MarTech Interview with Scott Leatherman, Chief Marketing Officer at Veritone

Scott Leatherman, Chief Marketing Officer at Veritone chats about the increasing impact of AI in marketing technology and what today’s marketers need to focus on to drive overall brand growth and ROI.

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Tell us how you got involved with Veritone . . . . .

I started my B2B martech journey at MarketFirst in 1999 under the guidance of Pete Tierney, a legendary leader and former SVP of Marketing at Oracle and CEO of Inference. MarketFirst built one of the first cloud-based email marketing automation solutions in 1998. It started a passion for more effective multichannel marketing that keeps me exploring, learning, and investing almost daily.

Pete pushed me to think beyond my role as a Sales Consultant, which led to developing an applet for abandoned shopping carts and demos with smart refrigerators sending emails with decision criteria. I eventually became an AVP of Marketing, reporting directly to Pete.

I was one of the first three marketers on the SAP Hana team in 2011, driving the GTM and digital marketing efforts. I went to “school” about 15 years into my career, working with brilliant and dynamic leaders like Jonathan Becher, Steve Lucas, and Amit Sinha at SAP. During this time, I was thinking daily about how the power and speed of an in-memory cloud database would change the world. That daily challenge and opportunity opened my mind to a world of possibilities. I ended my time at SAP in 2019 as the COO of SAP Labs US.

So now, 26 years into my career, I’m the CMO at Veritone, an AI platform company disrupting the web3, HRM, green energy, and media and entertainment industries with innovations and scale that are changing the way enterprises go to market. Veritone is working to democratize AI with a model agnostic platform and a no-code, low-code studio tool.

We have a best-of-breed MarTech strategy. We are a large SFDC shop, but we have best-of-breed solutions like Demandbase, HighSpot, Infinigrow, and Qualified. We have improved visitor engagement by leveraging interactive content and analytics via Ceros. We migrated to Pantheon last quarter and are thrilled with improved site performance and overall WebOps ease of use.

When it comes to B2B marketing as it stands today, what are some of the core challenges and lags you still notice?

First, our industry has AI-washed everything—I respect a good algorithm, but most of MarTech is a long way from leveraging ML/AI. Second, with the explosion of data not being a new problem—it amazes me how few companies have a data model strategy. Cookies are a crutch the entire industry needs to move off, and it feels a bit like Y2K all over again, with Google’s cookie deprecation clock moving closer and closer (even with delays) to the end of cookie-based marketing. WebEnertia, out of San Jose, has developed our strategy for a cookieless GTM, and they are helping us improve our site holistically as we prepare for GA4.

SEO has become a large part of our daily focus–from on-page optimization to off-page validation; everyone has a role in improving SEO rankings. We leverage Yoast SEO, Screaming Frog, and Semrush to improve/scale our collective efforts. SEO has truly become the art and science of marketing.

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Talking about AI in marketing today and the use of cloud: how can B2B marketers optimize their processes to drive faster growth?

The AI-enabled buyer’s journey is still super powerful. From AI-driven content to lookalike persona/ICP mapping, AI can accelerate the journey and widen the funnel. The historical and early use of conversational cognitive engines for CS gave natural language processing (NLP) models a bad rap. The NLP-empowered sales and marketing bots are the future of the digital web to lead quality and scale. We selected Qualified after an exhaustive search and evaluation effort to improve our web to lead production.

The investment has made a 4x ROI in the first six months and a 14x pipeline ROI. I believe ROI will improve as we learn to use the full Qualified solution. Qualified, like Hubspot, has built an extensive library of best practices and emerging trends–empowering their customers beyond the solution. Every CMO should have the same goal–to build a knowledge base so robust that practitioners seek out your website to improve their knowledge and skills regardless of being a customer.

What does it take for sales-marketing teams to align better when it comes to their salestech-martech, and their core processes: what top tips come to mind?

First, hire PMMs with real sales experience and an aptitude for understanding markets, which drives them and people/orgs through buyer journeys. If you can find a demand gen lead with deal desk experience–back the proverbial money truck up to their doorstep. If you can find a data analytics person who likes to write copy, you will find your A/B testing powerhouse. When it comes to merging this team, martech, and salestech, the most important thing is that your marketing team believes it’s their job to help generate, land and expand with net new customers.

Marketing and Sales Ops should deliver solutions to the field within an established sales methodology. The connection between the technology landscapes needs to be a fundamental marketing requirement. Sales will not ask for interoperability. In fairness to sales and sales leadership, they have too many moving parts to deal with to focus on the top of the funnel nurture campaigns or funnel analytics–they need and should be laser-focused on landing the deal. It’s the burden of marketing to sort out the details and technology to understand the buyer journey.

The customer journey and sales process must be mapped and measured every quarter. The market is too dynamic to trust your gut or even data from more than two years ago, and I’m a fan of having two field kickoffs a year. The constant alignment will drive the systems and data transparency needed to measure and achieve desired results effectively.

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A few thoughts on driving growth in B2B through a downtime/recessionary time?

I’ve gone through at least three major economic disruptions in my career.

Marketing attribution is a powerful tool for protecting your budget and proving your worth when discretionary funds are being slashed.

With a tool like Infinigrow, marketers can show their CFO and CEO the ROI of spend, assets, and channels. The real power is when the CFO suggests a cut, and you can model the direct revenue impact by reducing spend across a region, a solution, demand gen, and content development. They will see they are asking you to rob Peter to pay Paul on future quarter growth. Having that power/transparency in your back pocket is a game-changer.

Some last thoughts on the future of martech and the future of AI in marketing?

AI synthetic content will enable companies to open new markets at scale with on-brand localized content. Authentic and Synthetic sounds like an oxymoron, but AI has already bridged this gap and empowers early adopters to outpace their competitors.

Social Selling is standard practice but lacks MarTech support. A company called AMPED Marketing is empowering us to leverage our leadership to drive engagement within a LinkedIn compliant application/process. We still leverage data enhancement solutions/databases, but the power and value of our executive networks are worth millions. Opening up our leadership’s brand and market value is an exciting new path generating a 30+% response.

I wrote a short post about google’s new SEO robot rankings on LinkedIn. I was having a little fun with Asimov’s three rules, but the short of it is that content is king and always will be.

Sales and MarTech are critical for scale and success, but the emerging solution for partner networking will help midsized companies accelerate adoption through the partner flywheel. We have invested in WorkSpan and have big plans to leverage the power of the partner network as a GTM solution.

My last thought: As B2B marketers, we have been too passive in addressing ADA requirements in marketing. Please make sure your marketing is ADA-enabled.

Veritone Signs Exclusive Deal with MediaWorks to Provide AI-Driven Insights Into Advertising Performance | Business Wire

Veritone is a leading provider of artificial intelligence (AI) technology and solutions.

Scott Leatherman is the CMO of Veritone, a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) platform and solutions.

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