

Tag a person whose answers you would like to see here:

Lynn Ledwith, CMO @ ANSYS

Thank you, Julia! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Julia is currently CMO- Allocadia.

B2B marketing leader with 15 years experience helping high growth B2B SaaS companies achieve their business goals. Experience and skills include account-based marketing strategy, analyzing brand portfolios and developing innovative, easy to implement strategies to differentiate product offerings in a rapidly evolving marketplace. Passionate about creating demand, leveraging data and smart metrics to be as ROI driven as possible, emerging IT technologies and services, and innovations in marketing and advertising. In-depth knowledge of demand generation, SEM, digital advertising, traffic and performance analytics, and content creation strategies. Excels at developing marketing communications, project management, sales, business development and top level business strategy & planning.

Allocadia’s Run Marketing Platform gives marketers the confidence to know where to invest their next dollar.

The recognized leader in Marketing Performance Management (MPM), Allocadia enables marketers to plan strategically, invest with purpose, measure the performance of their activities, and ultimately maximize marketing’s impact on the business. This gives marketers the ability to drive greater performance, increase ROI and improve alignment with corporate goals. Companies like GE Healthcare, Unilever, Informatica and Charles Schwab manage more than $25 billion marketing dollars within Allocadia, which enables them to save up to 40% of the time they spend on budgeting and planning as well as double their pipeline-to-spend ratio and ROI.

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