Interview with Jon Clarke, CEO, Cyance

Jon Clarke

“B2B marketing needs to close the gap with B2C Marketing. This is happening right now and will accelerate over the next few years.”

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Tell us a little bit about your role at Cyance?

My role has changed dramatically over the past few years. I started out as the Managing Director of Cyance when we were a B2B Agency.  I saw that buying behaviors were changing, forcing a need for change in the way B2B brands and agencies think about Marketing and Sales. I became an inventor of what ultimately turned into our platform, Nexus. This idea literally split the Cyance board in half. I needed to convince the team that my crazy idea had substance, and was worth the significant risk! Our Chairman, who joined us after we made the decision to pivot from an agency into a tech company said, we were attempting to rebuild the plane, whilst in flight! A scary but true statement.

Fast forward 3 years, my role has changed beyond recognition. We have all gone through a learning curve that was off the charts! I have learned how to secure funding and work with Private Equity investors, built a new team from the ground up to help us build our SaaS platform and establish a go-to-market strategy aligned to how top quartile SaaS companies operate.

My role is now switching towards growing our outstanding team, building out the growth strategy for Cyance, and inspiring great people to achieve beyond their perceived limitations.

What are the core tenets of Cyance’s Nexus Platform?

Cyance was a B2B agency for the first 8 years. So we instinctively understand all the challenges B2B brands and Agencies are faced with on a daily basis.

The core tenets of the Nexus platform are to: Identify your active customers, establish their needs and interests, link this behavior to roles in your customer buying groups, activate Nexus audiences into your marketing and sales campaigns, track the responses to build customer journeys and report on outcomes. Finally, do this at scale and at speed to help drive growth.

How does your platform enable personalized engagement?

Nexus tracks the online behavior that takes place within organizations you care about. We can track behavior right down to a zip code. We can establish what content is being searched for, viewed, downloaded and shared across billions of events, taken from across publisher and ad-networks and social media channels. Our platform scores the volume of activity, the type of behavior and the relevance of the content being consumed. This surfaces the needs, interests and buying stage of organizations you want to track. These insights enable our users to personalize messages and content, based upon this behavior.

Our audiences are built using anonymized cookies. This means we can activate and onboard Nexus high intent audiences into any DSP or DMP, to help enhance digital advertising campaigns.

What is the one piece of advice you have for B2B marketers in 2018?

Before you decide to invest in Predictive Analytics and Buying Intent, firstly understand if your organization is ready to maximize the value. I have seen too many organizations drinking from the ‘cool aid’ because it’s the next big shiny thing, thinking it is the answer to all their problems. To make it work, you need to mobilize your entire team (not just Marketing and Sales) into change. Digital transformation is a term that is frequently used, but wildly underestimated.

How do you see the B2B marketing landscape evolving, in the years to come?

B2B marketing needs to close the gap with B2C Marketing. This is happening right now and will accelerate over the next few years. I see B2B marketing continuing to invest in new ways to identify which customers are ready to buy, understand what they are interested in and use this insight to personalize the experience. As the technology evolves and techniques improve, I see that automation through AI will enable this to happen dynamically and at scale. Ultimately, delivering a 1-2-1 experience on a 1-2-Many basis.

Which sectors is Cyance looking to target to expand its reach in 2018?

Our early adopters are mainly within the technology space. However, we are seeing increased growth in other sectors including; Professional Services, Insurance and Finance.

What startups are you watching/keen on right now?

Phrasee, Influitive, and Hypr. Basically, any start-up that combines the great use of data with AI or machine learning to help disrupt and transform business is interesting to me.

How does Cyance leverage Datasets to create attributable marketing campaigns?

We combine customer behavior and intent taken from over 2 billion weekly events across the internet, mapped to nearly 150 million organizations within our platform. We continually track changes in behavior over time, at both an account and audience level, to establish any spikes and changes in relevant activity. This helps to surface organizations that are displaying the most relevant buying behavior, and pinpoint where they are in their buying journey. Nexus overlays these insights with audiences that respond to our customer’s marketing campaigns, to help with attribution reporting. We use our own tags and integration into marketing platforms, to build customer journeys.

Nexus uses Machine Learning techniques to track all of the behaviors over time, to learn and evolve. This means our customers take advantage of the benefits of the billions of behavioral events from millions of organizations across the globe to establish the best marketing and sales opportunities.

What does Cyance’s martech stack currently consist of?

Hubspot, Adestra (ESP), Nexus (DMP  with Buying Intent, Predictive Analytics), Adroll DSP and Zoho CRM

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

I believe AI is all about finding new ways to transform the way we do business through automation, so we can do things quicker, faster and better. This is essential if you want to scale fast! But to prepare for this, it is essential that you get your processes right first. This requires a robust test and learn process. You also need buy-in from the organization in order to implement change successfully. Once you have proven the approach, then you can integrate new technologies to scale-up. Denial around the need for change is not an option, but trying to run before you can walk and making things too complicated is a route to failure.

One word that best describes how you work.


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

Slack, Zoho CRM and Jira

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

Dump Email, move to tools like Slack and Jira. Keep email for external communication where you need an audit trail.

What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

Play Bigger, a recommendation from our lead investor. I like to read or listen to business leadership books on Audible, or Podcasts when I’m traveling or walking my dog at the weekend.

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

Keep it simple stupid!

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

I don’t know if we do this better than others, but our success has been driven by our intimate understanding of our customer markets, and our learning from the competition to help find the space we can win and defend.

Tag the one person, from the martech sector, whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Matt Heinz

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

Jon is a business marketing strategist with a passion to help customers to drive innovation into their Marketing and Sales operations to deliver more sales-led growth. He helps businesses to find their next customers before they buy.

Buying behaviour has changed, forever. You’ve noticed that it’s harder to reach and engage your audience? Today, 75% of customers start their buying journey online. Your potential buyers are out there emitting digital buying signals as they research and engage peers to solve their problems and achieve their goals. That’s why we created Nexus. Nexus identifies the customers and prospects most likely to buy from you then continuously scans the digital universe to build unparalleled insight and de-code buying signals to transform your marketing. Nexus will show you who to target, suggest the best messaging to use and the channels through which to reach your audiences. Then, with each campaign, Nexus learns what works best to predict with unerring accuracy how to maximise your marketing return on investment and sales opportunities.

[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.