Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What inspired you to co-start Capsule?
I started my career 20 years ago with a technology company that was building bespoke Customer Management solutions for financial services companies such as banks and financial advisors. These were long-running projects that would take years to implement. It was a golden time to be working in the financial services tech sector and I enjoyed a variety of roles from design and product management through to sales and marketing and worked with some fantastic people along the way.
But by 2007 it had become clear it was possible to offer similar capability with a solution that businesses could get up and running quickly and easily instead of months or years. It was the beginning of the cloud era, and along with two co-workers, we founded a new company to begin work on Capsule, our CRM platform which we launched a year later in 2009.
What we built into Capsule was a CRM platform that businesses could not only get up and running in minutes, but they could also customize it to make it fit their business and easily integrate it with other popular systems to get a complete view of the customer, leads and other relationships. We’ve been fortunate that business love what we built and Capsule has since grown to over 15,000 paying customers in over 100 countries.
From the time you started Capsule, how much has the Marketing Technology evolved?
We launched Capsule almost ten years ago and much has changed since. Tools and technology that were once only available to enterprises with deep pockets have become commoditized and available on subscription plans starting at a few dollars a month. For example, there is so much more customer data available now enabling a data-driven approach to marketing that can completely transform a business. Integration platforms such as Zapier make it possible to connect your marketing tech with the click of a button and build powerful automation flows that would have once taken months to build.
What is Capsule for a modern CMO?
Any time someone from your business communicates with a potential customer is a chance to establish a better relationship. That relationship forms the basis of whether a potential customer then becomes a loyal customer. The ability to gather and organize details means that your Sales and Marketing teams can personally connect with potential customers at the right point with the right message. This is also great for marketing on a wider level. You can use customer data to identify commonalities across different demographics, allowing for the right marketing approach to be applied across those demographics in the future. In a way to build up success profiles of what good and loyal customers look like so your Sales and Marketing teams can be more targeted in their approaches. Capsule also sits at the heart of any Marketing Tech stack so you can integrate it with your favorite tools to get a complete 360-degree view of the customer.
As a CEO, how would you identify the biggest advantages of leading a Marketing Technology company into a Data-driven landscape?
A data-driven approach becomes critical as companies mature and move beyond the quick wins. We’d all like to find the one golden hack that gives us a 100%+ boost, but the truth is we are more likely to identify 20 different improvements that each generate a 5% boost. The combined impact of these is massive, but each change is just a stepping stone, and some changes you try will be a step backward.
A data-driven approach provides the insight to make sense of these small incremental steps and to know which ones to double down on, and which ones to rollback. If you try to do this by the seat of your pants you’ll likely end up one step forward and two steps back.
What valuable lessons did you learn from 2018’s disruptions in CRM and Marketing Automation?
Take care to remember the human element. Marketing Automation and Technology is undoubtedly powerful, but keep in mind that there’s a human behind the numbers, and also, I think we’re all getting a little tired of dealing with bots!
Tell us about your go-to strategies to support rapid growth, lessons learned through periods of massive shift and transition in 2019.
We have customers of all sizes and many of our customers joined us as a startup and have scaled up, and some have grown with us to become unicorns, so we’ve seen what works well across different businesses. While there’s much we can do in marketing the business, nothing beats having a great product that customers like and will recommend to others.
How do you mentor your Product Marketing and B2B Commerce teams at Capsule?
Fortunately, we have some great people on our team who bring their own experience and ideas. I try to keep my input focused on values and where we want to be.
What does your technology community look like? Who do you meet at events and conferences to discuss Marketing and Sales technology?
It’s always good to learn from others that are solving similar challenges to our own, in different ways and different industries.
Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?
We use a bunch of technology including proprietary tools, but these are the ones we use that are better known:
- ClearBit data to support Lead Insight, Scoring, and Segmentation
- Google Analytics and MixPanel for source and Behavioral Analytics
- Google Optimise for A/B testing
- Wootric to track NPSbac
- MailChimp for Email Marketing
- Jekyll to deliver content
- And of course Capsule as our CRM to get a 360-degree customer view, all connected up to the various systems we use
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Marketing and Sales technology for 2019-2020?
I’m expecting to see more companies taking a data-driven approach, while also being more human in the way they deal with customers.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
Startups that have great solutions for handling interactions with customers.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?
There is much promise with AI, but clearly, we all need to move beyond the current hype cycle of labeling every algorithm as “AI” and identify the opportunities where AI and related technology can add genuine value.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
As a technology company, a passion for technology is one of the things we look for when hiring. As a result, I usually find it’s our team inspiring me with new technology ideas rather than the other way around!
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Anything that helps with communication
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
What are you currently reading?
Our Head of Design has just dropped a book into my inbox “Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love” which he has told me is a must-read, so that’s next on my reading list! Books I’ve enjoyed lately include “The Effortless Experience” and “Thinking, Fast and Slow”.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It doesn’t matter how many hours you do today; you’ll still have a to-do list tomorrow. As a bit of a workaholic at times, this has helped me find a happy work-life balance
Thank you, Duncan! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Duncan Stockdill is a founder and CEO of Capsule. Duncan looks after marketing, product and design decisions, guiding the team to deliver a world-class product that helps thousands of businesses around the globe.
Capsule was launched in 2009 following the founders’ frustration with existing CRM services that were either overly simplistic or far too complex for most businesses. We believe the value of a modern CRM lies in the ability to help businesses stay organized, know more about their customers, build strong relationships and to make the most of sales opportunities, all while minimizing user input. We built Capsule to deliver on these values and today Capsule is used by thousands of businesses of all sizes all over the world.
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.