Martech Interview with Chief Marketing Officer, SOCi – Monica Ho

Monica Ho from SOCi talks about the rising role of Martech in the marketing arena & how the saturation of tech has made the job of marketers easy as well as difficult

“The top marketing strategies that I swear by relate to adding value. The strategies where marketers can add value and provide meaningful insight into particular fields of marketing are key “

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you prepared for a career in Marketing Technology?

I started my career at a time when a major transformation was happening. Marketers, at that time, were moving from traditional media to digital, and I was lucky enough to get a marketing analyst job at an agency that had an established traditional advertising base and a burgeoning opportunity in digital via an acquisition of an online job board called Although I cut my teeth the first year in traditional media, I quickly transitioned into a digital selling role, which allowed me to work hand in hand with brands making the difficult (and rather painful) move to digital marketing and advertising.

After a few years in digital sales, I was addicted to the fast-paced and dynamic nature of Ad / MarTech and intrigued by the fact that so many marketers – despite the clear consumer shift – were still lagging behind. What I discovered in this role was the marketer’s hesitancy to make the shift was not due to lack of resources or willingness, but one of knowledge. At that time, the market lacked credible data and insight on the specific areas of marketing that were most impacted by the shift from traditional to digital combined with actionable data that would help marketers know where to start their digital marketing journey in the vast abyss of the “World Wide Web.” Based on this insight, I launched “The Local Search Study” in partnership with comScore in early 2000. This research study ran annually for over six years and was widely referenced by agencies and marketers, alike, and became a guidebook on where marketers needed to focus next as consumer usage in digital hit mass adoptions and new technologies and sites entered the market.
After spending more than 10 years agency side (during that time – not only launching the above-mentioned study but a digital arm of the agency called 15miles that focused on local search, website creation, and SEO), I then moved on to a start-up that was leveraging mobile-location data in an effort to make mobile devices and digital marketing even smarter. I was again in a place where marketers were struggling to understand and keep pace with the consumer shift from desktop to mobile. Once again, I saw the opportunity to help evangelize the opportunity in mobile marketing by educating marketers on the shift that was occurring and how to effectively transition. This time the study was called “Mobile Path to Purchase” and studied how the shift was happening by specific industry vs. the shift from desktop to mobile in general. This study ran annually from 2012-2016.

In 2018 I made the decision to join SOCi – the leading localized marketing platform built for multi-location marketers as I saw a very similar shift and opportunity happening in local – social. Once again, brands were lagging consumer usage and not fully taking advantage of social media’s ability to not only reach their customers but build powerful connections with these audiences through local conversations and community. In 2019 we launched our first research study in partnership with Localogy (formerly the Local Search Association) that fully defines the localized social marketing opportunity – complete with tangible data that shows how this area of marketing can drive real-world results (in the form of increased revenue) to businesses with actionable data or benchmarks to guide practicing marketers on how to take advantage of this largely untapped opportunity in digital marketing. Like prior studies, our goal is to conduct this research with Localogy annually to track the ongoing increase in consumer usage of these powerful platforms and the engagement that occurs between businesses and consumers at the national and local levels.

2. What are the top marketing strategies you swear by?

top marketing strategies that I swear by relate to adding value. The strategies where marketers can add value and provide meaningful insight into particular fields of marketing are key.

At the same time, sharing important trends and data with other marketers is critical as well.
At SOCi, we’re able to do this through content marketing and research insights. There’s no better marketing than marketing where you’re adding value.

3. What was the defining facet of your most successful marketing campaign?

The most successful marketing campaign I’ve been a part of was at a previous company where we conducted a location for good initiative. The defining facet of this campaign was that it was focused on doing good and helping others. The company I was at used their mobile location technology for good. We partnered with the Federation of Internet Alerts (FIA) and helped improve the Amber Alert System. Through this campaign, we were able to significantly increase the abduction to recovery rate for Amber Alerts. In this case, the power of location data wasn’t about advertising or defining audiences; it was about saving lives. The success of the campaign ultimately brought more press to our company, and also turned into an opportunity to provide resources to companies who were in need.

Currently, I’m working to figure out how I can create a campaign focused on doing good at SOCi. Before COVID-19 hit, I was in conversation with Facebook and the World Well Being Organization. There are certain things called social determinants of health, which can pre-identify high-risk behavior through social media. There are specific types of content that people post on social media that indicate that people aren’t in a good place, and the World Well Being Organization can flag this. Our conversations were around how we could help the people who have been flagged as high-risk, but unfortunately, these conversations were put on hold due to the pandemic. We hope to pick up these conversations again soon and find a way for SOCi to develop a campaign that will help those who look to be at high-risk based on their social media behaviors.

4. What are the main challenges you are seeing with Martech providers today?

One of the biggest challenges that we’re seeing with martech today is how saturated the market is. There is a lot of saturation because of the complexity of digital marketing. You have a lot of companies that focus on individual marketing channels like social media, or local listings, and so on, but you also now have companies that focus on a variety of marketing technologies.
We’re making digital marketing more complex for marketers with all of the choices, and at the same time, we constantly have to figure out ways to break through the noise and chatter While this presents challenges, it also presents a huge opportunity as many marketers are now looking to consolidate a lot of their marketing needs through one or just a few platforms.

5. How do you think SOCi amplifies your personal marketing journey?

SOCi has helped me really round out my digital marketing understanding. I started in traditional marketing right out of college, and did a lot of print advertising. The agency I started at acquired, and I was thrust into the world of digital marketing and became hooked. I then spun out to create another digital marketing company called 15miles which focused on all localized digital marketing at the time which was primarily websites, SEO and local directories.
After my time at 15miles, I migrated to a mobile ad technology and data company and was at the forefront of leveraging mobile digital marketing, which was the new big thing. When I joined SOCi, its focus on social media marketing was the next big place where digital marketing was evolving. SOCi’s focus on local social and now the full localized digital journey (search, social and reviews and conversations) has rounded out my experience in localized digital marketing.

6. Why do you think multi-location marketing for businesses has a tremendous scope?
In today’s society, we all want things that are tailored to our situation. How many times do we pick up our mobile device looking for something? Nine out of ten times our location is contextually relevant. The world of multi-location marketing has a long runway. Not as many businesses are taking advantage of this runway because of the lack of technology to scale localized marketing efforts. We’re starting to find answers for scaling through technology. Martech is starting to help businesses localize their content more effectively and efficiently.
COVID-19 has brought the importance of localization back into focus. Consumers want to keep their local businesses afloat amid the pandemic and are forgoing the convenience of online shopping to focus more on local. Local businesses make up the fabric of the community, chains included. Consumers want to see that local businesses stay healthy, and this can be achieved through effective multi-location marketing.

7. Can you tell us about some of the Martech tools that you’ve used to successfully shape your initiatives and campaigns?

Currently, SOCi utilizes multi-touch attribution and marketing automation tools to successfully shape our initiatives and campaigns. Specifically, we use Bizible for multi-touch attribution and Pardot for marketing automation. The complexity of the consumer journey makes these tools necessary to run a successful campaign.
For instance,

multi-touch attribution allows us to see every touchpoint a lead has had along their journey and can also better understand how our marketing efforts are impacting the customer.

There are some campaigns that do a good job of converting leads, while some increase pipeline velocity, and others do a better job of bringing in new leads. Once we’re able to better understand the customer journey, we can then create content specific to what we’re trying to achieve in terms of sales and leads.

Similarly, marketing automation allows us to segment and send very customized marketing messages to different target audiences and track the performance of each of these. There’s a lot of martech that goes into connecting these dots.

8. What, according to you, should be the top 3 best practices when it comes to integrating Martech stack and functions?

When integrating martech stack and functions, you must first clearly define what your need is. Without knowing the needs of your company, you won’t be able to select the right solutions. After you’ve determined your need, you then need to investigate all of the solutions that can solve for that need. When you’re looking for solutions, one thing to keep in mind is any future needs your company may have. We’re finding that today, vendors are able to solve for more than one need. A lot of martech vendors are trying to be more than a one-trick pony and offer more services. If you can leverage one tool for multiple needs, it can save you time and money in the future.

9. What are the top 3 things that B2B/Tech Marketing leaders should always keep in mind when planning amplification strategies for a new tool or product?

When planning amplification strategies for a new tool or product, tech marketing leaders should keep the same basic marketing principles in mind.
1. First, you must define your target audience and be very specific about the audiences you’re trying to reach.
2. Secondly, you need to understand the pain or use case that your product or new tool is solving for. For instance, how is this new product going to help your target audience?
3. Finally, you must ensure that you’re delivering your message in the correct format based on your target audience and the platforms they utilize. The creative you use in your amplification strategies should also reflect the audience you’re trying to attract.
If you follow all of the tactics mentioned above, you should find success in your amplification strategies.

10. What is your go-to life mantra?

I don’t necessarily have a go-to life mantra, but rather a purpose statement. My purpose statement that I aim to live by is to do good by supporting and elevating those around me.
Whether it’s in my work or personal life, I think that doing good by supporting and elevating those around me is crucial to finding fulfillment and happiness in life.

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Monica Ho, CMO of SOCi, Inc., has had nearly 20 years of Digital Marketing, Advertising and Research experience, including a solid foundation in Sales, Strategy and Data Analytics. Prior to SOCi, Monica served as Global CMO at GroundTruth (formerly xAd, Inc), where she helped grow the business from an early stage start-up to an award-winning global brand.

SOCi is an award-winning platform built specifically for "next-level" multi-location marketers. Our customers include top brands and influencers like Ace Hardware, Sport Clips, and Anytime Fitness who have the impossible challenge of managing their digital presence across hundreds and thousands of locations. As central command for multi-location marketers, SOCi makes the impossible possible by enabling top brands and their locations to strengthen and scale their digital presence across limitless local search and social pages while protecting what matters most, their reputation.

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