MarTech Interview with Mark Bornstein, VP of Content Marketing at ON24

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“Buyer-led journeys are on the rise. Increasingly we see prospects conducting their own research prior to engaging with a sales representative.”

Hi Mark, please tell us about your experience as a Martech leader through the COVID-19 crisis.

This year, we’ve seen businesses fully embrace digital for the first time. And while that certainly had its challenges, it also unlocked tremendous opportunities, especially for marketers. Companies got creative to stay connected to prospects and customers through new technologies, like digital experiences. For me, it’s been exciting and rewarding to empower marketers to find new, more effective, ways to engage with their audiences and drive revenue during an uncertain time.

What does your remote martech and communications technology stack look like?

As someone who was constantly presenting at seminars, conferences and customer sites around the globe, my “remote tech” is suddenly critical to my success. Obviously, we rely heavily on the ON24 platform as the foundation of our digital engagement strategy. We deliver both live and on-demand webinars and other digital experiences for every audience, at every stage of the buyer’s journey. I know that I am biased, but our platform is at the center of the majority of our marketing.

As for presentation gear, I keep it simple. I use a basic Logitech camera with a Neewer ring light (both purchased on Amazon), and a Blue “Yeti” USB mic, which I absolutely love. All of that sits on an old coffee table, stacked with random books and boxes to get the camera at eye level. Got to make it work.

What is ON24 Conversion Tools and how does it turn marketing opportunities into sales and revenue?

ON24 Conversion Tools are a new category of interaction tools we recently added to our repertoire of 20+ in-platform engagement tools. Our platform has always allowed participants to actively engage with digital experiences, and armed marketers with valuable data on their activity and engagement level. Now, participants can directly signal interest and buying intent with two new tools, “Book Meeting” and “Request Demo.” This action, in turn, allows marketers to focus on promising leads and efficiently move them down the funnel to drive revenue.

What is the technology engine driving ON24’s current product roadmap? How do you leverage AI and Data Science / Analytics to improve customer experience?

ON24 is committed to empowering businesses to create digital experiences that drive revenue and deliver meaningful business impact. Our highly-interactive digital experiences set us apart not only by creating a more engaging user experience but by arming marketers with invaluable first-party data.

This is made possible through ON24 Intelligence, the analytics backbone that runs throughout our platform. ON24 Intelligence captures and organizes all first-party data to power insights, benchmarking, reporting and our artificial intelligence and machine learning engine. The end result is that our customers have increased visibility into audience engagement, allowing them to capitalize on interested leads and drive business impact.

ON24 has been a leader in global Martech events. With virtual events taking the prime time spots in the marketing budgets across the industry, how are you preparing for the disruptions in the event marketing space?

In 2020, marketers across the board fully embraced digital. But not all virtual events are created equal, and as companies continue to invest our priority remains the same: create interactive experiences that drive business impact. While new industry players scramble to capitalize on a new opportunity, ON24 has spent years developing an interactive, data-driven digital experience platform. Rather than starting from scratch, our priority now is looking for opportunities to enhance our offering, through new interactive features like Conversion Tools.

How do you justify content marketing efforts in driving CX goals? How have CX definitions for your company in the last 4 years?

Buyer-led journeys are on the rise. Increasingly we see prospects conducting their own research prior to engaging with a sales representative. What’s more, according to McKinsey, 70% of B2B buyers are comfortable making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases.

In this new paradigm, marketers own more of the funnel. Content marketing materials and experiences may be the first–or only–exposure to a company that a buyer sees before making a purchase decision. It’s critical that companies get it right.

The most effective content marketers don’t stop there, though. In our experience, top-performing marketers are also committed to creating content for customers after they’ve already signed on to ensure they optimize their use of the platform and enjoy a better experience.

Tell us about your recent Digital Marketing campaign and how you measured its success / performance.

To drive my point home about the importance of rethinking digital experiences, let me highlight a program we just ran for prospects that we had engaged with previously, but who hadn’t hit our MQL threshold. We created a fun Halloween-themed 3 minute webinar (not a typo, 3 minute), where people could hear a quick product story, interact with a ton of content options and link to a product demo experience.

It was a small but targeted send, and we got over 400 people into the environment. 42 people engaged in chat, 95 people went to the demo experience and we were able to MQL 95% of our visitors and, more importantly, put them on a more personalized path based on their activities in the Halloween experience. Now the next touch they get will be based on what we learned about them from this engagement.

I use this example because I really think it highlights two important factors:

We need to deliver engaging experiences for audiences at EVERY stage in their journey, not just lead generation.

It’s through engagement that we get the data and insights we need to find our best leads and put them on a path that is more personalized to their needs.

How have Content Marketing and Advertising goals evolved in the last 6-8 months? Which types of content do well for your business when it comes to impacting sales and pipeline growth?

With the shift to digital-first business earlier this year, content marketing became even more important. The stakes are higher now; it’s not enough for marketers to drive clicks, views and downloads. Instead, they’re expected to create content that moves prospects along in their buying journey. More so than before, content marketers need to be in total alignment with demand generation teams to ensure the experiences they create and deliver are effective at moving people toward a purchase decision.

What kind of virtual event content should CMOs and Marketing professionals focus on to build that engagement and captivate audiences? According to you, which event themes / keynotes tend to bring in more eyeballs than the rest?

Regardless of topic, the most important pillar of creating engaging events is actually enabling that engagement directly within the platform.

Too often, companies deliver stagnant virtual events that don’t offer any real-time interactivity or engagement—which is a significant missed opportunity for audience members and marketers alike. For participants, often all they can do is passively watch presentations with few ways to actively participate in the experience; for marketers, they lose out on invaluable audience data by limiting interactivity.

Instead of using virtual events to talk at their audience, marketers should make it a priority to embed interactivity directly into their digital experiences to involve their audience and capture interest with tools like polls, real-time Q&A, in-platform resources and live chat.

Tell us about the martech (or general) podcasts that you keenly follow – what makes them so attractive?

As a content marketer, I have always enjoyed “This Old Marketing” podcast with Joe Pulitzi and Robert Rose. I tell myself it’s for the marketing insights but I think it’s really for their banter. For general podcasts I love WTF with Marc Maron because you can really get inside the banter.

Hear it from the pro- How to be a CX champion in 2021:

The first, and most important, step to becoming a CX champion is to listen to customers when they talk to you but we need to get beyond the traditional ideas of what that means. Customers talk to businesses all the time—in customer service and sales interactions, but they also talk to us in another way; through the troves of first-party data made available when they engage with digital experiences. Customer-centric organizations can now leverage the information customers share to deliver better, more personalized experiences moving forward.

Advice for every Content Marketing professional:

How companies connect with their prospects and customers has been changed forever. In this digital-first world, content marketing has never had a more important role.

The era of content marketers simply creating assets to fuel automated outreach is over. Today, we need to closely align with sales and demand generation teams to create digital experiences that audiences love, not that they are trying to get away from. Because it’s only through real human engagement, that we will get the insights we need to turn those ones and zeros into happy customers.

Tag a person from the industry whose answers you would like to see here:

Lars Christensen at Snowflake

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

As the VP of Marketing at ON24, Mark is the “Chief Webinerd” and marketing strategist in support of ON24’s Webinar Marketing Platform.

Mark brings over 20 years of content marketing, corporate communications and account management experience at leading companies, including Cisco, GE Access and Compatible Systems. He has presented at many of today’s biggest marketing conferences and, for the past eight years, has been the host of the “ON24 Webinar Best Practices Series” webcast which has thousands of followers across the globe.

ON24

ON24 is on a mission to transform the way businesses drive revenue and customer engagement through data-rich digital experiences.

Powered by the ON24 Platform, marketers create and deliver live, always-on and personalized webinar, content and virtual event experiences to engage audiences in real-time, to generate powerful buying signals and to accelerate pipeline. With billions of engagement minutes created, ON24 is the network where enterprises engage prospects and customers at global scale. Headquartered in San Francisco, ON24 has a wide international footprint serving the regions of North America, EMEA and JPAC.

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