David Greenberg from Act-On talks about the importance of data, marketing automation, & martech tools to survive, sustain, & compete in today’s marketing industry
“It’s so much more productive and cost-effective to retain good customers than it is to chase new ones”
1. Tell us about your role in Act-On?
As the SVP of Marketing for Act-On Software, I’m focused on ensuring our customer and brand experiences stand out. The martech space has grown exponentially in recent years, so it’s important to distinguish our brand and our solution from our competitors. Our marketing team is really driving toward sure our customers love using our product and are proud to share that passion. This means that we’re constantly listening to our customers and paying close attention to industry trends and pain points to maintain our position as innovators in the space and drive our company forward.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into marketing?
My first introduction to marketing was during days trying to be a rock star.. My band moved to NYC and we used to pass out fliers and send kits to music venues in hopes of making it big. When that dream fizzled out, I worked a couple of sales jobs, which kicked off an over 20-year career in martech. I fell in love with how marketing exists at the intersection of science and data. I still wake up excited about where the industry is going and how technology will continue to refine the customer journey. In fact, when marketing automation first emerged, I knew it was going to be the future. In one of my earlier positions, I had to make a ridiculously long business case to justify its adoption. Now look where we are — automation is a widely adopted tool among most successful enterprises.
3. How do you think technology is upgrading the marketing sector?
Technology (marketing automation, specifically) is allowing marketers to do their jobs with increased speed, personalization, and agility. New data-driven tools allow them to reach more customers quickly and efficiently, driving better holistic customer experiences.
COVID-19 has accelerated the need for great digital marketing, and marketing technology is the best asset marketers have to create better customer experiences.
With smarter and more accessible martech, marketers can segment and personalize each individual journey without coming off as robotic or spammy. As customers continue to move almost entirely online, providing this tailored digital buying experience is crucial.
4. How has personalization empowered marketing professionals?
Personalization is a powerful approach that allows marketers to build trust and relationships that make the customer feel empowered in the decision to buy. It also allows them to move beyond treating customers as leads or numbers.
For example, when prospects visit one of our customers’ websites, they tend to have a vast library of resources at their fingertips. With each click, marketers can now track digital behaviors and interactions — providing insights about their needs, preferences or problems. Our customers can then use this information to foster relationships by delivering related resources that align with their prospect’s needs through automated email programs. The more knowledge the marketer gains as the user moves through their journey, the more personalized these communications can become.
5. How does your platform help in improving brand loyalty?
In the old world of marketing, shoving leads through a funnel worked because consumers weren’t in control of their journey. Today, the opposite is true. Buyers are in control of the buying process, and marketing has had to evolve accordingly. So, instead of forcing the issue, Marketing needs to act as stewards of these relationships, which is actually a tremendous opportunity to foster sustainable growth.
Also, 80% of consumers care more about brand experience than what these brands actually sell, so the focus for marketers will continue to shift to be on brand devotion and product adoption. As an example, one of our customers, Red Lion Hotels (RLH), does this extremely well. They have a massive list of clients from more than 1,000 franchises hotels, so they use our growth marketing platform to properly segment their lists and provide highly relevant content and promotions for each unique franchise through their loyalty programs. Offering these types of incentives to the right customers at the right time is where our customers start seeing real connections with your brand.
6. What tips would you like to give for effective SEO & social media marketing?
In terms of SEO, do your company a favor and perform a detailed audit of your website to make sure your content is driving traffic and conversions, opportunities, and sales. Almost every company has pages or blogs that drive a ton of traffic but don’t actually generate any kind of engagement or return. So, on the surface, some of these metrics can be misleading. Don’t just optimize for more search; optimize for better visitors to the most productive areas of your site. It seems simple, but a lot of marketers fail to grasp this.
As far as social media, just curating and reposting content isn’t going to drive engagement. Instead, you should be focusing on employee advocacy to drive awareness and build your network. Encourage team members to follow your company’s profiles and like and share your posts. These employees already have a good sense of what your organization is trying to achieve, so they’re in a great position to help through social media. And, of course, you need to lead by example. You shouldn’t ask your employees to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.
7. What features of your CRM integration solutions differentiates it in the market?
Unlike most martech solutions, our marketing automation platform works seamlessly with all leading CRMs. For us, absolute integration means making marketers day-to-day tasks simpler, while also supporting a customer journey that is consistent across all touchpoints.
Our CRM integrations allow Marketing to relay comprehensive insights to Sales — including how prospects and customers engage, what they’re interested in, their primary pain points, demographics, firmographics, and more. This is crucial for turning tire kickers and tepid leads into new customers. We pride ourselves on the fact that this level of cross-department data collection, transfer, and visibility is unparalleled in the industry and provides a major boost to sales representatives and marketers alike.
Good marketing automation and CRM integrations go light years beyond lead transfer. Act-On’s integrations provide comprehensive insights into each contact and account — which, again, is central to delivering these great customer experiences I keep talking about.
8. What advice would you like to give to technology start-ups?
Don’t leave your customers behind. Stay focused on their needs and learn from them.
It’s so much more productive and cost-effective to retain good customers than it is to chase new ones.
That’s not to say new business isn’t important, but good customer marketing strategies will tell you everything you need to know about your target audiences and allow you to scale your business proportionately.
It’s also important to remember that you can’t be all things to all people all the time. Don’t get too caught up comparing yourself to the competition and always put your best foot forward. Determine your greatest values and push hard on those. Focusing on your strong suits will allow you to deliver more informative customer experiences and separate your brand from the pack.
Lastly, prepare for the best. Too many times we see brands get caught off guard. Choose a martech stack that will help you scale easily to meet customer demand. Consider what happened to the vast amount of companies that saw massive and sudden influxes to their ecommerce sites during the pandemic. Without the right infrastructure in place, many weren’t able to handle increased demand and traffic on their websites.
9. What work-related hack do you follow to enjoy maximum productivity?
I make it a point to monitor the funnel and customer satisfaction on an hourly basis. I have a number of “hack” reports that I tap into often to make sure I’m on top of my game and in a position to empower my team members to succeed. This allows me and my team to nip negative experiences in the bud before they turn into negative patterns, and also learn what we’re doing that our customers love.
10. How do you prepare for an AI-centric world?
Obviously, AI can be extremely powerful, but I’d challenge the notion that we’re as close to an AI-centric world as some believe. The good news is that the best marketers are already driven by data, and I believe that more sophisticated AI is only going to amplify how we market based on digital behaviors and engagement.
In many ways, these technologies will help marketers predict consumers’ needs before they even know they have them. That is, it will help us stay a step ahead and deliver on customer experience more efficiently. Anticipation is so critical to the customer experience, so if you can leverage the information at your disposal to create campaigns and communications that deliver on customer needs preemptively, you’ll be in terrific shape.
For example, Act-On’s adaptive send feature uses AI and predictive assumptions to determine when recipients are most likely to engage. Delivering communications during this time frame results in higher levels of engagement and ROI. At the same time, it ensures that the customer sees the right message at the right time — and that’s what great marketing looks like in the digital age.
11. What are the major developments you are planning in the near future?
We have a number of exciting developments following our recent rebrand. Right now, there are a couple of key announcements coming down the pipeline that are going to help marketers be more nimble and creative. For example, we continue to invest in multi-channel capabilities so marketers have the right channels in their mix. Likewise, our UX is undergoing updates that will revolutionize our “drag-and-drop” interface — allowing marketers to design and execute dynamic, multichannel campaigns more easily and effectively.
12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
I’m really lucky to work with a lot of talented and innovative people. In the marketing department, our team is so strong and so nimble. And when you work with people who are experienced in several different disciplines, it’s that much easier to just trust one another and let the best ideas win.
I think one of the things I’m most proud of is that we never operate in a vacuum — whether within the marketing team or across the organization. Act-On thrives on creativity and innovation, and we work closely to make sure that everyone has a voice and an opportunity to help move our company forward.
I have a lot of experience in this industry, but I learn new things from my team every single day and hopefully, I’m able to help them along in their careers a bit as well. Showing up to work (even virtually) every day is a really exciting and rewarding experience, and that’s due to my team and our leadership here at Act-On.
13. What movie inspires you the most?
I saw the original Star Wars when I was a kid and no movie before or since has inspired my imagination in that same way. Sometimes that feels a little cliche, but just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s not creative or thought-provoking. In fact, I think there’s probably a really good tie-in there with good marketing. Many of the best campaigns are memorable because they challenged people at the time or made them aspire to better things, and I think many elements of Star Wars do the same thing for millions of people.
14. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
15. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
In terms of workplace collaboration, Slack is downloaded onto my phone and allows me to chat with current and former colleagues through a quick DM. I also constantly check the Apple News App to keep track of current events and stay on the lookout for any martech-related headlines.
Away from work, I’m a massive tennis fan and love to play, so I stay connected to my recreational league through TeamSnap and follow pro tennis through the USTA app. I’m also really into gardening and cooking meals with produce and ingredients grown from my home garden, so the Safari app through Siri on my iPhone is a real game-changer for me.