Interview with Deborah Holstein, CMO, EverString
On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role and how you got here? What inspired you to join a technology innovation company?
I am the CMO at EverString. Our SaaS platform is purpose built for growth-oriented B2B organizations looking to accelerate sales velocity with AI. Our intuitive user interface lets everyone on the team, marketing managers, SDRs and AEs, level up their game through the creation of ideal customer profiles, identifying the universe of high-potential targets and providing current, actionable insights about each company and decision makers for relevant communication.
My small, and mighty, marketing team and I look after all aspects of marketing, brand and messaging, customer/user insights, product marketing, and the website experience, as well as all the acquisition and nurture programs needed for cost-efficient pipeline generation.
MTS: Given the changing dynamic of online engagement with customers, how do you see marketing automation and the analytics market evolving in the years to come?
Customers are demanding relevance. Each touch, whether online, an SDR call or a marketing email, needs to be relevant to that individual. And, newsflash, “Dear [first name] with your role as [title] at [company]” is not relevance.
True relevance comes from a synthesis of all the obvious and non-obvious data about a company including firmographics, tech stack, hiring, social, website, news, and more. And, as everyone on a B2B sales and marketing team knows intimately, it’s a mission impossible for any one person to keep up with it all. This is where AI can provide an assist.
B2B sales and marketing teams don’t “need” more data. Rather, we need actionable insights, integrated into our existing workflow. Powerful AI platforms like EverString can acquire and synthesize all of this always-changing company data, but that’s not enough. Given the speed of change, your team needs always-on, continuous access to the freshest, most current actionable insights — so it’s imperative that it be SaaS.
MTS: How should CMOs leverage predictive platforms to scale the challenges in finding the ‘right’ audience and customize their marketing outreach?
To fuel growth, your go-to-market teams must align around a common universe of companies that fit your desired customer profile. So, how do you describe your ‘desired’ customer profile and, then, how do you find those companies who fit that description?
Using basic firmographics to describe a customer profile will fall always short. Rather, it is the many unique, sometimes hidden elements about each company – their technology, their growth trajectory, their specific products and services – which truly separate those companies who are a “high-fit” to your desired profile from those who are not.
Without this nuanced insight into each company’s fit to your desired profile, you will waste valuable time, budget and resources. EverString was purpose built for B2B teams so we are able to ingest and quickly synthesize large quantities of disparate information about every company to both better describe your ideal customer profile and to help you identify all the other companies with the highest fit to your desired audience.
MTS: Is it actually possible for marketers to accurately measure the accuracy of their predictive analytics and attribution models while in the middle of a marketing campaign?
Growth focused organizations are data driven – they have to be in order to know where to focus and optimize. Plus, growth organizations tend to have strong marketing ops and sales ops alignment (personally, I always advocate for these functions to be combined, but that’s another topic!)
Once you’ve identified the universe of companies who are a strong fit to your ideal profile, your ops teams can easily set up the tracking and reporting, to allow you to see how quickly the companies with the highest fit accounts progress down the funnel compared with companies with less similarity. Many of our customers see the benefits faster in their outbound efforts (sales and demand gen) as that can be more controllable than inbound lead flow.
MTS: How should CMOs plan their stack integrations to benefit from predictive analytics and AI-assisted sales development?
For maximum benefit in the shortest term, you want the seamless inclusion of AI-driven insights into the team’s existing workflow. The most important functionality is the identification of net new companies with the highest fit to your ideal profile and current insights about the company and its decision makers needed for relevant outreach.
You want the power of AI in everyone’s hands, not locked up within your operations teams. At EverString we’ve focused on masking the complexity of our AI with an intuitive user interface so it’s used by everyone across the sales and marketing teams in their day-to-day workflows. When that happens, organizations quickly see pipeline and sales acceleration.
In B2B sales and marketing, the only constant is change. You need to be agile, so you need a self-service SaaS solution and not a managed service. The team needs to be able to respond to early signals of sales momentum versus having to wait weeks, or worse, months for new models to be built.
MTS: What startups in MarTech ecosystem are you watching/keen on right now?
Terminus is one I’m excited about – their account based display ad delivery approach is disintermediating traditional media buying and allows truly targeted messaging to just the people you want. Plus, companies like PFL and Sendoso who are bringing automation to direct mail and helping marketers round out the customer experience. And I’ll include SalesLoft — I include them here because I see the martech and salestech spaces truly converging
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
With such a small team we are heavily dependent upon our sales and marketing stack, including, CRM, Automation, ABM, Sales Productivity, Analytics, social scheduling, video creation, website.
MTS: Tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success?)
We call it our “air cover” campaign. As an account progresses into an opportunity, we execute a number of relevant touches via email, online, and sometimes direct mail targeting the relevant influencers and decision makers in that account. This ABM approach increases the velocity to closed won across all our segments.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
My advice to all marketing leaders: don’t be afraid of it, embrace it. You don’t need to have the most sophisticated stack, or be spending millions or be implementing bleeding edge programs to see ROI value from an AI-assist.
No matter your organization’s size or stage, if you are B2B and your ASP is at least $2,500 you need to invest in a SaaS solution that will focus and align your entire go-to-market team on the universe of companies which best fit your desired customer profile. It is this focus on your company’s unique set of high-fit accounts which will measurably increase your sales velocity.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
Deliberate. I keep a singular focus on what needs to be achieved, aligning the team and resources to pull all the levers necessary to get us there.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Google apps, Evernote, Slack
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
My productivity hack is to wake up and workout first thing. For me, it’s impossible to break away during the day or to ‘decide’ to go to the gym after work.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I read voraciously. Daily, I use Feedly for all the industry, marketing, sales, SaaS, AI, and tech news. To relax, I read fiction, biographies and business/leadership books. Overdrive, the library app, helps me maintain my reading addiction without going broke.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever — your secret sauce?
Always have a Plan B. If a campaign doesn’t perform as planned, you can quickly put your Plan B into action. If things are going well, your Plan B a great “back pocket” idea for when there is extra budget.
MTS: Thank you Deborah! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Experienced business and digital marketing executive focused on maximizing sales for revenue growth. A creative and flexible marketing/sales lead; successfully growing a $100M online business as well as acquiring a startup’s first paying customers
EverString’s AI SaaS solution is designed for B2B sales and marketing professionals to drive pipeline growth, help close new customers, expand into new markets, prioritize accounts, and provide actionable insights – all without the need for an administrator.
EverString is backed by leading investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, IDG Ventures and Lakestar. For more information, visit www.everstring.com.
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.