How to Market Smart When You’re Not an IT Expert: Interview with Nate Skinner

Glenn: Hi, everyone. I’m Glenn Gow, Founder & Advisor of Crimson Marketing. Welcome to Moneyball for Marketing where we talk about the incredible changes happening in marketing organizations around big data and marketing technology. We feature marketing technology insights from the top marketers in the world. The reference to Moneyball is from the story of how the Oakland A’s baseball team were able to win and win and win because they figured out how to use data and technology to their advantage. If you’d like to learn about how to use big data and marketing technology and marketing to help you win visit us at or email us at And now on to our podcast.
Today I am very pleased to welcome Nate Skinner. Nate is the chief customer officer of Campaign Monitor where he is responsible for customer success, customer support, and customer marketing. And Nate I love that title: the Chief Customer Officer. So what does campaign Monitor do? How do they describe themselves? Campaign Monitor is simple and elegant email marketing software for business. Millions of marketing professionals at over 120,000 companies run email marketing campaigns that deliver results for their business using Campaign Monitor so Nate it is fantastic to have you here. Welcome

Nate: Thank you Glenn glad to be here.

Glenn: You and I were talking earlier about some of the internal things you’re doing at Campaign Monitor related to understanding your market and your customers better. And I was fascinated by those stories Nate. Tell us a little bit about what’s going on inside the company the company before we talk about what’s going on outside the company.

Nate: Okay, yea Glenn great. I’m excited to be here and the opportunity that Campaign Monitor has had and really for the first 10 years of our existence we did an amazing job of marketing and selling to our customers without trying very hard. We didn’t really talk to a lot of them. Didn’t do a whole lot of real active modern marketing that we think about with demand generation or even PR and AR. We really just focused on the website and our customers found us which is fantastic. But as we’ve built up a marketing organization, and we’ve built out our SF office and our customer success team, and we’ve really kind of gone to a more proactive gone to market, we’ve discovered a lot of opportunities to really learn and understand our customers and what they’re doing with ours, and how they’re finding success. And then asked ourselves a lot of questions about, now that we understand more about what our customers are doing, what can we do with that to help prospects find Campaign Monitor and find success as well. SO it’s been amazing.

Glenn: So Nate that’s fascinating that a company can be successful without doing a lot of marketing, but tell us what changes have occurred as a result of really understanding why people are using Campaign Monitor.

Nate: Yea Glenn. When we came into Campaign Monitor and focused on marketing, what we discovered was that there were a lot of key attributes of the ideal customer profile, but we didn’t know that, we had to actually dig into the customer data, understand how our customers were using the technology, understanding when they ran into a problem what that problem was, and then understand whether or not that was something that was pervasive, or just a corner case or a unique situation. And as we dug in we recognized the fact that a lot of our customers were middle sized businesses. A lot of our customers spanned 5 key industries. More of our customers or the vast majority of them were either in Europe or North America. It was those kinds of understandings that allowed us to start formulating hypotheses, and we started to think about things like: if most of our customers that we’ve never tried to market to are like this, or like Rip Curl, or like South By South West, then what does that say about the opportunity to go market to those customers in their peer group?

Glenn: Right. You bring up a point that I absolutely love which is who are our best customers, and how do we go find customers that fit that same profile and I think that’s what you’re talking about here.

Nate: That’s exactly right. We wanted to understand that ideal customer profile from the existing customer base, but then also understand are we missing an opportunity out there based what these customers are doing with us. To go find more of them that are just like these. And those are really the initiatives that we kicked off from the beginning that have really changed the game for us recently.

Glenn: So tell us a little bit about how the company might be doing marketing differently now as a result of what you’ve learned.

Nate: What we’ve learned is that we are 100 percent in this era of the do it yourself marketer. Companies like Optimizely does AB testing. You may have heard of Unbounce, they let you build landing pages. These companies are all creating this opportunity for what used to be kind of an IT or developer project or task, it’s now done by people that have marketing as their job title. People that aren’t necessarily technically savvy. They can get a website spun up, they can get an e-commerce site spun up on Shopify, and they can create and deliver elegant and beautiful email with Campaign Monitor. And that is something that is unique about the era we’re in. And what we’ve done is determined, our customers have found us that way, they’re doing that on their own. How do we take that and amplify it and put some more fidelity around it in the marketplace and let customers understand what’s possible. And then that’s where we are right now.

Glenn: I think that’s great and I want to make a point here. Most marketers were not hired because they were digital analytics experts, or they were technologists. They were hired because they were good at creative, and they were good at communicating to the market, and so they desperately want tools that can help do things without becoming a data scientist or an IT person.

Nate: That’s exactly right Glenn. Our friend Cory at South by Southwest, they’re a great customer of Campaign Monitor’s. And she’s exactly the profile you’ve described. She’s a marketer, she understands a little bit about html and css and technology and the complexity, but mostly what she wants to do is put their brand in an email, put their brand on a website, get their word out about their events, and think about the message and the positioning of the company itself which is relatively small. SXSW has a massive event every year, but the company that puts that on is 50 percent volunteers, and just a handful of full-time folks, and Cory is one of those people that doesn’t want to learn how to code HTML, she just wants to stand up a website. She doesn’t want to learn how to code forms and templates, she just wants to send an email, and we help her do that and I think that’s exactly why they’re so happy with Campaign Monitor, and she fits the profile to a T.

Glenn: Wonderful, so tell us some of the things you’re learning about the automation of marketing, whether you’re doing it internally or what some of your customers are doing.

Nate: Now days the word is personalization. One of the tings in the email marketing space is delivering email that’s relevant to the right person at the right time with the right message. And that’s a very individual thing, so when you try to apply automation to that, you have to think about your customers that you’re sending these emails to in a different way. Are they female or are they male. Rip Curl has a campaign where they launched a GPS watch that tells you how far you’ve paddled and how fast you surf, but they wanted to market that to everyone not just men or women. But they did think about segmentation and the automation about the way they delivered these campaigns in a fundamentally different way, and that’s because they know that the impact of launching a product like that; if you launch it to deaf ears, folks that are not interested in that message or product, then what’s the point of spending the time and energy in delivering the campaign in the firsts place. So they’re thinking about the automation in terms of the individuals and the segments of the customer base that the message will resonate with loudest. And that’s something we’re helping them do and I think that’s what most companies are doing today.

Glenn: That’s right, everybody wants to understand more about how can I provide a more customized or more personalized experience to the individual that’s interacting with me, that’s engaging with me. And they need to tie together what’s happening off the website, on the website, and in their marketing automation systems to tie this all together. SO you’re right it’s a very big trend but not an easy problem to solve.

Nate: It’s not and it’s funny because w have a team of marketers here now and most of them are not technologists at heart, they’re marketers. But what we’re finding is not just in our own go to market, and the way that we position our own company as the elegant and beautiful email marketing for the do it yourself marketer, our own team is finding them tools to help them do this as well, and so we don’t have to go and hire an army of IT professionals to help. While some of these things are complex, some of these tools are becoming easier for our own teams to use. One example is we use a technology called Looker which is a mechanism for looking at data in all kinds of ways. You may have heard of it or used it yourself, but we had data in all kinds of different stores. Data in our own systems, in our CRM systems, data in our customer support systems, and what we needed was to understand all those data points in a more holistic view, and a more holistic way. Looker gave what is not a data scientist the ability to point at these data sources and pull it together in a very useful way. It’s changed the game for us and let us really think about how to market more effectively.

Glenn: That’s a great tool to talk about because that problem you just described is extremely common where the customer data actually exists in a bunch of different systems and not in a centralized data mart. And so having the ability to pull that all together is very powerful. I want to go back to something you told me earlier, a story about finding the optimal customer, but also you discovered there were customers of yours that really weren’t using the service very often, and therefore weren’t as profitable, and you put in an approach to address that. Tell us about that story.

Nate: It’s a great story Glenn. We actually in the process of understanding the customers we have, we added the other component to that lens which is the product that we sell is in different editions. We are a software service company, our technology is delivered through a browser and on mobile devices, and what you have is different options in terms of editions of our products. We have this true subscription model where it’s pay as you go. You only pay when you send email, and then we have these kind of monthly plans that let customers send as often as they want and upload as many subscribers they want based on levels of price point. And what we determined, it was a very interesting exercise, was that the pay as you go customers in a normal SAS model we could consider churning. They would send a campaign let’s say for Thanksgiving to promote a product, or like our customer Shandon is not a pay as you go customer, but they might have announced a wine promotion around a particular holiday that they know a particular brand of wine does very well. And then they wouldn’t send it for awhile. And the normal kind of software service company calls that a churned customer after a particular time. You may have even heard when Mark Zuckerberg talks about the number of active users on Instagram or the number of active users on Facebook, they actually have to count that a very specific way. It’s how long a particular individual is logged into the service. When you’re in a true subscription model like pay as you go, the only measure is how often you pay us to send email, and sometimes that was very rarely, seasonal or promotional. So now we understand that that happens, what we do with that information, and what learned was that if you compared the pay as you go customers that were monthly;y, we found that the monthly customers were using the service in a more sophisticated way. They were doing things like automation. They were doing a welcome email plus a journey series of email that they were building after their customer. So for 49ers for instance, welcome to the VIP club, the next email they would get was the notification about a game. The next email they’d get was a promotion for merchandise. I’m just using that as an example but that was a much more sophisticated use case so they were sending email more often and not necessarily repeating themselves. And so we returned that understanding about what the very successful customers with our service were doing, and we turned them into campaigns back to the pay as you go audience to let them know hey you can keep sending one-off promotions, but you could do so much more and let’s share these customer examples with them of the 49ers, of Rip Curl, of SXSW, and how they’re using the service in a more sophisticated way. And we’ve seen that pay as you go audience really embrace those best practices and start to get that large ROI that email delivers, it’s the largest ROI channel for any kind of marketing channel out there including social.

Glenn: It still amazes me by the way.

Nate: Yeah it’s death is far from reality. I forget the quote.

Glenn: That’s good enough we’ll take that. That’s great so in this example you didn’t ignore what we would call your less profitable customers, rather you saw an opportunity to make them more profitable because you understood their behaviour, and you had a way to educate them, and I that’s fantastic. Very few companies take the time to do that and try to understand their customers at a level where they can actually help them more and help them use the service more. That’s a great story.

Nate: I’ll put a final point on that. It’s easy to think about profitability and customer success and let’s get our customers to spend more money. I think everyone would if you ask them over a glass of wine what are you trying to do, you’re trying to get customers to spend more money. But if you slightly turn that a little bit, we have a value here at Campaign Monitor which is my favorite, if we help our customers kick ass then we will too. Can I say that? So the idea is if you turn that slightly from let’s help our customers spend more money, to let’s help our customers be successful, and that’s what we did. We saw behaviour in successful companies that happened to be spending a lot of money with us, and we said what are they doing that these other customers could learn and benefit from, and let’s help them kick ass. And as a result of that, they actually spend more and they send more email but that wasn’t our intent, our intent was to help them be more successful and grow their business which is what they’re trying to do.

Glenn: I love that because it does really make a difference when you approach a customer with a perspective with we’re here to help you and make you more effective, and sure you might spend more money with us but there’s going to be an ROI, that’s why we’re here to have you use our service, and I really love that approach. So tell us a little bit about where you see this world going. There’s a lot of competition out there in the marketing automation world. And there are lots of companies adding capabilities. Help us understand what you see as the near-term future for marketing automation.

Nate: I mentioned it earlier in the talk when you asked me a previous question that kind of rolled this answer together, but I can tell you that more than ever before marketing is about personalization. People feel like this concept the Internet of me. I want the message you send me, whatever it is whether it’s a website or an email or a banner ad or something I scroll by in my facebook feed, whatever it is it needs to be relevant. And the biggest thing we’re seeing in the future is that everything needs to be relevant and personalized, and it’s this concept of the Internet of me. We know that if you deliver a message or a banner ad or a website resonating with the audience, if it’s talking them individually on a very personal level, the likely hood engaging with your brand or company is very high. So everything we’re trying to do is help our customers be hyper targeted, think about segmenting their audience, think about putting the right message in front of the right customer at the right time. That’s where we see the future. We see companies like Rip Curl who is a customer of campaign Monitor, I;’m a customer of theirs personally. And when I order a hat sweater or hoodie, I don’t get ads or emails from them to buy wetsuits because I haven’t bought one or indicated any interest in doing so. What I do get is an email suggesting that I buy the newest hat, or the newest hoodie, or the newest sweater. And that is relevant and i engage more often and I buy probably way more than I should from Rip Curl. That’s the future we see, individuals are bombarded with information, marketers are constantly trying to think of ways to cut through that noise and be more relevant, and we’ll continue on delivering value to our customers by helping them be more relevant.

Glenn: It’s a great story, someone told me a story about their experience with Amazon and I tend to think of Amazon as being super advanced when it come to personalization because I shop there and they show me things that other people have purchased that are devices or things or things that are similar to what I just purchased. But the story is: this individual bought a stapler and they kept getting emails from amazon about people who bought staplers bought these other things, but he said they never sent me an email offering me staples. It’s clear I will need staples, so they missed an opportunity to personalize, and I love that because it’s so clear, and your example of a hat and here’s another hat is a great one because they know you like hats, and if you like that hat you might like another one. So I agree with you, marketers are trying very hard to solve this personalization issue, and I seee tremendous demand for that. I agree that’s the new future. Is there anything else as we wrap up here you want to highlight about some of the things you’ve learned about automating email?

Nate: The bottom line is if you’re delivering relevant messages to the right audience at the right time by the way this is another thing I think a lot of marketers over look, you can have a very message but if you deliver an email in the middle of the night and I wake up in the morning and you’re the tenth one in my inbox, I’m less likely to read that, so what we’re helping our customers do is not just the right message with the right target, segment and audience, but also hey guess what there’s a time element here that matters. And we refer to that in the email business as deliverability. How much more do your customers engage with an email that you give them based on the time of day, the relevance of the message, even the subject line. And so I think all of those things are the way we think about it and what we’re trying to help our customers do and we’re excited to share our story with you on this podcast Glenn. Thanks for having us.

Glenn: Absolutely and I’m just going to add one other thing to the time element that we see, it’s not only the time of day, it’s how close is that communication my last digital interaction or interaction with you. So maybe I left the store and I get a follow up thank you, if it happens quickly and closed to the time I did that, it’s much more meaningful to me. Or if I engaged with you on social and you can connect with me in some other way quickly, my attention span is pretty limited here, so if you can get to me quickly I’m gonna relate to your communication to me much better.

Nate: Absolutely Glenn I 100 percent Agree.

Glenn: Alright Nate thank you so much I’ve learned a great deal and I really appreciate your time.

Nate: Thank you Glenn, take care.

Glenn: If you like this podcast please subscribe and rate us on iTunes and tell your friends about us. You can also go to our website,, and sign up for our free monthly newsletter featuring the very best of our marketing insights, featured Moneyball for Marketing podcasts, and one of our favorite features called, “Bad Marketing,” or email me at Thanks for listening to Moneyball for Marketing from Crimson Marketing. Have a great week and let us know if we can help you in any way.