Chief Marketing Officers often have a unique perspective when it comes to their business and the role marketing plays within it. The Pedowitz Group has a special opportunity to shine light into the brilliant minds of CMOs around the world for marketers at all stages in their career. This week we chatted with VP of Marketing at Certain, Kristen Alexander.
Describe your company and the value proposition it provides to today’s Revenue Marketer®?
Certain provides the only enterprise Event Automation solution helping marketers integrate rich buyer insights into omni-channel event marketing campaigns to increase event-driven pipeline and revenue by 20% while also improving the customer experience.
Marketers have historically not had access to comprehensive insights – particularly buying signals – before, during and after events through their marketing automation and CRM systems. Certain disrupts the status quo by capturing a wealth of event data – over 300 engagement data points – that result in a more personalized event experience and 95% faster routing of qualified leads to sales, yielding a substantial increase to event ROI.
What marketing programs and campaigns are you investing in to drive demand?
Like most B2B companies, Certain is invested in content marketing activated through all digital channels alongside event and partner marketing. We are very active in driving success through in-person events because events perform so well in pipeline creation, acceleration, increased win rate and sales cycle reduction. We’ve also focused heavily on partner marketing to develop strategic thought leadership, like our 4-part data-driven campaign that we co-developed with Oracle Marketing Cloud, including the phased rollout of an infographic, quiz, event automation guide, and benchmark report. These campaigns both educate data-driven marketers on marketing and event automation best practices as well as drive qualified leads into our sales pipeline.
What types of technology does your company leverage internally to drive demand?
Marketing automation is the core system we use to manage the lead funnel and organize our demand generation activities. Our marketing automation is connected directly to Certain for our own event automation – bringing event data into nurture campaigns. With the Certain platform, we are able to score attendee engagement based on event interest and behavior and use that intelligence to schedule product demos or appointments in real-time, which accelerates our sales cycle. Additionally, we use advanced lead scoring and progressive profiling with our CRM (Salesforce) to qualify leads and enable our sales teams to follow-up with prospects in a timely manner.
What systems does your product integrate with?
Most importantly, Certain has native, bi-directional integration with both Eloqua and Marketo. While a best practice is to integrate from Eloqua/Marketo to Salesforce, we also provide direct integration to Salesforce. We have a very powerful, enterprise-grade API enabling integration with most enterprise software solutions. In fact, our typical enterprise customers will have 10-30 integrations each through Certain.
What are several scenarios in which a Revenue Marketer ® would use your technology and its capabilities?
- Field marketers may have dozens, hundreds or thousands of repeated small events, and the purpose of those events is to generate and nurture sales leads. Certain’s solution is highly scalable and can manage all of those repeated events, capturing engagement to feed marketing automation, as well as improving operational efficiency. With event intelligence at their fingertips, marketing is more successful generating qualified leads – in fact, our customers see up to a 20% increase.
- During larger conferences, attendees provide many buying signals – from sessions they choose to attend, to surveys and polls they complete, to custom registration and check-in questions they answer. Certain enables the marketer to set up event nurture tracks before the conference, receive real-time data from Certain that drives an engagement score and can trigger personalized responses, such as an invite-only follow-up presentation from an expert on a topic of interest. This produces more pipeline opportunities and a substantial reduction in sales cycles.
- The biggest challenge for enterprise marketers is having a single event system that converts data into insights for all types of events – from field events to customer summits – and feeds that intelligence into marketing automation and CRM systems to make it actionable for marketing and sales teams. This is the core of what Certain provides, and we do it securely at global scale.
How would the sales team benefit from your product?
Since in-person events are typically such a significant marketing expense, they can be one of the last areas that still contribute to the sometimes present sales and marketing conflict where a marketer might claim hundreds or thousands of “leads” and the sales team may see only dozens of “sales ready leads”. Marketing automation helps address this gap through lead scoring. Certain takes this a step further and actually closes the gap by converting event engagement data into intelligence that is fed into the marketer’s demand generation engine, rectifying what qualifies as sales ready, matching those leads to real pain points and providing this information to the sales team. Sales teams LOVE this! And, with Certain’s integrations, these leads get to the assigned salesperson 95% faster – there is no timing lag which makes a material difference in results. These are huge wins for both sales and marketing and we feel good about providing a solution that helps strengthen the relationship between sales and marketing.
What skills are required to maximize the benefit of your product?
Most importantly, the demand generation and event marketing teams must partner to generate the best results. Too often, these teams are both so busy that they might not work in perfect harmony. The registration, mobile and check-in experiences, for example, all provide rich buying signal data that should be leveraged by the demand gen team through nurture tracks configured in Eloqua or Marketo prior to the event or conference. The great news is that new skills are not required, but teamwork is!
What processes need to be developed and/or re-engineered to maximize the benefits of your product?
People from Event Marketing, Event Planning, Demand Gen and Marketing Ops need to work together to create maximum value from events and conferences. And maximum value is defined as generating more leads, pipeline and revenue from events, and delivering an excellent, personalized experience for every attendee. As described above, buyer engagement at events and conferences produces buying signal and profile data which is seamlessly passed from Certain into Eloqua or Marketo. The Demand Gen team can leverage Certain’s pre-built best practices nurture campaign or configure their own which leverages the event data into personalized engagement. This personalized engagement can accelerate pipeline opportunities by providing the right information at the right time to the right prospects. And, with live event engagement, such as 1-to-1 meetings, the results are much better than typical digital messages.
Who are your primary competitors? What is your competitive differentiator?
There are many companies in event technology that focus mostly on event check-in or travel logistics and these are important slices of the complete technology solution required to run a large number of small and large events repeatedly and at scale. Not only can Certain support any type of event but also our platform is completely configurable and that is a core part of our differentiator because whatever the marketer can dream in terms of measuring event engagement, Certain can support. In fact one of our customers CA Technologies won a Marketo Revvie award for their innovative event marketing using Certain. Overall, we see ourselves as the only company providing capabilities specifically for today’s pipeline marketer at the enterprise level.
What kind of business outcomes are typically associated with the successful adoption of your product?
Enterprises that leverage Certain’s marketing integration with Eloqua or Marketo have realized a 20% increase in leads and pipeline generated from events and conferences. This is often 10s or 100s of millions of dollars of value. Not only that, but overall for many of the companies who use Certain we see a huge improvement in the overall customer experience. Events have really become the face of your brand. With a seamless technology platform such as Certain supporting events, both the company and its customers win.
Kristen Alexander is a technology marketing and product executive leading go-to-market strategy including messaging and branding, demand generation, product marketing, marketing and sales operations, public relations and customer evangelism for B2B technology companies. She has driven growth for enterprise SaaS businesses in fintech and cybersecurity as well as consumer businesses in gaming, and wireless applications and services. Alexander is a leader in execution and building market-leading teams within Fortune 100 companies and high growth startups. She’s analytical and creative, strategic and hands-on, and works side-by-side with her team to build the right engine to scale.