How to use Marketing Technology to Market Technology: Interview with David Ginsburg

 
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 in marketing to help you win visit us at CrimsonMarketing.com or email us at info@CrimsonMarketing.com. And now on to our podcast.

Today I’m very pleased to welcome Dave Ginsburg, CMO of Pluribus Networks. Now, Dave has responsibility for all corporate marketing including digital marketing, events, press, analyst relations, and if that wasn’t enough he’s also responsible for product management and technical partners. Now, Pluribus Networks is a start-up, an exciting innovator in software and hardware network virtualization for The Cloud. So, Dave, welcome.

Dave: Thank you very much, Glenn.

Glenn: So you and I were talking earlier about this fantastic opportunity of joining a new company, a relatively new company, and having an opportunity to create from a clean slate. I’d love to hear, what does a new CMO do?

Dave: Sure, and so it was funny when you brought up the word “clean slate” and those of you familiar with the SDN space you’ll realize that that was the original verbiage behind what became OpenFlow. So it’s really clean slate from the perspective of an SDN company, but we’re not going to be talking about OpenFlow today. What we will talk about is what my experience has been over the last six months and what I saw here when I first joined with regards to where they were with marketing or lack thereof, what needed to be implemented for marketing automation, for digital and website marketing, what types of vendors needed to be evaluated and how to really up-level the overall presence of the company, the mindshare and thought leadership of the company, and what to put in place in an environment where we were probably just one quarter into revenue so it’s not like there was unlimited budget or unlimited headcount to attack what I needed to do, so it had to be very measured, had to generate immediate successes, and had to be really a combination of the tactical and the strategic.

Glenn: Well, this is great. I’ll bet a lot of the audience will be interested in your story not only for the people involved in start-ups, but if you’re involved in a large company and you have to do some guerrilla tactics to get your work done I think we’re going to learn some things here. So why don’t we start with the marketing automation?

Dave: Sure, and just to put things in perspective the company has about 80 people within the whole marketing organization that is, I want to say, outbound. It’s basically myself and one other, we have some technical marketing engineers and product management, one lady handles some of our partner development for Japan, but it is as you might imagine, it’s a very lean and mean team at this point in our existence.

Glenn: Great.

Dave: On the marketing automation side, we didn’t have any. Some of the early contact databases were held by spreadsheets and I know probably a lot of people out there listening to this are still on spreadsheets. There were some things that were entered into Salesforce which we actually have that implemented in tracking our CRM program, but there was no real deterministic way of understanding when a lead came in, how do you nurture it? How do you promote it into Salesforce in a way that it was actionable? What we were looking for in marketing automation was also a platform for how to manage our campaigns, how to run the campaigns into prospects and partners, how to track metrics that came out of these campaigns, how to really ingest databases if we had to buy any lists, and obviously there’s a reporting element, what types of F words we required.

Glenn: What did you end up installing?

Dave: Sure. We looked around, and I have experience in some of my past roles and responsibilities with some of the larger companies, given our implementation of Salesforce, we implemented Pardot which is what they position for, I’ll call it the mid-market or companies like ourselves where there is, I would call it, more of a moderate cost component, the ease of integration, not a great deal of training I’ll admit, we’re probably not using all of its capabilities right now, but what it allowed us to do was to accomplish some of those things I outlined earlier where we wanted to have better reporting, better metrics. We wanted to be able to bring in outside databases, as an example we use RainKing, so a lot of people probably use and we can bring in lists and segment them. For example, Cloud providers or finance or pharmaceuticals, and then specifically target customers in those spaces with customized emails or customized content.

And the other thing that we’re interestingly doing, and this is important, is if there is news out there in the industry and we know people are going to be tracking it through CNN or whatever local news source they have we’ll leverage that. I’ll give you an example.

Glenn: Yeah, I’d love to hear how you do that.

Dave: There was probably in the last month, I think it was about three, four weeks ago you all heard about the $1.2 billion passwords that were compromised, and part of what we do is analytics across the network infrastructure given our product capabilities, and so we sent it out and it really leveraged the news about the passwords being hacked, the graphic was the guy out of Anonymous, the Vendetta figure with the mask, and we got much higher click through rates than you would just as an industry average. So, if you can draw off someone’s more current news it’s actually beneficial to you.

Glenn: Right, nice. Okay, and talk more about social and what you are doing there.

Dave: Sure. One last thing on the marketing automations, we run webinars periodically and also another tool as lots of companies use GoToMeeting, we also use GoToWebinar, and we have the two Pardot and GoToWebinar interlocked where a person can apply to a webinar, it’s tracked through our nurturing system and we use that for filling in and tracking and contact before, during, and after the webinar, so it’s a pretty good automated process there.

Glenn: And so, GoToWebinar is integrated with Pardot which is integrated with Salesforce?

Dave: Yes, yeah, we have all this cross-conduits and everything like that, and sometimes I was saying for a company our size it wasn’t especially onerous and it wasn’t especially expensive to get the stuff up and running, and it’s probably a better platform than I’ve seen in some networking companies that were running $300 million yearly revenue, so I think that’s an accomplishment here.

Glenn: Not bad, not bad. All right, social, is that a good time to talk about that?

Dave: Sure, sure. Once again I was faced with something very interesting where over the, previous to me coming on board, the various accounts, either Youtube or Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, or whatever, they seemed to be established by willy-nilly people within the organization and different geographies, and so one of the first things to do was to actually gather up the accounts and have them in one place where we understood what was happening, we understood how we push out content to one and then replicate it to other venues.
One of the things we did to decide, of the different types of social media, our focus is more on Twitter and LinkedIn, a little bit less so on Facebook, and Youtube we use, we really leverage it to host videos, but we probably need to do more with our specific Pluribus Networks Youtube channel.

Glenn: Right.

Dave: But Twitter especially important to us given the decision making that’s out there, who has the purse strings as you’d call it, also the visibility in the press and blogger community, the immediacy of getting your word out there onto the street Twitter is good for, and one of the things we learned is that the key here is really to automate the infrastructure here, automate the posting, where you have to sometimes periodically repeat what you’re doing because it’s here today, gone tomorrow.

Glenn: Right, so what do you use for that, Dave?

Dave: Hootsuite.

Glenn: Sure, which is one of the programs there.

Dave: There’s one or two others that we probably use. What we do is use it for scheduling either our news or influential people that want to get the mindshare of in the industry, and I think when I started we probably had in the range of 200 or so followers, we’ve grown to over 800 right now, and we’re following about 1100, it’s a pretty good ratio on what kind of visibility we have and how we go about tracking it.

Glenn: Very good, very good.

Dave: On the LinkedIn side, a little bit more for corporate visibility and recruiting, a lot of cross-posting of basic Pluribus news. One of the keys is to keep it updated, probably about 775 or 800 followers if I remember it last count, and we just last week have equipped our ISRs with one of the accounts there that allow them to dive deeper into either the databases or communities of interest. I forget what LinkedIn calls is, but it’s supposed to–

Glenn: Sales Navigator I think.

Dave: Yeah, exactly. It’s supposed to help them with their roles.

Glenn: Another good tool.

Dave: Yeah. On the web we restructured it to highlight more of our solution areas. One of the things we did, and this goes back to Twitter, Jason who works closely with me, is really focused on SEO, optimization, dynamic content, and so in fact on our homepage we have both a news crawler, news that is applicable to our company as well as we actually post our Twitter feed, so this keeps the homepage more dynamic than it would traditionally be.

Glenn: Perfect. One of the things I was interested in is you told me that analytics is a big deal for you. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing there.

Dave: So, what we’re looking at is from the website what people are downloading, how often they come to the site, what their dwell time is, it helps us adapt our content. I mean, do we do more videos? Do we do more podcasts like this? Do we do more long-form whitepapers? And this sort of mergers over into what a lot of people call content marketing and it doesn’t do me any good to tack anything if when I’m tracking it is garbage. So, you want to have content quality out there, you want to have things that are leadership articles or leadership directives from areas that you or your company has expertise, and this type of content, in almost all cases, we place behind registration walls, or paywalls as some people call it, but it’s still only about a quarter of everything on our website, but it’s’ the content that we really want to track, that people are downloading, this is where we can do the nurturing, this is follow up, and then once again going back to Pardot, this is hosted there.
So, you go on our website, you are redirected, fill out the form there, and then we have your user information. And really, last but not least, on the, I’ll call it, the content value side we had no real unified blogging strategy, and so we have that now, we have a cadre of bloggers from the company, we can still do more, we can always do more. We all love our day jobs, it’s what we call it, and I keep trying to instill that blogging and thought leadership is one part of the day job even of the engineers, but we’ve not only begun posting on our own site, but the likes of TechTarget or SDN Central wired, other venues we post this content as well. So, I think we’re making progress there.

Glenn: Great. And did you mention that you’re using Google Analytics as your primary analytics tool?

Dave: Yeah, that is where we get the data from, so as I mentioned, it is who is coming in, what their sources are, what the referrals are as it is called “refers,” what documents they are downloading, what pages they go over to, how long they land, so it’s pretty comprehensive. I mean, I would say given our size, it’s not like our number of web visitors on average week-to-week have really grown substantially in the last six months, but the spikes have grown higher when we have major announcements, major launches, news articles, and the two largest spikes have been in the last two, three weeks or so. So, we think we’re making progress there, but at the same token a lot of my focus, I want to say, is on what I described a little bit earlier, the front end of the sales funnel, automating that, bringing in leads, nurturing the leads, turning them into MQLs, turning them into SQLs that are field can execute against.

Glenn: Good, I have a question for you.

Dave: Sure.

Glenn: Tell us something about the content you created and what have you learned about what appeals to buyers, granted you’re selling primarily to technical buyers, but tell us what you think is working.

Dave: So, I mentioned videos are of increasing importance, I sometimes describe it as the degeneration of kids including, my sons included, that they are just glued to their iPads or whatnot, difficult to get them to read. So, one of the things that we’ve tried to post our videos of either demos that we’re doing, customer case studies. If you go on our website they are video driven and they are viewed a lot more than the traditional, even the two-page downloads, we have to build a great fan of video datasheets as they are sometimes called so we have to work on that.
The other thing that people will go to is short-form content on the website, i.e. a landing page that has short analyst quotes, or a list of partners, or a list of customers, or a list of awards, and that’s probably much more, I want to say, readable than once again some of the long-form content. So, what we’ve found is that these individual items, these nuggets of data, instead of buried way down where then a multi-screen page, and I know some people are going to that form, I’m not a great advocate of it, try to keep everything in the 16 by 9 or the 4 by 3. If you look at our navigation bars it will actually allow them to drill down directly to what are the awards, what are the analyst citations, what are the so on and so forth. And we find that that is effective in allowing people to get immediately to the data they are looking for.

Glenn: Beautiful. All right, we’re almost out of time, so I want to leave you with one question, Dave. If you think about the next year as you build out your marketing infrastructure, think about the technology and the date that goes along with that, what do you see happening within your company as you grow?

Dave: Three things, and there is one that was just in my mind this morning because of these import databases we’ve blown through our original 30,000 entry Pardot license, that’s 30,000 database entries, and this gives an idea of the front end of the funnel, we have had to grow that to 50,000. The thing that we’re doing now is we’re just ramping up our partner program, our channel program.

Glenn: Sure.

Dave: We just established it, we announced it about a month ago, and what we’re doing on the marketing automation side, we want to hook in with what some of them are doing, we want to work with their digital marketing experts on the Twitter side, on the blogging side, it’s really amplification out into the channel because that is going to be the future of a good portion of, say, our North American revenue and even some of our global revenue, and we’re beginning to that already. There’s a company in–channel [unclear 0:18:31] in the UK Big Tech who have good marketing automation, they have some good databases, and we’ve begun to interact with them.
And then I think the third thing, and some of this is of course budget driven, and not noticeable by its absence, I didn’t really talk about anything we’ve done on the page side.

Glenn: Right.

Dave: We’ve dabbled in it, maybe a couple $100 here, a couple $100 there, but just beginning to understand what we can do on either Twitter, or LinkedIn, or some of those other venues to place content, place thought leadership, pay-for-play if you will, and this is something that I think we will be amping up over the next six to 12 months.

Glenn: Well, fantastic. Dave, you know what, it’s fantastic to listen to someone who is starting from, like you said, a clean slate and can design your systems going forward without all of your legacy, and it is exciting to see what you are doing. So, thank you very much for sharing your insights with us.

Dave: Glenn, thank you very much.

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 CrimsonMarketing.com and sign up for our free monthly newsletter featuring the very best of our marketing insights, featured Moneyball for Marketing podcast, and one of our favorite features called Bad Marketing. Or email me at info@crimsonmarketing.com. 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.