Interview with Rhonda Wunderlin, VP, Performance Marketing, Informa Engage

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Rhonda Wunderlin

“B2B audience targeting in 2018 is focused on reach beyond traditional channels. You must be able to not only identify what content is relative and compelling based on datapoints, but then deliver that in both traditional and new channels.”

Tell us about your role at Informa Engage and how you got here. What inspired you to join Informa Engage?

As VP of Marketing Performance at Informa Engage my team supports in-house marketers and their clients with a healthy audience database and marketing technologies and tools to reach that audience. Together this results in an engaged and active audience.

I joined the organization six years ago as they were developing their marketing services offerings. Given my experience working in sales/marketing operations and also with clients launching modern marketing ecosystems, I was able to bring best practices to the company and help deliver product solutions to support the revenue marketing journey for Informa clients.

I was inspired to join the team to work in an industry that was going through an evolution. I wanted to be a part of the transformation of print-to-digital by bringing in new marketing technologies and marketing best practices. In addition, it was a chance for me to develop B2B marketing programs for an audience that was engaged with a myriad of trusted brands, across multiple industries from Aviation to Agriculture to Finance and many more.

Given the changing dynamic of marketing technology landscape, where do you see Informa Engage fitting in a CMO’s stack?

Informa Engage is ideal for a CMO to identify and engage potential buyers through the top and middle of the funnel. Our unique differentiator is our deep industry expertise and that our brands are viewed as trusted advisors by our audience.

Starting at the top of the funnel we offer industry research and strategic insights on the target customer, along with brand awareness through the channels that buyers are visiting and the industry content they are reading. With the demographic and behavior data we are tracking, we can support driving leads through awareness and consideration stages for a marketer’s offerings with relevant content written by our subject matter experts or provided by the client. We reach marketer’s potential buyers, who are already actively engaged, with relevant content.

What does your ‘Ideal Customer’ Profile look like? How do you build your customer segments?

The ideal customer profile varies brand by brand and product by product. Our customer segments are primarily based on demographics and behavior, including:

  • The attributes of the company that a professional user works for along with their role, job level and then an overlay of consumer data
  • What content have they subscribed to across our offerings
  • What kind of activity have we seen from them in the last 90 days – what topics have they engaged in, type of content they consume (whitepaper, webinars, articles)

What datapoints do you work on to make Informa Engage more competitive for optimized results?

We are focused on standard demographics such as industry, company size, job role and level, geography, etc. But what makes us unique is the ‘market specific data’ we are able to obtain from our readers, subscribers and event attendees. For example, we can identify airport services in the aviation sector, or type and volume of crops being grown this year vs. last, or the particular product set a design engineer works on or ground transportation information like vehicle class, size of fleet or types of products hauled. Then we layer over behavior and intent data to ensure our outreach is relevant and compelling.

What is the state of ‘’Audience Targeting’ technologies in 2018? What technologies are ideal for identifying and winning the customer’s choice?

B2B audience targeting in 2018 is focused on reach beyond traditional channels. You must be able to not only identify what content is relative and compelling based on datapoints, but then deliver that in both traditional and new channels. Just as B2C companies are targeting buyers on B2B channels, I believe reaching B2B buyers on B2C channels is a critical area that drives awareness and conversion exponentially.

How can organizations overcome biases to increase customer-centricity?

Customer-centricity must be driven from the top with data insights to overcome biases and show the value of why putting the customer first will drive revenue and profit. While it fundamentally is changing the mindset throughout the organization of “it’s not about what’s easy for the company, but what is right for the customer,” it’s also vital to have the organizational structure for internal processes and tools to achieve customer-centricity.

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

Without naming any particular company names, we take an interest in true innovation. There are several firms doing interesting work in digital content delivery and identity resolution that both suit the needs of customers and provide insights for marketers. In addition, technologies using machine learning to help optimize targeting, personalize experiences, identify propensity to buy or renew or not renew are all at the top of our radar.

What marketing and sales automation tools and technologies do you use?

We use, Eloqua, SnapApp, LookbookHQ, DemandBase, along with digital and live event platforms and multiple ad technologies.

How are you preparing for the post-GDPR disruptions?

The primary area we are focused on is to ensure we have an automated back-end for tracking across platforms that complies with the regulations. We are visiting our options for compliance, taking into consideration the forthcoming EU-wide ePrivacy Regulation and the impact that will have.

Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign at Informa Engage? 

Our Infrastructure Group, which publishes Electronic Design and Machine Design, wanted to create interactive content to engage their audience, build community and generate traffic. We collaborated with them to create a five-week tournament focused on the best engineering education program to engage users, prospects and engineering students from universities across the United States.

We developed a bracket-modeled contest entitled “Academic Engineering Program.” Users were asked to vote on their favorite university with the best engineering program. Thirty-two of the top collegiate programs were pitted against each other. Each week, participants voted for their favorite university via an online quiz. After contestants voted, they were sent to an Eloqua lead generation form that required basic contact information. The information allowed for a better user experience as well as easy segmentation and better targeting for email promotions.

The universities faced off in five rounds. Round one consisted of 16 different matchups. Contacts selected their top choice from every pair. The university with the most votes from each pair of matchups advanced to the next round. Round two consisted of 8 matchups; round three consisted of 4 matchups; round four consisted of 2 matchups. The final championship round was a faceoff between the two most popular universities.

Users were notified via email, Facebook and Twitter when the new rounds were ready for voting. Banner ads were used on the two publication’s websites as well as news items in the daily and weekly e-newsletters to promote the contest and announce winners. The website was updated weekly with the new contest round, round winners and contest stats. In addition, contest updates were posted daily on social media.

Individual prizes were offered by three sponsoring companies. In addition to individual prizes, the winning academic program was issued an online design challenge. This was done as an incentive to get engineering students involved and excited about their career choice.

The campaign resulted in thousands of unique contacts being captured, significantly increased website registrations along with revenue generated from client sponsorships.

Due to its success, this program has become an annual event.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

By never forgetting that we are working with people. Business people will not tolerate wasting their time with poorly timed or targeted messages. Automation does not deliver meaningful personalization and AI won’t replace a thoughtful communication strategy.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

I believe with the team we have in place the technology is second nature. Instead of having to inspire them, it’s the leadership team’s priority to identify technology that fits into our ecosystem and supports our revenue strategy. Then we focus on how to weave that into our martech stack and use it to drive revenue. The people I get to work with every day relish the opportunity to test and leverage new technologies.

One word that best describes how you work.


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

I have no sense of direction, so I can’t live without Yelp or Waze! I also use Calm daily for guided meditation.

Professionally, we use SmartSheet to keep the myriad of projects we are working on organized as well as to track our work effort across day to day activities. This has become invaluable for us not only to plan but also to look back for review post-project and recap everything from the level of effort, timelines and budget.

What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

For tracking my own day to day to do’s I depend on TodoIst. What I like most is the ability to add an email to my list with one simple click, and then add a due date/time with a quick shortcut. This allows me to quickly glance at items that need follow-up and organize my day/week.

What are you currently reading?

Never Split the Difference, by Christopher Voss. It’s by a former FBI hostage negotiator who shares his approach to negotiation – tactics to use at home or in the boardroom. While I love the feel of a book in my hand, I have converted to reading content on my iPad and also using Audible to listen to books, which is how I’m consuming this book. In addition, I do still receive The New Yorker and Time magazines weekly in the mail. And of course, I scan marketing articles weekly on various industry sites via the web.

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

As harsh as it may sound, the best advice I’ve ever had, and have adhered to in my career, is ‘hire slow, fire fast.’ You need to make sure the person you are bringing into the team not only has the skill set for the job but is a fit culturally. As well, if you’ve made a hiring mistake and you find someone is struggling to do what others have done previously in the same amount of time, both in ‘getting it done and doing it right’, you are not doing them any favors by keeping them in the position. In addition, you are putting more stress on the other team members who are required to pick up the slack.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

I believe in taking care of the people who work for me. First and foremost, I see my role is to ensure my employees have the resources to do their job and if any roadblocks arise, it is up to me to help remove those. Secondly, I give credit where credit is due. Whenever a project or individual team member is recognized I make sure that recognition is celebrated and shared across the team as well as up the ladder.

Tag the one person from the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Jennifer Horton, Analyst at Sirius Decisions

Jan Ryan, Entrepreneur

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

With a focus on the customer experience and increasing engagement through data-driven best practices, Rhonda helps organizations elevate their position in the marketplace.

At Informa Engage Rhonda is leading the collaboration between sales and marketing. She is responsible for marketing technologies, user data integration and management, data analysis, user care and circulation fulfillment systems/processes. Rhonda has set the vision for a unified collaborative sales/marketing organization, with streamlined technology managed by a central operations team.

Earlier, Rhonda consulted with 80+ companies, helping them transform their organizations. She understands the key principles behind sales/marketing alignment, applying them to organizations large and small.

Informa Engage
We connect marketers with B2B decision makers. By combining unrivaled reach, deep knowledge of specialist markets and sophisticated marketing, we engage buyers – activating real results for marketers.

[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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