State of Modern Marketing #BrightSpots

State of Modern MarketingLast night I had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion at Nitro with marketing leaders from three amazing companies, each at different stages of growth. Zendesk had a successful IPO earlier this month, New Relic is clearly on that path, and RelateIQ has raised nearly $60M to compete for a share of the CRM market.

Our discussion was framed around “bright spots.” To be a successful marketer you often have to look outside your organization for inspiration. Who has had success? How did they do it? And why did it work so well? While you can follow the lead of your direct competitors, the most innovative companies expand their network and draw inspiration from bright spots they uncover.

Below are some of the highlights from our conversation.

Was there a hockey stick moment for your company? Can you point to a marketing tactic that clicked and fueled your growth?

For each of the panelists, it came back to the product. If you build a product that serves a latent need and you nail the experience, it sells itself. Each of these products is exceptionally easy to try and experience the value. Much more so than the incumbents they’ve set out to replace.

When it comes to twitter advertising, New Relic is one of the most prominent success stories. How do you turn engagement on twitter into customers?

Twitter is a cost effective way to generate clicks, but you also have to couple that with an aggressive retargeting strategy. What that means is that you’re placing a cookie in the consumer’s browser, so that when they are surfing around on third-party sites, you can serve them ads. So that initial click is only the first step in the process. Just like email marketing, you’ve got to have a strategy for nurturing them.

Zendesk has done a lot with video. In fact the video on its homepage now is also running on Hulu and local TV networks. How do you measure the impact?

Zendesk had an employee who was passionate about video projects and quite talented, so they turned it into a full time role. They had a great asset so they decided to test out a brand campaign. From a measurement perspective, they’re running the ad in select geographic markets and trying to determine lift compared to similar geographies where they aren’t running the ad.

As marketers we’re pulled in a lot of different directions. What are the 2-3 metrics on your dashboard that you focus on? How do these metrics impact how you allocate your time?

In the early days, people said it was all about website traffic and trial sign-ups. Larger companies are now focused on metrics like CAC (Customer Acquisition Costs) and LTV (Life Time Value). Those are hard metrics to get to without a strong marketing operations team. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) is another important leading indicator of growth.

If a business’ growth is predicated on driving website traffic, what is the single most important tactic to invest in?

This one took some thought by the panelists, but the consensus was public relations. Nothing moves the needle like a successful PR strategy.

The marketing stack has grown considerably. What are some of the most exciting tools you’ve seen? Ones that have had a real impact on your organization, or maybe ones that you’re excited about trying out over the next 12 months?

  • Convertro – Really bullish on this product, but surprised that AOL of all companies purchased them. Convertro does programmatic media buying and campaign attribution.
  • Infer – Went live with Infer pretty recently but said its really helped them get alignment with sales.
  • Asana – Within marketing it’s been a great tool for project management.

What role has culture played in the success of your marketing organization?

Across the board all of the panelists agreed that culture was the single most important ingredient in their success. RelateIQ shared how their four core values shape decisions and team dynamics.

Jamie Grenney

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VP of Marketing at Infer • formerly VP of Marketing at Salesforce • live in San Francisco • grew up in St. Louis and Colorado