Prediction Series 2019: Interview with Kristen Alexander, CMO, Certain

TechBytes with Kristen Alexander, CMO, Certain
Kristen Alexander, CMO, Certain

Which was the most impactful Marketing Tech moment of the year for you as a marketing leader?

Adobe’s acquisition of Marketo is significant and it will be interesting to see how they approach the market together and also how other Marketing Technologies are consolidated over the coming year. The past few years, we’ve seen an expansion — all of the vendor marketers are tasked with managing. While we’ll continue to see growth and innovation in the technologies that marketers employ, I suspect we’ll see marketers attempt to shrink the number of vendors that are managed as part of the MarTech stack in the coming years.

What opportunities and challenges did you and/or Certain identify at the start of 2018 and have things worked out as planned?

This year, we focused heavily on perfecting our 1:1 meeting strategy as part of our overall events strategy and that effort has paid off in connecting marketing and sales and tying events to our pipeline metrics. We deploy an ABM-based approach for every event, small to large, working with partners on specific accounts where appropriate and pairing marketing and sales teams on specific accounts as well. We capture data from every meeting in our own platform (Certain, of course) and use that data to orchestrate the next best sales and marketing actions.

As someone who has seen the Marketing Automation and CRM platforms grow from close quarters, how do you contribute your expertise to the B2B Marketing and Advertising landscape?

We spend time with our customers and in the industry educating and advocating for not only a personalized approach but also an approach that enables face-to-face interactions as much as possible. In our personal lives, face-to-face interactions are critical to building and maintaining successful relationships. This is true in business as well — the trick is capturing these interactions from a data perspective. I help marketing peers think through what kind of data they can capture and how they can use that data to execute a highly successful enterprise marketing approach.

Which technologies in 2019-2020 could further disrupt this space?

I’m constantly fascinated to see how machine-based interactions are attempting to replace human interactions and make note of what’s working and what’s not working. So much hasn’t worked for me personally in attracting my attention — just a slight error in messaging can be a complete turnoff. No doubt automation is advancing — interesting to see where it will actually work first.

What are your predictions on the “Role of Marketing Dashboards” in making Marketing Attributions more refined?

My goal with measuring performance is to get to the key set of metrics that can be consistently measured and compared over time. The type and volume of data that can be measured is vast — what’s important for me and my team is to crystallize the key metrics for each area of the business and consistently analyze those so we can make improvements. Dashboards are only meaningful if the data is meaningful, easy to interpret and can be easily understood by my entire team as well as the larger company.

What do you think about leveraging AI and Data Science to handle the recent burst of disruptions in the tech industry?

What’s most interesting to me is where man and machine intersect. From a marketing perspective, it is incredible and efficient to be able to easily surface the right priority customers and prospect accounts, and recommend the best next steps to take in each. It’s awesome to have patterns of success and data-driven gauges to help performance. We are still human though, and we require the human touch in many cases, I’d say especially in enterprise, to fully transact. How these forces work together will be what defines the next generation of work.

What was the most impactful lesson you learned in 2018? How do you plan to implement the lesson in 2019?

Not a new lesson, but it is important for us to constantly focus on quality marketing efforts. That looks different in each channel, but for events, for example, we made sure to have high-quality interactions with our customers from small, intimate dinners to large industry conferences. In advertising, that’s meant focusing on our target accounts and lookalike accounts with personalized messages and offers for specific audiences. Our strategy will be the same in 2019, with more acute focus on quality interactions with our customers and with the most relevant prospects for our business.

One advice to all the CMOs and leaders in your community.

Envelop your customers with your company’s mission, story and personalized touch. Meet and engage with customers every chance you get. Meet them casually and formally, digitally and in person at your events, at every chance you get. Storytelling is at the core of marketing and the opportunities to hear and re-tell your customers’ stories will shape every marketing action you take, and ultimately, provide the greatest reward in knowing how your company’s mission helps your customers be successful.

Thank you for answering all our questions!

Technology marketing and product executive leading go-to-market strategy including messaging and branding, product marketing, demand generation, marketing and sales operations, communications and customer evangelism for B2B technology companies. I have driven growth for enterprise SaaS companies in fintech, cybersecurity and marketing technology, as well as consumer companies in mobile and gaming products. A leader in execution and building market leading teams within Fortune 100 companies and high growth startups. Analytical and creative, strategic and hands-on, I work side-by-side with my team to build growth engines.

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Certain provides the leading enterprise event automation solution that helps both data-driven marketers and event professionals to bring events into cross-channel marketing campaigns; use rich attendee insights to improve sales & marketing results; and deliver credible event ROI. Certain’s event automation software supports a full range of events – from small meetings and educational sessions, to large conferences and world events. Established in 2011 and headquartered in San Francisco, Certain has operations and sales offices in North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim.

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