MarTech Interview with Steve Daheb, Chief Marketing Officer at ON24

Driving deeper customer engagements requires marketers to track the right engagement data, Steve Daheb, Chief Marketing Officer at ON24 joins us to share some tips while talking about his top martech observations:

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Welcome to this martech chat Steve, tell us more about ON24 and its growth journey over the last few years and some new (latest) innovations!

Thanks for having me! 

ON24 was founded with a vision to help businesses succeed through engagement in a digital world. Today, we are enabling thousands of companies to convert hundreds of millions of prospects into buyers. We count some of the world’s largest and most recognized businesses in the world as our customers, including: 3 of the 5 largest global technology companies, 4 of the 5 largest US Banks, 3 of the 5 largest global healthcare companies, and 3 of the 5 largest global industrial manufacturing companies. 

Leading companies are using the ON24 Digital Experience Platform to transform how they drive revenue in a digital-first world. The ON24 platform is enabling experiences that create deep engagement, first-person data, and AI-driven personalization. Last year our platform powered over 200,000 live digital experiences, totaling more than 2.5 billion minutes of engagement.

And our customers are seeing remarkable business outcomes and ROI. Our customers have seen increases in pipeline, increases in customer reach, increases in conversion rates, increases in average deal sizes and have seen measurable growth in revenue, all driven by our platform. We believe this is not just a new normal, it’s a better way.

It’s been a big year for ON24. In February, we went public, which was an exciting time for everyone. Now as a public company, we can scale innovation and are making greater investments in our Digital Experience Platform. We think we have a big role to play in helping customers make the shift to digital that not only scales experiences for many, but are also personalized for every individual. 

In addition to going public, this year we’ve delivered a wave of new innovations and partnerships to help accelerate customers’ digital-first strategies. We introduced ON24 Breakouts to enable marketing and sales teams with breakout rooms to connect with audiences in multiple ways during and after digital experiences.

This spring, ON24 also announced an integration with Veeva CRM Events Management to enable the life sciences industry. ON24 engagement data captured from healthcare providers during each digital experience and virtual events and digital experiences can be integrated with Veeva. Now marketing and sales can have a complete view of engagement to ensure compliance, from planning and execution to post-event interactions.

It’s an exciting time for us and our customers in this new era of digital engagement.

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How are you seeing martech trends change in today’s environment?

We’re at the epicenter of two irreversible trends. The business world is going digital, and B2B buyers are self-educating more. In fact, 70% of buyers start online before they even talk to a sales rep. This past year alone has accelerated this change, companies across industries have gone through 10 years of digital transformation in 10 months. 

Even as the world re-opens, it’s clear that digital-first, hybrid engagement is here to stay. Hybrid experiences enable more value in reaching, engaging and connecting with customers. With a digital-first, hybrid engagement strategy this will provide a more cost-effective and impactful way of reaching a broader audience. 

B2B buyers are frustrated with irrelevant marketing and spam, companies are pivoting from automation to adopting digital engagement strategies. B2B is reimagining what’s possible for experiences to be more purposeful, immersive experiences to what we’ve come to enjoy in our personal and consumer lives.

These digital experiences provide the data needed for building lasting connections with customers on a much larger scale. By better understanding how audiences are engaging during digital events — from time spent in sessions, to materials downloaded, to questions asked — enterprises have access to deep behavioral insights that could be used to create personalized engagement with customers. We expect the rise of digital-first strategies will only continue to accelerate in value and demand.  

What are some predictions in mind for the future of digital experience tools you’d like to share?

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have become more mission-critical for many marketers. AI-driven technology has played a critical role on the consumer side for several years now, providing us with hyper-personalized experiences based on how we engage and interact with different brands. However, B2B lacks the quantitative data needed to understand prospective customers and drive personalization.

This unlocks a big opportunity for B2B marketers to move beyond automated marketing and use AI to drill down on individual personalization, getting to the root of a customer’s needs and interests for more relevant experiences. Engagement data from surveys, polls and interactions can fuel AI and help inform the next best action and better personalize experiences at scale.

We’d love a deep dive into some key martech and marketing learnings from the ongoing global pandemic and what ON24 marketing experience and journey has been like during this time?

The global pandemic has fundamentally changed how people work. While the shift toward digital was already well underway before the pandemic, it drastically accelerated the need for online meetings, virtual events, and video as primary ways to connect with customers. People stepped away from in-person experiences and had to fully embrace digital. 

Companies that pivoted to digital experiences as a result of the pandemic realized that, when operating digital events, they are able to reach more people with meaningful experiences and capture richer engagement data and insights on their prospective customers — all at a fraction of the cost of in-person events. 

And while the physical world is reopening, we expect marketing to adopt hybrid event strategies, continuously embracing digital touchpoints. Digital-first strategies have enabled marketers to drive more personalized, impactful follow ups. And digital experiences have generated more data and insights into what matters the most to prospects. 

What are some of the core marketing technologies that you feel marketing teams should not be doing without, today, at least in the B2B and tech marketplace?

If marketing teams are not taking advantage of engagement data and AI, they are missing out on major opportunities to connect with customers. Deeper customer engagement leads to better data, which leads to more personalized experiences. 

AI is key for marketers to create this deep personalization and helps to inform the next best experience for their customers’ needs. All of this comes from audience engagement during digital experiences. 

This “digital body language” (for example, how much someone engages, if they joined on time, if they stayed for an entire experience, to name a few) is what informs the intelligence. If companies take advantage of all of these first-person data points and really look at what their customers are telling them through engagement cues, they can better understand how to support them.

At ON24, we implement this use of AI across our platform as a way to go beyond what’s predictive to what’s known about individual customers. The intelligence that we capture is then integrated with leading CRM, marketing automation, and business intelligence tools to better orchestrate digital experiences. 

AI is the future of personalization and how we build more engaging experiences as marketers.

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A few predictions that you have for the future of martech? Can you talk about some top martech providers you have been following in the recent years from the global market and why you find them innovative?

As we move into a new era of engagement, we are going to fundamentally change how we measure engagement, as a whole. Engagement is no longer simply clicks and shares; it’s multilevel, multisensory, and multitouch. As an industry, we’ll move away from looking at volume of engagement toward looking at the return on engagement. This deeper engagement from customers will only come with more personalization and more opportunities for one-to-one connection.  

One of the leading martech providers delivering new innovation necessary in our digital-first world is Drift. They are leaders in conversational marketing and helping companies make one-to-one connections with customers. 

At ON24, we noticed that B2B buyers expect real-time communication. Last year, we started working with Drift to launch a Chatbot integration into our ON24 Target and ON24 Engagement Hub products. This integration provided more opportunities for our clients to have direct lines of communication with customers, giving them more places to measure their return on engagement. 

A few takeaways for marketing leaders and CMOs/CEOs in 2021: top factors they should keep in mind as they plan for the rest of the year, innovate and expand their teams?

Over a year of experiencing events from the comfort of our own homes, there’s no going back – we are moving toward a digital-first, hybrid future. From a marketer’s perspective, digital is providing more effective, impactful ways to connect with customers. I have two pieces of advice for CEOs and CMOs who are trying to plan for the rest of the year. 

First, put your money where your customers are and invest in digital platforms and channels that allow for more meaningful engagement at scale. 

Second, make sure you’re using a platform that integrates seamlessly with your other marketing and sales technologies. This way, you can maximize the value of engagement data to accelerate the buyer’s journey.

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ON24 provides a leading cloud-based digital experience platform that makes it easy to create, scale, and personalize engaging experiences to drive measurable business growth. Today, we are helping over 2,000 companies worldwide, including 3 of the 5 largest global technology companies, 4 of the 5 largest US banks, 3 of the 5 largest global healthcare companies, and 3 of the 5 largest global industrial manufacturing companies, convert millions of prospects to buyers. Through interactive webinars, virtual events, and always-on multimedia experiences, ON24 provides a system of engagement, powered by AI, which enables businesses to scale engagement, conversions, and pipeline to drive revenue growth. The ON24 platform supports an average of 4 million professionals a month totaling over 2.5 billion engagement minutes per year. ON24 is headquartered in San Francisco with global offices in North America, EMEA, and APAC.

Steve Daheb is CMO at ON24 and holds over two decades experience in marketing and sales leadership roles, including top B2B SaaS and cloud companies. He previously served as Senior Vice President at Oracle, where he was responsible for helping to drive the global growth of Oracle Cloud, including platform and infrastructure services. He also led the Oracle Global Communications team as it crafted and told a unified story across products and industries. Prior to Oracle, Steve held Chief Marketing Officer roles at Citrix, Blue Coat Systems (acquired by Symantec), and Emulex (acquired by Broadcom).

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