Chief Marketer recently chatted with Constant Contact’s VP of Marketing Hannah Budreski, to get her thoughts on the challenges of engaging B2B prospects who don’t want to answer the phone, how to build the perfect marketing team in 2019, and more. Budreski will join other marketing leaders in a keynote panel on Sept. 27 at LeadsCon’s Connect to Convert in Boston, to discuss preparing for the next decade of marketing.
CHIEF MARKETER: What’s your biggest marketing challenge right now?
HANNAH BUDRESKI: Constant Contact has a strong brand, but we’re definitely known as an email marketing company. People think of us as “the newsletter company,” but over the years we’ve focused on building out our capabilities. We’ve become much more of an online marketing solution and we want to let people know they can come to us for much more than email.
CM: Is it tricky connecting with the right B2B decision makers?
BUDRESKI: Our customers are typically small business owners. Connecting with them used to be fairly simple—they’d start a trial, we’d gather their information and then we could call and help them along. But in recent years, thanks to robo-callers people are much less apt to answer their phones. It has become much harder to connect. Sometimes, even if it is for a support call, we have to send them an email to let them know we’re calling so they’ll pick up the phone.
CM: Given that resistance to engage, how are you communicating with your audience?
BUDESKI: With customers, we definitely communicate within the product. We find places where they [might need] help. For example, if they’re about to send an email, we show them that they can see how the email will look on different devices—we’re talking to them in-product and making features more discoverable. Or, if someone is using the old [version] of our editor, we can communicate in-product that they’re not using our latest and greatest, and offer to help them get [up to date]. We use a propensity model, so we can predict if customers are being successful and tailor messaging [accordingly].
CM: Is there a lot of focus on lifetime value in your organization?
BUDRESKI: We have a tremendous focus on recurring revenue and retention—we look at customer behavior in month one, month two and beyond. It’s easier to retain customers than find new ones, as the old saying goes. We’re making sure marketing is working, using analytics to define and make sure we’re [targeting] the right segments, and connecting with them. There’s a wider focus on customer value, because we want to use data to understand our customers, and provide the best experience to all our unique segments.
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CM: In the last few years, how has marketing—and the responsibilities of B2B marketing leaders—changed?
BUDRESKI: Being a generalist was simpler years ago, because there were less disciplines under the marketing umbrella. Now, there’s a huge spectrum that falls under marketing—there’s influencer marketing, there’s social, there’s content, and sometimes these can overlap. As a marketing leader, managing the structure of the team has become more interesting and challenging, because we’re constantly trying to make sure we’re set up for success going forward.
CM: Has this changed how you recruit and hire?
BUDRESKI: We want to tap into different [types] of expertise. We’re hiring more digital marketing specialists, and analytics is leading the way. It was always important but even more so now. We haven’t seen a huge amount of turnover. As we bring somebody through the hiring process, we’re screening as much for culture as for skillsets. We want a diverse team, so they bring different ideas to the table.
To hear more on B2B and B2C marketing, join us at LeadsCon’s Connect to Convert 2019 in Boston, Sept. 25-27
CM: Is it a challenge to prove marketing’s worth to the C-Suite?
BUDRESKI: I think we have an equal seat at the table and are part of the strategy and the decisions being made. This is a marketing-led business in many ways. We have more clarity than ever before. There are many tools that help us look at all the different metrics we can track through the funnel. It’s not so much about proving worth, because there are so many ways to show that we are bringing in new customers and that they are converting. The challenge is to show that we are focusing on the right things, because we have so much data. If we get [hung up anywhere,] it’s in data overload.