MarTech Interview with Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, Chief Marketing Officer at FullStory

Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, Chief Marketing Officer at FullStory highlights the importance of having marketers understand the why behind customer’s changing behaviors and patterns in this chat:

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Welcome to this martech chat Kirsten, tell us more about your role at FullStory?

I joined FullStory as Chief Marketing Officer fairly recently, in December 2020. FullStory was founded by a team of ex-Google engineers who created a powerful digital experience intelligence platform that delivers insights to help brands perfect online experiences and products. Customers like Lowe’s and Segment are investing to truly understand their customers in this time of digital transformation.

When I joined FullStory, I knew it was an amazing team, with a beloved product in a massive category – which is an irresistible opportunity for a CMO.  Today, FullStory is live on more sites than its top 3 nearest competitors combined. We’re moving upmarket at a blistering pace and grew our enterprise client revenue and seats by more than 60% in 202O.

One of my first steps was to build out an exceptional marketing and product marketing team in a historically product-led-growth (PLG) organization. I am really excited about the work we are doing to define this new category of digital experience intelligence, as well as execute global go to market strategies that allow more companies to benefit from this new kind of insight.

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What are some trends in the end to end digital experience today that you feel marketers aren’t paying enough attention to?

There’s been a tremendous amount of attention on the dramatic acceleration of digital adoption by consumers and business professionals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the rise of digital-first business brings risk along with opportunity. Consumers are holding companies accountable for subpar digital experiences, so marketers need to prioritize the quality of these experiences to keep customers coming back.

There is clearly room to improve. FullStory’s recent survey of more than 1,500 consumers found a majority of respondents (64%) have been frustrated or struggled online in the last six months, and 77% will abandon a transaction when they experience an issue. Brands are often unaware of these challenges because a small fraction of consumers (12%) are very likely to share feedback when a digital error occurs, making it difficult to identify and address errors in a timely manner.

To be successful, marketers need to pay attention to not only what is happening in their customers’ experiences, but most importantly the context and reasons for their behavior. This, and only this, will allow brands to meet and exceed digital expectations and ultimately drive more loyalty and revenue.

Can you talk about some leading brands you’ve seen with strong end to end and multichannel and online experiences? A few learnings from these examples?

FTD is a great example of a brand that is re-engineering for the digital age. FTD was founded 110 years ago as a technology company that took advantage of the concept of the wire service. Now FTD is returning to its core identity as technology teams with a new executive team, including CTO Matt Powell, and is reimagining and rearchitecting its infrastructure to create new value and delightful experiences for its customers. 

FTD is committed to being innovative and fast moving in its replatforming effort – with the aim to not only to drive success for FTD, but to also reinvigorate all of the small, local businesses that work with FTD.   As one of the very first steps in its replatforming effort, FTD implemented FullStory for digital experience intelligence to ensure a smooth implementation of the other tools they were integrating into their stack. By understanding not just what customers do but why, FTD is able to remove friction points in the shopper journey and provide the best possible digital experience while driving an incredibly rapid rate of change.

I’ve also been impressed with the way that some travel and hospitality brands are managing the massive changes in customer needs and behavior as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes.  So many things that people want to know and research about travel and lodging have changed. What is the COVID protocol? Is the pool open, and do you require reservations? Brands like Travel + Leisure Co. (formerly Wyndham Destinations) are using tools like FullStory and Qualtrics together to understand customer perception and behavior together so they can have “eyes wide open” about the customer journey and make the best decisions about where to spend effort and capital

What are some best practices that you feel marketers need to be focusing on when implementing new marketing technologies to drive enhanced online experiences?

The marketing world is changing rapidly. It has never been more important to know your customers, but third-party cookies are disappearing, and consumers are more attuned to privacy than ever. So it is increasingly difficult to know exactly who your customers are in a traditional martech or adtech sense.

Instead, marketers need to focus on knowing the “what and why” behind behavior and invest in data tools and infrastructure to make sense of the change. The data ecosystem is evolving to provide more insights from macro-level behavior than ever before.  Marketers need to refocus on tools that make sense of patterns in customer behavior and really own and know this behavioral data in a first party way.

A few predictions that you have for the future of the online consumer and customer buying trends?

Digital-first business is here to stay. Our research shows that 8 in 10 consumers (81%) plan to maintain or increase their heightened online usage, even as in-person shopping, services and activities resume. This holds true across retail, financial services, travel, healthcare, even business software and SaaS. 

But there is no one-size-fits-all digital experience or product. Features or navigation that are obvious to one customer may be completely opaque or confusing to others. This not only hurts sales, it diminishes trust.  Nearly ⅔ of consumers (65%) report that they trust a business less when they experience a problem using a website or mobile app. So I predict we will increasingly see companies differentiate themselves not only on the relevance of their digital experience, but the ease and quality of the experience they can deliver to all users. 

A few takeaways for marketing leaders and CMOs/CEOs in 2021?

Marketing executives are bombarded with tech product pitches and new innovation. Prior to joining FullStory, I served as an analyst at Gartner where I helped marketing leaders make sense of the questions that I ask myself every day at FullStory: What should I prioritize? What will make the most impact? What do my competitors have and do I need it too?

You have to be scientific and data-driven in your approach to these answers, and ultimately make them based on solid knowledge of your customers and what it is like to walk a mile in their shoes.  To do this, you need tools to deliver real customer understanding in order to have answers, not just hunches.

It is also as much about organizational change as it is about technology. It isn’t just a matter of picking a great technology solution or tool. You must make sure that it can be used in your company, that the right people and teams can come together to use the technology to maximum advantage. That is one of the reasons that we’ve really focused on collaboration at FullStory and providing tools to help teams of hundreds work together based on shared insights.

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FullStory’s digital experience intelligence platform enables businesses to continuously improve their digital customer experience across sites and apps. The platform proactively surfaces actionable insights from billions of data points, helping thousands of companies, including Fortune 100 companies and the world’s most innovative consumer brands, make evidence-based digital improvements that reduce costs and reclaim revenue. The company is headquartered in Atlanta and privately held with backing from Kleiner Perkins, GV (formerly Google Ventures),  Stripes, Dell Technologies Capital and Salesforce Ventures. For more information, visit www.fullstory.com.

Kirsten Newbold-Knipp is the CMO of FullStory, a leader in digital experience intelligence for more than 3,100 companies across the globe. Leading brands like Fortive, HBC Saks Fifth Avenue, Hyatt, JetBlue, RocketMortgage (Quicken Loans), Travelers, and Zillow use FullStory to understand, measure, and improve the digital experience, and respond to new and changing customer behaviors with confidence. 

Kirsten has nearly 20 years of experience in technology marketing, sales leadership and product strategy from companies like HubSpot, BigCommerce and SolarWinds. She brings a full spectrum of SaaS experience with companies of all sizes and stages to her role at FullStory. Kirsten was also a Research VP at Gartner for 3+ years where she counseled Fortune 500 companies on marketing strategy and execution.

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