Interview with Justin Sharaf: Running Marketing Technology at a $1B Market Leader


I met Justin Sharaf through his Marketing Technology in the Hub group. I’ve long been curious about what it’s like for him running marketing technology as the Director, Marketing Technology & Operations at LogMeIn, including managing a merger with Citrix’s GoTo products. I recently got to sit down with Justin and pick his brain on a variety of topics including his advice for MarTech vendors.

Zak: Can you start by describing your role at LogMeIn?

Justin: My team manages all of our technology platforms, integrations, tools and systems that live within the marketing ecosystem. It spans foundational platforms such as marketing automation, social, display and search, plus individual tools.

The key areas of responsibility are managing vendor relationships and budget, technology roadmap, support and enablement for our users, consulting, development and data integrations.

Zak: How do you organize your team?

Justin: I’ll give you a breakdown of the roles on the team. I have one project manager responsible for our Jira board - all of our big projects, which you’d consider epics in Jira and other large projects requiring management and structure.

I then have product owners covering the four categories we bucket technology into, responsible for support, enablement and road mapping within their area.

Zak: How have you organized those product owners?

Justin: The first category is automation systems. The second category is web technologies, content platforms and workflow management. The third category is third-party data, which includes not only data append, but also the feeding of our customer data into our marketing automation system, for example.

The fourth category is product messaging applications. And that resource is half-time on product ownership, and half-time on development.

We have a total of 1.5 development resources, who are doing a variety of tasks including writing to APIs, custom email & landing page work, managing data within AWS, ETL and more. (Ed note - for a whole new approach to aggregating cloud data, check out Bedrock Data's Fusion)

In addition to that full-time team, we have part-time employees and contractors who cover functions such as third party list uploads for content syndication and events. And then lastly we also have contractors helping out as needed on development work or marketing automation consulting.

I’ll be going deeper into this topic, in fact, as part of my presentation at the MarTech conference in Boston this October.

Zak: Let’s take a step back. I’d love to hear about how you got into the area of MarTech and marketing operations in the first place? Let’s go as far back as you want, I want to hear the whole backstory.

Justin: I majored in economics and psychology in college, and I was also really into sports. I thought I might go into sports psychology or journalism.

I ended up not going down those paths though, and my first job was doing product analysis for a magazine subscription agent owned by Time, Inc. It was a combination of financial planning and analysis in the area of direct mail and insert media, and I ended up driving one of our business units called Magazine for Miles. From there, I worked in email, direct mail and insert media for Vistaprint.

Then I had an opportunity at LogMeIn, and I got hired to build an email marketing and marketing automation function. I was a big believer, and i convinced LogMeIn, that although I didn’t have a ton of email experience, email wasn’t so different from direct mail. Direct mail principles are all about the right message to the right audience, good targeting, and a clear call to action.

As I worked in the role, I loved the data side and the architecture aspects to marketing automation. I was also interested in the data aspects, integrations and analytics.

Then about 2 1/2 years ago, I was at a crossroads as we re-organized. I had to decide whether to go into a traditional marketing demand generation type role, or split off into marketing technology. I decided marketing technology, and I then officially started managing the function - budget, relationship - stakeholders - established a strategy - and grew from there.   

Zak: That’s an awesome story. I feel like everyone has a little bit different story for how they got into marketing or MarTech, and I really like yours.

LogMeIn’s growth has been pretty incredible since you joined. Do you have any metrics you can share around the growth.

Justin:  When I joined we had about 600 global employees, and there were about 300 in Woburn, MA, where the office was located. Now we have over 3,000 employees globally and I think we have close to 1,000 in Boston.

We’ve had multiple acquisitions, we’ve launched offices, we’ve retired offices. We’ve launched products and retired products. And now we’re over $1 billion in revenue, which must be close to 10X from when I started.  

Zak: You also have some astounding marketing volume numbers. Anything you can share?

Justin: Well, we have millions of customers - not only millions of users, millions of customers. Also millions of free users. Our database is more like the size of a large retailer.

In terms of email volume, we send probably around 15 million per month. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but it’s not even close to what we were sending at Visaprint, which was much more of a B2C than B2B model.

Zak: For many people, it’s probably hard picturing what a marketing technology role looks like at a company the scale of LogMeIn?  What’s your typical day or week look like in terms of key responsibilities?

Justin: With so many people to intersect with, it’s a lot of meetings. We have over 200 marketers who are located from Santa Barbara to Sydney, so there are a lot of marketers to support. I spend about six hours per day in meetings. I’d break them into three types of meetings.

There are 1:1 meetings with my team members; there’s standing meetings for active cross-functional projects; and there’s ad hoc meetings to solve a specific problem or business consulting or idea generation.

Then the rest of the day is spent either on working in systems, working on projects, helping team members solve problems, and then of course replying to emails.

Zak: How does your team align to the rest of the organization?

Justin: I think of our team as a group of problem solvers, partners and consultants. We’re working across the marketing team, listening to challenges, and coming up with solutions.

Our marketing organization is organized into teams - web, analytics, corporate marketing, product marketing, brand and international. We also have teams aligned to products or business units.

We have particular partners in those groups that we work closely with and those partners help us prioritize. We’re not engaging 1:1 with all 200 LogMeIn marketers.

Zak: With that many teams and stakeholders, I gotta imagine prioritization is a real challenge. What’s your approach for managing prioritization?

Justin: We have weekly prioritization meetings with those key stakeholders. We use Jira to manage projects. I’m a big believer that if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. We’re very transparent, allowing anyone to see what resources we have assigned to projects and how long things will take.

We’ve established ourselves as a good partner, with credibility, so our stakeholders know we’re going to do our best but that we also need to have clear prioritization so things don’t break down.

Being fully open helps. Anyone in the company can see every single project, so they know we have a lot on our plate, and what we’re working on. In the last 14 months since we’ve started a clean Jira instance, my team has completed 2,300 tickets.

Zak: It sounds like you’ve built up credibility and trust with your stakeholders, which is so important in a role like this. For folks just entering a marketing technology leadership role, what kind of advice would you have for how to establish credibility and trust?

Justin: I think the keys are process and visibility.

From a process standpoint, you should bring a process to the table to create structure, and then be open to feedback on how to improve it. And actively seek that feedback.

This is going to help you build relationships within the business, and find those champions who will support you. You want people to believe in your vision and process and structure so they support what you’re doing over time. Those champions will become your best promoters.

Zak: I want to get in to some juicy stuff now. Everyone loves merger talk. For you, the LogMeIn / GoTo merger was significant, because you probably doubled your marketing technology world, and had to come up with a strategy to bring these two separate marketing teams together. How’d you go about it?

Justin: As I started to dig in, the first thing that became clear was the two companies had very different technologies. For primary marketing technologies, there were now two of everything.

There were different marketing automation software. Different web analytics software. Different social media software. There wasn’t as much overlap as I expected.

As we came up with a plan, in some case the consolidation decision was obvious - based on the business needs or expertise. But some of the decisions were very difficult. And some are still being decided on now.

The other big thing for me was around the team. I inherited a group of people from GetGo (the name of the entity spun out of Citrix with GoToWebinar, GoToMeeting, Grasshopper, etc.) who hadn’t been a team before. GetGo didn’t have a marketing technology role. We took people from specific roles and they became part of the team. So it took some time to nurture everyone into a team culture.

Zak: So in terms of technology, sounds like you were Noah’s Ark with “two of everything” to start. What was your criteria for keeping or getting rid of technology?

Justin: One criteria was cost. If the technologies were very similar, where could we get the best deal?

We also had one Salesforce instance remain and one retired, so any technologies that were integrated with that remaining Salesforce had an advantage, so that we didn’t have to rebuild any integrations.

Stakeholder input was also vital. We performed stakeholder interviews and requirements gathering. In some cases, the stakeholders had very strong opinions. Maybe in a given area, one manager had remained and one had left, and that manager had a strong preference for a technology.

And then in some cases, we did a light RFP process to put technologies side by side.

Zak: And now you get to do it all over again with the Jive acquisition, right?  What are you going to do differently this time around?

Justin: What’s different about each acquisition is the timing, and the pressure to consolidate. Sometimes there is pressure to consolidate and integrate quickly. And in some cases we leave the company or business alone and don’t touch it for a while. That direction comes down from an executive level.

In terms of what to do differently, I think setting expectations is most important as we move through the evaluation and consolidation process. No surprises!

Zak: Working with so many different marketing technology vendors, what about a vendor wins you over as a customer or partner?

Justin: Support - 100% support. A speedy and knowledgeable support and customer success team makes all the difference.

Some vendors claim 24/7 support, but when you get on with a support rep or a customer success manager, they know less than we do, and can’t actually help solve our problems.

The other thing I really appreciate is partnership in roadmap and feedback loops around topics like our challenges with the product, and features we’d like to see.

We had a vendor that took us out to lunch recently to ask what they can do to improve their technology. No ulterior motive. Not selling us, Not upselling us. Not renewing us. They just wanted our feedback because we are actively using the product, and our opinion mattered. They just wanted to listen.

Zak: You’re involved in the Marketing Technology in the Hub meetup group. How did that come about?

Justin: It started a couple years ago. I met Sam Melnick because were were looking at Allocadia as a budget management solution. And then I met Erica Seidel at the MarTech Conference and found out Sam knew her as well.

We are all from Boston, so we got lunch one day and we thought - we are all passionate about MarTech - and we’re coming at it from three different angles - we should start a group and get people together. We invited 100 people to our first event and now our invite list is over 300. It’s a nice community of people with common interests who are also looking for personal development.

Zak: There was a session where you shared some tips on negotiation. You had some gold in there. Can you give us the highlights of some of your tips?

Justin: My mentality is that I know what products are worth to me, and that’s what I’m prepared to pay. I don’t care what list prices are. And if you aren’t going to sell to me at my price, then too bad.

We’re a SaaS company, so I know what it’s like to be on the other side, and what the cost models are. If the vendor is willing to walk away from our relationships because of a few $, that’s probably not a long term relationship I want anyways.

And if I’m willing to walk away for a few $, then they probably haven’t established themselves as a partner worth staying with or starting a relationship with.

Let’s just say that if a vendor is doing everything right, the negotiation is less painful.

Zak: Let’s wrap up on a lighter note. What are some of your interests outside of work?

Justin: I have two little sons, 3 and 1. They take up a lot of my time and my wife’s time. I also play competitive golf. I’m a huge Celtics fan and have season tickets. I’m also into skiing and love poker, but I’m doing less and less of those things! My wife and I enjoy going to concerts when we can; one of my favorite bands is The Lone Bellow, a Americana Country rock group.

Postscript: Days after I interviewed Justin, he was named to the Marketo Fearless 50, to marketing leaders who exemplify what it means to be bold, brave & fearless. Congrats Justin!

Catching up with Luque Wang, from startup Bit Stew Systems to GE Digital

Luque Wang is a great example of the customer interview to advocate process I've talked a lot about, including most recently with the Product Marketing Community event. What started with me talking to Luque about his HubSpot-Zoho integration at Bedrock Data, turned into a collegial friendship and partnering to speak at the MarTech conference on aligning marketing operations with sales. Luque's journey has gone from startup at Bit Stew Systems to being acquired by GE Digital, so I was very excited to catch up with him and learn about what it's been like going from startup to public company.

Zak: The last time we did this, you were with Bit Stew Systems and we were talking about closed loop reporting between HubSpot & Zoho. Not long after that, Bit Stew was acquired by GE. Do you remember where you were when you found out the news?

Luque:  The news came out from a Bit Stew townhall meeting. I remember that it was a sunny Thursday afternoon, and everyone felt excited and started to chat about the upcoming new journey.

Zak: And what was the first thought that went through your head?

Luque Wang - Sr. Marketing Manager, Marketing Operations at GE Digital

Luque Wang - Sr. Marketing Manager, Marketing Operations at GE Digital

Luque: Wow, GE! What a great company to be part of! I was proud of what Bit Stew had achieved that was highly valued by GE, especially our products, brand, and mostly, the great team. I felt grateful to be part of such winning team and made my contribution to the acquisition. Although I was a bit anxious about how Bit Stew’s entrepreneurial spirit, start-up culture, agile operations, and individual talents would best integrate with such world-leading multinational innovative conglomerate, I was very excited and optimistic about the new journey. My first task was to lead the marketing operations’ integration, especially CRM, Marketing Automation, Inside sales and brand sunset. I anticipated a lot of learnings and growth opportunities along this adventure. 

Looking back from today, I really enjoy this challenging and rewarding experience. This is all thanks to GE’s great culture, which embraces simplicity and diversity and believes great, world-changing ideas can come from anyone, anywhere in the organization.

Zak: What is your new role now at GE? What are your key responsibilities?

Luque: As a Senior Manager, Marketing Operations at GE, I am leading inbound marketing strategies, identifying business opportunities and gaps, and developing innovative solutions. Thinking about everything from revenue funnel alignment and sales enablement to lead gen and lead nurturing; from tech stack management to data governance; and from how to map customer journey with our marketing campaigns to what the best web forms and UX to use to convert visitors to prospects and bring more customers to our solutions. 

Zak: You were using many SaaS systems at Bit Stew, and at GE you must be using many, many applications to manage customer data flow and online user experience. What is your ideal martech stack looked like, and how would you leverage it to drive marketing excellence? 

Luque: A great martech stack would satisfy business requirements for an organization at all levels. Among many traits, in my opinion, an ideal martech stack must be scalable and flexible, and serves not only marketing and sales but also provides safe and non-intrusive user experiences.

With the rise of martech, there are so much more applications can be chosen to create your stack than ever before. Tools you used yesterday may not be suitable or sufficient for today, you need to make sure it aligns with business strategies and operations, and constantly evaluate and optimize your martech stack. A scalable and flexible martech stack enables you to make such changes with the minimum cost. A good practice is to create a centralized data layer that integrates all the applications rather than having each application directly integrates with each other. Of course, you don’t want to swap your martech applications too frequent for the sake of adding a new “hot” application. Regardless the complexity of businesses or organizational structures, the stability of the martech ecosystem allows you to better see your data flow, discover the flaws, and make necessary changes to your operations.

Zak: You’ve talked a lot about the rise of the marketing operations function. What are the top 3 ways you see marketing operations deliver value to an organization?

Luque: Firs of all, it promotes data-driven decisions and cultivates metrics-driven culture in an organization. Also, it helps identify and close business gaps with technological innovation or with procedure optimization. Finally, marketing operations infuse an organization with the cross-functional knowledge and fresh ideas through its professionals who come from non-traditional marketing fields such as analytics, IT, Sales, Finance, etc.

Zak: What do you anticipating changing around martech and marketing operations over the next few years?

Luque: Martech will continue to grow. More vendors will be available in the market to cover every corner of the funnel, and trace every step of the customers’ journey with actionable insight. I expect that data integration application will be the leading force of the evolutions, followed by powerful analytics and integrated reporting. Businesses at different sizes with different budget will be able to find abundant options to build their martech ecosystems.

Many organizations have already seen the value of marketing operations and have built the dedicate marketing ops teams, yet many have not. Elevate the value of marketing operations will take place within more and more organizations, and I expect to see more such roles to be created over the next few years.

Six takeaways & tidbits from the Hard Corps Marketing Show

That's Casey, not me

That's Casey, not me

Thanks to Casey Cheshire and Jamie Taylor for having me as a guest on Casey’s podcast, the Hard Corps Marketing Show.

I met Casey a couple years back as Bedrock Data expanded into the Pardot ecosystem for integrations, and we bonded at last year’s OpenView Go-to-Market Forum; we moderated different panel discussions and were among a small group going back and forth on social media at the event. And then I discovered Casey and I also have a shared affection for podcasts, with Casey starting his own recently.

Why “Hard Corps”? Not only is Casey a badass demand generation marketer, he is a United States Marine Corps veteran - hence the name of the show.

You can find the podcast on Podbean or YouTube, plus you can search for it on iTunes, the Apple Podcast App, Stitcher or Overcast.

It was an organic discussion and these were some of the things I covered:

Marketing attribution:

Avoid the word “credit” as it’s not about crediting one specific action, and that will  set the wrong tone with sales. Educate that marketing is a multi-touch game and therefore measure multiple influencing factors in customer acquisition and revenue generation.

Approach to Closed loop reporting:

It’s not necessarily about ROI (e.g. saying XYZ investment will generate XYZ return), but rather to rank your marketing programs & activities by revenue influence. This will help you to identify which types of activities you want to invest more in, which are promising but need to be improved/fixed, and which you should likely divest from / drop.

Run Marketing like a Business:

Frame decisions this way when analyzing results, with sales, finance and executive teams. For both internal resources and program $, ask where should we be investing more, where should we be investing less and how do we get better results. Always strive to make the best possible business decision, and communicate why those are the best decisions.

It’s okay to say “We need to improve X”:

As a marketing leader, don’t shy away from pointing to things that need to improve. This can help build confidence from others around you, that you have the awareness to know when things are working, and not working. The first step to improving something is acknowledging “there is a problem”, right?

How to align with sales on funnel numbers:

I talked about when presenting marketing outcome metrics like MQLs, Opportunities created or Pipeline side by side with Sales bookings numbers - to both give perspective on what was created that’s impacting the current sales booking period (e.g. with sales cycle built in) and the current period. This can help give perspective on why, say for example, a growth in marketing performance is not immediately showing up in sales numbers. It’s a win for both sales & marketing to present this clearly.

All in all, be transparent, accountable, & thoughtful:

To earn the respect of colleagues across departments.

Casey is always pointing out I can be found at many B2B marketing events, so he asked what I have in store the rest of the year. I told him I’ll be speaking at both MarTech West in April and the Data Summit in Boston in May, and I’m sure I can be found at both Hypergrowth and Inbound in the fall.

We also got into some of my earlier career stories including the genesis of the Moneyball moniker based on my work with the NBA, plus what it was like growing the first marketing technology software within Omnicom Group while traveling around the world.

Give it a listen!

Data Analytics Lessons from the NBA's first data mining product from IBM

I attended the Boston Business Intelligence meetup at Microsoft last week. I was spurred to attend because Bedrock Data is launching a new product in January that closely aligns us with business intelligence teams as the mechanism to supply unified customer data across applications for business analytics and dashboards.

It was a flashback moment for me as it put me back to the start of my career at IBM in the mid 1990s where I worked with a small team led by Dr. Inderpal Bhandari, then a chief research scientist, today the Chief Data Officer of IBM.

Our team created and launched IBM’s Advanced Scout, the first data mining software used by NBA teams which within two years was used by 24 of the 28 NBA teams, powered a regular content series “Beyond the Boxscore” on, and was covered in a host of publications including Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, Washington Post, Computer World, CIO Magazine and Wired Magazine.

I’m proud of those achievements in launching the product and there are takeaways from what we did that apply to business intelligence projects to this day, over two decades later.

Let me start with some background and then get to the lessons. Two things were happening in 1995: Inderpal had developed a new data mining algorithm at IBM Research to find interesting patterns in data, and IBM, as an NBA sponsor, was part of an effort to systematize, for the first time, the collection of NBA play-by-play data through courtside data collection.

Inderpal saw an opportunity, asking the question, “Where’s the opportunity to apply these new data mining algorithms to the NBA using this new play-by-play data resource?”

That’s where I came in.

As a high schooler in the New York suburbs at the peak of the rough-and-tough New York Knicks and Big East basketball, I was into basketball. I was the man for the job. I met Inderpal at an IBM student luncheon in the spring of 1995 – and we were off.

It was over 20 years ago but I still remember it like yesterday (although have forgotten a lot of what’s happened in between). These are three lessons I took from what we achieved and how we achieved it, to apply to any data analytics project.

#1 – Focus on the Most Important Performance Metric

The slate I was given at the time is – we have data on each play outcome. Not the detailed pass level data you might see today, but the basics of who shot the ball, what happened (score, miss), was there an assist, who got the rebound. As well as data on substitutions.

The question was – what can we do that’s available in the data and compelling for coaches?

At the time, the most common basketball success metric was field goal percentage.  We went in a different direction.

We focused on points scored, and looking at the lineup combinations that had the highest contribution to positive and negative differentials on points. Our thinking was that there’s a ton happening on the basketball court, but if we start with the outcome as the point of analysis – we are going to unearth patterns that are interesting to the coaches. It will be meaningful if we can tell the coach if a certain player is making the difference, or a combination of players or matchups is making the difference. Take the noise of an entire NBA game or series of games, and net out to the coach what matters.

This personal legacy for me around this is applying that thinking to analytics across a variety of industries. The big breakthrough in marketing analytics in the past decade is looking at what marketing activities are most connected to revenue as an outcome. It’s the same method of thinking that led to these types of closed loop marketing analytics, as looking at points as the key outcome for basketball.

The basketball legacy is this type of plus-minus points analysis has become mainstream in basketball and can now be found in daily box scores on every sports website. At the time, it wasn’t a mainstream metric for basketball – in fact it was commonly found in hockey where very few goals were scored. I thought – what if we apply it to basketball where there are many, many points?

Here’s the ESPN box score from the recent Christmas Day game between the Warriors & Cavs. You can see +/- featured in the box score, and in this particular game the Warriors performed the best when Andre Iguodala from their reserve squad was on the floor. He was the unsung hero with 4-for-8 shooting, 6 rebounds and a blocked shot off the bench.

Every ESPN NBA box score now features the +/- metric, which back in 1995 was a hockey only stat     

Every ESPN NBA box score now features the +/- metric, which back in 1995 was a hockey only stat

#2 – Get Creative to Solve Data Challenges

To make Advanced Scout compelling for coaches, we had to get creative. The data mining system worked off the concept of attributes and looking at which combination of attributes were most interesting (statistically significant) for a specific numeric attribute (points).

We had information on substitutions but it wasn’t immediately clear how we could use that information for analysis. We couldn’t just throw the list of players on the floor in an unstructured data format, it needed to be a structured data format that would work as an input to the data mining engine.

Then it came to me.

We came up with the idea of a player order ranking, which we prepared a default for the coaches based on player height, and this ranking plus the players on the floor determined which positional slot to put each player in as the attributes – using the order of point guard (PG), shooting guard (SG), small forward (SF), power forward (PF) and then center (C).

So for example, I got into basketball around the 1989-90 Knicks – so let’s take that team as an example. Using these seven players, we would order them like this:

  1. Mark Jackson
  2. Rod Strickland
  3. Gerald Wilkins
  4. Johnny Newman
  5. Kenny Walker
  6. Charles Oakley
  7. Patrick Ewing

So with the starting lineup of Jackson, Wilkins, Newman, Oakley & Ewing, the players would slot into the positions like this, in order:

          PG = Jackson

          SG = Wilkins

          SF = Newman

          PF = Oakley

          C = Ewing

Swap out Jackson for Strickland, Strickland swaps into point guard. Swap out Oakley for Walker, Walker slots into power forward.

Let’s say there was a “small ball” lineup with Jackson, Strickland, Wilkins, Newman and Oakley (that would be pretty rare), then it would lay out like this:

          PG = Jackson

          SG = Strickland

          SF = Wilkins

          PF = Newman

          C = Oakley

Strickland’s not a shooting guard, you might say. Or Oakley’s not a center.

But in these lineups, they were playing those roles – and this allowed us to ensure the algorithms knew that was the case when those lineups were on the floor. 

This approach created the foundation for analysis that led to insights created from every game – and shared with coaches and also used as content for an series and TV broadcasts.

There were many, many stories that resulted – see the end of the article for links to ones I could find still published. A Darrel Armstrong story became the most famous.

In 1996-97, Armstrong was a backup guard for the Orlando Magic. He averaged a modest 6.1 points over 15 minutes per game off the bench in the regular season, shooting 38% from the field.

In the playoffs, the Magic took on the Heat, and lost the first two games of the best-of-five series. Following game two, Advanced Scout flagged for the Magic coaches that the team was performing best with smaller lineups with Armstrong on the court. Armstrong played a much more prominent role from there forward, the Magic won both games three and four and gave the Heat a run in game five.

Armstrong’s performance in the playoffs was nearly double his points and minutes from the regular season, while upping his shooting performance to 48% from the field. This personal breakthrough carried over as for the next four seasons his minutes per game increased and he became a more and more prominent part of the Magic. In 1998-99, he won both Most Improved Player and the Sixth Man of the Year Awards.

This story is covered in multiple outlets and you can see in the links at the end of this article.  Here’s how the great NBA reporter Jackie MacMullan told the story in a 1998 Sports Illustrated article titled “Cyber Scouting”:

A dramatic example of the value of computer scouting came in the first round of the playoffs last season, when Orlando found itself down 2-0 to the Miami Heat, having lost those games by an average of 26 points. When the Magic got home after the second loss, Sterner spent three hours in his office plugging questions into the Advance Scout program.

Shortly after 3 a.m. he unearthed a nugget: With reserve point guard Darrell Armstrong on the floor, Orlando had outscored the Heat by 15 points during the two games. In addition, the Magic had shot 64% with Armstrong on the floor and 37% without him, while Miami had shot 57% while Armstrong was out of the game and 45% when he was harassing point guard Tim Hardaway and his Heat teammates. Sterner called up corresponding video footage, which showed how effectively Armstrong had pushed the ball up the floor in transition and created scoring opportunities, and how, on defense, he had forced Miami turnovers and caused the Heat to resort to tough shots.

Armstrong had played only 23 minutes in the two games. In Game 3 Orlando coach Richie Adubato played Armstrong 38 minutes. He had21 points, eight assists and one turnover, and the Magic won 88-75. Rejuvenated Orlando also won Game 4, with Armstrong contributing 12 points, nine rebounds and one assist. Although Orlando dropped the deciding fifth game in Miami, the Magic had been transformed from a floundering club into a team infused with new life--not to mention nearly $3 million more from ticket sales, concessions and television revenues.

The Darrell Armstrong Advanced Scout story was featured in Sports Illustrated in 1998

The Darrell Armstrong Advanced Scout story was featured in Sports Illustrated in 1998

#3 – First & Foremost, Deliver on Decision Support

A key premise to how we approached Advanced Scout came from Inderpal and our chief software architect Rajiv Pratap. Every time we talked to the coaches, we talked to them about being a tool to help them make better decisions.

To bring this life, we linked the stats to video. Since every play was time stamped, we could take an insight like the Armstrong nugget, and then feed the specific offensive and/or defensive plays when that lineup was on the floor.

In fact, the main allies of the tool became the video coordinators who could now link analytics to how they fed video to the rest of the coaching staff. These video coordinators became trusted advisors to head coaches. Two of the video coordinators we worked closely with in those years were Erik Spoelstra and Frank Vogel.

Spoelstra then was video coordinator for Pat Riley’s Miami Heat, and after moving up the ranks became their head coach in 2008. Vogel then was video coordinator for Rick Pitino’s Boston Celtics, and became head coach of the Indiana Pacers in 2011 and the Orlando Magic in 2016.

The legacy of IBM’s Advanced Scout is significant – the plus minus stat in basketball; the great stories that IBM would leverage for years around generating insights in data; the development of careers of a generation of analytical coaches; and now today IBM’s Watson technology is closely partnered with ESPN and can be found generating insights for fantasy leagues.

Here’s the press coverage I could locate – and there’d be a lot more if this didn’t occur during the early days of the Internet. I also wrote hundreds of stat insight articles for under the Beyond the Box Score banner which are no longer archived on the site.   

Check out the links above for more texture. Other highlights from this included being featured in an IBM ad campaign (featuring Inderpal photo in a full page print ad), assisting the 1996 Olympics teams in Atlanta, and featured in numerous IBM and NBA events including the Olympics and All Star games. 

What I Think - Drift’s ABM Release

After a few weeks of suspense with their teaser campaign, Drift announced the release of their latest addition to their conversational marketing product this morning, with Drift ABM.

Here’s what I think:

#1 - Thank you Drift, ABM should be embedded into all marketing software

The beauty of account-based marketing is, it’s just common sense.  It’s so obvious good marketers sometimes make fun of it, asking, “Is it really something new?”

That said, one of the opportunity drivers for ABM software is the fact that the preeminent sales & marketing software, (what are they up to this week?), did a really bad job of enabling account-based marketing. Two huge flaws included:

  • No automated way to connect a “lead” to an existing account for its sales users

  • No automated way to track (like a lead is tracked with statuses & therefore built-in reporting) an incremental “lead” on an account - thus discouraging use of the account objects for managing prospect accounts

So it’s refreshing to have a company like Drift build account-based marketing right into their conversational marketing software. It’s logical. It’s useful. It helps their customers - which Drift is all about.

#2 - Sometimes the simplest use cases are the most powerful

You work hard to target your target accounts, through both inbound & outbound channels. When they get to your website, you want alarm bells going off for your sales team to capitalize on this, especially if the account is engaging in product specific or “higher intent” content.

I’ve previously made the point that this type of interaction is one of the intersection points between Inbound Marketing & Account Based Marketing, and Drift is taking that to another level by not only providing sales reps with the insight, but the ability to take immediate action and engage in conversation with that target account.   

Target account on our website. Alarm bells should be going off!!!!!
Target account on our website. Alarm bells should be going off!!!!!
...and give the account a personalized greeting
...and give the account a personalized greeting

It’s so simple. That’s the beauty of it though. How many businesses are actually doing this? Very few.

Which makes it a massive opportunity. Win for Marketing. Win for Sales. Win for Drift.

#3 - “Shipping” has massive value to company momentum

Drift ABM represents Drift’s second major product release in the past month, on the heels of the announcement of Drift email at the Hypergrowth show.

These releases are not just about the added product capabilities, it’s about setting the tone for the business. It’s a major statement from Craig Daniel’s product team and Elias Torres’ engineering team, which in turn builds more confidence for the sales & marketing teams to have the confidence to execute and deliver.

#4 - Put Drift on your shopping list

If you haven’t already done so from reading my “Five Ways Drift Helped Us Engage with More Web Visitors - in the First Week” blog or amazing recent articles from Jera Brown or Andy Raskin, put Drift on your company to watch list.

They have up-leveled the website chat product game to conversational marketing, and it’s an immediate way to 1) generate more leads from your website, 2) accelerate the velocity of those leads engaging with your sales team and 3) give sales & marketing teams a win-win that just makes sense, not to mention 4) be part of the rise of a company that is firing on all cylinders.

#5 - Drift’s big strategic question going forward

Drift has reinvented the live chat category. Cancel talks about his company's growth strategy is about finding a commodity category, and then winning in that category by building a better brand.

I expect Drift to be able to dominate customer acquisition in stealing share from other chat products, and winning over customers who are adding chat to their website for the first time. At a price point comparable to other chat vendors, the decision to add Drift should be a no-brainer at $250 per month or thereabout.

Here’s the big question though: will that be enough for Drift? Or are they going to take aim at eating the lunch of the marketing automation vendors?  They’ve gone out and said marketing automation is broken, after all.

That’s going to be closely related to the price point Drift wants to aim for to drive the greatest return for its investors such as Sequoia & General Catalyst. If it pushes up into the thousands of $ per month, marketers will be forced to think about Drift vs. Marketing Automation, and that will add a lot more friction to the sales process (short term) but present massive upside to the company (long term).

What’s for sure -  Drift could build a better marketing automation product. This is the team that rebuilt HubSpot and provided the product foundation for the multi-billion company HubSpot has turned into today.  I’m sure the team could build a better marketing platform.

As a marketing technologist, I’m rooting for it.

Online advertising is the newest oldest marketing investment to include in your mix (& now there’s proof)

When David Guerra at HG Data asked me to join their webinar earlier this week to talk about some of Bedrock Data’s success stories around targeted account digital marketing, I was happy to participate.

What I didn’t realize at the time – I was going to learn about some amazing research from my co-presenter, John Steinert, CMO of TechTarget.

I’ve been advocating for online advertising as a medium that should deliver payoff for most marketers – in this Inbound Marketing & ABM article, I characterized well targeted, on-message, relevant online advertising as the intersection point between Inbound & ABM.

Think about it this way – what’s so great about Inbound Marketing? It's that prospects discover you at a point when you can be of value to them, and then you create more, ongoing value for them through useful content.

But not everyone is going to find you. Well targeted online marketing helps you in two ways with your audience:

#1 - You may have some relevant content for your audience at that moment where they can take action (click through) or soon thereafter (view through). 


#2 – You expand the awareness of your brand/company, so that over time your prospect is more likely to turn to your company as it develops the need for the types of problems you solve.

Number two can be extremely difficult to measure.

In some regard, you just need to have the conviction that delivering the right message to the right audience consistently is going to lead to positive results. For me, spending a decade with the top advertising agencies in the world at Omnicom Group has me pre-disposed with this conviction.

So back to the webinar: “Steiny” brought facts to the table to back this up.

TechTarget has just completed research-- which isn’t formally released but which is also covered here -- and the upshot is:

  • TechTarget studied 111,000 planned IT projects, and 1,675 ad campaigns covering 700 million banner impressions
  • For these planned IT projects, TechTarget found out from these companies which vendors were part of the consideration set for that project
  • The analysis after aggregating this data showed that the companies consistently advertising had a +25% lift on being considered as vendors for these projects vs. non-advertisers. Those inconsistently advertising saw a +10% lift.

I wondered though about the chicken vs. egg question.

Were these companies being considered in more projects because they were more well known companies, and because they were more well known companies they had more marketing budget available to invest in online advertising?

Or, are the companies investing in online advertising getting considered for more projects because of the impact on awareness?

I asked John about this, and he said to correct for this "already well known" effective, the large brands that had been long-time advertisers were removed from the study. So most likely then the advertising investment was the "cause" and not the "effect" at play. 

So solid evidence to back the case for consistently running online advertising programs.

That said, doing online advertising right is difficult. Like most marketing mediums, it can get a bad rap based on mis-execution. If you are considering online advertising (or doing it but questioning your results so far), these are five things you  can do to best ensure success.

#1 – Target the right audience

Leverage account-based targeting to run advertising to the companies that matter to you. This is a great way to stretch your budget, and much rather have 25 ad impressions to 1,000 companies that matter to you, than 1 ad impression to a mixed bag of 25,000 companies.

#2 – Include context as part of your targeting strategy

The Google Display Network used to terrify me, because I often felt the context for my ads was going to be misaligned with the message -- and tracking Google Display Network results through to pipelines or deals usually disappointed. Now you can get much more granular with targeting and reporting on your ads by context, so choose the right context. Choose the topics that best align to both the problems you solve and the messaging for ads. That should continue to provide to be a winning recipe.

#3 – Build cross-channel marketing programs

Although I’m advocating for online advertising specifically here, it’s really as part of an integrated online mix. Your marketing programs should deliver a consistent message progressing through a storyline across multiple channels including online ads (multiple destinations), social media and email.

#4 – Look for successes and merchandise them

Look for successes – whether they are tracked through tracking a digital visitor through conversion, or looking at the pool of companies who are advertising to and connecting that to lead and opportunity data in your CRM. As you have successes, share those internally with marketing and sales teams to build confidence in the medium.

#5 – Be patient and skeptical at the same time

It will take time to see the full impact of online advertising, so you can’t expect immediate results. A three-month time window is the right time frame for a pilot. But at the same time be skeptical. If you are working with vendors or internal resources, work through the data to make sure it’s being executed correctly, and that you have good indicates that your targeting is hitting the mark-- click through rates vs. benchmarks, view through rates vs. benchmarks, reviewing the site URLs for fidelity to your plan. 

Want more insights like this on driving growth through integrated marketing?
Follow me on Twitter @MoneyballMktr

Standing out in a sea of MarTech vendors

The MarTech conference this past week at Hynes Convention Center in Boston acted as the live, in-person experience of Scott Brinker’s now famous MarTech infographic. 

After walking the vendor hall and seeing lots and lots of overlapping messages and value propositions, you can only be left thinking “Wow, there’s a lot of noise out there.” To witness:

Which begs the question – what’s a MarTech vendor to do to stand out from the pack?

Don't read on for best practices. Don't read on for secrets to success. Don't read on for guarantees to drive XXX ROI. 

These are just the things that I've found are key to giving yourself the best shot at meaningful market impact and the illusive "predictable growth engine" the 5,000+ MarTech vendors should all be after. 

#1 - Find your movement

Find the rallying cry that has an emotional connection that your target audience can relate and rally around. This is easier said than done. A good way to get to this raison d'etre will be intense customer interviews to get inside the mind of your target audience.

The ultimate example of this is HubSpot creating the Inbound movement (which, interestingly, was how I spent last week in this fall season of marketing technology Boston events). Other recent examples are Drift building a rallying cry around marketing automation vendors having lost their way (and specifically #NoForms), and Terminus with Flip My Funnel.

The criteria for the movement are it needs:

  • An emotional underpinning
  • Something that audience hears about and “gets them nodding” (see Andy Raskin’s approach for 'the Story is the Strategy' and this Never Split the Difference anecdote from former FBI negotiator Chris Voss) 
  • Aligns in some way with your product and problems it solves

Finding this movement creates the connection between your marketing programs and your ability to generate demand. It provides a brand foundation that helps you stand out from the crowd. It aligns your content and marketing programs around a purpose.

#2 - Eat your own g*d d*mn dogfood

The first point above is incredibly hard to discover and get right. Few do. The ones who do, will crush it. 

Number two though is something that every company must do – it’s essential. And there's no excuse for missing it. 

Invest your time and resources in using your own product, and proving out what you do. There’s no more convincing an experience for a prospect than being impacted by a company’s marketing, and then realizing they are practicing what they preach.

On the flipside, the “cobbler’s children have no shoes” argument no longer works – you need to demonstrate the value of your tool yourself.

If you are a targeted account advertising solution, then you better have the #1 targeted account advertising program.

If you are a content marketing resource center, you better have the #1 content marketing resource center.

Many things contributed to HubSpot’s growth (and as I write this today $3.15B market cap), but the tipping point came when Mike Volpe’s marketing team worked with David Cancel’s product team to ensure that HubSpot was using its very own product to the max to drive results.

#3 - Know your customer (talk to them, a lot!)

I have covered this separately here – Arms Tied Behind My Back, If I Could Do Only One Marketing Activity, It Would be This.

These customer interviews are not only going to provide the key insights around identifying your movement, but they are also going to provide the foundational pieces for a content program that can scale.

#4 - Build the right content in the right way

Content is key, we all know that. The differentiator comes in building the right content across the entire buying process, in the right way. Some key points here:

  • Podcasts can be a great way to bring your brand personality to life, and communicate it to a wide audience. The best podcasts are going to tap into the Movement from #1 so that they can 1) Step outside of your product story but at the same time and 2) Connect back, emotionally, to what you do. For more on this check out the great Jay Acunzo’s Unthinkable.

  • Use case driven content can simultaneously fuel SEO and the sales team, while helping your buyer
  • Customer stories (in multiple formats, and increasingly audio & video) can authentically help your buyers while continuously reinforcing the value of what you do, and your product’s credibility for having done it
  • Build late stage content that answers specific buyer questions. The format here can be as simple as blog posts. The ultimate measure for this content: is it helping your sales team to close deals?
  • Apply your content production at scale – transcribed webinars, repurpose to blog posts, package blog posts to longer form content, etc.

#5 - Be as targeted as possible to reach your audience

If there’s one lesson from Account Based Marketing (which I may sometimes poke fun at), it’s to be as targeted as possible to relate to and stand out for your audience.  For some, that will be a vertical strategy. For others, technographics is increasingly an effective technique if you can identify other tech communities that you want to spawn off of.

Work with sales to identify the right accounts and the right approach for reaching those accounts with an integrated approach.  See my Stop debating Inbound vs. ABM and start integrating your marketing (& that means with sales too) for five specific techniques for doing this that I shared at last month's Engagio user group meeting.

#6 - Affiliate yourself with great brands or partners to scale demand more quickly

This could mean co-marketing programs with larger partners whose users are your target audience. Or if that’s not possible, it could mean featuring those companies or people as part of your content - in depth stories on how they became successful, interviews with influential team members.

#7 - Experiment, measure & continuously improve

The aforementioned Drift team, Jay Acunzo and Mike Volpe are all excellent at reminders at a few key points: there is no silver bullet; the techniques that are effective for you are going to be based on your business, not someone else; and there are no true best practices because you want to do things that are unique and stand out and work for you, not what “everyone else is doing”.

Take a moment to hear it from Mike:

So the real takeaway is – you need to experiment and figure out what works for you. Experiment, measure (so you can identify what has potential, and make bigger bets) and continuously improve.

The pic to start this article was a busy hallway shot to kickoff the show, but there’s also gonna be quiet times like this one here at the morning of Day 3. The vendors that stand out from the crowd are going to do so because they are different and not the same.

Everything you want to know about Marketo’s product roadmap 2017 & 2018

I sat in a review of the Marketo product roadmap to the Boston Marketo User Group earlier today, led by Frank Passantino, Senior Product Manager at Marketo.


Since starting out as a Marketo partner in 2010, this was by far the best product presentation and plan that I’ve seen from Marketo. So props to Frank and team, and clearly we are seeing the influence of structure Steve Lucas is bringing to the business since taking over as CEO last October. (Things have come a long way since the SEO release in 2014.)

I’ll highlight each area Frank walked us through, a total of 11, in the order he reviewed it – and provide my take on the impact to Marketo users.

#1 – Bulk APIs

Frank got us started with a topic near and dear to my heart at Bedrock Data – Bulk APIs. In Frank’s words, up until now, “There’s never been a good way to get activity data out of Marketo.” That changes with Bulk APIs.

There are two Bulk APIs: one for lead records, and one for lead activities, which open up the API to the entire activity log on a lead record – every granular detail Marketo has logged on that lead including web pages viewed, data updates, emails sent/opened/clicked and much more.

My Take: Frank gets off to a great start by addressing a long-time product gap. There are powerful applications here. Look for large enterprise customers with their own development teams to take advantage of these APIs, as well as Marketo partners with integration products like Bedrock Data. 

Kudos here to Marketo for showing an appreciation for the value of helping customers getting data out of their system to best use it, and not restricting analytics of Marketo data to within its walled garden.

#2 – Campaign Throughput

Frank clarified Marketo’s definition of the original Project Orion (Marketo's internal code name) and what was delivered with the release of Marketo's Engagement Platform last March.

Per Frank, the revamp of the Marketo Engagement Platform was centered primarily on the ingestion of activities to Marketo, and solving for customers with 2 million+ individual activities per day. Prior to this work, this level of activity volume could not get into Marketo – now it can.

So now going forward, the campaign throughput development in the works is about extending that same level of scale and performance to campaign execution via Marketo.

My Take: This was interesting, as a reminder of Marketo’s flawed product communications of the past. The past developments in this area will go down as a case study of how not to communicate a new product offering – as the stories from Marketo personnel to customers on it would be were all over the map. I don’t want to re-hash it here, but just check out the CMS Wire story arc to see how this went from major over-hype in 2016 (May 17 & May 22) to major confusion in early 2017 (Feb 28) to major attempts to smooth over in March (March 1 & March 17).

It’s best to just move on, but the key takeaway here is that Marketo is still very much in progress on major product scalability to support larger and larger B2B enterprises.

#3 – Marketing Performance Insights

Frank shared new set of Marketo reports dubbed Performance Insights which is now in Beta.

The reports give a customer a view into performance using the two most important closed loop metrics – Pipeline and Revenue. There are breakdowns by programs and marketing channel.  Pipeline and revenue data will be based on opportunity sync from CRMs using Marketo’s Salesforce or Dynamics connectors, or third party connectors like Bedrock Data for any Marketo-CRM connection.

Frank was clear that this would be a powerful overview tool, but would not get as deep into drill-downs or attribution as do tools like Bright Funnel, Bizible and Full Circle Insights.

My Take: This will valuable for a lot of Marketo customers. Marketo has lacked a clean overview dashboard on performance, and this will fill that gap. It looks like they took a fresh approach to building it, outside of the RCE Reporting Engine – which is a good thing to keep it simple.

I also like Marketo’s approach here – they built something that is going to be applicable to all their customers to get value from quickly. And for the customers who want to go deeper into attribution reporting, they can turn to third party providers for much deeper functionality. This is a win for both Marketo customers and the greater Marketo partner ecosystem.

#4 – Web Performance Insights

Website reports, aggregated in Marketo.

My Take: I didn’t see much incremental value here and Marketo appeared to be leaving the big opportunity on the here.

What these reports should do (but don’t) is connect web site analytics to the same performance metrics in the performance reports – pipeline and revenue.

Marketo could answer a question for customers like: which of my blog posts have the greatest influence on creating pipeline, or deals? That would be a game changer for Marketo's web site analytics.

#5  – Account Snapshot Chrome Plug In for Sales Reps

Frank then spoke about how Marketo’s “account-based” focus up until now has been on account-based marketing, and now going forward they will be incorporating account-based tools for sales. The first example is a Chrome plug-in which aggregates key account info (including scoring).

My Take: Getting sales user adoption from a tool is a whole 'nother animal. I’d prefer to see a comprehensive strategy to do that, then a one-off plugin like this. I would have put engineering resources elsewhere (like my Web Performance to Pipeline/Revenue idea from #4, or enhancements addressing customer feedback) ahead of this.

#6 – More ABM Features

Frank bucketed Marketo’s upcoming ABM developments into three categories:

  • Account hierarchy: supporting the build-out of a company hierarchy to support regional or business line structures for organizations.

  • Multi-dimensional scoring: Greater customization around building your own account scoring rules.
  • Extensibility: Here, Frank gave the example of using APIs to push out target account lists or enrich target account data.

My Take: A solid set of tools to deepen Marketo’s functionality here. Just like the attribution example, Marketo is trying to build an ABM suite to meet the needs of many or most customers, so that only the “power ABM marketers” need to turn to additional third party ABM orchestration tools.

#7 – Marketo's Next Generation UX

This got a lot of excitement and attention at the Marketo Summit in May.

This is all about making Marketo’s interface faster, more usable and more consistent.

Frank broke to project down into three areas:

  • Universal design language: making the interface consistent with re-usable components (he gave the example of a date selection widget)
  • High velocity and enhanced usability: making Marketo’s interface perform better, especially areas such as Marketo’s tree when navigating hierarchies such as programs)
  • Value-add features

For value-add features, there are many in the works. Highlights include:

  • An incredible amount of detail around details like calendar reminders, which shows the importance to Marketo users of managing programs through Marketo and I’ve written about. Features include supporting text tokens within a calendar token so that an event name can be dynamically added into a calendar reminder. Another one was the ability to set the reminder prompt time for ICS files.
  • Supporting URLs as a token type – so that they are tracked properly in emails (I remember encountering this issue years ago!)
  • Saved rules for a smart campaign which allow for easier re-use of rules from program to program
  • A stream view of an engagement program, incorporating performance data
  • More flexibility in managing the cadence of engagement streams

Frank talked about a parallel roll-out for this next generation UX – that users will be able to toggle between the new and old interface for a period of time, which will be important since not everything will be available in the new UX right away.

My Take: The incredible detail involved in some of these features shows that Marketo has listened to its users on key usability areas. That said, the creation of this new UX has been a painful one for Marketo users to live through, as there’s been a very long time gap here with minimal improvements on the existing interface in lieu of building this new one.  Let’s hope the interface pains of the past few years will be worth it as Marketo's Next Generation UX hits the user base.

#8 – Ad Bridge !!!!!!!!!!!

For me, this was the “sit on the edge of my seat” moment of the session. It astounded me just how much ad bridge functionality is already available, of which I know many, many customers are not yet taking advantage. 

The features – most of which are already in place – offer powerful integration between a customer’s customer and prospect database and online advertising.

For a guy who’s been doing both marketing automation and online advertising for way-too-long, this was awesome stuff.

Frank broke it down into three categories, covering what Marketo supports or will soon support across Google (Ad Words, YouTube & Gmail), Facebook & LinkedIn.

Matched Audiences: You can build a list in Marketo, and feed it as an audience for a specific campaign in Facebook or LinkedIn (today), and adding Google by end of the year. These audiences can be targeted (imaging a customer cross-sell offer, or targeting those same companies in a targeted outbound program with relevant ads) and also used as the basis for lookalike targeting (finding like companies, through those platforms).

Offline Conversion: You can use your closed loop tracking via Marketo to feed data into Google or Facebook for closed loop revenue reporting directly in those platforms. Very powerful for anyone managing ad spend via Google or Facebook, so that you can optimize for the right metrics.   

Lead Ingestion: Facebook and LinkedIn ad units that capture leads directly in them (one click response) can be fed directly into Marketo. This is especially powerful for mobile campaigns where users can easily click on an ad to opt in – large conversion rate improvements vs. anything involving a click through and landing page form-fill.

My Take: I had two huge takeaways here. Every Marketo customer whose spending money on online advertising or PPC should be using this. And that Marketo needs to step up its customer success and customer education efforts, as they should be working directly with every single customer to help them take advantage of these exciting capabilities.

#9 – “Adaptive”

Frank got futuristic here –talking about potential future AI-based innovations. Marketo already has some adaptive capabilities built into the platform with Marketo Predictive Content, and sounds like they are thinking about more to come.  

My Take: This is definitely futuristic. There are going to be many keys to success here, and having ad bridge in place is going to be one of them (to reach new audiences and more potential media locations). So step 1 should just be getting as many customers as possible using ad bridge.

This is several years away – but probably smart for Marketo to at least be alluding to it as part of it’s road map so customers know where they want to go – and don’t get sucked into AI plays from other vendors.

#10 – “Customer Love”

Frank spoke about how Marketo will address the top ranked request from the customer community every year. This year, it’s the option to send emails in person’s time zone. Marketo is going to leverage Country/City/State/Zip data to populate this, or their own inferred location data if those fields are empty, while also giving customers the ability to overwrite that if they choose.

My Take: Any features addressing mass Marketo user feedback from the Community are a good thing. Would like to see some more investment in these requests in the near term (listen to Gregoire Michel, he knows what he’s talking about!).

#11 – Sales Enablement

I was excited to wrap up on this topic, as I got to see where some of the areas I had speculated about from the ToutApp acquisition in May were headed.

Frank spoke about Marketo’s now hodge-podge of sales offerings – from ToutApp to the new aforementioned Chrome plugin, to their Gmail and Outlook plugins, and the views within Salesforce. Frank said these all would be packaged under a common packaging, and with integration between ToutApp and Marketo (for example, removal from a marketing campaign, if in a ToutApp sales campaign).  

My Take: It's not yet clear if the ToutApp brand will remain or be rolled under the Marketo brand like Insightera and CrowdFactory have been in the past. Either way, we will see a set of packaged products emerge, let's call them "Marketo’s sales products." This is going to get more and more investment but it’s going to take time.


Frank just dove right in to the roadmap (which was probably appropriate for this group of hungry power users), so I’m going to take a moment here to net out the key themes that probably served as inputs to what we saw.

#1 – Continue to scale the product, moving up enterprise – bulk APIs, campaign throughput

#2 – Massive UI improvements – although going to be a transition period for about a year

#3 – Lots of listening to customers – although only so many resources that can be put into (still a long backlog to go via the Community)

And my 3 overarching takeaways from seeing the road map:

#1 – Marketo’s going to add functionality, but still lots of room for surrounding ecosystem partners. The addition of activities to the API is actually going to add more potential to leverage Marketo data outside of Marketo. Within Marketo’s roadmap, there’s still ample opportunity for LaunchPoint partners to thrive, whether you’re talking about Bright Funnel or Bizible or Full Circle for attribution, or Bedrock Data for Marketo-CRM integrations.

#2 – Ad Bridge is a huge asset to Marketo customers, and Marketo’s customer success teams needs to be focused on enabling customers to take advantage of it now.

#3 – Marketo is here to stay. The roadmap was rock solid, and confidence instilling. Marketo’s had some bumps along the way here but the path seems a solid one to support their customers and help them take a big step forward in cross-channel digital marketing.

Did you find this useful? I also wrote an expert guide on Marketo Integrations. Check it out here (it does require short registration): The Marketer's Mega Guide to Marketo Integrations

Five Ways Drift Helped Us Engage With More Web Visitors - In the First Week

As our Bedrock Data marketing team prioritized growth initiatives for Q2, improving engagement and conversions on our website was a key priority.

We decided to implement Drift on as a key step towards that goal (cc Gabi Altunes).

I knew I was intrigued by Drift’s “No Forms” positioning (which I wrote about when they came out with it last year).

I knew Drift runs a phenomenal marketing program with great content from Dave Gerhardt & co.

And I knew the Drift product would be outstanding, coming from David Cancel’s awesome product and engineering team who turned HubSpot’s product from a potential liability to a huge advantage from 2011 to 2014.

What I didn’t know was - would Drift help us drive incremental leads (and opportunities, pipeline & customers) from our website? That’s what our Chief Revenue Officer Alan DiPietro really wanted to know.

If we were just “moving around the furniture” (diverting some would-be forms leads or call-in leads to Drift leads), that wasn’t going to do us much good.

One week - yes one week - into rolling it out, I’m happy to report that we are indeed seeing incremental lift.

I can point my finger at the engagement we’re getting, and while some of it certainly falls in the category of “accelerating leads we would have gotten anyway” (still valuable), there’s a definitive category of website visitors with whom we are engaging & converting whom I’m convinced would have bounced without live chat engagement.

I’ve categorized the impact into five types of website visitors:

#1 - Ms. Urgent

This falls in the category of acceleration. Marketing is about momentum, and if you can carry the momentum of a website visitors into a sales conversation, it’s a win for sales and marketing.

Momentum matters. After a good trade show, the question is can you carry the momentum from the tradeshow floor over to sales & marketing follow-up?  And the same is true for a website visitor - can you carry momentum established on your website over to sales engagement, immediately?

We had a website visitor looking for an urgent solution to their Pardot-NetSuite integration with news hitting that Pardot had dropped their non-Salesforce CRM connectors.

Through the Drift chat I confirmed we did in fact provide that connector, answered several questions and scheduled a meeting for later that day with a rep. I also directed our visitor to several links for expert content including a video walkthrough of what she was looking for. We even joked about how she was really looking to solve this problem quickly because her sales team was upset by the prospect of lost marketing automation-CRM integration.

Interestingly, this Ms. Urgent found us via a paid search ad for Pardot-NetSuite integrations - so if you are asking yourself “Should I put Chat on my paid search landing pages?”, the answer is yes!

By the time that afternoon meeting came around, the questions centered around “how quickly can we get started?” as the entire team had seen the video walkthrough shared from the chat.

#2 - Mr. Ready to Collaborate

This visitor was seeking collaboration - he wanted to know what we could do, and then ask some deeper & deeper questions around the details of, in his case, a Pardot-ConnectWise integration.

Thrilled by the interaction, our Mr. Ready to Collaborate scheduled a follow up call for that afternoon…. and a few days later became our first “Drift to Dollars” customer win.

 #3 - Mr. “Not Ready to Reveal Myself… Yet”

Here’s where we move from acceleration to true incremental engagement.

This is the largest volume of the chats. The chat starts out with a question - and you allow the visitor to do so and remain anonymous. They can ask their question without the overhead of having to identify themselves by name. They’re not quite ready to reveal their identity.

You answer the question - and engage in a conversation. Back and forth, back and forth. Provide clear, expert answers to their questions. Ask a follow-up question. Share a related link.  And then before you know it, the visitor is willing to share their information with you to schedule a follow-up.

It’s a combination of the visitor-driven engagement, a positive experience of chat interaction, and the sharing of expert content - where this magic happens - and back to Alan’s question - I’m convinced this is incremental. Here are some real world examples from Bedrock Data last week:

  • CFO knew his team was looking for a NetSuite-Pardot integration (different company than the one above), was vetting our capabilities after hearing about us from his marketing team

  • Marketer was doing his homework on Marketo-Eventbrite integrations as he built a plan for his team to add Eventbrite as their event management system

  • A web developer was checking on the possibility of connecting Zoho & NetSuite

  • A business development lead was checking on the capabilities of integrating HubSpot and NetSuite as his marketing team considers a HubSpot purchase, so he could refer a solution to his NetSuite power user  

  • A marketer wanted to know how long a Marketo-Zoho integration would take, and confirm the pricing (was surprised Bedrock Data does not charge a setup fee)

 The pattern here is that these web visitors are visiting the site with an intent to learn - and a live chat provides them a pathway to do so - and move them forward in their buying process.

 #4 - Ms. “I Need Help”

Another pattern that emerged was a type of visitor who was legitimately looking for help - as they were very unfamiliar with the subject because they had been asked to do research by someone else. Sometimes these visitors remained anonymous (after helping them out), or sometimes they self-identified.

 Some examples here include a procurement person doing research into options for a HubSpot-SugarCRM integration - and looking to report options back to their marketing team. Another example was a junior member of a marketing team asked to look into HubSpot-ConnectWise integrations by his boss.

 Without chat engagement, these visitors would not have been likely to self-identify, and would have left the site without a solid grasp on the information they were looking for. It was natural for them to ask a question via chat, but likely would not have been natural for them to “formally request something” (see what I did there - formally) as they were outside of their comfort zone with a new subject matter.  

#5 - Mr. International

Due to our capabilities of rapidly implemented integrations which can be self-managed by business users, we do a lot of business with international based customers looking to connect SaaS systems without a traditional IT integration project.

 We wanted to take advantage of chat engagement for our international site visitors as well, thinking it would be a nice touch to reinforce we are easy to do business with even though we are not located in their local country.

We came up with an approach we dubbed “Drift After Hours”, where we have a chat sidebar letting our visitors know we are not online but to share their details and we’ll be back to them as soon as possible. Still far better than having to find and fill out a contact us form.

Even better, when we get an after-hours chat engagement (like all Drift inquiries) we route them via Slack - so in the event a team member is available they can respond in real time.

So Wednesday night a little before 9:00, I’m sitting on the couch watching a baseball game and Slack lights up. A web visitor from Australia (where they are starting their next work day) wants to talk about his need to connect Marketo for marketing automation, HubSpot as CRM for his BDR team, and NetSuite as their back office CRM.

Yes we can do it!  

We engage in a great chat - answer his questions on capabilities, on-boarding time and pricing.

I’m on my couch, watching a baseball game and having a Slack conversation with a marketer in Australia about integrating Marketo, HubSpot & NetSuite. Drift is awesome!


My Only Pain Point

The only significant pain point so far is… integrations. Of course I would complain about that since I spend all day at Bedrock Data helping companies better integrate their sales & marketing systems!  

My issue is that although after a chat, Drift can push a lead into Salesforce (good), it can only bring over the HubSpot source data from HubSpot if that record also converts on a HubSpot form. Ahem, ahem - doesn’t quite align to the no form approach.

Since most visitors aren’t going to follow up a chat with a form-fill - at least not right away - then the tradeoff of bringing these leads in via Drift is losing your baseline metrics on conversions by channel - organic, referrals, direct, etc. That record exists in HubSpot, but it’s anonymous and not connected to the lead record in Salesforce - so the data is effectively lost.

I’m sure the wizards at Drift will figure it out soon. They built HubSpot after all.

Pain Point? Drift's on it! 

(Update June 26) - Drift is all about being custom-obsessed and customer-centric. Check out what Elias said in that post above if you want to hear more about that. 

I experienced that first hand. I published this post on Saturday, and by Sunday I heard from Drift's CEO David Cancel to express interest in learning more about the HubSpot integration challenge, and by Monday Drift's VP of Product Craig Daniel was in our office to talk about it. Craig told us that Drift's on the case, along with sharing some other cool upcoming features around reporting and routing. 

Customer Issue? Drift listens & solves

(Update 2 August 17) - After back and forth with me to test, happy to report Drift has firmly addressed the above issue - and now HubSpot source data flows cleanly into Salesforce. Here's an example of a Bedrock Data lead from yesterday using this new & improved integration. You can see critical digital marketing data such as the lead sourced from Organic Search and in this specific case They've also made the Conversion Event descriptions much cleaner.


This has been a great experience of providing a positive review of a product, but with one issue - and the CEO and VP Product Management jumping all over the issue - and coming up with a nice product improvement in a rapid time frame.  As I said here:

I'd be buying Drift stock if I could. 

What’s Next?

Next up at Bedrock Data is rolling it out for our customer success and support teams, including interface via our help site and in-product. Given the back and forth our support team typically has with customers, it’s sure to improve the customer experience for that interaction - and help to resolve questions more quickly.

So stop by and say hello - we’re open for business over at

Marketo buys ToutApp: What we know, don’t know & the biggest looming question

It’s a fun time of year for MarTech.

We’re on the eve of both Marketo’s Marketing Nation and Oracle’s Modern Marketing Experience, and three weeks out from Scott Brinker’s MarTech Conference.

And, who doesn’t love a little MarTech M&A, like we saw last week with Marketo’s acquisition of ToutApp?

The acquisition was greeted with a lot of press release repackaging – and that’s it – so here we’ll provide the first real analysis of this big industry news.

There are things we know, and things we don’t know. Some questions we’ll get some insight at Marketing Nation this week, but most of the answers that matter will take longer to develop.

Here’s what we know and don’t know, and the biggest looming question, about Marketo buying ToutApp:

#1 – Marketo is ALL IN on Engagement

Since the arrival of Steve Lucas as CEO last October and the promotion of Chandar Pattabhiram to CMO two months prior, Marketo has put its bet on positioning itself as the “Engagement Platform.”

As part of its seemingly continuous push to move upmarket to the enterprise, the pitch goes something like this:

In today’s dynamic and diverse media landscape, marketers must effectively engage their buyers, across all marketing channels and all stages of the buying process. Great storytelling is the key to effective engagement. Marketo is the platform to deliver those stories – and engage – across the buying process. 

 We heard a lot of this earlier last week, before the acquisition news hit, in AdAge’s profile of Pattabhiram’s self-described “brand transformation” of Marketo.

Which gets us to the ToutApp news.

The ToutApp news was literally all about engagement.

Of the 304 words in the press release, more than 3% were that word ‘engagement’ – 10 in the body copy, plus one in the headline and two in the boilerplate.  ‘Engagement’ trailed only the word ‘Marketo’ which had just 2 more mentions.

Marketo, the Engagement Platform, acquired ToutApp, the Sales Engagement Platform.

Got it?

#2 – A prominent voice from Marketo’s past isn’t buying in

Jon Miller matters to Marketo.

Miller co-founded Marketo, contributed hugely to inventing the product and their go-to-market, and was the top non-executive officer shareholder with 527,871 shares of stock when Marketo went public in May, 2013. Miller is now founder and CEO of Engagio.

So it caught my eye last Monday, two days before the ToutApp news, when Miller came out with a blog post on Engagio’s blog titled “What’s the Difference Between “Engagement” and Account Based Everything?”

I asked myself, “Why is Jon coming directly at Marketo’s messaging, so strongly?”

Even the touch of putting the word Engagement in quotes in the title, it was clear this was a Marketo takedown point of view.

Miller went on to point out that first of all, engagement is in the lineage of Engagio’s name -- something I’m sure Lucas and Pattabhiram considered, and, ultimately fueled them to double down on Marketo owning that term.

A couple of the key points from Miller are:

“A sequence of automated interactions is not engagement.”


“Sales spam is NOT engagement.”

The first comment above is a shot at how most Marketo customers use Marketo – as a drip email tool.  Miller knows this all too well.

The second comment was a lean-in against ToutApp – if ToutApp is used for low quality sales touches, that’s not engagement, that’s just spam.

Of course the truth lies somewhere in between.

What’s most interesting to me about this exchange is there has been a lot of “frenemy” language used by Marketo and Engagio over the past couple years, but with this latest run directly against Marketo’s positioning, the “fr” in that phrase should be dropped.

#3 – Marketo will put more $ around the strategic bet / opportunity cost / integration than the acquisition cost

ToutApp touts (I had to do it) 400 customers, but it’s in a competitive space with SalesLoft, Outreach and others. ToutApp trails both in its G2 Crowd ranking.

There apparently was some dancing between Marketo and ToutApp a couple years back, - when the offer didn’t make sense, but the timing is right for ToutApp now.

My spider sense says this acquisition is an eight-figure deal; where in that range, I’m not certain.

What I do know is that this being Lucas’ first deal since joining Marketo, and it representing a big step forward for Marketo into sales products – the real cost here to Marketo is not the acquisition $, it’s the need to make this a success.

The marketing automation space is getting more and more crowded with HubSpot, Pardot, Eloqua (now Oracle Marketing Cloud) and Act-on all going strong, plus new entrants such as Mautic and SharpSpring. Most significant to Marketo is their focal point for so many years has been Salesforce customers, where Pardot continues to go aggressively after that base leading with extremely aggressive bundled pricing.

The point is – at a time of crossroads for Marketo, this is a key bet Lucas is making to drive Marketo forward, and he needs to make it a success. There’s going to be a lot of wood behind this arrow. The cost of the acquisition is just the beginning.

#4 – Marketo doesn’t have a good track record for integrating acquisitions… but there’s a new management team in place

There’s no existing internal blueprint for acquisition success at Marketo. The blueprint will come from Lucas’s SAP experience in dealing with multi-product enterprise software portfolios.

There are two acquisitions on Marketo’s books – social media marketing company Crowd Factory in 2012 and website personalization engine Insightera in 2013. 

The positives of those acquisitions were incoming talent, including Crowd Factory CEO Sanjay Dholakia who was Marketo’s CMO prior to Pattabhiram. There were many challenges, however. The challenges highlight areas that need to be better addressed by the Lucas regime this time around, including product packaging, product integration, impact on the sales organization, and ability to upsell existing customers.

#5 – The ToutApp acquisition closed a gap between Marketo & HubSpot… but there’s still a ways to go when it come to Marketo’s breadth

I bring this up because it’s noteworthy that for the first time Marketo is dipping its toe into sales solutions. Marketo’s Sales Insight is used by sales but has always been sold as an extension of the marketing automation product.

HubSpot is well ahead of Marketo in the sales department as they have built and market their own CRM product as well as sales suite. On the other side of breadth – digital – HubSpot also has its own website content management platform which Marketo does not have a parallel tool.

Marketo still has a ways to go in terms of getting to the full breadth of HubSpot. And given the enterprise / upmarket focus, this may not even be a goal of theirs if they see their current functionality set as the sweet spot they want to focus on and build around.

#6 – There are many questions around what comes next…

I posed the question on LinkedIn to Marketo users on their sentiments around the acquisition. I heard from several Marketo power users including Pierce Ujjainwalla, Dan RaduGregoire Michel, and Tim Cerato – and the consensus was positive, with questions on how this would impact the Marketo Sales Insight product, the interface Marketo provides today to salespeople who use Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics.

These are the questions that will need to be answered in the coming days and months:

  • Will ToutApp continue as a separate brand or fold into the Marketo brand?
  • Since it’s the first acquisition under the Lucas regime, it will set a precedent… Does Marketo plan to operate as a “branded house” or a “house of brands” ?
  • How much further integrated will they make the two products? (There is already an integration in place today)
  • Will this and other factors such as Pardot’s Salesforce focus cause Marketo to target growth across a wider range of CRM systems?
  • Will Marketo phase out the existing Marketo Sales Insight product?
  • Will both the marketing and sales products be sold by the same sales team?

#7 – … Plus this, the biggest question

There’s one more question, the biggest question resulting from all of this, in my eyes.

What’s next for Lucas?

There are two possible paths.

Path #1 is: We’re still going through a major management transition following the Vista buy-out. We’re playing catch up to ensure the Marketo platform has the right technical foundation and Project Orion is implemented and proven at scale amongst our customers. And now we have the ToutApp acquisition. We don’t have a proven track record of acquisitions at this company, so we’re going to spend the time to do this right, and make it successful. That’s the focus for the next 12 months.

Path #2 is: This is just the beginning. We bought ToutApp because we saw it as an underperforming asset and a complimentary product. We’re going to opportunistically add MarTech products under the Marketo house of brands. The LaunchPoint ecosystems gives us a bevy of companies to consider. We see Marketo as a holding company of sorts to acquire, develop and co-market a range of MarTech products.

Lucas gave us a clue into the strategy earlier in the year. In this Silicon Angle interview, he stated “massive consolidation is coming to MarTech.”

Re-reading that article now, Lucas told us this was coming! He said we’d see “significant growth in M&A.” Three months later we get Marketo’s first acquisition. I think we’ll find there’s more to come.


What do you think? Have I captured the key considerations around the acquisition? Which of these seven points do you find most interesting? How do you rate the move? And what do you see coming next? Please share your thoughts below. 

Arms tied behind my back, if I could do only one marketing activity it'd be this

If I was allowed just one marketing activity – it would be customer interviews.

Not just any customer interview - a customer interview process whereby you leverage those interviews as content across all stages of the buying process. 

Here’s how I approach these:

Step 1 – Work with customer success team to identify customers to interview – could be as soon as when customers have completed successful on-boarding

Step 2 – Interview the customer over the phone (usually 30-45 mins). Questions go back to how the customer knew they had a problem they needed to solve, who did they involve in the decision, how did they talk about the problem, how did they find your company – straight through to how they implemented it, and what benefits they are seeing or expecting to see.

Step 3 – Edit into a conversation style interview, provide to customer to edit/approve, publish & promote (about an hr, plus promotion).

So in less than 2 hours you have quality content, in the customer's language, authentically speaking to all stages of the buying process.

These are some recent examples from Bedrock Data:

Now why would I choose this as the one and only?  It just does so many positive things.  Here are eight ways these help you:

#1 – Credibility content for sales

Great content for sales team to use to build credibility around specific use cases – in Bedrock Data’s case you are trying to integrate say, HubSpot and NetSuite – here’s an interview we did with our customer talking about how they approached the project, some of the challenges they faced and how they got around it.

Providing prospects with content that is relevant to specific to their situation – both in the problem they are trying to solve and the types of questions they would like to answer –is the best way to deliver value to your prospect while also overcoming the natural, and ever growing, lack of trust for vendor written content.

#2 – Conversational content to help prospects move through buying process

To that point of mistrust for vendor content, I find prospects are much more likely relate to the conversational style Q&A format of these articles, then overproduced case study templates. There is a true authenticity to the content which helps to break through the skepticism towards vendor content. And, ironically, it’s much faster to pump out these Q&A style articles then it would be to format into “traditional” case studies.

#3 – Proof points for website

These interviews cover every stage of the buying process, including questions around how the company helped the customer. These quotes become great proof point quotes to sprinkle into a website. You get them as a byproduct of conducting the interview and producing the content.

#4 – Quality SEO content

Each of these articles is keyword rich content, speaking to the problems your company solves. Using that word authentic again, they are an authentic way build out quality content as part of your SEO strategy.

#5 – Long form content to mine from / repurpose

Since the articles themselves are approved, published interviews – they create an asset for you for your marketing team to mine and pull from over time. As you add more team members, even interns, they can easily repurpose fro the topics covered in these articles – e.g. a composite piece on a specific topic, or a specific pull quote to address a specific prospect’s question down the road.

#6 – Helps create customer advocates

I’ve found the customers really appreciate the process of being interviewed, and then seeing their experience packaged up into an article. Oftentimes it gives something they can share internally with colleagues as a way to demonstrate the success they have had in the engagement.

Nearly all of the people I’ve interviewed have been happy to serve as reference accounts for Bedrock Data, and have helped to spread positive word about the company through word of mouth – references, webinars, events and social media.

#7 – Build out your buying journey map and customer specific semantics

The interviews also serve as continuous, first-party research to keep your pulse on the customer buying journey, Whether formal or informal, you can continuously evolve your understanding of the buyer journey. This interviews also serve as launching points for keyword ideas, customer stories for sales conversations and topics for other marketing programs.

#8 – It’s fun and rewarding

Lastly this work has been tremendously fun and rewarding. It comes across as a major win-win for everyone involved.

Bedrock Data benefits from the customer stories and customer advocates.

And every time I’ve felt that the customer gets a lot out of it, including as I already mentioned a testimonial of sorts for their own project for them to share.  I’ve been thrilled to see customers being so engaged by the experience that, without solicitation, they continued to spread the word about Bedrock Data. =

For example Luque Wang repurposed his article in this LinkedIn post, and Amanda Daume packaged her interview into an article on her own blog here

Not too shabby for less than two hours of work, right?

Profiling Scott Brinker, The Accidental Influencer

Scott Brinker,

Scott Brinker,

Friday October 6

It's a fitting day for me to write this coming off a two week stretch at INBOUND (the mega event with 21k attendees to kick off Scott's new role as VP, Platform at HubSpot) and then MARTECH (with many, many MarTech enthusiasts networking around thought leadership that Scott has helped to foster in the industry). 

Here's more on Scott's background which as you will see sets him up to thrive in his new role at HubSpot. 


At Tuesday’s CMO Confessions event hosted by Daniel Glickman, the Chief Marketing Technologist himself Scott Brinker took stage with a Q&A format that invited 90 minutes of deep questioning from the audience – Daniel equated it to a discovery process for a trial.

Scott came equipped to handle every question large and small and drop serious MarTech insight for the audience.

Along the way he shared his story of how a side hobby has turned, accidentally, into a hit blog with nearly 30,000 Twitter followers – and how he’s resisted the push to turn it into something more.

Here what Scott shared:

Where did the idea for come from?

Scott began his career in web development and his company was hired by marketing teams to build out websites. These marketing teams, Scott’s customers, often made the decision without engaging their IT teams.

Scott’s job was go talk to the customer’s IT team, let them know about the project, and engage them.

“I was an ambassador for marketing with IT,” Scott recounted.

Along the way he realized that there was a massive disconnect between the two organizations – cultures were different; incentives were different; and they didn’t have a common language to use together.

These experiences led Scott to see the need for a marketing technologist, or MarTech role, to bridge the gap between marketing and technology.

When did the blog start?

Scott started the blog in 2008, as a forum to share his insights around marketing technology.

“I had no ambition whatsoever to create a personal brand,” Scott shared. “There weren’t a lot of people at that point talking about marketing technology. And I can tell you that for sure because the blog languished in obscurity for years.”

Where did the Marketing Technology supergraphic originate?

In 2011, Scott was preparing to speak at a search industry conference, and he was looking for evidence that marketing was becoming dependent on technology.

He built the slide (the 2011 MarTech infographic), which at that point featured 150 marketing technology vendors. And he remembers the reaction, “Wow, how do we deal with it all?”

The numbers of vendors grew from that original 150 to 350 in 2012, 1,000 in 2014, 2,000 in 2015 and a whopping 3,874 in 2016

And now people are really asking, “How, how do we deal with it all?”

How does Scott manage it all? (teaser: it’s not super technical)

Scott got asked, “Scott, you’re a really innovative technologist. You must have some super advanced tools to scrape the web and identify all of the martech vendors in your landscape.”

Scott’s answer – “No!”   Unfortunately, the entire process is managed manually. Scott uses Google, Crunchbase, Angel List, and conference vendor and speaker lists to identify the companies. Scott strongly relies on the clarity of messaging on the vendor’s website to guide their categorization.

“I’m a software guy,” Scott told the audience, “but I have probably the least automated process for managing this.”

When did Scott’s blog hit an inflection point of growth?

It was the 2014 landscape hitting 1,000 vendors where a much broader audience really started to take notice, and traffic to his website spiked. At that point there was exponential growth in the chart and the blog.

Why does he think the landscape supergraphic took off?

People related to it and like to use it, because it helps back up the message ‘It’s a complicated time to be a marketer. And this graphic helps lets people, in a glance, get a sense of just how complex the modern marketing environment is.’

“A lot of people are saying to their peers,” Scott said, “that ‘we’re working on figuring out our MarTech stack, but it’s not easy.’ ”

Does Scott have any ‘commercial ambitions’ around the blog?

He doesn’t and he’s resisted those.  Many companies reach out to Scott for advice on vendor selection, and there would certainly be a market there for Scott – but he’s decided to refer that business to others so that he can continue to focus his working hours on his role as Co-Founder and CTO of ion interactive.

“For now, the blog remains a labor of love,” Scott explained, “And any recognition I’ve gotten as a result of it in the industry is gratifying, but largely accidental.”

How does Scott see consolidation around the MarTech space?

Scott posits that there is a strong likelihood that there is significant consolidation in the space over the next five years. But he also notes that there is a possible scenario where it doesn’t consolidate.

Scott equates it to the software development landscape, where the number of software languages, library and frameworks continues to explode. Marketing technology could continue along in a similar way, with both major and minor players, and without ever really consolidating.

Has Scott crossed the line on the blog in talking directly about ion?

Scott emphasized that it’s critical for him to remain true to his audience whom come to for MarTech insights, and not for ion’s interactive content offering.

He shared a story that he’s written two posts in the history of the blog that directly spoke about ion interactive.

The first one came at a time when ion was pivoting from a sophisticated landing page platform to a tool to build interactive content, and he wanted to talk about the relevant marketing lessons from his experience. He titled the post, “Why we bet our whole company on marketing apps.”

Scott went out of his way in the post to provide an introductory disclaimer around the content of the post, and went as far as to highlight ion’s competitors as part of the article.

“The post generated a lot of traffic and demand for ion,” Scott shared. “But if I was trying to write something like that every week, I think it would quickly lose its impact.”

Quick hits with Scott

Scott was full of great soundbites all evening.  These were some of the other highlights.

On how to get noticed in your industry

“The reality is 2/3 of my Blog traffic is to the landscape. So the cynical viewpoint could say it’s not about the content I’m creating every week, it’s actually about this one single visual that I created that people are in to. So think about how you create the reference graphic for your category or what you do. It just happens to be incidental that it came from my personal brand.”

On the effectiveness of infographics today

“Sadly most infographics are crap. They aren’t even visual.”

On why he doesn’t listen to vendor pitches

“I don’t listen to vendor pitches. I want to go to their website, and if I can’t figure out what you do and if you’re not telling a great story on your website, then that’sa problem. And the reality is the majority of B2B websites are terrible at telling their story.”

Do software vendors request to get added to more categories

“Yes. but if the categories I’m told they belong in don’t match the narrative on their website, I think that’s something they need to resolve outside of my landscape.”

On the role of Gartner and Forrester in today’s crowded MarTech landscape

“I think their work is becoming more challenging, just because the landscape is so chaotic. One of the difficulties for the analyst firms is how they categorize and evaluate vendors. Often, they are looking at vendors from multiple categories — a multi-channel campaign management lens, or a digital marketing hub lens, or a lead-to-revenue management lens — and the evaluation of the same vendor could be completely different. There’s so much overlap between vendors and categories, it’s hard to give easy answers for which horses to bet on."

On the “separation of church and state” between his role at ion and his blog

“If I weren’t a co-founder of ion, I could see it being a lot more uncomfortable for both parties. I wouldn’t ever want to feel pressured into turning my personal blog into shilling for the company, and the company wouldn’t necessarily want someone outside the formal marketing hierarchy presenting his opinions in a way that could be interpreted as official brand messaging."

On what he would say if he were a non-technical CMO asked about MarTech strategy


“I’d say ‘I don’t know but I’m going to hire a heck of a VP of Marketing Operations to figure it out. ”

When asked if he had permission on each of the logos in the landscape

“I don’t think I could face filling out 4,000 permission requests. But I’ll remove anyone who doesn’t want to be on it.”

Why you need to unify sales & marketing operations (via MassTLC Marketing Leadership panel)

Yesterday’s MassTLC Next Wave of Marketing Leadership event turned into a great discussion on a range of issues growth marketers are facing – spurred by so many audience questions that we ended up going over time.


A particularly interesting topic was organization and team design around marketing operations – for which I advocated for businesses moving to a unified sales & marketing operations function.

We are doing this at Bedrock Data with great success – Ryan Plunkett serves this role and with this owns the view into our end-to-end funnel metrics, performance and forecasting.

There are different ways to get there based on size of business; these were some different possibilities discussed yesterday:

#1 - For startups / growth companies, start out with a single, unified operations role that serves the whole business. 

This has been our approach at Bedrock Data. In fact Ryan’s role extends across the whole customer lifecycle including customer success. For me as the chief marketer with many different areas to drive, it’s a great relief to have the operations piece supported with an integrated resource.

#2 - For larger companies, a centralized business operations role can serve both sales and marketing operations.

In my recent Marketo power user series, Jame Ervin of Optimizely spoke about operations centralization at Optimizely.  There are tremendous alignment and efficiencies advantages to this. I’ve found when the teams are separate, most of the time is spent going back and forth debating issues, whereas an aligned team should be much more nimble and effective.

#3 - For company sizes in between without a formal business operations function, this role can roll up to Finance

Several folks yesterday spoke about these roles being centralized in Finance. I loved what Jonathan Burg has to say about it – he said the role does in fact sit outside of marketing but it suits him just fine. Jonathan said they have a running joke that in his marketing all hands meetings, there are more people outside of marketing that attend than those on the marketing team.

Given the integrated nature of marketing across an organization, that is the way it should be. Kudos to Jonathan and Reward Gateway.

Great topic at a lively MassTLC event, and looking forward to more in 2017.

What’s so intriguing about the Mautic $5M Series A announcement

Mautic announced this week a $5 million Series A round and the CEO appointment of Matt Johnston, who will now be wrapping up his Chief Strategy Officer duties at Applause through the end of the year.

I find this particularly intriguing because Mautic is an open source marketing automation platform, backed by some of the same investors as, and to be co-located with, Acquia. Mautic aims to make a mark in the marketing automation space similar to what Acquia, with its Drupal community, has done in the web content management space.

Here’s why I think Mautic has a real shot to make noise in a sector that hasn’t had any serious new entrants since the parallel rise of Eloqua-Marketo-HubSpot-Pardot from 2008-2012 (I don’t put Act-on in the same class as those big four).

  • The marketing automation space has been largely headed towards a state of functional parity (or, more bluntly, commoditization) whereby everyone has the same core marketing automation features enabling lead lifecycle stage management, lead management, lead nurturing and lead scoring. The differentiation of late has been primarily around interoperability – HubSpot is differentiated through its COS serving as a company website, and its CRM features aligning sales; while Pardot is looking to differentiate on its Salesforce integration.
  • The true differentiation of these companies, and their brands, is their communities of users and partners. Hence the investment of HubSpot’s Inbound conference and community (projected to have 18,000 attendees at a live conference in Boston Nov 8-11) and Marketo’s branding of Marketing Nation to represent its communities. It’s why both HubSpot and Marketo have made such massive marketing investments to build and develop these user and partner communities.
  • Open source is distinguished by this precisely - the ability to develop a unique, passionate community. Mautic has the potential to do this in the marketing automation space.  Plus the hire of Johnston whose work at Applause was highlighted by the development of a significant online testing community is a key step towards this.

Keep an eye on Mautic.

12 Little Things Marketers Can Do To Better Align with Sales

I get it – sales and marketing alignment is difficult. But it doesn’t have to be so difficult. I read this downright dreary depiction of sales and marketing alignment from Billy Cina and it got me thinking – there’s a lot more that marketers can do

And I can say that because I’m a marketer.

Like many things in life it’s the little things that can add up to making a huge difference. Gavin Rossdale said it’s the little things that kill, and on the flipside little things can also drive growth.

With that in mind these are 12 little (or maybe not so little) things marketers can do to better align with sales:

#1 - Talk to reps and share insights back with sales management

This is a great place to start for multiple reasons. Sales reps can give marketing good feedback on conversations they are having with customers, as well as insight on what’s working well and not working well related to specific types of leads or programs. 

In addition, speaking to reps put the marketer into a strong position to add value back to sales management. Aggregating rep feedback and then going back to sales management with “this is what we heard from your team, this is how we are incorporating it into our plans” helps ease some of the management load from sales management which they will appreciate and help build the relationship.


#2 - Be humble about leads/MQLs growth

Leads and MQLs are a means to an end, and it’s vital that marketers maintain that mindsight. Lead/MQL growth can be ‘celebrated’, sure, but it should be with the right perspective of keeping the end goal in mind. The end goal of pipeline growth (and the sales and marketing relationship) is best served with an attitude of “we’re happy there's lead growth, but we really want to see it translate to pipeline” as that serves to both keep the sales team focused on turning those leads into opportunities and avoids the misalignment that comes from marketing being seen as patting itself on the back for driving up “lower quality” leads. 


#3 - Align reporting to opportunities and pipeline

To this end, reporting KPIs should align to opportunities and pipeline. As marketing is looking at the effectiveness of marketing programs and investments, outcomes should be tied to not only leads but also opportunities and pipeline. Applying win rate assumptions makes it very easy to look at this from an ROI perspective and keeps Marketing, Sales and Finance all aligned around the metrics.  


#4 - Be the first to say leads need to increase

As a demand gen marketer, if my closed loop reporting indicates leads need to be higher, I always want to be the one who said “leads need to go up.” In fact, for a growth business leads usually need to be increasing. As a demand gen marketer I like to embrace that reality vs. push back on it.  


#5 - Keep your pulse on lead trends and root causes

To build confidence with sales around the path to growth, you want to show you have your pulse on the underlying levers and what you’re doing to drive leads/pipeline, that there is a growth strategy behind your actions. E.g.

  • XXX web page has been our top converter to pipeline, so we are building out more content across this theme
  • YYY content asset has been our top converter to pipeline, so we are putting more promotional $ behind it
  • We are seeing a strong mid-funnel conversion rate around webinars on ZZZ, so we are making that a more prominent focus of our lead nurturing campaign


#6 - Be completely open about challenges marketing is facing

Along similar lines, if there are challenges marketing is facing be very open about them. As long as you clear on what the issues are, what the ramifications are and how you are addressing them, it’s hard for sales to “beat you up” over those challenges. Or they may still beat you up but the issues are open acknowledged, and maybe even leads to cross functional discussions around if additional investment can help to accelerate improvements/growth.


#7 - Treat converting leads to opportunities (and the conversion rates) are a team game

The challenge with pipeline growth is that it’s a team game – sales and marketing need to work together to ensure the right leads are generated with the right follow up programs and turned into opportunities.  Don’t take an attitude that marketing’s job is to generate leads and that’s it, as that will not only lead to poor behavior but that will lead to misalignment.

Partner with sales to address the issue and build alignment around the criteria of quality leads (which can factor into lead scoring and prioritization), provide the right enablement tools and automation to sales for lead follow up, and work together to go after opportunity & pipeline objectives.


#8 - Leverage CRM data for insights around lead quality

Marketers will often talk about the need to get feedback on sales from leads. But I find many marketers don’t leverage the data that is available to them in their CRM systems such as lead disqualification reasons provided by reps. By digging into that data and netting out key insights, that will not only help to improve marketing effectiveness but it will reinforce to the sales team that the data they enter into CRM is valued.


#9 – Build demographic data into lead scoring

Sales cares about getting to the right people in their target profile – whether that means job titles/roles, industry, size of company, etc. So as marketing embrace this and build these criteria into your lead scoring models, so that these things that sales cares about factors into the leads they receive.


#10 - Execute on short-term programs to support sales

Marketers need to be strategic and drive the right long term KPIs that ensure business growth. But this can absolutely be balanced with attention on short-term programs to support sales objectives. This falls in the category of “a little bit can go along way”. I’d want to be all over building a short-term email program to the customer base to support sales objectives. If sales is going to do it anyway, I’d rather partner with them to build and execute it so that it can align with the overall program plans and you marketing get acknowledgment for supporting the short-term sales objectives.


#11 – Focus on the “real enemy”

Rather than beat each other up, sales and marketing can build alignment by staying focused on the *competition*. Look at what competitors are doing in both their marketing and sales programs, and build alignment around this common enemy. This helps keep you at the same side of the table and can lead to performance improvements in both marketing and sales effectiveness.  


#12 - Be there on the last day of the month/quarter

Sometimes it’s just about letting sales know that you care - by being there last day of the quarter/month and rooting them on to hit the monthly target. Plus that’s part of the fun.


I want to hear from both sales and marketing. How did I do with this list? Anything missing? Am I dreaming to think that sales and marketing really can get along (and work together to drive growth)? Or do you agree with Billy Cina's take that misalignment is inevitable and irrevocable?