MarTech Interview with Tara Ryan, Chief Marketing Officer, Swrve

MarTech Interview with Tara Ryan, Chief Marketing Officer, Swrve
Tara Ryan, Chief Marketing Officer, Swrve

“Many SaaS stacks within marketing departments just proliferate data, creating more challenges for marketers to do what they really want to do in personalization, relevance and impact.”

Tell us about your role and journey into technology. How did you arrive at Swrve?

I have worked with Tom, our CEO at Coupa, and we created the best partnership between Sales and Marketing that I have ever experienced in my career. He has a maniacal focus on execution and growth, which made my decision on Swrve and easy one. I also think Swrve’s platform is a scalable enterprise solution for global brands that seek to secure more relevance and business value with their customers.

As a woman in MarTech, what has been your most challenging assignment in the industry?

The climb to IPO and maximizing marketing impact right before and after the IPO.

What advice and lessons do you have for other MarTech executives?

Marketing is for sales and revenue growth and all roads have to lead there.

As a Marketing Technology CMO, how would you identify the biggest advantages of leading the Marketing Operations projects with automation and analytics?

It’s amazing the tools we have today to measure reach frequency and impact of marketing. Today, the measure of marketing is objective and that is a fantastic advantage in demonstrating the business value of marketing. It also lets the channel speak for itself, as analytics tell us if a channel is right for our business or not.

What valuable lessons did you learn from 2018’s massive mergers and acquisitions in the Marketing Cloud and Automation areas?

Keep your eye on the data! Many SaaS stacks within marketing departments just proliferate data, creating more challenges for marketers to do what they really want to do in personalization, relevance and impact. A SaaS marketing app should not turn into cloud data storage.

What is your vision for Mobile Marketing and how do you see Swrve filling the gaps in demand-supply for better customer engagement platforms?

I believe that the digital marketing message falls flat without real-world relevance. Swrve helps connect the brand to the customer in their real world, when it is most relevant. Mobile marketers are seeking more and more intelligent mobile marketing solutions and Swrve is a platform that allows them to scale with more relevance than ever before.

Tell us about your roles at Coupa, Skuid and ProofPoint and how they helped you manage the marketing team at Swrve.

Proofpoint and Coupa were both fast-growth companies in emerging addressable markets. Swrve is the same. Proofpoint was at the front of advanced persistent threats and a renewed focus on data security. Coupa applies the power of a truly integrated cloud platform to address important back-office financial challenges that large ERPS fall flat on today. Swrve is also a powerful solution that fills a strong need today. My marketing approach is pivoting the entire go-to-market team on this immediate market opportunity.

Tell us about your go-to strategies to support rapid growth and the lessons learned through periods of massive shift and transition.

My biggest lessons are around the balance of bold vs. real. It is important to stay real and not over promise or pretend to be something you are not. My strategy is to measure marketing on the exact contribution to revenue. This keeps you on the growth track. The pace of marketing today is so fast, you are always in a shift or transition mode so staying connected with Sales, Product, and Finance are key. Finance has become an important part of my support for rapid growth and that partnership as a key one in the equation.

How do you mentor your Product Marketing and B2B Commerce teams at Swrve?

I am fairly new, so still getting to know people but I like to ask people to create a resume for three years from now so I can help them build into that career.

What does your technology community look like? Who do you meet at events and conferences to discuss technology?

I like to talk to other CMOs as much as possible. I learn about technology solution form my directors and vice president level team members, as they are really the influencers and decision makers. I like to look to systems integrators and large ERP vendors for leadership and innovation trends.

Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

Too many in my opinion. I think we are all challenged by standalone SaaS applications that solve one problem at a time, analyze one thing and distract from real-time flexibility. My team has some great tools but I care about larger indicators such as social pulse, website traffic and interaction.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Marketing and Sales Technology for 2019-2020?

Consolidation of disparate data sources, apps or not. Business value measurement from technology investments and more accountability from vendors. The realization that the digital message is only as good as real life relevance it creates will change the short-term fix mentality among marketing departments. Marketing as a blended department with e-commerce, retention, support and service. A massive rally around data!

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

Data innovation, such as Incorta. StriVR, which is bringing applications of AR and VR into B2B, field services and supply chains and I love the innovations support this customer experience economy where products and services are blended into customer-driven experiences.

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

You jump in the deep end and leverage it because it is already here and has a competitive advantage. The trick will be finding vendors to scale with you over time.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

Have fun and check your pride at the door.

One word that best describes how you work.

I like to keep pace and move fast.

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

Email, texts and calendar notifications!

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

Sometimes I create a challenge or game for myself to see how far I can take a project during a one-hour time frame. I will give myself a time limit and press “start”. I then realize how much large in-person meetings take up time that could be more productive.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D Vance but I like to listen to audiobooks. I like Chris Lochhead’s podcasts and Recode and listen to a lot of Bloomberg Radio and BBC.

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

“Embrace the Ambiguity.” I got a master’s degree in leadership and that is the one sentence that serves me really well today. Also, don’t speak in a large meeting until asked a direct question or until you have something super relevant to add.

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

Understand and never forget what it felt like to be in the various positions of the people in my group. I see a lot of executives forget to remember the challenges of not having a voice at exec staff or feeling farther away from the big picture than they want to be in their career. I like to make sure everyone knows the why in every marketing decision.

Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Polly Sumner

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

Tara has over 25 years’ experience and success in global marketing for technology businesses in ERP, mid-market, SMB, security, industry offerings and has driven fast growth for multiple SaaS , IPO and public companies.

Ryan works with executives and board on planning, creation and execution of global branding, communications, sites, field programs, public relations, investor relations and demand generation. Program execution meets and beats best practices in pipeline, conversion and revenue contribution through digital, account, persona and industry-based marketing campaigns.

At Proofpoint and Coupa, Ryan led growth and set up predictable marketing engines that propelled sales, pre and post IPO. At Navis/SmartTurn, Ketera and NetSuite, Ryan oversaw marketing for start-up, VC companies through to accelerated growth and expansion.

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Swrve is the only platform on the market that enables brands to connect with their customers with relevant messages, in real time, and at scale. By combining messaging across channels like push, in-app messaging, web push, email, SMS, and OTT with real-time data streaming, marketers can leverage real-time relevance to make a real impact their bottom line.

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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