MarTech Interview with Josh Grau, CMO at Yext 

Josh Grau, CMO at Yext chats about the benefits of location-base data to modern day customer experiences in this quick catchup:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Josh, tell us about your marketing journey and more about being CMO at Yext?

I’m a relative newbie to B2B, having spent most of my career working for consumer brands like Twitter, YouTube, and ESPN. But I ultimately gravitate towards innovative companies with strong cultures where there is an interesting problem to solve. Yext checked all of those boxes for me, and the last few years promoting our search platform so businesses around the world can deliver an exceptional customer experience has been really rewarding.

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We’d love to hear about how the Yext platform has evolved over the recent years?

When I joined Yext, it had been (and continues to be) the gold standard in an area of search focused specifically on location-based data management. But the inability to easily find accurate information online is a huge business problem for any kind of company, not just those with physical locations. So we expanded and developed a comprehensive platform to address all of the areas along the customer journey that break down when businesses can’t deliver what their customers are looking for. Many don’t realize that investing in advanced search technology is the fastest way to improve the customer experience and solve real business issues, such as high bounce rate, fewer conversions, and increased support ticket volume.

When it comes to today’s B2B marketing world, how are AI powered solutions enabling different parts of the process? Tell us about some near-term predictions when it comes to AI and the impact on the overall B2B industry.

Increasingly, marketers are understanding the potential of AI-powered solutions — to automate, personalize, gain insights, increase lead generation, and more. In the near-term, businesses are going to focus even more on AI in terms of personalization. The pandemic has forced just about every company to be an online business, and consumer demand for personalized content, shopping experiences, and support is at an all-time high. Still, many businesses are lagging when it comes to producing seamless cross channel-experiences where brands know a customer’s preferences, location, history, etc.

At Yext, we think about personalization in terms of understanding what a customer needs at their moment of intent — in other words, when they search. The key to delivering that level of personalization requires the power of language-based AI (also known as Natural Language Processing). If businesses implement language-based AI in their search and beyond, they’ll better understand (and even predict) what customers want, and then deliver – with pinpoint accuracy – content that solves their unique problem and moves them more seamlessly along their journey.

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What does it take for B2B marketers today to create a better online marketing experience?

For me, the most interesting B2B companies are those that look and feel more like a consumer brand. But it’s not just aesthetics; it’s a mindset shift from “business to business” to “business to human”. Obviously the product or service has to be exceptional to ultimately win their business, but empathetic messaging, creative storytelling can help open the funnel wider. When you add Account-Based Marketing (ABM) technology, then you’re narrowing that messaging even further to customers showing real intent. Also, treating brand building as a “full funnel” opportunity (beyond just top-of-funnel advertising) leads to more loyalty, retention and word-of-mouth. That includes community building, which activates loyal users and creates an incredibly authentic influencer network. Companies like Slack and, more recently, Notion, are great examples of product-led growth success stories, but in reality they have set the bar for what rich community building can do to bolster both growth and brand awareness.

Can you take us through some of the out-of-the-box campaigns and marketing ideas you’ve come across in B2B in recent years?

I have to give credit to my team at Yext! We ran a campaign throughout 2021 to put a spotlight on how outdated search technology can set a business back decades. To do this, we took a trip back in time to the ‘90s and resurrected some relics, like pagers, fax machines, and zip drives. Obviously, these are comically outdated, and people wouldn’t dream of using them today, yet many companies (somewhat unknowingly) power their online business with search that is just as vintage. It was a fully integrated campaign with lots of fun extensions and easter eggs, including a physical CD — reminiscent of the ones frequently mailed to consumers in the ‘90s by companies like AOL — as a sleeve insert for one of AdWeek’s print issues. The goal was to use nostalgia to our advantage, and the response was pretty great – including people taking pictures of the magazine and CD and posting on social media. But we used some of the more popular platforms of today to get the word out, including a Cameo from ‘90s boy band legend Lance Bass of N*SYNC and casting a successful TikTok star in our live action TV spot. It was a really fun campaign that got a lot of buzz, and certainly something you don’t see everyday from B2B companies.

We’d love to hear a few thoughts on your views on the global martech industry and predictions for 2022!

The pandemic has made us flush with apps and platforms designed to make remote work more productive. However, the next challenge is ensuring these technologies can integrate with one another, and that employees can navigate seamlessly and autonomously from tool to tool without the benefit of an IT department down the hall. We’re doing some exciting work with our AI search platform to help CTOs scale their teams amid these significant changes. The metaverse is obviously getting a lot of attention in terms of opportunities for consumers, but given the major cultural shift away from offices I foresee a new wave of metaverse-inspired technologies for businesses to make up for those in-person experiences – from conducting staff meetings to hosting customer events. 

Some last thoughts, takeaways, digital marketing and martech thoughts, tips and best practices before we wrap up!

Whether it’s B2C or B2B, marketers are storytellers, and connecting with customers on a human level has never been more important. Whether the buyer is a consumer or a business decision maker, the key is tapping into their pain point and delivering not just a great product or service, but an outstanding overall experience. Hence, brand building is an end-to-end motion, from top-of-funnel outreach to building a strong community with your customers.

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Yext - WikipediaYext (NYSE: YEXT) is an AI Search Company on a mission to transform the enterprise with AI search. While consumer search has innovated over time, enterprise search has not. In fact, the majority of enterprise search is powered by outdated keyword search technology that delivers a list of hyperlinks rather than actually answering questions. Yext offers a modern, AI-powered Answers Platform that understands natural language so that when people ask questions about a business online they get direct answers – not links. Brands like Verizon, Vanguard, Subway and Marriott trust Yext to radically improve their business with answers-led AI search.

Josh Grau is the CMO at Yext

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