MarTech Interview with Paul Biggs, Director of Product Marketing at Contentful

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Contentful rececently announced the release of their Compose + Launch feature; in this quick chat, Paul Biggs, Director of Product Marketing takes us through its top features while sharing a few martech and marketing best practices:

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Tell us a little about yourself Paul…we’d love to hear about your role, a typical day at work? 

I lead the EMEA Product Marketing team at Contentful, based out of our Berlin hub. In my day-to-day, I’m responsible for, or helping the team with, our go-to-market strategy: audience development, messaging, pricing, product launches, market research, analyst relations — and the subsequent training and enablement of our customer-facing teams on these items (Sales, Partnerships, Customer Experience, Product, etc.). Which all boils down to producing and presenting a lot of slide decks 🙂 

The favorite part of my day though, is when I get to chat with customers and partners. Whether it’s discussing our content platform with one or two key stakeholders, or presenting to 150 architects in a large forum, that’s what keeps me coming back each day (well, plus our awesome team!).

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Take us through some of Contentful’s biggest marketing moments through the years and marketing learnings especially during this ongoing Covid-19 pandemic? 

Covid-19 was really a trial by fire period for everyone, both us and our customers. When the pandemic first hit, we got proactive and prepared to weather the storm: we battened down the hatches by pausing hiring, reducing my team’s marketing budget by 60%, and hunkering down to focus on our key objectives… but two months in, one thing became clear: rather than see marketing budgets dry up, we saw this hugely accelerated pivot to digital-first strategies. Companies like Nike and Disney were shuttering stores and re-allocating billions of dollars into digital. It has already been happening for sure, but suddenly, it was all happening at once: flagship stores were being replaced by flagship apps.  

And the market’s appetite for going digital was underpinned by the need to pivot fast, to move fast, to survive and even thrive. Traditional teams and software weren’t keeping up, so big and small companies alike were looking for ways to accelerate their strategic pivots. Some companies were going all-in by replatforming their entire ecommerce sites to capture all the new traffic during the pandemic. Other companies were adding second CMSes on top of their existing legacy systems so they could leverage their current investments but get new digital experiences to market faster in parallel.  

And through it all, we were still doing double-digit growth. My team got its budget back, and we hit the gas on hiring across the board. We are trying to get to over 750 employees by the end of the year! We are still being optimistically cautious, and focusing on our key audiences and helping solve their challenges, but they need platforms like ours more than ever right now, and it’s a great time to be a Marketer! 

What are some top trends and martech predictions you’d like to talk about for marketing and marketing technology as a whole in 2021?

As the pandemic has shown time and time again, the ability to meet your customers wherever and whenever they are is imperative. What started as an expectation of months-long remote work and online shopping only, quickly became a new way of life. And it’s never going to fully go back. Digital has become the front door for every business, and will remain so even after in-person restrictions are lifted. So companies are going to need to have a new strategy in this new hybrid era.  

One of our big retail customers, with over 2,800 stores, is a great example of this. During the pandemic, it had to re-think how the company approached its top digital touchpoints: retail and brand homepages. The retailer had to move quickly, and pivot these touchpoints from marketing and promotional vehicles, to communicating critical information to shoppers: special hours for seniors, purchase limits on particular items, new delivery services, temporary elimination of pickup fees for online orders, pickup windows for frontline health workers, etc. Those sites had to be fully accessible, and they also had to brace for huge spikes in traffic: order volumes were up three times higher than normal during the pandemic.

This retailer had already started migrating to Contentful before the pandemic, and the work they had done proved to be invaluable when it came to pivoting operations quickly, and re-imagining its flagship apps for the double-duty purpose of both capitalizing on a huge surge in traffic, and also offering a lot more guidance for customers who were trying to navigate their relationships with the physical stores. 

My prediction is that businesses won’t just be looking to create “wow-factor” marketing sites to lure new customers, but they will have to double down on helping improve the day-to-day lives of their existing customers. Efficient and informative, over compelling and sensational. This means that we are going to see a huge upswing in digital experiences focused on the back-half of the customer journey, the post-sales side of things. More educational programs, more loyalty programs, more support bots, more in-store kiosks, etc. And businesses are going to need tools that are well-suited for this multi-channel, multi-step, many-context relationship with their customers. In our case, an open and flexible platform that can power content across all these contexts, in a highly reusable fashion. 

What are some of the key plans, customer and  product marketing strategies you have in mind at Contentful for the rest of 2021; a few best practices to share on marketing success that more teams in B2B need to be following through the year keeping the business dynamics of the pandemic in mind? 

At this point in a high-growth startup’s trajectory, it’s all about focusing on solving the primary challenges your customers face, rather than trying to use your platform to solve every imaginable problem.

It’s easy to get spread too thin at this stage of growth because there are so many opportunities out there. But if we can lean into our sweet spots a lot harder we will get more bang for our buck in all the programs we run and how we train and enable our teams. This will also make us a lot more efficient as a Marketing team.

Take us through some of your marketing technologies in use at Contentful and those that you feel marketing teams will need to rely on more during this time? 

On the Product Marketing side of the house, we use a number of budding technologies to help us organize and execute. Recently, we’ve started working with the team at Grokspark to operationalize our new messaging and positioning framework. It’s a Product Marketer’s dream to be able to manage personas, value pillars, solutions, and case studies all in one relational-database — I can quickly pull up a cheat sheet for our team or Sales on the key points to discuss when chatting with a Digital Leader from the Financial industry who’s interested in speeding up his team’s go-to-market process. 

We also leaned on Crayon a lot for competitive intelligence, to help cut through all the noise and keep an eye on when competitors were updating their pricing pages or re-framing their own messaging frameworks (it’s always a compliment when they start adopting your terms!).  

Finally, Miro’s digital whiteboards are taking over all areas of our company. Everyone is using them. We used a Miro board most recently for our 2021 quarterly planning mini-offsite, to get the team together and prioritize our initiatives for the first half of the year. It’s particularly helpful during the pandemic, when we can’t get together in front of a real physical whiteboard.  

We’d love to hear more about Contentful’s newest release: Compose + Launch?

Our new Compose and Launch apps were designed to extend Contentful’s native capabilities for content creation teams. The apps give content authors and planners a lightweight and modern editorial experience, while maintaining the structured, atomic content on the backend that modern developers rely on to build flexible, multi-channel experiences. It’s the best of both worlds.  

The Compose app enables editors to quickly and easily create, iterate, and reuse web pages utilizing content without the need for developer support. The Launch app gives orchestrators the visibility and confidence to deliver large content releases faster, at scale — holiday campaigns, new game launches, large public disclosures, etc.  

Together, they transform a typically labor-intensive process into an automated one, so that creating, updating, reusing, and publishing content across a wide range of channels is faster and easier for teams. As customers engage more frequently with digital channels than ever before, we recognized the importance of providing an efficient way to provide great experiences across every touchpoint. 

A few top takeaways on how you feel marketers today need to evolve to meet changing business and prospect / customer needs? 

One of the major underlying trends we are seeing is that companies need to hire and empower builders: not just developers who code, but marketers who are technical and ready to roll their sleeves up and rebuild digital experiences. We call this the Builder Ethos. Our most innovative customers are embracing this, and are creating cross-functional digital teams to move faster. You need to get your developers closer to your customers, so they can empathize with their challenges. You need to get your marketers closer to the code, so they can move fast and change course quickly. We’re not saying you need marketers writing code or developers writing copy, but that they should be doing it together, on the same teams (virtual or otherwise), to move faster.

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Contentful

Contentful, is a leading content platform for digital-first business, helps 30% of the Fortune 500 and thousands of brands around the world create and manage digital experiences for their customers across any channel. It enables greater speed and scale than traditional CMS solutions. Contentful unifies content in a single hub, structures it for use in any digital channel, and integrates seamlessly with hundreds of other tools through open APIs. Companies such as Chanel, Bang & Olufsen, Shiseido, Peloton, BP and many others rely on Contentful’s platform.

Paul Biggs is the Director of Product Marketing at Contentful, the leading content platform for digital business.

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