MarTech Interview with Christy Marble, Chief Marketing Officer at Pantheon 

For a better website experience, it is important for marketing teams to coordinate closely with operations and have stronger WebOps processes in place, Christy Marble, Chief Marketing Officer at Pantheon has a few thoughts:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat, Christy! Tell us about your journey through the years and the story behind Pantheon.

Thank you for having me! My 20-plus-year journey as a marketing executive has been quite the adventure. I have overseen successful digital, martech, and go-to-market transformations; product, e-commerce, and partner launches; acquisitions and integrations; successful rebranding; market expansion; and multi-billion-dollar brand and portfolio growth. 

For me, many of the moves I’ve made have been a blend of being in the right place at the right time and having a keen eye toward the next frontiers in technology. Very early in my career, I led consumer marketing for student lender Sallie Mae and had the incredible opportunity to launch and grow its consumer brand to a $1 billion business. I also was part of the effort to bring the first couponing concept to Germany with E-centives and Reckitt Benkiser, and I led the marketing team that was among the first to introduce cloud applications to mainland China with SAP Concur. 

Today, I am in my third CMO role, with Pantheon. Our website operations (WebOps) platform is modernizing the way marketers and developers create, iterate and scale websites on the open web. At Pantheon we’re passionate about helping people harness the power of the open web to create digital experiences that deliver extraordinary performance. We’re incredibly lucky to have a front-row seat to see how organizations use our technology to bring unique and innovative experiences to their customers, like the Atlanta History Center’s complete pivot to digital experiences during the pandemic. It’s amazing what creative, strategic minds can do given the right tools to bring their visions to life.

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What are some of the top challenges you see marketing and other business teams face when optimizing their website output and operations?

One of the biggest challenges is the antiquated way of creating and launching websites, which is, ironically, steeped in pre-cloud development processes, before the era of Growth Marketing.  We as marketers need to move much faster than the six-plus months it has typically taken to completely reimagine, roadmap, build and launch a new digital experience. Modern WebOps capabilities are changing the game for IT and marketing by giving them the speed and agility to build, test, and launch as frequently as their strategies require – just like SaaS software development teams have been doing for years.  Our web teams need the same flexibility.    That’s the only way to continuously deliver digitally engaging experiences that bring immediate value to our customers. 

For the CMOs that I talk to, our biggest priority is driving measurable results. We are accountable for market-making, which means driving pipeline and accountability for revenue growth. To do that we need to adopt a more agile, iterative approach to our websites to enable a cycle of constant testing, learning and continuous improvement. We need insight and data to make decisions quickly in order to achieve business goals. When you know what works, you don’t want to stop, wait and negotiate how to get an initiative into the roadmap in order to rebuild around that insight or data. You want to constantly be “in production,” working on improvements and pushing them live when you are ready.  With an agile, iterative approach, you can bring critical workstreams together and significantly shorten timelines. You can work on personalization and content in one part of the organization as other parts of the organization tackle navigation and architecture changes in parallel – modern digital platforms enable that.  Today’s marketplace is so dynamic that growth marketers need to be out ahead of market conditions. They need modern web technology that enables them to deliver the right experience at the right time to the right people on their websites, just as they do across all their other marketing media. 

Can you talk about some standard website operations best practices that marketing and other stakeholders need to consider, given the rise of technical issues, threats and the constant need for evaluation?

Absolutely! The core difference that WebOps brings is the ability to deliver digital experiences that drive real business results. For growth marketers, this typically means revenue growth. We do this by continually finding ways to increase the productivity of our teams and programs, and choosing technology that brings credibility — the peace of mind that when our programs succeed beyond our wildest dreams, they are always on, and always performing at top speed. A few guiding principles for achieving this are:

  1. Automation increases productivity. Automate routine tasks and maintenance to free your people for what they love: innovation. 
  2. Employee experience mattersWhen your employees love the software they use to create your website, they create experiences your customers love.
  3. Continuous improvement drives results. Continually test and learn to improve performance.
  4. Magic happens when you bring people together. Be inclusive. Leverage the cloud to bring people with distinct expertise and perspectives together to collaborate cross-functionally and deliver extraordinary digital experiences for your customers. 

It’s so important to ensure WebOps teams are empowered to drive meaningful business results. Getting bogged down in manual tasks is in direct competition with that goal. Automation is key to solving the problem many teams face. They may be running hundreds of sites, which need ongoing updates for security, content consistency, governance or just handling routine updates.  When you have underlying technology that will automate these tasks, you can free up your resources to be much more productive and focus on the forward-thinking, innovative work that will help you meet strategic goals. On Pantheon, we just released a functionality called Autopilot, which does just that. 

Modern web teams are adopting technology that supports strategy, speed and business results, without trading off performance — you really can have it all. Even before the pandemic, marketers were spending more on technology than anything else. Today, martech is more than a $121 billion dollar industry. With so many options, I encourage marketers to choose the flexibility of SaaS and open source. The industry analysts are suggesting a composable approach to building the technology stack that is right for each business and it makes a lot of sense.  Partner with IT to test and iterate in order to build a tech stack that’s optimized for growth, collaboration and performance, and choose an open platform that allows you to adopt the capabilities you need and forgo the things you don’t. SaaS platforms like Pantheon facilitate cross-functional collaboration for speed and agility, rather than creating silos of work that may or may not come together seamlessly in the end. Open-source CMS solutions also empower teams to quickly deploy content rich digital experiences, with or without deep technical expertise. In this era, we have to move quickly to be successful, and empowering your team with the flexibility of SaaS and open source is a differentiator. 

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How can platforms like Pantheon add value? 

Pantheon adds value by empowering marketers, developers, and designers to create websites that deliver extraordinary performance. The Pantheon platform enables cross-functional teams to collaborate with the agility and speed they need to treat their website like a true digital product, constantly iterating, optimizing, and innovating to achieve measurable business results. With Pantheon, web teams deliver value by moving quickly, learning, and experimenting with their websites in the same way they do with virtually every other tool in their martech and development stacks.

A comment from one of our Customer Advisory Board members really stuck with me after the last meeting. She said that when developers love the tools they’re using, they are far more likely to love what they’re doing. And that shows in their work. When you have a team that’s excited about creating a digital experience, the end product is something your customers will be excited about, too. It’s so important to bring in technology that not only simplifies the day-to-day work for your team but also unlocks possibilities for innovation.

How can IT and marketing better align on website operations, especially larger companies that run multiple outlets and online properties?

The last 18-20 months have really demonstrated the need for companies to have their tech stacks in the cloud. People are working hybrid schedules or fully remote, and that isn’t going to change. The cloud enables instant access to technology, powers real-time connection with colleagues via platforms like Slack, and helps establish workflows that bring teams together versus create silos. 

IT teams are typically connected to the needs for governance and flexibility and can be an exceptional partner for marketing the key is mutually aligning around the customer and business performance. We both want WebOps systems that we can trust to perform not just at baseline but also when our digital programs are successful beyond our wildest dreams. The beauty of cloud SaaS products like Pantheon is that there isn’t a tradeoff between performance, security and agility. It’s easy to empower both IT and marketing through the technology, establish new levels of automation and let people focus on the strategic, creative work that’s most important. 

Some last thoughts and marketing / martech takeaways before we wrap up?

I find so much value in connecting with other marketers to network, share best practices and talk through what’s working and what isn’t in our organizations. I welcome readers to connect with me on LinkedIn to share their thoughts and feedback. For those who want to learn more about Pantheon, you can check out our website at pantheon.io.

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Pantheon’s WebOps platform is used by marketers and developers to create, iterate and scale websites visited by billions of people around the world. Organizations can accelerate development, publish in real-time, and deliver extraordinary performance when powering their sites with Pantheon. 

Christy Marble is a global SaaS growth marketing expert. In her 20 years as a marketing executive, she has overseen successful digital, martech, and go-to-market transformations; product, e-commerce, and partner launches; acquisitions and integrations; successful rebranding; market expansion; and multi-billion-dollar brand and portfolio growth. At Pantheon, she leads a team focused on go-to-market programs that bring the company vision to life and delight customers at every stage of the customer journey.

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