On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here.
I arrived at BrightEdge in November 2016 to head up marketing. I had been the CMO of Act-On Software before that, and VP of Demand Generation prior to that. I have been in the martech space now for almost 15 years. I love the transformation happening now in marketing. I saw BrightEdge and the technology and data we have for our customers as the missing component for the modern martech stack.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
I think that there are two paths of the martech stack evolution.
First, there are there are so many companies doing so many different things with so many use cases that marketers are overwhelmed. I think the biggest challenge for a lot of these martech vendors is just attention from the marketer. I think we are going to see a consolidation where you have a couple of the big marketing clouds, you have a larger number of platforms and you’re going to see a constant churn of a lot of small companies that appear, disappear and become acquired.
The other thing I see is a massive investment in martech. That began with the channel –– how to reach the customer (email, social, mobile, digital ads). To fuel those channels there has been a massive proliferation in content, but that content isn’t discoverable or meeting customer needs. I think what the martech stack needs is data about customer intent and consumer intent. That will be the massive change in the space –– with a company like BrightEdge coming in that helps understand customer intent, serving the heart of customer marketing.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Everything in the martech stack has been focused on first, second and third party data, and has been focused on collecting from delivery systems (email, mobile, social, etc) and creating a single customer profile. But what is missing is an understanding of market trends, consumer trends and what customers are really interested in. I think that is where companies will need the ability to see what customer trends are emerging and where customers need to go.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
I think CMOs need to build a martech stack that is suitable for their company at its stage of evolution. Oftentimes marketers and CMOs will purchase technology that the company is not ready for.
The second piece is when they do make decisions about martech, making sure that it solves real problems, not just curiosity or interest or just because it’s a cool new technology.
The third thing is that buying the technology is the easy part. Using it, driving technology across the organization and getting results is the hard part. When you buy make sure you have put in an organization to make sure that is successfully implemented in the company.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
I like the Outreach folks in Seattle. Also, Veelo, which helps drive alignment between sales and marketing. Zembula is also great. They are helping companies improve the performance of their marketing channels. The team at Bizible is also doing great things in helping marketing departments run as profit centers.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
We use our own platform, BrightEdge. We also use Oracle’s Eloqua, Velo and Toutapp. We run as a very lean company with an unbelievably efficient sales model. Therefore, we adhere to the notion of streamlining and simplicity by having a focused MarTech stack. Our real interest is customer success and customer happiness. So a lot of our investment in martech is going to ensure we understand the customer and their needs and organizing our sales and customer success departments to live great experience to our customers.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
An incredibly powerful BrightEdge campaign that comes to mind was at the time when Google implemented secure search. Within a short period, search marketers lost a huge portion of the visibility they were using to understand intent. So, our target was SEOs and our integrated campaign consisted of the web site, email, social, blog, video, infographic, deck, talk tracks, and most importantly, a product demo of exactly how BrightEdge solved the problem using its Page Reporting, the query volume, and the click curve. Prospects were falling over themselves to see how we could help.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
The principles of this technology are the same as any other technology that has emerged in the past –– whether it’s marketing automation, SEO, or content marketing workflow. It’s great technology, but you’ve got to understand the problem you’re solving for and how to enable your organization to use it to solve for those problems, instead of chasing what’s new and shiny. It’s up to marketing organizations to be diligent and implement the right technology to fit their needs.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
Steady. The most important thing you can do as a leader is remain steady and keep everyone focused.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I use Wunderlist daily as well as Google docs. And I can’t live without my Chicago Cubs MLB app.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
For me it’s scheduling time to do something. If I wake up in the morning with the knowledge I have a limited time to knock out to-dos, I can get that stuff done in 15-20 minutes, while sometimes when you look at it it does feel daunting and you procrastinate getting it done.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I am reading a book called Play Bigger.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve received a lot of great advice over the years. The best advice has centered around building a great culture and team. In a world where there is so much parity –– product, price, skills –– the repertoire and culture you build within your team will determine success or mediocrity. The greatest success are only possible when the team works together, which in turn influences inside-out marketing, where a strong internal culture drives a strong external brand.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Love what you do and the people you work with.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Tom Izzo, who is both a leader I look up to and a phenomenal basketball coach.
MTS: Thank you Kevin! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
As the SVP of Marketing for BrightEdge, Kevin leads the company’s go-to-market strategy and a growing marketing team responsible for building the BrightEdge brand, driving demand, and expanding customer relationships. Prior to BrightEdge he was the Chief Marketing Officer of Act-On software.
Kevin was also VP, Product & Market Solutions at ExactTarget & Salesforce.com, where his team fueled the company’s growth through a successful IPO in 2012 and acquisition by Salesforce two years later for $2.7 billion. Kevin has a BA from Michigan State University.
BrightEdge, the global leader in enterprise SEO and content performance, empowers marketers to transform online content into business results such as traffic, conversions and revenue. The BrightEdge S3 platform is powered by a sophisticated deep learning engine and is the only company capable of web-wide, real-time measurement of content engagement across all digital channels, including search, social and mobile.
BrightEdge’s 1,500+ customers include global brands such as 3M, Microsoft and Nike, as well as 57 of the Fortune 100. The company has eight offices worldwide and is headquartered in Foster City, California.
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.