MarTech Interview with Lina Tonk, Chief Marketing Officer @ Recurly

Lina Tonk, Chief Marketing Officer at Recurly discusses the latest trends in B2B SaaS  marketing in this catch up with MarTech Series:


Welcome to this MarTech Series chat, Lina, tell us about yourself and your journey in the tech and SaaS marketplace through the years? What are you most looking forward to as Recurly’s new CMO?

I’ve been immersed in the tech and SaaS industry for nearly two decades, experiencing growth from $30M to $500M—an incredible journey of learning. This journey wasn’t just about marketing; it highlighted the tremendous impact marketing can have on a company’s growth trajectory. With over 30 acquisition transitions under my belt, I’ve witnessed firsthand how these transitions can influence both people and growth. At Recurly, I’m particularly excited about several aspects. It’s a vibrant market with immense opportunity. Engaging with customers and industry leaders in the subscription space has been inspiring. Their drive to innovate in their growth trajectory truly excites me. I chose Recurly for its people—their knowledge, dedication, and commitment to excellence. As a marketer, shaping the company’s culture from within and enhancing both employee and customer experiences fills me with enthusiasm. With the talented team at Recurly, I’m confident we’ll achieve just that. Additionally, I’m eager to delve into program pipelines, tech and exploring opportunities for creativity. There’s so much excitement ahead.

What are some of the top marketing challenges that plague modern B2B tech marketers and CMOs as of today, that you’d like to throw light on?

Several challenges stand out in the modern B2B tech marketing landscape. Firstly, the ever-evolving technology demands and the vigilance needed. Staying ahead in tech is crucial, but equally essential is leveraging these advancements purposefully to provide actionable insights. AI, for instance, presents exciting opportunities, yet judiciously harnessing its potential is paramount. Secondly, maintaining a deep connection with customers is imperative. While discussions on pipelines and technology are essential, our marketing efforts must remain rooted in a deep understanding of our audience’s needs and motivations; otherwise, growth inevitably slows down. This leads to the concept of the ‘dark funnel,’ wherein the value and connections we provide to our target audience profoundly impact our outcomes. Thirdly, ensuring alignment between sales and marketing is pivotal. Effective communication and mutual understanding of each other’s needs are vital ingredients for success but can present one of the biggest challenges if not properly done. Without such alignment, the end goal of driving impactful revenue remains a challenge. Lastly, as a CMO, clarity on defining success in collaboration with the CEO and CFO is paramount. What success means to them is critical.

How can today’s CMOs, especially SaaS CMOs create differentiated buying journeys and customer experiences through better martech alignment (read: website-forms-data-others) while also improving overall alignment with sales: what top tips come to mind?

Enhancing buying journeys and customer experiences—there are so many different ways we can do that today, focusing on both the predictability aspect and the possibilities! Start by integrating martech tools like website analytics, forms, CRM, and data analytics for a unified view of customer interactions. Listen to your customers. Use martech for data analysis to tailor marketing efforts, addressing specific needs and delivering personalized content for insights.

Employ martech for dynamic website personalization based on visitor behavior and demographics, boosting engagement and conversions. Create optimized forms and lead capture mechanisms to increase conversion rates and gather valuable customer data. Foster and champion closer alignment between marketing and sales teams by sharing data and goals through integrated martech platforms. Finally, stay with it…cultivate a culture of continuous testing and optimization using martech tools to refine marketing campaigns and customer experiences for better results.

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Tell us more about some of the martech you’ve used over the years to drive growth goals? 

Over the years, I’ve utilized a variety of martech tools to drive growth. From CRM systems like Salesforce and SugarCRM to marketing automation platforms such as HubSpot and Marketo, these tools have played a crucial role in streamlining processes, analyzing data, and optimizing campaigns. Besides the key tools for marketers like CRM and Marketing Automation, I’ve found Outreach and Gong to be indispensable for sales insights. Understanding the importance of ABM and its evolution, I’ve worked extensively with 6sense and other platforms.

I’m particularly fond of customer listening tools; there are so many out there! But one I enjoy spending my free time on is Gong. It not only helps in educating how we communicate with customers but also provides valuable insights into their feedback regarding our offerings and the value we provide. I love listening to recordings, and it is easy from my phone. While there are many other emerging tools that offer predictability and insights into customer journey cycles—including multi attributions, that’s a whole other fun topic—these tools constitute a must-have tech stack for any marketer in my opinion.

What about today’s state of B2B marketing needs to drastically change, in your view? How and why?

In my view, two significant aspects need attention: technology and the ‘dark funnel.’ Firstly, embracing evolving technologies like AI is paramount. Understanding, educating, and adapting to new tech opportunities is both a challenge and an opportunity. Secondly, the ‘dark funnel,’ often overlooked, presents immense potential. Embracing this hidden data and leveraging it for rapid movement in the sales funnel is crucial. Neglecting this aspect can hinder growth. Additionally, data utilization and creativity are ongoing challenges. Proper use of data, coupled with a willingness to experiment and learn from failures, is essential for driving effective B2B marketing strategies.

Can you talk about the future of martech and B2B marketing: what trends will dominate the space down the line?

The future of B2B marketing is undeniably exciting! The digital platform shift will continue, with more businesses moving towards online platforms and e-commerce solutions. Embracing technology, particularly AI, will be crucial. AI-powered virtual assistants, automation, and personalized experiences will become the norm. Creativity through tech and AI without losing the human touch will be paramount.

Furthermore, building a human brand, focusing on relationships and trust, will be essential in an increasingly tech-driven landscape. As we move forward, martech will continue to evolve, driving innovation and transformation in the B2B marketing space.

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Our brand | Recurly

Thousands of innovative companies across digital media, streaming, publishing, SaaS, education, consumer goods, and professional services industries rely on Recurly to unlock transformational growth using subscriptions. Recurly’s all-in-one, integrated platform removes the complexities of automating subscription billing at scale by enabling teams to manage and optimize their subscriber lifecycles with ease. Category-defining companies including Sling, Twitch, BarkBox, FabFitFun, Paramount, Lucid, and Sprout Social have chosen Recurly to manage billions of dollars in recurring revenues, future-proof their recurring billing and revenue management, and recover billions of dollars in lost revenue due to churn. Founded in 2009, Recurly is based in San Francisco, with offices in Boulder and London.

Lina M. Tonk is Chief Marketing Officer at Recurly and an accomplished software executive with nearly two decades of experience driving profitable growth and spearheading innovative B2B marketing strategies. In her previous roles as Chief Experience Officer and Chief Marketing Officer at isolved, Lina led a team of over 60 marketers, achieving a 30% increase in bookings and a 25% year-over-year growth in the sales pipeline through strategic marketing initiatives. A passionate advocate for empowering women, Lina is a proud member of Chief, a network dedicated to connecting and supporting female executive leaders.

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