The New Role of Marketing (Wendy A. M. Yale, VP Corporate Marketing of Illumio) : Interview with Wendy A. M. Yale

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 Wendy Yale. Wendy is the VP of Corporate and Revenue Marketing, I love that title, at Illumio where she’s responsible for the company’s brand, communications and demand generation. So how does Illumio describe themselves? Illumio delivers traffic visibility and adaptive segmentation to contain cyber threats within data centers and public clouds. Wendy it’s a pleasure to have you here.

Wendy: It’s a pleasure to be here, thank you.

Glenn: We were talking earlier about your perspective on the changing role of marketing and sales. Tell us a little bit about where you’re coming from with that.

Wendy: I believe that the role of marketing today is to educate and to intersect with our customers in the appropriate locations whether that be physical, at events or 1 on 1 meetings or digital, in places that our customers love.

Glenn: And more interested in digital because it’s typically more measurable, but tell us a little bit about how you track what you’re doing in marketing.

Wendy: We’re instrumented here for measurement. We always com bine our measurement with a healthy dose of context, and sometimes that means anecdotal information like information form the folks that were involved in the activities. From an instrumentation standpoint here at Illumio we use Hubspot for our marketing automation. We also use it as our CMS platform so our website is built on it. We’ve been extremely happy with that closed loop technology for tracking interactions. We also use Live Reporting, so we’re invested in Domo and some of the other usual suspects like Google Analytics and other measurement tools that we have in place. So obviously like most smart companies we are invested in Sales Force as well. So all of those tools are linked together.

Glenn: Yes and we’ve been fortunate enough to have as guests on this podcast the CMO of Hubspot and Domo, and a general manager from Google, so it’s kind of interesting there. And yes those are great tools. Can you talk a little about how you’re using Domo, because it’s not typically thought of as a marketing tool. I’m familiar with how it works but tell us about how you take advantage of that.

Wendy: The first appeal around Domo was the live reporting. I’m a big believer in being able to at any point in time make our activities as transparent as possible to the right people in the company so they can either create the right content, or follow the right prospects. So Domo was appealing because we cold plug that into Hubspot, Google Analytics, Salesforce. So that was the first interesting thing about Domo. The other part that’s very powerful that you can layer the metrics. That you can create one report to tell a broader story. So we may have a single card as they reference them that talks to information that comes from Hubspot, and then we may layer that with information that comes from Google Analytics. We can tell that there is a broader context to what we’re actually trying to communicate internally. And the other thing about Domo is that it gives us the opportunity to actually communicate with a wider group of people, and it’s like a company that we really maybe couldn’t do if we were doing snapshot reports.

Glenn: That’s great real-time reporting where you can pull that off is very powerful.

Wendy: Yeah. And I would also say, and actually this has been a surprising benefit, but very valuable is just the trust that has come with it. Because when you do snapshot reporting, or when you do compile reporting there’s usually someone already in the room looking at the report saying how did you arrive at this data. If you compiled it, what data points did you use? Whereas when you’re pulling directly from a feed say salesforce or Hubspot, there’s a trust in the fact that there is no intermediary between where the data is coming from, and how it’s being presented. The only question that comes up is what is our data integrity when it comes to data entry. And that’s a much easier question to answer than 4 or 5 different people being part of different reporting and then trying to track back how they came to a conclusion.

Glenn: Okay good. Thank you for sharing that. You and I also talked about how marketers need to do a better job, and you were talking specifically about personas and understanding what your potential buyers really need and not talking about your product. Tell us your perspective on that.

Wendy: From being at a younger company it’s so important that we understand the drivers of our prospects and customers, because in many cases certainly with prospects, they’re still learning about who we are as a company. In many cases they don’t even know that we exist, so we don’t have a global brand yet, check back in a little bit. But we’re definitely building that. But I think personas are very important if you believe that our job as marketers is to intersect with folks. So it’s not my job to go out to a prospect who is not familiar with Illumio or if I was working for any other company that they are not familiar with. It’s not my job in our first meeting whether in person or online to spend my interaction with them talking about myself or the product. It’s my job to understand what might they be interested in at this point in time and this encounter, because again everything comes back to context. If they’re online and on a forum or on a community site or they’re reading an article their interest may be different than if it were in person. And in most cases when they’re new to a company they’re looking for either, I categorize the funnel I use, this is something that I put together over years of trying to communicate what we need for content and marketing is someone who is just looking for the latest information. They’re not looking for your company but they’re hungry for the newest information on whatever topic that your company is associated with.

Glenn: Right, and they’re probably looking at it from the perspective of what my business problem, not necessarily what my solution is, they may not even be ready for that.

Wendy: Correct, so the next part of that funnel would be I have a specific problem. So there’s people who are just looking for the latest. Like I happen to be very interested in modern design, so I’m always looking for the latest designers. So if I took that and related it to what Illumio does is there are are people who are looking for the latest cyber security information not Illumio. And then there are folks out there looking for I have a very specific problem to solve. I don’t know how I’m going to solve it but I know there must be a solution in that big broad internet out there. So they’re looking, and you have an opportunity as a marketer to intercept with them and not talk about yourself or your product, but really talk about what their challenge is. And then once you start having that conversation with them, because in most cases nowadays folks are taking their time to engage with companies. They’re doing research on their own. You can have 4, 6, 10 interactions with a prospect and never get to a point where you’re actually talking about the product specifically until they’re ready to actually talk about it. And that next part of the funnel as we map our content is we market to as Now I’m curious about your company, I’m curious about Illumio. So they start peeling back the layers of what do you do, who do you solve problems for, how do folks use it.

Glenn: And Wendy one of the things we notice that clearly you are very aware of is that most companies when we look at the funnel and the content they have available in their funnel, it’s very bottom of the funnel oriented. It’s about the product and often been written by the product marketing teams, and it’s prepared for that time when the buyer is ready to actually to say I want to learn more about your product. But you’re really talking about the top half of the funnel which is how do we gauge when they just want to learn more. And I like your phrase intersect. How do we intersect with someone who’s at a certain point in their buying process? So tell us a little about the content you crate for that. How do you measure it and how do you know if it’s working?

Wendy: A lot of that type of content comes in I would say actually all comes in many different forms. So I’m looking for the latest information, that could be an article that we’ve written on our blog. Where it sits on the blog but it’s not about Illumio, or it could be a guide that we’ve created and done an extraordinary amount of research on what are the buying habits of IT security professionals. And we favor recommendations on what you should be looking for but it’s not directly about us. And certainly when they engage with us, giving them the opportunity to walk away from any interaction whether it be I watched a webinar, a demo, I read a guide, they come away from it better off. And my team probably I would say maybe they get a little tired of hearing this, but I keep going with it where if it’s like if we don’t leave them better off after they’ve engaged with us, then we haven’t done something right.

Glenn: That’s a great phrase because you’re attempting to add value for them. And if you add value then they’re likely to come back.

Wendy: Right and I also think we’re certainly not the only marketing team to be in the content business where we are generating content that is educational and hopefully valuable. So I think it’s really important nowadays when content is being created that one it’s a team effort. So if you’re looking at a typical structure of a marketing department, or if you have folks that are very well versed in the product or in our instance very technical then you have folks who are very skilled in creating promotional content that catches folk’s attention. I don’t think it benefits either party for content to be created in a vacuum. I think there needs to be a conversation on what is going to create more value, what is going to catch most attention, what’s top of mine and all that goes back to the personas. So if you understand what customers, your prospects are interested in then it’s not going to be terribly difficult to figure out if we’re targeting early adopters. We really want to get in front of early adopters and let them know we exist, they tend to be interested of a certain set of publications and maybe forums and maybe they even shop at certain areas that are a little more progressive technically. So you understand that it helps to form the content conversation in a much more streamlined manner.

Glenn: Let’s talk about that. Talk about how you feed up the right content to the potential buyer. You used the phrase personalization at our early conversation and that’s a pretty hot topic, but it’s not so easy to do. Tell us how you think about personalization for a potential buyer.

Wendy: Personalization I think can come in different forms. There’s the obvious of hello Wendy M. I’d like to share this with you today where it’s highly personal and custom. And then there is also personalization, and this snaps back to understanding target personas and who you’re trying to reach, is there’s customization around understanding at a very basic level what people are caring about. What their drivers are. And it feels very personal when someone understands that as a marketer I have a lot of pressure on me to figure out how to reach our buyers. So if someone is trying to reach me and they understand that, they may not be saying my name but they certainly are appealing to something I care about.

Glenn: So Wendy tell me more about how to measure what’s happening at the top of the funnel because I think that’s the hardest area for many marketers to measure. Tell me what you do at Illumio.

Wendy: Well going back to how we’re instrumented, we certainly take advantage of the features offered on Hubspot and we use Google Analytics to look at inbound traffic. We’re actually able to see where traffic is coming from, where visitors come from. And we should and we do know when we are doing a series of programs the different channels that we are marketing in online. And we are able to then track back the inbound, they may not have registered but we can certainty can see where the traffic is coming from.

Glenn: And I think that’s so important Wendy because I have a hypothesis is that fewer and fewer people are going to register on anything in the future. Because they just can’t keep up with the overwhelming amount of information that is coming into their lives. And it’s going to be harder and harder for us to know exactly who that buyer is. And we’re going to have to be operating in the environment of anonymous visitors.

Wendy: It’s actually interesting that you would say that because we’ve been having this conversation internally where we’re planning for future programs. And one of the things that we decided was to dramatically scale back what we ask visitors to register for.

Glenn: Oh tell us more about that.

Wendy: Yeah. We looked at it and we thought well if we really don’t want to spend a lot of cycles trying to engage with someone who isn’t ready, it sounds like an obvious answer but what’s the best the way to do that is don’t ask them to register. And we can certainly track engagement on number or downloads. That’s a really fantastic indicator of if some type of asset is performing well. It’s not the entire story but I think that when we’re able to create a lower bar for engagement, we’ve certainly have great success on our website by just asking our visitors to subscribe to the latest news. And with that we don’t hand over those leads, we don’t push those leads to sales. We feel like we’ve made a commitment to them, they’ve asked to only hear about news, and so that’s what we do. And once folks do that we can certainly see their level of engagement when they come back and download 3 or 4 other assets. I also think there’s something a little bit scary as a marketer but I also think there’s something exciting about that because it really does push us to be better. If you don’t make the bar for entry onto your website, register to watch a demo or register to download every whitepaper, when folks finally do register it’s meaningful.

Glenn: So you’re providing some ungated content and some gated content.

Wendy: Actually we’re moving to a much higher percentage of our content being ungated. Because I think that what we’re finding to is that the quality of the content that we’re putting out there is driving repeated visits. And if we look at what we do with our blog, we don’t gate our blog, we don’t ask visitors to our blog to register, but the articles on are very valuable. There’s a lot of tips and tricks, there’s a lot of things talking around best practices so we just had this conversation where we like when visitors come to register for it to really be a meaningful engagement. And so a byproduct of that is we have less visitors but we certainly have better quality. We have less registrants but they are certainly more high quality.

Glenn: It’s interesting but I would say that one of the things we are not terribly good at as marketers is being patient. Right? If we recognize that there’s a long sales cycle and that’s true for many products, and if people are going to engage with you and they’re not ready to buy, how do we as marketers keep them engaged over a long period of time. And it’s not by asking them to register on my website the first time they come and visit, because they’re not going to.

Wendy: Correct.

Glenn: Fantastic. Well I really appreciate your perspective on this and I’ve learned a great deal, so Wendy I appreciate your time and thank you so much for being a guest.

Wendy: Alright well thank you.

Glenn: Alright talk to you soon.

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