Could you tell us about your role and journey into Marketing Technology?
I started my career in IT, starting at AIG on Wall Street right out of college. My CTO sent me up to Boston to learn about a new software we would implement, and I met the people who were behind the startup’s technology. I realized right away that I wanted to be part of the team that actually makes technology, not working for a bank implementing it. So, I packed up all my stuff and moved up to Boston to be part of all the tech innovation that was happening there.
That was a long time ago. Throughout my career, I’ve benefitted from different roles in and around Marketing—Sales Engineer, Product Manager, Product Marketing, and now CMO. Today I’m CMO of Validity, maker of #1 products tens of thousands of businesses use to transact with customers. We’re hiring so check us out!
What is Validity and how does it fit into a modern CMO’s MarTech stack?
We help Marketing teams in several ways, but here are two key ones. First, the overall health of your customer data. We provide tools to assess, improve, and enrich information to target customers. For over 20 years, our DemandTools product has been known as the “swiss army knife” for Salesforce data. It saves a ton of time cleaning, importing and maintaining overall Salesforce data. With clean customer or CRM data, your campaigns are more effective, and your salespeople are more productive. Everyone wins.
Another part of our business centers around email. Our Return Path product (also #1 for over a decade) helps businesses optimize both placement and engagement of inboxes. No more relying on Marketo, Hubspot or Eloquoa to tell you your emails are performing great. Return Path is the #1 product not only because it’s not from an iffy startup, but because it’s trusted by all the leading consumer brands who rely on email to drive user engagement and revenue.
Could you tell us how you leverage technology to meet your Marketing and Sales goals?
We drink our own champagne here . We rely on our own tools (DemandTools and GridBuddy) to make sure our Sales team is as productive as possible. We also drastically increased our email effectiveness by using Return Path. As a CMO, it’s amazing to learn what brands like Groupon, Publisher’s Clearing House, and IHG are doing in terms of state-of-the-art email campaigns. My campaigns are far more effective than before. Every B2B marketer that uses email—which is everyone, really—should use a deliverability solution. It’s a no brainer.
Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use at Validity?
How does all the buzz around AI ML and Automation help to build better Email Marketing suites?
There’s too much hype around AI in general in my view but if you can see past the hype, AI holds great potential for a more targeted and enriched Email Marketing experience, both for marketers and customers. I really like how Gmail and other inbox providers can suggest increasingly complex replies, so you don’t have to type them out.
Likewise, our Return Path products continuously monitor how emails are delivered and how mailbox providers and subscribers respond to different companies and campaigns. And because Return Path is the leader in the space, we have massive amounts of data that tell us what’s going on across the email landscape – allowing us to predict responses to future campaigns and offer clients advice on how to create more successful targeted campaigns in the future.
Do you think the CRMs are nearing an end? Which technology (ies) are best-suited to replace them in the coming years?
Absolutely not. In a recent study from Gartner, they found that globally CRM spending grew over 15% in 2018 and continues to be the fastest-growing application software. CRM is not going anywhere and is more likely to grow and improve its capabilities in the future.
Currently, every successful business has its own CRM strategy giving them insight on how to reach, retain, and grow their customer base. Validity helps these businesses take this wealth of data and turn it into a competitive advantage. Being able to keep up with customer data and obtain up to date info on how best to contact customers, their preferences, the best time and way to reach out to them, and more, allows companies to create more effective conversations with customers.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
There has been a recent wave of change in the way many companies are Marketing to people. It’s not simply B2B or B2C anymore. It’s becoming more conversational and connected as a whole, focusing less on pure features and more and more about being genuine – through meaningful, quality thought leadership — on top of the helpful, engaging way those companies interact with people.
DRIFT is a local company that has really become the posterchild of this. The days of gating everything and anchoring your campaigns around a “featured” white paper, eBook or report are slowly going away. These elements have their place, but they’re now transitioning into the role of supporting a larger story—not the story itself. Many of the companies that intrigue me are following this similar path of quality over quantity – local companies like Wistia and Pendo are two companies that also exemplify this.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
Across Marketing, we continuously get together to see how well we are performing on all facets of Digital Marketing and share our results across the team. We learn what concepts and things move the needle to see how we can learn and grow as a company. Underpinning all that intelligence is Marketing Technology. Technology not only helps us obtain our results so we can see how we are preforming, but it also allows us the ability to put our plans for improvement into practice.
One word that best describes how you work.
Balance. The balance between how to get multiple people aligned when you need to, counter-balanced with how to make decisions quickly and move fast. We’re a fast growth company, not only building products but also acquiring companies we welcome to the Validity family. We move fast. And often that involves over communicating and bold direction setting.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Using a third-party calendar app, you can share your availability with someone outside your company and find a time that works for both of you. I use Vyte, and it helps me avoid sending multiple emails back and forth with potential meeting times as we narrow down our collective availability.
What are you currently reading?
The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey. Great read if you like WWII. Also Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Always find ways to recognize contributions great and small across the organization. Recognition is the life blood of a thriving organization.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Hm…. I don’t know about better than others. But perhaps when it comes to marketing, I continuously look around to see what things in the industry are getting my attention and take those insights and see if we can apply them into our own organization. I love to track consumer trends, what’s in the media, how people react to marketing differently over time, and see what can be applied toward our own Marketing strategy.
Thank you, Charlie! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.