On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role and how you got here. (What inspired you to be part of a technology innovation company?)
I’m the Advising CMO at Folloze and also CEO of Hunter&Bard. I spend my time strategizing on the best ways to promote and grow awareness for Folloze in enterprise Account Based Marketing. I love how Folloze helps companies scale ABM by enabling the delivery of content that is truly curated for each intended audience in a way that was never previously possible. The real-time analytics is hyper-critical to sales teams who are looking for the perfect time to call. I especially admire the customers who come back with their stories on how Folloze has proven its ROI again and again.
I ended up in tech because I was always a geek. During my undergraduate degree at ASU, I spent my nights in the Computer Lab on IRC chatting with people around the world (for those who might have been on in those days – my nick was Dharmabum). IRC gave me an intuitive understanding of social media before it was even a thing. In 1998, I taught myself HTML and created a website for the company I was working in. After that, I got my first tech job in a startup in 1999 and it felt like home, the industry I belonged in. I’ve been in love with tech ever since. Nothing is better than working with cutting-edge companies to bring their vision to fruition.
MTS: Given the changing dynamic of B2B content, how do you see the marketing automation and analytics market evolving by 2020?
Companies can’t just provide a great platform satisfying a necessary service – they need to give analytics and reports so that companies can understand the value given and the effect it has on their bottom-line. Currently, the market has way too many niche players for all of them to survive. The latest MarTech landscape I saw had over 4,000 companies in it. I expect a lot of consolidation by the big players and deaths of the smaller ones. The survivors will be the companies who provide the most value, have the best reputation in the market, and continue to innovate and adapt.
By 2020, the Martech market will be smaller in terms of players than it is today, and by 2030 there will be a few big players, and the rest will be tiny and niche.
MTS: How should CMOs leverage content management and marketing tools to drive their Account-based Marketing strategies with greater authority?
Every significant piece of content should be repurposed in multiple ways to get the most bang for your buck. A good way of thinking about any large asset piece is to create a content waterfall. For example – the information from a webinar can be turned into an e-book that can then be shrunken into bits for blog posts; information from within could be turned into an infographic; the writer can take snippets and create short videos to post onto YouTube (the second largest search engine after Google); videos could feed more blog posts, tweets, and social posts. The blog posts should be cross-promoted on Medium and LinkedIn to build up awareness, and everything should funnel to landing pages on the site. Ads can increase the coverage of your content, as can SEO. That covers a lot of your online use. Now the question lies with how to get this content funneled outbound to your prospects.
This is where Folloze comes in. All of the content: blog posts, ebooks, case studies, white papers, videos, infographics, and what have you – can be added to Folloze boards. These boards can be segmented by your marketing team according to title, geography, company, and industry – before being sent out in an email cadence by your sales team. Your sales team can monitor in real-time which content your prospects open and learn where to take the conversation moving forward.
MTS: How should CMOs plan their MarTech stack integrations to maximize the benefits from sales automation and predictive analytics platforms?
First off, everything has to work together and scale. There’s no point in having Zoho for Sales CRM if you have HubSpot for Marketing and they can’t be fully integrated together. You have to be able to see where your funnel is going, where things are dropping off and what methods of engagement are converting the best.
Grad Conn, the GM and CMO of Microsoft US, talks about the Systems of Nurture. I like this concept. Think about your stack as the psychological state of the buyer and where they are in the journey. Plan accordingly, making sure everything works together and scales together.
MTS: What startups in the MarTech ecosystem are you watching/keen on right now?
The Account Based Marketing (ABM) space has me very excited as I’m obsessed with B2B enterprise sales. Folloze, Outreach.io, Engagio, Demandbase, Terminus – the space is heating up. The most interesting piece of ABM automation is the emphasis on scaling ABM. Some would argue that scaling ABM is a contradiction in terms – true ABM is only about your top 20 customers. I think of modern ABM as a way to make your top 300 customers feel like they are your top 20.
Predictive is another area of the market that I find very interesting and I like what I’ve been seeing from Radius and 6Sense.
Mattermark, Digify, and Woopra are other interesting startups that are favorites.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
We use a Business Intelligence tool where we can research companies, people inside those companies, and industry information. We drink our own champagne at Folloze by using our ABM outreach tool, sending targeted drip sales campaigns with curated content especially chosen for the interests of the recipients. Folloze boards can include video, PDFs, blog posts, etc. so it’s a great way to see what content performs best and has the strongest reaction. Folloze is also our Sales Engagement Software, as it tracks when things have been opened and how long the recipient has been engaging with said content.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
Instead of talking about one of mine I’m going to talk about one of our [Folloze’s] clients.
Michelle Davis, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft US Enterprise Services, was looking to sell more of Microsoft’s Premier Services offering in order to increase Azure data consumption. She used the Folloze platform to assemble a board of Success Stories and program overview information. With one single board, each of her 230 sellers was enabled to build awareness in his or her prospects. Each board was automatically customized for the recipient using Folloze auto-personalization. The result? Over 19% engagement and 8% conversion.
According to Ms. Davis, “We operate at Microsoft by the numbers, and the engagement we saw with Folloze in the first week was great. I expect to see a 7X increase in consumption for the customers we sell Premier Services to with this offering.”
MTS: How do you prepare for an Artificial Intelligence-centric world as a marketing leader?
AI is a marketing game-changer. Much of the early stage of a sale, where you’re reaching out to prospects, is repetitive. It can take 6 – 8 attempts at outreach before a customer responds, and even then, much of the responses can be followed up with a template. With AI we can better personalize our correspondence so that timeline from reach out to conversation is truncated. Using AI to manage the conversation also shortens the timeline to likability, a critical component to every enterprise sale.
In a world of voice AI, SEO is now your most important objective. With voice AI, ads cannot be listed on the side of organic results. There is no side. Instead, search results will be provided to you via Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa. As top results are read aloud, most people will only want to hear the first few then move on. If you aren’t in the top three results for whatever keywords your prospects are looking for, you will not exist.
This is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
Laughter. I find I laugh a lot with the people I work with. It’s easy to be passionate about what you do when you love who you work with.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Google Apps + MixMax + The Great Suspender + my Moleskin notebook without lines.
MixMax has extra functionality that I need inside Gmail. I love being able to send a calendar invite inside an email. It’s smoother and painless on the side of the recipient. You can suggest several times, place the invite inside of the email and the recipient can pick which time works for him or her. Simple, easy, painless, fast.
I’m one of those people with a million tabs open (I currently have over 50 tabs open in 3 different browser windows) and I use Chrome. Anyone who has a Mac on Chrome knows that means my computer will be in overdrive in no time flat. The Great Suspender is an app that suspends the tabs you’re not using until you’re ready to use them, so I can keep my million tabs without killing my machine.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I have a few. First off – I’ve turned off notifications on my phone for everything except WhatsApp (because that’s where my kids message me.) And I always have my phone set to silent. Second, I write lists. Third, when I need to get into a flow state for writing or research and I am having a hard time concentrating, I turn the twenty-minute hourglass on my desk. The noise distracts just enough for me to concentrate on one thing and yet it’s quiet enough for me to not notice when it’s done. I used to use a timer and by the time the 20 minutes was up I would be in flow and then the alarm would bring me out of it. The hourglass is a more elegant and better solution overall.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I read books and I listen to books. I’m obsessed with behavior and read or listen to everything I can about it. I typically read and listen to several books at once.
I’m currently reading Getting More by Stuart Diamond. I swear I’ve highlighted half the book, it’s that good. It’s changed how I think about every interaction I have with people at work and for work. It’s changed how I think about messaging. This is one of the few books I’ll read more than once.
I’m listening to Presence by Amy Cuddy. I know that her hands-on-hips power pose has been proven false but I still maintain that keeping your arms in the air for 2 minutes cuts off cortisol. My reason for this belief is that having your arms in the air for 2 minutes brings in a burn, for those who aren’t in top shape, and as such induces endorphins which cuts off cortisol (like all exercise). I feel so strongly about Presence I’ve written about it in my personal blog.
I’m also listening to The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. I can’t listen to this straight through though. It has too many examples of human behavior that make me cringe. It’s also long. But it’s a good book, with learnings that are important for everyone in business and marketing, so I keep listening to it. In small snippets.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever — your secret sauce?
Treat everyone well, try to end everything nicely. Be the first to admit when you’ve screwed up, apologize and take ownership for it before being brought to task.
Write things down. If it’s a large task (like writing a book), break it down into tiny steps and write those down. Check things off as you get each bit done.
MTS: Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
I’ve seen Sydney Sloan, the CMO of Alfresco, speak at B2BMX – and she was incredible. I’d love to know how she would answer these questions.
MTS: Thank you Shira! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Shira Abel is the CEO of Hunter & Bard (H&B), a marketing and branding agency that works with fast growing, revenue generating SaaS companies on building their brand, awareness, lead generation and thought leadership.
Shira is also a sought after Corporate Speaker – and has spoken at AdRoll, Axa Tech, Allianz, eToro and more. A thought leader in the startup marketing space, Shira works with companies to build and implement smart marketing strategies and build online communities that grow companies. Shira has experience speaking worldwide at conferences on marketing for startups, judging competitions, teaching marketing for startups, and mentoring at several startup accelerators. She also works with companies to build the marketing into the product. MBA from Kellogg School of Management.
Hunter & Bard is a PR and design agency that works with fast growing, revenue generating tech companies on building awareness and thought leadership, and design and branding.
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.