MarTech Series, Avinash Duduskar – Interview with Jon Miller, Founder and CEO – Engagio
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company)
I’ve always been into marketing technology, this is not the first one. I was hugely inspired by the book that came out in 1993 – The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers. The book describes an 1800’s corner store, where you’d walk in and they know you like brown eggs and not white eggs. There’s a very high level of personalization and relevance.
What happened with this is Industrial Revolution came along and it gave us mass production, more choices, lower costs but we lost that one-to-one relevance and personalization. So the thesis of The One to One Future is that greater data, greater technology will enable us to effectively deliver that corner store level of personalization at Industrial-era levels of scale. That concept inspired me, partly because my undergraduate degree is in Physics, and so I’ve always been attracted to finding out how do I use math, data & science in a business context. And The One to One Future works really well in giving me back answers.
Once out of college, I worked at a company called Exchange, which was a leading marketing technology company in the mid-90s. Following my graduation from the business school, I was hired as the first Product Manager at a company called Epiphany, which went on to have an IPO in 1999, marching ahead of the league as the leading marketing technology of the Internet bubble. When we sold Epiphany in 2005, Phil Fernandez and I started talking (about building a company) and we started Marketo. I’m sure you’re aware Marketo has been the leading marketing technology of the last 10 years.
As Marketo got bigger, it stopped feeling like my company and started feeling like “a company”. And, I was craving to go back to a small company where I could still build something all over again. That’s when I hit upon the idea for Engagio.
The thesis of that in a nutshell is – if you look at a tool like Marketo or Hubspot or Eloqua or those other systems, I’d say that they’re really good at what I call “fishing with a net”. Where you run a marketing program and you don’t care who responds, you don’t care which fish you catch, you just care about did you get enough for the day. After all, you can nurture and store and run through your funnel and all that stuff.
With Engagio it is different. What I call “fishing with a spear”. I realized that tools like Marketo are not very good for the more outbound account-based type of programs. Using Engagio, you don’t want to wait around for the big fish to swim around in to your net, you want go after them proactively.
And that was the idea behind Engagio. While Marketo is a great platform for fishing with nets, I want Engagio to be a great platform for fishing with spears. Going after the big fish!
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
I think there’s going to be effectively a hub- and-spoke approach to marketing technology. Some people call that systems of record as the hub and workflow applications as the spoke. Scott Brinker calls them platforms at the hub and experiences at the spokes. Regardless of what you wanna call it, there’s gonna be relatively smaller numbers of martech platforms. Like the core systems of record that companies can use. And then there’ll be a proliferation and innovation of the “spokes”.
I think that’s gonna go a long way to reconcile the confusion that people have today. Because today people look at it and say, “Oh my gosh… there’re 3000 companies, what do I do.” In the future, they’ll be like – “There’re a handful of platforms, I’ll pick those and the spokes are kinda optional if you will.”
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
That’s a really broad question… I think that the vision I had all along is the concept of The One to One Future. How do we make every interaction relevant, for each individual perso? I think that’s way too complicated for a human to even figure out by themselves. There’re just too many factors, too many variables, too many permutations.
I think one of the things we’ll see in the future is machine learning-assisted marketing. You might want to call it ‘marketing on an autopilot’. I don’t think marketers want to give up control entirely to the machines; they shouldn’t. I think millions of little micro-decisions that machines make can help and guide marketers in getting the right answers.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
I think that it’s unfortunate how much marketing technology gets purchased and then (left) under-utilized. I think that many times, people have a change initiative that they want to do, like let’s do Account Based Marketing (ABM).
And the first thing they do is go look for technology to enable it as opposed to looking for technology that enables the thing that they want to do. And I think as a result that sometimes technology gets underutilized. Let’s say I’m trying to get my company aligned around ABM, in many ways, a smart way to do that is to go buy some ABM technology. And then say, alright guys, we own this thing, let’s go figure out how to use it. As opposed to all the change management of like oh my gosh, let’s align around this, let’s align around that.
So the technology can serve as a catalyst for getting things going. And that’s not a bad thing. I think the thing that has to happen in there though, the CMO or the marketing leadership needs to invest in making sure to say yes for the utilization for what they have.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Internally, Engagio is at the core of what we’re doing. I’ve always been passionate about what I call, drinking your own champagne. Our Engagio integrates with Marketo and Salesforce and we use ON24 for webinars.
This is sort of a joke, I like to say that we use Bree for direct mail, she’s the intern that we have. Rather than integrating in some 3rd party system, we use Engagio to clear a path and then she gets a path to go in and she puts a package together. Sometimes old fashioned works too.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
We ran a campaign, we’re running it, we call it a play. We call them plays and not campaigns. And the reason why is I think the word play, it suggests the fact that there’s not just one person involved. Campaigns are something like this is what marketers do.
We have a play that we’re running to our target account. We start by buying some account based ads for the target account but we actually only do it for half the account. That ways we’re able to test to see if the ads are having any impact
Then we kick off a whole series of interactions, start with an email saying hey we’re gonna send you a package, keep your eye open for it. We then actually send the package, and once its delivered, it sends another email saying looks like you got the package, it contains some books by our CEO Jon Miller, hope that you enjoyed it. Then there’s a couple of times it tries to call them, if there’s no response to any of that, then an email actually comes from me, reaching out to them. We also have a touch over LinkedIn from me (Jon). And if there’s still no response to that then we start reaching and touching other people on the account. We send the package to the head of marketing operations, and we’ll also reach out to the head of Sales-Ops, DemandGen, the CMO, things like that.
So it’s a very multi-touch play if you will, and it works great. One of the metrics we look at is, human connection – does a human respond to us. Even if they’re just going to say I’m not interested. And so far we’re tracking greater than 70% and we’ve also created opportunity, at more than 25% of the accounts that we’ve sent this campaign to so far. It’s working really really well, the last thing I’ll say which is interesting is that we so far, we can’t see any significant effects from doing the ads.
All this talk about doing account based advertising and at least so far we see no significant lift in results on accounts that have the ad over one’s that don’t.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
As a marketer, you just have to stay on top of the trends. Always be willing to test and innovate different ideas, different technologies. So you kinda know what the latest and greatest is so you stay on top of it.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Our marketing can’t live without Engagio, obviously. Personally, I spend much time on Outlook for the iPhone which is my preferred email client and Slack. MyFitnessPal to track what I eat.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I’m a really good marketer, but not necessarily a work hacker.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I read a lot on my Flipboard and I have a bunch of different channels setup on topics ranging from marketing, startups, SaaS to Movies & Entertainment to Cocktails. I sort of opportunistically read books on leadership and management. Most recently, I’ve been a big fan of Patrick Lencioni, he’s the author of books like Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Death by Meeting. His seminal book is called The Advantage which sort of brings all his ideas in to a single book.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Things are never as good as they seem when things are good, and things are never as bad as they seem when things are bad.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
This is also related to the one-word that describes how I work. I’m really really good at synthesis. A lot of people look at me and say oh Jon’s a thought leader, he has great things to say. And I think what I’m actually really good at is absorbing lots and lots of information from a lot of different sources and then synthesizing it down in to ideas that probably on the face of it seem new, but to me, all I really feel I’ve done is, you know – a lot of synthesis.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
MTS: Thank you Jon! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.