Prediction Series 2019: Interview with Elizabeth Walton, VP Marketing, Yext
Tell us about your role at Yext and the team/technology you handle.
I am the VP of Marketing at Yext. I’ve been with Yext for more than six years and have held nearly every role within the Marketing Department in that time. In my current role, I lead Demand Generation, Content, and Marketing Operations. I consider myself an entrepreneur first and a marketer second — I love the effect good marketing has on a company’s growth. I joined the company in 2012 when we had just 75 employees, and today we have about 1000 employees globally and are publicly traded on the NYSE.
What is the overall state of the search tech industry in 2019?
There are two major trends impacting the state of the search industry right now. First, we’re hearing from our customers more and more that the majority of consumers are coming to their business via intelligent services like Google, Siri, Alexa, or Yelp, rather than their own website. For years, the homepage was the entry point for a brand, and when customers wanted to find information about a company they would go to the brand URL. With the growth of third-party digital experiences, the customer funnel is no longer on the website. Instead, it begins with a search on a third-party service.
Second, voice search is completely changing how consumers interact with brands. Voice search has taken off, and voice-enabled devices powered by Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, and Cortana are everywhere. This technology is here to stay. Humans can speak about four times faster than they can type, so it makes sense that adoption will continue to grow. But, this also raises the stakes for businesses to provide high-quality information to intelligent services.
As a marketing leader in a fairly nascent technology, what are the biggest challenges you face now?
My biggest challenge is that we’re working to pioneer an entirely new category. Not only does our team have to educate the market on what Digital Knowledge Management is, but we must showcase the tangible value our platform delivers, and tailor that message to the interests of the person in front of us. People may not know they have a problem that we have a solution for, which makes Yext unique. In our case, Yext is a visionary purchase and requires a visionary marketing approach.
How important is search strategy for businesses? What is the value of a brand when it comes to involvement with your product?
The way people find information and the format in which they are finding it is evolving. The shift to conversational and AI-powered discovery not only redirects traffic, but it introduces a new set of customer interaction points — and ultimately, more places where brand information can live.
Businesses really see the value in using Yext to manage and maintain their brand data in one central platform and publish it everywhere it needs to live. Yext Brain allows businesses to create and designate relationships between the facts about themselves in an AI-ready data structure, so they can power their own sites and services and sync with AI-powered consumer services, like search, voice assistants, and chatbots. This means that businesses can control the facts about them with greater precision and depth than ever before.
In 2019, how important is the role of Artificial Intelligence in your domain?
The growing sophistication and reach of AI is extremely important to any marketer because it changes the way people find information. What this means for brands is, to be AI-ready, they need to structure their information so that these intelligent, AI-powered services can read it and surface it to the consumer. Structuring brand data and updating it in these services via our integrations is a key part of what we do.
In 2019, which geographical regions is Yext looking at as its ideal clientele?
We work with any business that has a physical location. Our reach spans every country in the world and we have offices in Europe, Japan, and across the US. We want to be sure we’re serving our clients with the level of personal attention they deserve. To that end, we recently expanded our footprint to San Francisco to better serve our clients there.
What Sales and Marketing technology tools does Yext currently use for 2019?
We look to digitize and use technology wherever we can. Anytime we make a tech decision, we try to choose something that will not only meet our needs today, but grow with us and still make sense in two or three years. We don’t believe in innovation for the sake of innovation; instead, we want to make sure we’re going to use the technology for a long time.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I use Instagram and Gmail most frequently. We also use Google Home products at my house, and we recently got Hue light bulbs, which are a total game changer. Now we can use voice to turn on everything in the house. Even just the novelty of it is worth it — I’m really into making our house as smart as possible.
What is the best piece of professional advice that you have received?
The first thing I ask anyone I start managing is “where do you want to go?” To move forward without purpose is to move nowhere, and if you don’t know what direction you’re moving in, you’re moving without a purpose. I like to follow this advice and also think about what I want to look back on and be proud of, and what does that look like and mean for the next five or ten years. If you have a guiding light it’s much easier to know where to focus your energy.
I’m an entrepreneurial marketer with extensive experience building and leading B2B SaaS marketing. I have held every role in marketing and currently lead global demand generation, content, and marketing operations for Yext. Forbes 2018 30 Under 30 Marketing & Advertising.
Yext is the leading Digital Knowledge Management (DKM) platform. Our mission is to give companies control over their brand experiences across the digital universe of maps, apps, search engines, voice assistants, and other intelligent services that drive consumer discovery, decision, and action. Today, thousands of businesses including brands like Taco Bell, Rite Aid, and Steward Health Care use the Yext Knowledge Engine™ to manage their digital knowledge in order to boost brand engagement, drive foot traffic, and increase sales. Yext has been named a Best Place to Work by Fortune and Great Place to Work® as well as a Best Workplace for Women. Yext is headquartered in New York City with offices in Berlin, Chicago, Dallas, Geneva, London, Paris, San Francisco, Shanghai, Tokyo and the Washington, D.C. Area.