MarTech Interview with Katherine Calvert, CMO at Khoros

MarTech Interview with Katherine Calvert, CMO at Khoros

“The key to success and standing out in a world where loyalty is all but dead is to facilitate trust through transparency.”

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My Journey

Hi Katherine, tell us know your journey in technology. How did you decide to join Khoros?

I’ve been in the business of tech marketing for almost 20 years, and one of the reasons I love it is that it’s always changing — there are always dynamic new stories to tell and interesting new tools to deliver them.

In B2B Marketing, the job is really simple — we’re here to create, accelerate, and retain revenue. The massive advances in technology over the years have made it easier and easier to measure how well we’re doing against that mission, from the top of the funnel all the way through. We are living in the golden age of tech marketing where we have the luxury to try new things and quickly figure out what’s working and what isn’t, and that means it’s a lot easier to trace the value we can deliver to the business.

I joined Khoros (formerly Spredfast + Lithium) two years ago because I’d been a customer, so I had firsthand experience with the power of great customer engagement. At Khoros, we help many of the world’s biggest companies and best-known brands connect with their customers in the channels of their choice — wherever and however they want to connect. Our solutions bridge the divide across marketing, care, and digital teams to help companies create customers for life, and that was a vision I could get really excited about.

Could you let us know about the role/team you handle at Khoros? What different technologies do you utilize?

As the Chief Marketing Officer at Khoros, I lead an incredibly talented team of global marketers as we design and deliver the company’s global Marketing plan.

To spread the word about Khoros and our product, we have a robust Marketing tech stack that allows us to work effectively and efficiently as one team, including a CRM and Marketing Automation system, an ABM tool, a CMS, a Project Management tool, and of course, our own Khoros platform – Community to foster peer-to-peer engagement across our customers, Khoros Marketing to manage paid and organic social media campaigns, and our own branded Messaging tool to enable direct conversations between us and our customers and prospects.

What is Khoros? How is Khoros different from other Customer Engagement platforms?

Khoros is the only customer engagement platform that brings together best-in-class solutions for social marketing, care, and online communities under one umbrella, making it easier for companies to effectively engage with their customers across all channels in an authentic and efficient way.

Our vision of helping companies create customers for life is really about drawing insights from those conversations and sharing them across all departments — to give companies the ability to be “All-Ways Connected” and run their business with their customers, anticipate their needs, and accelerate sales, loyalty, and innovation.

Recent News and CX insights

How has the merger of Lithium and Spredfast helped grow the company’s Marketing base? How does Khoros stand-out in the technology ecosystem today?

In 2019, we introduced Khoros, a merger of Spredfast and Lithium, which brought together the best-in-class providers of solutions for social marketing, care, and communities. Combined, Khoros brings over 20 years of pioneering leadership to the dynamic challenge of delivering meaningful digital customer engagement.

How have customer expectations evolved since you started in the industry? What challenges did you face? How do you tackle these now?

It wasn’t very long ago that there were only a couple of digital mediums for companies and brands to consider when engaging prospects and customers. Now, there is a constantly evolving set of channels where companies meet and engage with their customers who expect the same authentic, human-to-human customer experience whenever and wherever they are online. In a recent Forrester Research survey, brands said that they regularly publish content on five channels and that customers initiate engagement on an average of six different channels — and that’s just the average. The study identified 14 different outbound channel options and as many as 20 inbound channels.

Managing that complexity was the opportunity that brought Spredfast and Lithium together. Our customers wanted one partner they could go to for managing those proliferating digital conversations with their own customers. Where our customers once needed point solutions for individual functions in their organizations, they’re now looking to us to deliver both a comprehensive technical solution, as well as strategic advice and partnership to help them navigate the oft-changing digital landscape.

What do you think is essential to gain customers’ trust and build brand loyalty?

Gaining customers’ trust can be challenging in the digital world — a space where ingenuity runs high and content can be heavily filtered or misconstrued. However, with the right tools and practices, it is possible to overcome these negative conceptions to gain trust, build brand loyalty, drive sales, and ultimately, create customers for life. We’ve found the key to success and standing out in a world where loyalty is all but dead is to facilitate trust through transparency.

One often-overlooked way to drive that transparency is by fostering peer-to-peer relationships among your customers, which can be accomplished through online communities. As the Forrester Research study found, 75% of consumers found value from interacting with other customers in a brand’s online community — branded communities are a powerful tool and a better way for brands to create social validation. An open space that allows brands to empower their most loyal fans to advocate on their behalf, communities provide customers with the most helpful information from a trusted peer source and also help drive brand innovation with live customer feedback.

Predictions and Advice

As a woman in a tech company, what challenges do you face within the organization and outside? What message do you have for other female professionals in the community?

I’m fortunate to be at Khoros, which has a strong culture based on respect, equality, and teamwork — we know we’re stronger when we’re diverse. Khoros is only a year old, and while we are the product of two great legacy companies, over half of our team has joined since we became Khoros, meaning we have, in many ways, a clean slate to create a culture where diversity is celebrated and sought after.

My message to other female professionals is to be bolder about taking risks. On average, we tend to shy away from risk, which saves us in Vegas (men are twice as likely to become problem gamblers!) but can make us too complacent about the present course we’re on. Build your risk tolerance at work — start with smaller projects and get comfortable being a little uncomfortable.

One piece of advice that’s been valuable to me over the years is to nurture your own professional community. It’s been incredibly valuable to me to have a network of trusted peers —  within my company and outside it — to be sounding boards for critical career and management decisions. Over the years, these peers have become friends, and they’ve gifted me with important perspectives in moments when it can be hard to see the forest for the trees.

What is your future roadmap for the company and your ideas? 

As the digital landscape evolves and grows, so will Khoros. We are always striving to provide best-in-class solutions across our digital care, community, and social marketing offerings, and we will continue to deliver new solutions to help enhance how companies connect and engage with their customers for the ultimate experience, wherever they are online.

Keeping in mind the Digital Marketing trends of 2020 — “The Year of the Customer” —  we’re excited to keep the momentum going with a really robust 2020 roadmap.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?

Artificial Intelligence offers incredible opportunities to improve efficiency and increase operations power, but it’s important to be mindful of maintaining and preserving authentic, effective connections with your customers.

A few rules of thumb to keep in mind: Start your AI journey small and iterate, making sure to focus on the areas where it can unlock the most value. This may not always mean customer-facing tools — companies may find it beneficial and less risky by using AI behind the scenes. However, when using customer-facing AI-like chatbots, be transparent. Let customers know they’re interacting with a bot. And above all, focus on the data to ensure you’re moving towards positive outcomes.

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

I tag Mary Devine, director of brand services at AAA National.

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

Katherine Calvert, CMO at Khoros, is responsible for designing and delivering on the company’s global marketing strategy.

With 20+ years of experience, Katherine’s expertise includes developing go-to-market strategies, building high-performance teams, driving demand generation, defining compelling brand narratives, and bringing the voice of the customer into the heart of the enterprise.

khoros logo

Khoros, built from Spredfast + Lithium, is the leading customer engagement platform built to turn siloed knowledge into enterprise value, and customers into contributors. By connecting consumer insights across all departments, Khoros gives companies the ability to run their business with their customers, anticipating their needs and accelerating sales, loyalty, and innovation.

With 2,000+ customers, including 52 of the Interbrand 100, and ten offices globally, Khoros powers approximately 500 million digital interactions every day. From social media to online communities and messaging to digital customer care, Khoros helps companies authentically connect with customers throughout their journey.

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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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