Marketers love it when all the pieces connect nicely, kinda like a well-built lego project. But like our tech stack, marketers are realistic and realize it’s never really as simple as the directions make it out to be. Take ABM; it causes you to really take a look at how data has been adopted and creates a great deal of perspective around how it is all handled. But it can power multiple teams, which means that it better be right.
When it is, it makes powering the launch of a new product or initiative that much easier. The data all aligns, as does the messaging, thereby clearing the way for internal advocates to amplify event promotions.
Glenn: Welcome back to the show. Today we’re speaking to Matt Stone. Matt, welcome to the show.
Matt: Thanks so much for having me.
Glenn: Matt, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Matt: Absolutely. So, I’m the Senior Director of Marketing at Gainsight. I’ve been with the company for a little over four years and I manage our demand gen team. So, we’re responsible for generating all the leads, creating the pipeline for our sales team and essentially just building the brand that Gainsight has.
Glenn: Awesome! Have you seen things change over the past four years in terms of – let’s talk about technology and processes when it comes lead gen? What’s the evolution you’ve seen?
Matt: Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, over the past four years or so, probably starting about four years ago, ABM became all the rage from a technology perspective. I’m not sure that it was really a new concept. I mean, I think, you know, account-based marketing and kind of having account name, list, things like that, has been around for much longer. But the technology side was kind of really new. You know, not necessarily that specific tech stack, but I think, you know, building your and involving your tech stack around that concept has been something that’s really taken hold and something that we’ve adopted and tried to find more and more ways to really look at things from, like a holistic account perspective versus kind of like perspective, which was really more of the trend probably the past ten years or so.
Glenn: And just so people have some context, would you mind sharing what that tech stack is?
Matt: Yeah, I mean, so here at Gainsight, you know, we’re a Salesforce shop, we use Marketo for market automation. And so, really, it’s like anybody that’s ever used Salesforce before knows it’s a very kind of rigid structure where there’s this concept of this lead object and then there’s a context and accounts objects and things like that. It is really kind of built, you know, for the marketing of yesterday, kind of thing. And when you’re working purely from making account perspective and you’re wanting to align your SDR, BDR, BDA team, whatever you call them, with your accounts and your As and things like that and you’re wanting to make sure that everything is visible at just that account level, then working on leads is really not what you want to be doing. It’s very clunky, it doesn’t connect to those accounts and things. So, you have to kind of build workarounds and things, and so we use products like LeanData which helps us automatically route and convert everything and put them into the proper accounts. And then through Marketo, we’re building up notifications and things that are able to directly let the people, work in that specific account, know exactly what’s happening in real-time. Which then lets them, obviously, prospect into them more effectively, doesn’t let things slip through the cracks, stuff like that. We’re able to, obviously, pump a lot more data into those account levels and then do more segment and outreach in Marketo and things like that. And then also feed these different lists into things like LinkedIn, when we’re doing targeted advertising and stuff. So, the tech stack hasn’t really evolved, in my mind, it’s just more about how you’re using it, how you’re structuring it more than anything else.
Glenn: So, let’s then focus towards the top of the funnel where your focus is on lead gen. Lead gen in a lot of organizations is usually broken out, you know, I’ve got paid and I’ve got organic. Is that how you all see the world or do you break it up into different buckets from there?
Matt: Yeah. No, I mean, it’s pretty much how we do it still. We kind of have the concept of what can we do for free and what is going to require some dollars to be put behind it. And so, in our mind, obviously, like the paid is something that we have to do to, both, protect our brand, go after certain keywords, do competitive targeting, things like that. But the organic strategy is obviously actually a long game play, where it’s like, if you really want to be established in a market going forward, like, that’s what you have to do, you have to put in the effort there, you got to plant those seeds early so that they pay off long-term. And so, just an example would be, we introduce a new product, it’s about a year now, called Gainsight PX, which is kind of introducing going into a new space where we, really, previously had not been playing in this kind of product management space. And so, it’s a kind of a new approach where Gainsight has a pretty massive brand, a lot of clout in our customer success space. But this new one we kind of had to approach it from the beginning as if it was a brand-new startup. And so, doing that combination of paid marketing upfront to kind of get ourselves, like, immediately into the conversations and then also working hard to build a strong organic strategy that, you know, down the road would establish us a legitimate player and not require us to obviously have such a crutch on the paid side of things.
Glenn: So, then let’s focus on the organic side, what are some of the things that you’re doing on the organic that have been successful for you?
Matt: Yeah. I mean, obviously, like, content production is I think the number one thing. I think that’s definitely something we’re trying to churn out as much good content as possible, not just keyword stuffing posts and things like that, but also legitimately good articles that people are digesting and wanting to pass along and share and things like that. And presenting us as a thought-leader in our space as well as doing even marketing and kind of building a community, really. Gainsight has leveraged its community to really get to where it is and we do that though a series of events called Pulse; which it’s not a Gainsight product conference or anything like that, it’s really about the community of customer success, product management, those different groups coming together. And we’ve established into this network of events across the year with more than 12,000 attendees annually and things like that. And creates a situation where the community, you know, you don’t necessarily want to go in there and just start selling to these people, but by creating that community and helping foster it and stuff, it’s like you’re going to have that tangential benefit down the road kind of thing. So, that’s another really big area that we invest in heavily. And obviously that one does require money from time-to-time, but the long-term effort is really much more of an organic nature. And then the thing that we’ve really done more recently is employee kind of marketing where we’re trying to tap more and more into the networks of our employee base and really working on different things to get them involved, get them to essentially be spreading the gospel of Gainsight, whether that’s through GaggleAMP, utilizing the social network effect and whether that’s creating kind of swift programs for referrals where we’re tapping into folks’ direct networks and things like that for introductions, whether that’s email signature marketing or something like that, where you’re just taking advantage of, sort of, the ad space that is on everybody’s emails and everybody shooting emails around all day. And it’s just something to take an opportunity of. So, those are kind of like the main areas, I’d say, that we’re focusing on from an organic perspective.
Glenn: And so, since it’s more recent on the employees’ side, where have you seen the most amount of traction early on here. And I know it’s still early, but what would you point to as, you know we did that well, and maybe you can also talk about some areas that you’re probably going to spend a little more time to try to figure it out?
Matt: Yeah, I mean, I think the social amplification has gone a long way, I mean. And it was something that, you know, for as long as social media has existed, everybody has, you know, from a corporate perspective has said, like – oh, go, like and tweet and share our post and things like that. But it’s always been not an easy thing to get people to do basically; it’s been a difficult behavior to really instill in folks. And so, having a solution like GaggleAMP has been coming in and, like, immediately made a big difference, because it just simplifies everything. And then that expands the reach obviously, tremendously, which is obviously very helpful. So, we’ve seen a lot of, really, success with that. Trying to expand the reach of these communities that I talked about from a perspective has been something that has shown some benefit, but it hasn’t – there’s a lot of work to be done with it. You know, when we’re doing events in different local areas, we’ve got these, like, roadshows where we’re going to different cities and things like that and trying to tap into local employees, who might have networks there and can really help us on the ground. That’s something that, I think, is the next step to something kind of big, is figuring out how those, sort of, boots on the ground will really help us get into certain areas. Trying to do that. But again, like, hasn’t paid off a huge amount yet. And then the introductions is obviously is really very helpful with going about things. Like, obviously, everybody has expansive networks, might have been formerly employed at different accounts that are great fits for us and we love to be able to get in there and they just happen to be good friends the exact persona that we want to talk to and things like that. So, incentivizing those introductions has been a great thing and we continue to do that and figuring out how we can expand on that is another goal of ours.
Glenn: Right. You know what’s interesting, you’re following a path that I think a lot of companies follow in terms of, you first think about let’s get something in and we’ll just get all the employees to start doing more of something and then you start realizing, well, I can really start thinking about segmenting my employee groups now and having certain groups do certain things rather than, kind of, one too many approaches, you do it, you know, one to different segments. And then you start seeing value by having very specific things for specific segments. So, I think you’re going down the right path, by the way.
Matt: Yeah. No, for sure. I mean, obviously, different people have different takes on how they want to be perceived. Like, some people don’t want to just stay there and just sort of be regurgitating everything that the company wants them to and things like that. And so, there’s definitely different flavors and approaches in figuring out how best to optimize everybody is definitely the next step. I mean, you’ve hit the nail on the head where it’s kind of going from nothing to something, obviously, it’s great, pays immediate dividends and then it’s just a matter of, cool, how do we optimize it and make it even more efficient going forward?
Glenn: How was it, in terms of the idea of bringing this concept of getting the employees involved, how much time did it take you to kind of get the internal buy-in before you even went with the program or a platform?
Matt: Honestly not very long. It wasn’t like – it didn’t feel like this, kind of, big effort, you know, big lift to get people involved. And I think the reason for that is so much because, you know, company culture here is really strong, people want to help the company, you know, it’s kind of a unique thing where it’s like people are engaged and it’s like, if, you know, Nick asks people to do something, everybody want to – he says, jump, everybody is like, how high, kind of thing. So, I think that’s part of – is people are bought-in and are breathing kind of the mission, the purpose and everything like that. So, that made things easier. And then, obviously, the other thing is that, it’s – for the most part – kind of all opt-in. You know, nobody is forcing anybody to do anything. We’re just more, if anything, incentivizing you to do it. So, if I don’t want to do anything on social network and blow up my feed with posts from Gainsight and things like that. Then fine, I don’t have to do that, kind of thing. But, you know, at the same time, if you’re saying, like, well, if you do X amount of things then you can get this gift card to Amazon or something like that. Then, I’m like, okay, you know, sacrifice a little bit of my “feeds integrity” for that kind of thing. So, I think it’s a combination. I think it’s, you know, the stronger the company culture and the more people believe in what you’re doing, stuff, then the more willing they’re going to be to participate and trying to help out. And then, obviously, just make it optional, you know. Like, there’s going to be some things that we’ll probably do down the line, like, I mentioned the email marketing or signature marketing and things like that where there’s not going to be a lot of say in that. But no one is going to force you to introduce us to that person at that company that we want to try and sell software to, kind of thing, you know. That’s not our approach to business. So, because of that, I think, everybody has been able to be bought-in from the start and no real, like, hurdles to overcome.
Glenn: Yeah. I think what you’re going to find as you spend more time actively pursuing the program is that the incentive for the employees is actually going to be more around the value it’s providing to them and their personal brand. So, that’s where it comes in. And I think you’ve nailed it upfront, because you’re already doing this well upfront, which is you’re focusing on really good content, right. So, you focus on really good content that makes the employee, from their network’s perspective, they become an influencer and they become value-add. And that’s much more powerful than trying to – you know, even though in the platform there’s gamification, there’s various ways to kind of get participation, but the real value-add to the employee, I think, is the key. Because at the end of the day, it’s going to be short-lived if they’re not seeing value themselves. So, I’m guessing that they’re starting to see some value.
Matt: Yeah. No, it’s a good point. I mean, it’s a very good point. Like, everybody is trying to build their brand. And the more that we can enable people to do that, exactly like, it’s a mutually beneficial exercise at that point. So, I think that will definitely – that’s a very interesting concept and something that we’ll probably be working on going forward is, how can we continue to do that? And it’s something that we do already, you know, through our community of events and things like that, where we try and get a lot of employees involved from a participation standpoint, you know, whether they’re speaking at events or whether they’re just attending, things like that. So, that, yeah, it’s less of a – you know, just I’m in this area, come attend this thing, because Gainsight is having an event here to, you know, see me speak on this subject at this even, kind of thing. You know, it checks both boxes, it helps them, it helps us. And it definitely seems like that will be the way to go.
Glenn: Absolutely. The thing that comes up with most people – at least that I’ve spoken with is, they always go into any kind of a program in marketing with certain expectations. And then there’s usually some things that happen that they didn’t necessarily expect as an outcome. Can you talk a little bit about that? Did you find that there were any unexpected outcomes in going down this path?
Matt: Yeah, it’s a good question. Honestly, so far, I’m not sure that there’s been anything that has been overly unexpected. Like I said, I feel like we’re just scratching the surface with a lot of the stuff, purely doing nothing, other than, like, kind of asking them, making people to do stuff to suddenly, you know, getting a lot of, kind of, social amplification from the efforts. I think from the perspective of – we found that doing email marketing that is leveraging individuals’ networks and things like that and their brand. So, just an example would be like, if you’re sending an email, we’ll send an email from our CEO to promote an event or something like that, inviting people to an event. That has been wildly successful. I mean, it’s not like a surprising thing sending an email from a CEO to people with results and a good response rate. But the extent at which it has worked, I guess, has been surprising. So, like, leveraging those individual brand and things like that has really paid off in a lot of ways. Even from, like, a social perspective also, it’s like, we kind of have these different buckets of, like, you know, we post stuff on our corporate account but then there’s also things where we can leverage our executives to be like, hey, can you go post this on your LinkedIn? And then it’s a different, sort of, tilt, because we don’t want to overuse that because it’s his personal brand and things like that. But it’s a different way of getting people to engage. And, obviously, like, it’s kind of more personalized in coming from him. So, I think we’re seeing there is, like, how can we tap into the whole of Gainsight employee base and use them to advocate and then how can we, kind of, tap into individual levels, starting with our executives and kind of see the benefit that we can get there, so?
Glenn: Yeah. And I think you’re thinking in the right way in terms of it’s going to be a mix, you know. It’s very rarely just one thing that’s going to do, it’s going to be a combination of things that really helps balance out the program so it’s sustainable. So, congratulations on that.
Matt: Yeah, thank you. Hopefully it continues to grow.
Glenn: I think it will. Yeah. Matt, if there’s one thing that our audience could put into effect today to have really any kind of an impact on their digital marketing, what would that one thing be?
Matt: It’s a good question. You know, I think from a digital marketing perspective, there is this natural sort of misunderstanding of branding efforts and things like that. And I think frankly, like, brand – in my mind, I’m just kind of speaking from my experience here at Gainsight where it’s so brand-focused – goes so much towards your digital marketing efforts. Like, if you don’t have a strong brand and you’re not investing in brand then you can do all the digital marketing that you want and it’s not going to work or it’s not going to work nearly as well as you’d like. And so, invest in brand, go out there and if there’s an existing community for your business, get involved, if there’s not a community, build it. And then that is going to propel you so far. It’s not going to pay immediate dividends, but it’s going to be something that you’re going to see the benefits forever, basically. So, from my perspective, as somebody who basically was a convert from like an anti-brand marketing person to today, I would say, like, the biggest thing and the biggest struggles that we’ve had today – and, you know, I mentioned our new product line and stuff – the biggest struggles that we have there is, like, our brand isn’t strong enough in that space. So, invest in your brand and everything else is going to be that much easier because of it.
Glenn: Fantastic. Matt, if people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?
Matt: Yeah, find me on LinkedIn, just pop in, Matt Stone Gainsight, it should come right up. There’s a bunch of Matt Stones out there, but you should be able to find me.
Glenn: Fantastic. Matt, thanks so much for being on the show.
Matt: Yeah. Thank you for having me. It was fun.
Matt’s Bio: Matt is the Senior Director of Marketing at Gainsight, a customer success software that helps to increase revenue, decrease customer churn, and drive advocacy. To reach Matt you can find him on LinkedIn.
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