CMO Insights: Kerry Langstaff, Chief Marketing Officer, Xignite

June 6, 2017

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Kerry Langstaff, Chief Marketing Officer for Xignite.

In this video, Kerry shares

  • How she took a start-up marketing department where she was the sole person to what is now a 100% inbound marketing set of initiatives
  • The marketing technology stack Xignite is currently using to drive all of this inbound activity
  • How marketing is working with all areas of the marketing and sales funnels to drive new leads and higher customer retention.

Learn more about Kerry from her LinkedIn profile and follow both Xignite and Kerry on Twitter.

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our CMO Insights Playlist on our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Good afternoon and welcome to Revenue Marketing Television, the CMO Insights Series. I’m your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today we have with us Kerry Langstaff, who is Chief Marketing Officer of Xignite. Kerry, welcome to the show.

Kerry Langstaff:

Thank you, Jeff. Welcome, or thanks for inviting me.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet. So we were catching up a few minutes before the interview started and so it’s been a while. Tell us what you’re doing at ignite a little bit about the company and what some of your major challenges are.

Kerry Langstaff:

Sure. So I’ve actually been at Xignite for a little over four years as chief marketing officer and X ignite is a SAS provider of financial market data. So by financial market data think stock quotes or historical prices of Apple stock for the last 20 years and who we sell to are developers of financial applications or web portals think mint.com home or betterment or personal somewhere would where you would go on and manage your portfolios.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. And so since you’ve been there for four years, talk to us a little bit about what you’ve been doing from a marketing standpoint, what was it like when you got there? But where is that today? Talk to us a little bit about the transformation.

Kerry Langstaff:

Sure. So X ignite is a startup of four years ago. We had 30 people today. We have 47. When I started, I was the only marketing person. So typical startup came in and created the marketing organization from scratch for the first two years. It was just me. And really, you know, marketing and ex ignite was all about demand gen. We are a hundred percent inbound. So our sales team does no outbound prospecting. So it was a little different model than I had been used to where you know, instead of doing a 30% contribution or a 40% contribution, it was a hundred percent from marketing.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Wow. So I think probably any sales person watching this interview want to know, Hey, how Carrie come into my company, do that for me. So tell us a little bit about that.

Kerry Langstaff:

Sure. So the way that I have set this up is we set up a seven day free trial of our product. When I came on board, they actually did have a trial, but they let it go for a month and you could try as many products as you wanted. And, you know, obviously that didn’t drive, you know, demand or shorten the, you know, the buyer’s cycle at all. So I limited that to seven days, you know, one product for a short amount of API calls. And that has really increased traffic. In the beginning, that was all that we did was follow up on those trials. But now we, so many of those that my sales team actually does not even follow up on the trials, those go into a nurture program with lead scoring. And once they, you know, demonstrate enough behavioral criteria and demographic criteria, then they bounced back up into the sales queue. The other thing I put in place though, was really re optimizing our paid advertising and our SEO and put, you know, on the website, a contact sales form. And today we’re a hundred percent inbound only answering those requests from people to have sales call them.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So given that you started off just as a one woman dance, so to speak, and you’re in your start up mode, how do you go about figuring out what technology to purchase to help you scale? What is your staff look like?

Kerry Langstaff:

Sure. So when I started at X ignite, they actually had Marketo installed and Salesforce as the CRM in previous companies I’ve worked with Eloqua, I’ve worked with Silver Pop, I’ve worked with Microsoft dynamics, but I’d actually never worked with Marketo before. And I think like most B2B tech companies, they were probably using about 1% of the functionality of Marketo and really didn’t have a lot of interaction with Salesforce.

So one of the first things I did was make sure that sales and marketing were aligned on the definitions of what a qualified lead was, you know, the opportunity stages and you know, just that, that lead routing process. So, you know, did a lot of work for that. And then basically started setting up, you know, triggered email programs and nurture campaigns. So for the trials, you know created three-month programs, you know, for people who use the trial, who didn’t use the trial to nudge them to use the trial and personalize those from the sales rep. That’s right.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. And then today, have you expanded your technology beyond Marketo on Salesforce?

Kerry Langstaff:

Today? We have a lot of plugins to both applications. So for instance we use hoot suite for to manage our social marketing. We use demand tools, CRM, fusion you know, for updating and uploading things into Salesforce. Probably our biggest sales enablement tool is LinkedIn sales navigator, which I have built right into Salesforce. I also have built inside view into Salesforce. It’s probably a little different role than it, a startup that I actually enter the realm of marketing also manage sales operations. So, you know, my team is the administrator for Salesforce, as well as the administrator for any sales or marketing system and process. So that gives you a different perspective.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Certainly.

Kerry Langstaff:

It’s a little nice to be able to, just to go into Salesforce and, and change things, you know, for a marketing process or stages and not have to go through, you know, a separate sales ops team or something like that. So it definitely gives you a lot of flexibility to set things up, you know, the, the way you would like to measure.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So you talked a little bit about, I guess in the beginning it was really just turning the engine on and giving leads to come in through and beyond that. Now it sounds like you’ve had some lead management principles in place with scoring and nurturing. What other processes have you been working on now over the last six months as your team starts to scale up?

Kerry Langstaff:

Yeah, so the big thing we’re doing right now is we’re actually formalizing everything into standard MQL, Sal SQL stages. So while we were operating, you know, in that way, we didn’t have things, the stages actually named that or a formal handoff previously all of our leads, you know, a hundred percent went in bound directly to sales. Now we’ve added in a sales development rep to do lead qualification and that person actually reports into marketing. So now with that new stage, we’re able to, you know, have a clear handoff from leads to MQL, to an Sal, to an SQL, to a win. And we basically were able to then set up a demand waterfall based on our business revenue goals for this year in determining exactly how many leads, opportunities, MQL, et cetera, we need by quarter and measure against plan. And that’s something now that we report monthly to the board.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay, great. So are you being formally held accountable for revenue and leads?

Kerry Langstaff:

Since day one, I’ve been held accountable for revenue and leads. So you know, at, at other companies I might’ve been held accountable for, like I said, a 30% contribution or a 40% marketing contribution to revenue. At X ignite, you know, our, our contribution has been a hundred percent. So bonuses are based on meeting our revenue goals and revenue goals include both new customers as well as upsells and upgrades and a retention level because we are a SAS model.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So let’s talk about that a little bit, cause we we’ve been talking about top of funnel acquisition. So from, I guess, retention loyalty advocacy, cross sell upsell, what are some of the other things that you’re doing for lifecycle customer engagement?

Kerry Langstaff:

So one of the things that I did for a customer retention was really put in an onboard onboarding email nurture campaign so that it goes over the span of nine months. So as we bring new customers on, they’re actually continuing to get educational type emails from us. And from a marketing standpoint at about month six, one of those emails actually comes from me saying with the subject line, Hey, we want to make you famous. And you know, with the idea that that customer has now probably integrated our data implemented, you know, their solution and a now’s the time to hit, hit them up for a case study. So from a marketing standpoint that has actually worked really well.

We’ve also created a preference center so that our customers can add, you know, new folks, they’re constantly getting new developers and things on the team so that they can keep their own information updated. As well as we now do a monthly newsletter and we do a version of that specifically for customers where we talk about product updates and that kind of thing, as well as we do a separate version for prospects.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Oh, that’s great. So now are you seeing different levels of performance? Are you getting the same level of production, I guess out of your life cycle programs as you are top of the funnel?

Kerry Langstaff:

We actually have really what I feel are really good conversion rights across the funnel from, from top to win. We’ll see, now that we’re putting a sales development rep, you know, into place and the formal stages, we’ll see if that, you know shifts a little or maybe we were, you know looking at things, you know, a little differently, but I’m pretty comfortable with where we’re at right now. We’ve just grown our sales team.

We just brought in three new reps within the last two months that have come from large financial, you know, organizations that have never worked with an inbound model. And they are just amazed at, you know, that every day these leads are showing up in their queue and that they’re great, you know, great prospects for them. We just had, you know, one of our new reps within her first month from a trial lead closed a very, very large deal in one month’s time and that’s never been before. So you know, it’s really great to work with talented salespeople that appreciate, you know, the, the work that marketing’s doing. And so at X ignite marketing, a sales work really, really closely together.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So you started off as one. Now that you’re the team’s grown. How many people report to you today?

Kerry Langstaff:

We have a whopping three in our team. Now

Jeff Pedowitz:

You have to go across tripled, right?

Kerry Langstaff:

Yes. So I have someone on my team now that does manage the Marketo and Salesforce operations. I also have an offshore agency that does some of our technical Salesforce work. And then I have a new team member right out of college that is managing all of our events. So year one, we did two events. And year two, we did 52 events. And last year we did 64 events and that’s globally,

Jeff Pedowitz:

Oh, like in person events, like in the field or are virtual

Kerry Langstaff:

In person for us an event can range from a meetup where we might sponsor, you know, pizza and beer. And it’s, you know, 75 developers getting together, but, you know, either I will be speaking there or CEO or it could range to, you know, a large, typical, you know, two day conference where we have a 10 by 10 booth. So a lot, but

Jeff Pedowitz:

That’s a lot that takes a lot of effort. So kudos to you. So what keeps you awake at night?

Kerry Langstaff:

What keeps me awake at night, I think is what probably keeps any B2B marketer awake is, is those, you know conversion rates. So how many leads are coming in? How many am I converting to MQL calls? How quickly is the sales team, you know, following up on those, you know, what’s their conversion rate to opportunities and how many are we able to close? And, you know, are we meeting our quarterly revenue goals? So we’re extremely data driven company. Every single day a report goes out to the entire sales team of the leads created the day before it shows the status of those leads. So you can see who’s followed up and who hasn’t. Every morning I get a marketing dashboard report that shows me exactly where we’re at by various lead sources with qualification rates and, you know, quantity and that kind of thing. And my CEO is looking at the same reports every single day.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Wow. Very impressive. So any major trends that you think are going to impact marketing in general over the next couple of years? Or you specifically?

Kerry Langstaff:

Yeah, so, I mean, I think that the buzz word right now is account based marketing. I, you know, you can’t, you can’t go any to any event in marketing right now without hearing about, you know ABM and it’s not something that we have actually implemented yet because we’ve been such an inbound model, but now that we’re growing our sales team so quickly we are looking at, you know, perhaps seeing how we can segment out the sales team by vertical industry or named accounts. So as we talk about that account based marketing will become more important. The big thing that I’m working on right now would be web personalization.

So in the last four years, we’ve really targeted smaller financial technology or what we call FinTech companies and really targeted kind of the developer. It, we’re now kind of moving upstream and looking at larger banks and larger financial where we’d be talking to more of a C level audience. So it’s really important now that we provide the right content as a, those people come into our website. And as you can imagine, you know, the content you would provide to a web developer versus a CTO of JP Morgan is going to be a little different. So I would say personalization by segment is, is my key focus right now.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Fantastic, great insights as always. Kerry, thank you so much for being on the show this afternoon. I really appreciate it.

Kerry Langstaff:

It’s always fun to talk about you know, what you do when with, with other people that actually understand your lingo.

Jeff Pedowitz:

We get it, and I think the audience will too. So thanks, Kerry. Thank you.

Kerry Langstaff:

Okay. Thank you, Jeff.

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