Interview with Jen Spencer, VP, Sales and Marketing, SmartBug Media

Jen Spencer
[mnky_team name=”Jen Spencer” position=” VP, Sales & Marketing – SmartBug Media”][/mnky_team]
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“The lines between content marketing and sales enablement are blurring daily, but a piece of sales enablement material should bridge the customer’s marketing to sales experience. “

On Marketing Technology

MTS: Tell us about your role and how you got here? What inspired you to be a part of an inbound marketing agency?
As Vice President of Sales and Marketing, my role involves leading SmartBug’s sales, marketing, and brand strategy; extending the company’s leadership among the HubSpot partner ecosystem; and providing a competitive entry into several new market segments.

While I’m new to the SmartBug Media team, I was previously a client over the course of three and a half years at both Allbound and nettime solutions. As a client, I always had a great deal of respect for SmartBug, and for the last few years, they made me look like a rock star. Now that I have joined their team, I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to serving our customers and collaborating with software vendors to help clients see the results they need.

MTS: With the growing importance of social messaging, how do you see personalized email campaigns fitting into inbound marketing?
Personalization just makes sense with inbound marketing. The goal of inbound is to attract your buyer personas and nurture them based on external factors that you gather about them and their company, and internal factors you can track using your entire marketing stack. The thing is, every communication needs to be relevant more than it needs to be personalized. It’s not enough to start your automated email message with “Hi {first name}, …” It’s what comes next that has to feel personal to that customer.

MTS: How should marketers leverage video assets to build their inbound marketing strategies?
When I was a teacher (high school English and theatre, a long time ago …) I made it a point to deliver content in many different mediums because I knew my students did not all learn the same way. Some needed to read and re-read a textbook. Others needed to discuss the topic out loud. A few had to associate the content with TV shows on their DVRs or songs on their iPods (Wait, did we have iPods then? Might have been a Discman.) Your customers are no different. You need to try to engage as many of their senses (and sensibilities) as possible. To ignore an entire medium such a video could be ostracizing an entire customer base. Instead, consider video one of many mediums you need to use to deliver your message.

MTS: How do you distinguish between content marketing and sales enablement assets?
The lines between content marketing and sales enablement are blurring daily, but a piece of sales enablement material should bridge the customer’s marketing to sales experience. Some of the most effective sales enablement assets aren’t customer-facing; rather, they are persona and pain-based talking points or follow-up questions a sales rep can use after a prospect attends a webinar.

MTS: What are the key aspects of promoting an event using inbound marketing capabilities? Would you share with us some unique examples from the industry that you witnessed or were part of?
One of my favorite examples of event promotion was a microsite that SymphonyTalent used to build momentum months prior to their exhibition at HR Tech, which is one of the largest conferences in the HR space. The team focused their efforts on inbound lead generation and tackled topics that would be addressed at the event. They generated leads for the event before the event using specialized content, not generic swag.

MTS: What startups in martech landscape space are you watching/keen on right now?
Right now our team is having a blast building out custom dashboards for our clients with Databox, which allows us to pull in metrics from HubSpot and Google Analytics to dive deeper into web stats. Plus there are about 50 other connectors we can start adding to give our clients all of their demand generation data on a single pane of glass.

The other platform that I’m itching to play with is Sigstr. They announced a HubSpot integration at INBOUND this fall, and I can’t wait to use it for event marketing to drive webinar registrations. With Sigstr’s platform, you can customize graphical calls-to-action in email signature lines based on a contact’s existence on one of your HubSpot smart lists.

MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
HubSpot, HubSpot, and HubSpot. We use HubSpot Marketing Platform – Enterprise, HubSpot CRM, and HubSpot Sales Pro. Our website is even HubSpot-hosted. We use PandaDoc for building, delivering, and tracking client proposals and contracts. We host our videos in Wistia. Zoom is our platform of choice for internal and external video conferencing, and we also use their webinar delivery solution. Finally, we use HotJar for tracking visitor engagement. If we make a change to our site, we take the time to see what impact that change had in helping us achieve our goals.

MTS: Would you tell us about your standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success?)
I have to tell you a story about one of our clients: Conversant Bio. They’re the leader in tissue procurement for pharmaceutical research, and the issue they were having was their messaging and marketing approach wasn’t aligned to attract the best prospects for them. The principal challenge lay in Conversant Bio reaching various audiences within the research community, where disease states are vertical. For example, cancer researchers are not interested in diabetic tissue content. We recommended an aggressive, targeted inbound marketing campaign to attract researchers by focusing campaigns in specific disease states. We delivered fully managed campaigns that included keyword analysis, development of persona-centric content, targeted and optimized blogging, social media promotion, and conversion paths to bring prospects into Conversant Bio’s sales cycle. The results were significant: A 250% month-over-month increase in lead growth and an increase in MQLs from 10% to 80% — so they generated more leads and they were much more qualified.

MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
With a mixture of juvenile excitement and jaded skepticism (but leaning towards excitement). Like any innovation, there are companies and people who will do it well, and there are those who will bastardize it. If implemented properly, AI can enhance our marketing strategies and bring us one step closer to being able to better serve our customers by creating unique, personal, relevant experiences at scale.

This is How I Work

MTS: One word that best describes how you work.

MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
HubSpot. I was sending an email campaign yesterday via another automation tool for Girls in Tech Phoenix (I’m a board member there), and it made me so sad.

MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I have a well-organized set of Evernote notes (do we just call them Evernotes?) where I log random, one-off pieces of information that aren’t yet documented in our internal knowledge base. It’s been especially helpful in sales with quoting one-off projects that may not be part of our core offering. If I find myself returning to that note again, and again, it’s time to evaluate the need.

MTS: What are you currently reading?
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. My sons and I are dystopian novel fiends. People tend to be surprised that I’m not much of a business book person. I prefer to escape in a book, but I seek business and leadership inspiration from podcasts.

MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Funny thing … most of the time when someone starts with, “Let me give you some advice …” what comes next is nothing short of horrific. The best advice I’ve been given is to ask myself, “Does this need to be done today?” I have a bad tendency to overload my calendar, say yes to way too much, and overextend myself to my own detriment. It’s good for me to have people in my life who remind me that tomorrow is another day.

MTS: Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Noah Mithrush

MTS: Thank you Jen! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Jen Spencer is Vice President, Sales & Marketing for SmartBug Media, a leading intelligent inbound marketing agency that assists businesses in generating leads; increasing awareness; and building brand loyalty through inbound marketing, digital strategy, design, marketing automation, and PR.

Prior to her role at SmartBug, Jen was the VP of Sales and Marketing at Allbound, a partner sales acceleration software-as-a-service solution provider. She was responsible for developing and executing an inbound demand generation strategy, raising brand and market awareness for Allbound, and channel sales and marketing. She helped the company reach 50 percent growth in year-over-year traffic and a 363 percent increase in sales leads.

While serving as Director of Marketing at nettime solutions, acquired by Paychex in June 2014, Jen developed and executed inbound lead generation and content marketing strategy while supporting a channel of referral, reseller, co-branded, and white-labeled partners. Through her role, the company saw a 103 percent increase in website traffic, a 415 percent increase in direct sales leads, and an 89 percent increase in revenue.

Whether she’s writing a blog, delivering a speech, interviewing clients or managing agency relationships, aligning with her audience is always at the forefront of her mind. Jen subscribes to the notion that “we’re all in this together,” and great communication leads to great partnership.

smartbug media

SmartBug Media is a leading inbound marketing agency enabling companies to get found online by qualified prospects and increase leads, customers and reach. We help companies achieve better marketing results by combining content marketing, social media, informational products and white paper marketing. We are also a HubSpot Certified Partner.

[mnky_heading title=”MarTech Interview Series” link=”|||”]

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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