MarTech Interview with Niki Hall, CMO at Selligent Marketing Cloud

MarTech Interview with Niki Hall, CMO, Selligent Marketing Cloud

“Make sure your data policy is architected for the needs of each geography and business priority – it’s the only way to make sure that you can use AI.”

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Tell us about your role and journey into Technology. What inspired you to be part of Selligent Marketing Cloud?

My career started on the agency side in the automotive sector, working with brands such as BMW and Porsche. Following that I made the switch to high-tech, working with other leading brands Cisco, Polycom and most recently Five9. Having always been fascinated with technology and what it can enable, I learned about the opportunity at Selligent Marketing Cloud (Selligent), and I was intrigued. Not only do they have great tech, but it’s a new space for me B2B2C, and they ultimately empower B2C marketers to connect better with their customers. It was Selligent’s technology, the amazing team (just check out the social channels to get a sense for the team #Selligent) and the market opportunity/challenge they were struggling with that appealed to me.

How much has the Marketing Cloud industry evolved in the last 12-18 months?

It has evolved a ton and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. Of note, is AI technologies and Machine Learning which have vastly developed in the last year or so and we’ve seen a shift from companies ‘testing’ it, to them truly harnessing AI to power insights and connect better with customers. Businesses are now using data to come up with their own insights and as a result, the technology is really speeding the time to market.

How do you see recent acquisitions by Salesforce (for Tableau) and Google (for Looker) impacting the MarTech ecosystem?

There will always be consolidation in any mature industry. The acquisitions will make it easier for everyone to see data and uncover trends. Consumer behavior is super complex, so if there’s a way to easily visualize where the customers are at the right moment and serve them relevant content and the right offers, then it’s a win-win and certainly something the industry is investing in.

Which group of industries are fastest to the adoption of Marketing Clouds? How do you reach prospects from the lagging industries?

Historically, we’ve seen the Retail, Hospitality and Publishing industries really leveraging the power of MarTech because they’re fast-moving, highly competitive sectors. Especially Publishing where it’s really content-based and there’s an array of options for consuming content; they even compete with social media for eyeballs. I’m also seeing lots of movement – and success for Selligent – in industries like Financial Services/FinTech as well as automotive.

I think the most effective way to reach prospects from the lagging industries is to showcase how much impact MarTech can make to their business and the way they interact with consumers, so basically use cases and open their eyes to the art of the possible.

What is the current state of CRM and Marketing Cloud integration?

CRM is critical, we know this because Selligent was founded as a CRM company over 20 years ago in Belgium and pivoted to Marketing Tech in the mid-2000s. Given our roots, we definitely understand that it’s all about the data. For marketers/Marketing Clouds, all data sources are truly equal because data is at the heart of all campaigns and success hinges on being able to get that 360° view of the consumer.

Is CRM replaceable in the future Marketing stack? Especially with the coming of age for CDPs and ABM practices! 

At the end of the day, we all need data. It’s not one system or another, and we will need CRM as that holds the customer data. The way we see it at Selligent is that everything works together, and what matters is being able to connect these data sources to glean the right insights and be able to offer value and relevance to the consumer. Where the data sits, I believe each customer should determine that for themselves, what’s right for their business. What’s key is having access to that data, ensuring the data is clean and a set you can market to.

How do you bridge the gap between Intent, Intelligence, and Customer Experiences?

I see all three as vitally important. Intent – to ensure you are targeting the customer with what they need vs spamming them, it’s critical you look at intent data and provide a digital experience mapped to that, bringing value to the customer along their journey. Intelligence – from the journey comes intelligence and mapping the right content to the customer as they move through the buyers’ journey of awareness, consideration, preference, purchase, and loyalty. Not only does one get intelligence on the journey but what content works to enable the customer to navigate the journey easier.

Customer Experience – having a full view of the customer is key to delivering a superb CX.  The Intent, with the intelligence combine, will enable marketers to deliver the ultimate customer experience. At Selligent, we’re enabling brands to maximize every moment with consumers – and building that bridge across sales, service, and marketing is a key part of it.

Tell us about your technology integrations with other Marketing Technology platforms such as Contacts, Social Media, Automation, Contracts, Email, and Customer Service.

Selligent is a very extensible platform that provides marketers with the flexibility to connect to various systems. Our open architecture is actually a key attribute as it allows businesses to integrate the best systems with ours and it’s easy to configure connectors to third parties.

Our recent partnership with Genesys Customer Experience Platform is a prime example of the flexibility of our platform and how integration can help to achieve that holistic customer experience. The combination of our solution and the Genesys solution enables businesses to eliminate silos and deliver connected experiences across marketing, sales, and services.

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

Our MarTech stack is extensive and to name some: for Revenue Intelligence (super cool tool) and gathers Conversational Intelligence for our Sales team. And, of course, we use our own technology – even though the heart of the Selligent platform is B2C.

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

I expect to see Sales and Marketing silos broken down even further, which will enable marketers to achieve a holistic customer view, truly service customers, stay relevant and keep a competitive advantage. But the 360° view of customers across Marketing and Sales will need to be aligned with some type of metric to show the correlation between how a customer has engaged and the business opportunities that have been created.

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

I have a big interest in air security and policy around drones. The air space frontier is literally the new wild west, with packages being delivered via drones, uber piloting uber air to taxi people via a UAV, etc…and something that interests me greatly – of note is Airspace ( who is doing an amazing job leading paving the road here. As an avid world traveler, I for one feel much more secure flying to and through airports who have this drone security (Atlanta, SF, etc) – it’s a sector that I’m watching closely.

 How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Marketing Leader?

Make sure your data policy is architected for the needs of each geography and business priority – it’s the only way to make sure that you can use AI. You have to adhere to all the privacy laws, varied across the globe and have the right data.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

Set a budget aside for innovation; get your job done, improve ROI and business objectives; and encourage them to be creative and innovative whilst also understanding the business impact.

One word that best describes how you work.


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

For business:

  • Slack and Zoom, to keep in touch with my team
  • Also WhatsApp
  • Marriott BonVoy and United/Virgin/Uber/Lyft – apps that are super helpful for business travel

Personal side

  • Fitness apps: Orange Theory Fitness, Core Power Yoga and Soul Cycle to book classes.

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

Ensuring that I have the right team in place, who has the right energy and can-do mindset to help build and execute against the strategy.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading “Who” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.

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

Create your “top 5” list of what’s really important to you and be super true to it. As you’re evaluating where you are in your career, ask yourself where does it fall within your top 5. That was advice I received from Tracy Newell, president of Informatica, who I worked with previously at Cisco and Polycom.

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

I don’t know if it’s what I do better than others, but what I’ve found to be successful for me and the companies and teams I’ve been fortunate to work with are: 1) instilling a “one team” mentality, 2) creating a strategy that’s aligned to top business priorities, 3) answering the “so what”, 4) proving ROI and 5) continuously innovating and trying new things – the most important secret is to reward the team for their outcomes and have fun – work hard and play hard as a team.

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

Debra Chrapaty, CTO at Wells Fargo

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

Niki Hall is CMO of global B2C marketing automation company, Selligent Marketing Cloud, overseeing global go-to-market strategy, demand generation, product/field/channel/customer marketing, analyst relations, brand and sales enablement.

selligent logo

Selligent Marketing Cloud is a sophisticated B2C marketing platform that empowers ambitious relationship marketers to maximize every moment they engage with consumers. With native AI capabilities, a robust data layer, and a powerful Omnichannel execution engine, Selligent Marketing Cloud enables marketers to easily target, trigger, and deliver highly personalized messaging across all critical channels.

More than 700 global brands in retail, travel, automotive, publishing, and financial services trust Selligent Marketing Cloud to help deliver their Marketing programs. With 10 offices across the United States and Europe and more than 50 partners, Selligent serves over 30 countries with local, personalized service.

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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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