Martech Interview with Chief Marketing Officer, ActiveCampaign – Maria Pergolino

Maria Pergolino from ActiveCampaign talks about the importance of customer experience in today’s marketing and how marketing automation is helping brands

“Personalization isn’t just about sending an email that has your customer’s name in the subject line. Personalization is about understanding and delivering to a customer’s specific challenges, knowing their past purchases, engaging at the ideal time, and through the ideal channel.”

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your role at ActiveCampaign and how your marketing journey actually started?
I’ve been a marketer from the start. When I was in highschool, I won a business competition in a marketing category through an organization called DECA, which led to a focus in marketing for my undergrad and grad degrees. My career has had lots of growth — from coordinator to manager to director to VP to CMO, all in marketing. And I appreciate how everything I learned in each step prepared me for the next.

Marketing is the strategy of the company, the front of the ship that guides the rest of the organization, and the part of the org that takes all of the amazing things that happen internally and shares them externally. I’m so glad it’s been my path, and am proud to now represent ActiveCampaign in this way.

2. We recently covered ActiveCampaign’s release about the expansion of its Customer Experience Automation (CXA) solution to power service and advocacy through the entire customer lifecycle. How do you think CXA for service solution is going to amplify the personalization of individual campaigns?

Personalization isn’t just about sending an email that has your customer’s name in the subject line. Personalization is about understanding and delivering to a customer’s specific challenges, knowing their past purchases, engaging at the ideal time, and through the ideal channel.

There are marketing solutions that try to solve this problem, but they mostly focus on the pre-purchase touchpoints, and are disconnected from the post-purchase engagement and expansion efforts. Because of this, Support and Success teams fly blind, and engage customers without a real understanding of their preferences, past purchases, existing support tickets, etc. This lack of context makes even 1-1 personal engagements feel distant, and does a disservice to Support teams, who should know the customer the best.

With Customer Experience Automation, Support and Service teams can engage through a variety of channels, including SMS and social, and be prepared to have an intelligent and helpful conversation with context into a shopper’s history. With connected email, live chat, and text interactions, all teams are aware of support issues, upsell opportunities, and more, so they can engage with a true sense of what makes customers happy.

Additionally, CXA for Service supports 1:1 personalized communications through chatbots and nurture flows, so even automated one-off and routine communications feel personalized. These communications are personalized based on data from our platform, but also data from any of the 300+ companies we integrate with, like Shopify or Zendesk.

3. Why do you think that even the most strategic sales teams tend to go a little berzerk on the post-sale customer engagement?
Most businesses have realized the importance of a good customer experience, but delivering an experience that stands out is easier said than done. It’s not for a lack of desire, there are just too many channels, too many customers, and not enough hours in the day.

The other thing to realize is that consumer expectations are only getting higher. It’s not enough to be just “okay,” shoppers today are looking for the “best.” This mentality doesn’t just apply to the product, it applies to the entire experience, including support. Meeting these expectations requires a seamless experience across Marketing, Sales, and Success, so every team is working in lockstep. This is why tools like Customer Experience Automation are so critical. Being able to connect the dots between all the channel specific and point solutions that are used across the customer lifecycle makes delivering that personalized experience natural and effortless.

4. What according to you are three crucial factors in turning prospects to brand advocates?
The brands that are the most successful are the ones that can

  • Anticipate and deliver to customer needs on a 1-1 level
  • Connect the experience across all channels
  • Invest in big moments that make an impression

Craft and bespoke companies can do all of these things well naturally, but larger companies struggle with it, because there aren’t enough people or hours in the day. This is why what we do is so important. ActiveCampaign makes it possible to automate routine engagement through all channels, leveraging customer information to ensure communications are personalized and delivered at the right time.

Additionally, we give sales and success teams more hours back to their day to engage effectively with customers, and also provide them with critical customer information from all prior touchpoints to ensure the conversations they do have are more effective.

5. In what way would you explain the role of connecting chat abilities with automation to more connected customer experience?
There are many reasons to connect with customers post-sale; to re-engage, to recommend new solutions, or to share an update about store locations or new services, and many of these opportunities go untapped because there are just not enough hours in the day. Alternatively, some companies over automate and over communicate with customers, sending too many irrelevant messages that just lead to irritation. By connecting chatbots to the rest of the customer lifecycle, it’s possible to automate a personalized experience that considers what timing, content, and routing is most effective for that specific customer. When these things come together, even automated touchpoints feel natural and personal, ultimately increasing retention and satisfaction.

6. With ActiveCampaign creating raves about its category-defining Customer Experience Automation Platform, as a CMO what would you say its main USP is?
Customer Experience Automation makes customer connections scalable so you can treat every customer like they are your most important customer — whether you have 10 customers or 10 million. We are the only solution that orchestrates personalized experiences across all customer touchpoints, creating a customer-centric view of technology, allowing brands to deliver a customer-first experience at scale.
A few things that make us stand out:

  • Our company is the only one in our industry to offer a guarantee of any kind. We call it our Customer Success Commitment and it ensures every customer gets the maximum value, support, and security possible.
  • Over 70% of ActiveCampaign’s customers use our 300+ integrations, including Shopify, WordPress, Square, Facebook, Eventbrite, and Salesforce. We’re not only helping our customers use our technology, but we help them get more out of their other sales, marketing, and support tools.
  • ActiveCampaign scores higher in customer satisfaction than any other solution in Marketing Automation on, and we’ve been recognized as the top email marketing provider by TrustRadius. And, what’s awesome is that our customers decide this, further highlighting their success.

7. What is your go-to marketing mantra?
It all starts and stops with the customer.

Customer experience is so important, not only to keep them as a customer but to ensure they spread the word. The success or failure of a company can be the difference between a 4.9 and 4.5 Yelp score.

It’s not what we think we are selling or our thoughts about our brand, — it’s the customer’s view that truly matters. The saying “perception is reality” has never been more true.

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Maria Pergolino is the Chief Marketing Officer at ActiveCampaign. Maria is known for building world-class go-to-market teams that drive growth, differentiation, and category leadership. She has served as a senior marketing leader for global B2B technology organizations for almost two decades. Previously, Maria served as Chief Marketing Officer at Anaplan, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Sales Development at Apttus, and held marketing leadership roles at Marketo and Shunra Software (acquired by Hewlett-Packard Enterprises).

ActiveCampaign helps growing businesses meaningfully connect and engage with their customers. With their SaaS platform, they help businesses go beyond marketing automation to optimize their customers’ experiences. ActiveCampaign's category-defining Customer Experience Automation Platform helps over 100,000 businesses in 170 countries meaningfully engage with their customers. The platform gives businesses of all sizes access to hundreds of pre-built automation that combine email marketing, marketing automation, CRM, and machine learning for powerful segmentation and personalization across social, email, messaging, chat, and text. Over 70% of ActiveCampaign's customers use its 300+ integrations including Shopify, Square, Facebook, Eventbrite, WordPress, and Salesforce. ActiveCampaign scores higher in customer satisfaction than any other solution in Marketing Automation on and is the 2020 Top Rated Email Marketing Software on TrustRadius. - visit us at

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