MarTech Interview with Daniel Kushner, CEO, Oktopost

Daniel-Kushner
Daniel Kushner, CEO, Oktopost

“A/B testing will be a thing of the past since AI will learn what are the most effective results and recommend the right course of action.”

Tell us about your role and journey into Social Media Marketing. What inspired you to start a Social Media Monitoring company?

In my previous role, I was the VP Marketing of Nolio, an application release automation company. All the demand gen channels we were using were measurable — all but one: organic social. I was reporting to the CEO, and he always asked me the same question: Where are we getting qualified leads from?

As it turned out, a significant portion of the leads was coming from LinkedIn, but I didn’t have an accurate, systematic way of tracking them. This meant that as the VP Marketing of a B2B company, I had no tools for measuring the true business value of social media.

This made me realize that there’s a pain point here for B2B CMOs, and after Nolio was acquired by CA, I co-founded Oktopost, with the aim to help B2B marketers establish the ROI of social media.

How is the Social Media Marketing industry different from what it was two years ago?

The Social Media Marketing landscape is constantly changing, and there are so many, often radical, changes that it’s hard to keep track of all of them. But I’d like to highlight two changes that I find to be the most significant.

The first one is the change in feed algorithms. In early 2018, we all woke up to discover the new Facebook algorithm, which prioritizes content from friends over branded content, and we saw the organic reach of company content plummet. Given the fact that both on Facebook and on LinkedIn, content engagement and relevancy levels are major factors in feed algorithms, these changes gave rise to more social selling and employee advocacy than ever before.

It’s a long-known fact that people trust the voice of others more than they trust brands. Advocacy taps into this trend to extend the company’s organic reach and content engagement. So more and more B2B companies now capitalize on social selling and advocacy and see results.

Another significant change that we’ve been seeing is the one around social ROI measurement. B2B CMOs have moved away from measuring their social media activity in terms of “vanity” metrics: likes, comments, followers, etc. They’ve started looking into the impact of social on the bottom line: How many conversions their social media activity generates and how this can be optimized. I believe that in the upcoming year, this trend will grow stronger and become an industry benchmark for B2B companies.

What is the current state of Social Media Marketing?

It’s no secret that AI is everywhere, and Social Media Marketing is no different. I personally think that it has the power to make marketers’ jobs easier and help them perform their tasks more efficiently.

AI is already being used when determining optimal posting times for the different social networks. Each network and each brand is different in this sense since each audience has its unique characteristics, which also determines the best time to share content for this audience.

Chatbots have also become ubiquitous, with many companies launching their chatbots on Facebook to service both existing customers and prospects. HubSpot recently acquiring Motion AI, a chatbot builder, also reflects the fact that AI is here to stay.

Another point worth mentioning is that the market has evolved to make a clear distinction between B2B and B2C Social Media Marketing. This distinction wasn’t always clear cut, since most platforms have catered to the needs of B2C, with B2B brands having to settle for tools that didn’t truly address their unique pain points.

Currently, B2C brands continue to focus on creating and strengthening brand awareness on social networks, whereas B2B companies are seeking to demonstrate business results from social. This means that while B2C brands aim to increase followers and engage them, B2B marketers focus on lead conversions and pipeline influence by social.

How does Oktopost deliver on its ROI promises?

Social media has become a major part in the buyer journey for B2B companies. Oktopost helps B2B marketers to capture those opportunities and prove the true ROI of social media. Our platform allows B2B marketers to manage their social media channels and measure valuable B2B metrics, such as lead conversions and pipeline influenced by social.

In addition, the social engagement data gathered in Oktopost is appended to lead profiles in Marketing Automation platforms integrated with Oktopost. It is then used to create more personalized and sophisticated lead scoring, segmentation, nurturing, and attribution programs. This way marketers can leverage social engagement data in their marketing programs and demonstrate the contribution of social to revenue.

What is that one quality you think that a CMO must possess?

Data obsession! Marketing decisions need to be driven by data and not gut feelings. Every investment in a marketing campaign or initiative needs to have clear KPIs and an easy way to measure ROI. B2B marketing is a data-driven arena, and there’s no reason why CMOs shouldn’t require their teams to back every campaign with data.

How do you choose, promote and sustain your markets for business development?

We have a clear path before us. Being a Social Media Management platform for B2B brands, B2B mid-market and enterprise companies are our market.

In addition, we’ve forged close partnerships with the leading Marketing Automation platforms. As part of those relationships, we leverage the communities created by those industry leaders as a go-to-market channel.

How much have the Marketing and Advertising Operations changed since the arrival of Automation and BI/Analytics tools? How do you leverage these tools at Oktopost?

There is no doubt that automation and analytics tools make everything much more data-driven, which is a positive change. On the challenges side, having so many different tools means that Marketing Ops need to wire together the dozens of platforms that make up their marketing stack. At Oktopost, we believe that data gathered from marketing platforms should be analyzed as a whole and shared across the entire organization. That way, you can truly see the full picture and turn this data into actionable insights.

This is why we have connected our marketing tech stack to our social media management platform. Oktopost is integrated with our Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) and our CRM. This way, we are able to leverage the social engagement data collected by Oktopost to enrich lead profiles in the MAP and CRM, allowing us to create highly-targeted marketing programs.

Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies does Oktopost use at the moment? Which is your personal favorite marketing automation tool?

We use Marketo for Marketing Automation and Salesforce for CRM. It’s worth mentioning that we work with all the major players in the market including Marketo, Eloqua, HubSpot, Pardot, ClickDimensions, Act-On, and Salesfusion — they are all great platforms and service different types of companies at various maturity stages.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Marketing Technology for 2018-2020?

With AI being one of the most impactful disruptions in Marketing Technology in the upcoming years, we will no doubt see more AI-powered technologies come to the arena.

As a result, the way marketers work now will change unrecognizably. A/B testing will be a thing of the past since AI will learn what are the most effective results and recommend the right course of action. This means that marketers will be able to invest more time in content creation and strategy, rather than in the day-to-day tasks of distributing content. AI-powered technologies will determine which content should be delivered to which audience and when.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

There are a lot of interesting Marketing Technology startups being founded but I’m going to name two. One is CliClap, which is interesting for its use of AI to personalize the content journey and generate more qualified leads. Metadata.io is also a promising startup, that seemed to crack the ABM code with its ad platform.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

First of all, we have amazing employees, dedicated and passionate about their work. We inspire them to work with technology by helping them realize how technology enables them to impact the business of their customers. Once people become fully aware of how their efforts are turning their customers into better B2B marketers — it’s easy to get inspired.

One word that best describes how you work?

 Fearlessly.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

First and foremost, Oktopost. Other than that, of course, LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as Slack. We use gong.io to constantly enhance our sales conversations, and I can honestly say I can’t live without it.

What are you currently reading?

Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

 If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read?

Steve Lucas, CEO of Marketo.

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

Daniel is a serial entrepreneur, B2B marketing expert, and social media enthusiast. With more than a decade of experience leading marketing and sales organizations in global tech companies, his last position was the VP Marketing at Nolio, where he created and grew the marketing team until the successful acquisition of Nolio by CA Technologies. Subsequently, Daniel founded Oktopost, the only social media management and employee advocacy platform designed for B2B companies. As the CEO of Oktopost, he’s helping B2B CMOs measure the true business value of social media marketing.

Oktopost Logo

Oktopost is the only social media management platform that is architected for B2B companies. Founded in 2013 by B2B SaaS veterans, Oktopost enables B2B marketers to manage and publish content at scale, measure valuable business metrics, integrate social data with their marketing ecosystem, and amplify social reach through employee advocacy. To learn more about how Oktopost helps enterprises reach their B2B goals with the power of social, we invite you to schedule a personal demo.

 

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.

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