There is no shortage of options when it comes to building your marketing technology stack. But with the seemingly endless options, how do companies navigate what to handle in-house and what to outsource? This session weighs the options to create the right combination for your martech strategy.
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Guillaume Cabane | Founder, Growth @ Ex Machina
Alice Default | Co-Founder and CEO @ Double
Pauline Fumeron | Marketing Automation Manager @ OpenClassrooms
FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW
Guillaume: And today we’re going to talk about how to build your marketing stack. So I invited both Alice and Pauline because they represent different stages of startup life with different types of MarTech Stack progress, but first I want to give you a quick outlook on what I’m seeing. I’ve worked at multiple high growth SaaS businesses as a growth leader, and the data we’re seeing right now …
This is from … is that CAC is increasing both in B2B and B2C, and you’re going to see how that relates, right? It’s increasing every year, right? And it’s increasing significantly, which means that our ability to react is going down. Wait, there you go. Our ability to react is going down because all channels are becoming saturated. What this means is that channels are saturated, and we are starting to compete with money, which is not good, right? We’re just spending more money on each channel. The way that CMOs are reacting, this is 2018 Gartner data, is that the budgets of CMOs are shifting from every category towards MarTech. All right?
Guillaume: We’re talking of human labor paid. Everything is shifting to MarTech, right? That is how CMOs in the US and DB the number to n is pretty big, n is like 600 companies, right? The way they’re reacting to stay competitive is to spend more on tech, on MarTech. And that’s very interesting. And if you wonder like where are they spending money? They’re spending mostly on data gathering. So data analytics, marketing customer analytics, and technology and acquisition. The second category is very interesting because this, you can translate that as the paid spend, of Facebook and what not, moving towards MarTech acquisition tools. Okay.
Guillaume: Now that we have the MarTech outlook and the marketing shifts, a couple of things. I want to invite you all to go on Slido. Yes, it’s the last slide for this. So if we can pop up the Slido slide and I want to invite you all to take your phone and go on slido.com for this session so that you can start asking the panel questions. I will start the session with a couple of questions of my own and we’ll get started that way. Okay, so first, can we welcome Pauline and Alice, can you please quickly present yourselves and your company and what you do at the company?
Pauline: Yeah, so I work at OpenClassrooms, which is a European leader in online education. We basically train individuals or people from all over the world for high demand job. And my role at the company is to handle from the moment a person shows an interest in the OpenClassrooms to make sure they get the best experience until they become a customer and our students and see if they eventually graduate from our school. OpenClassrooms is an around 200 employees and we have offices in Paris, HQ, London and New York.
Alice: Hi. So I’m Alice, I’m the Co-founder and CEO of Double, which is a productivity tool that makes delegation more accessible and easier. We are starting by building tools and workflows for executives and their assistants to work better together. We’re still super early stage. We launched a year ago and we’re based in New York and the team is seven people today.
Guillaume: Keep the mic.
Guillaume: So your the… as the founder and CEO of a very early stage, like almost pre-product market fits a startup.
Alice: Definitely pre-product market fit.
Guillaume: Yeah. Let’s give it some hope. What kind of a MarTech stack do you have right now at your stage?
Alice: So we’ve kept things simple. Today marketing, there’s only me doing it and then I have someone in customer success who is helping me and so we’re mostly using Intercom for one-on-one interaction with our users. We’re in private beta so we have a smaller set of users, and then Zapier, and then a CRM that we are hacked with Trello basically. And we’re currently looking to move to an actual CRM in the next month or so.
Guillaume: Cool. Okay. Pauline, same question. So OpenClassroom, 200 people now, what kind of stack do we have now?
Pauline: Sure. For marketing we have to deal with a high volume of users. So we have different tools. We use HubSpot, Salesforce, Blueshift for human marketing, we have Xavier, so Amplitudes, a Tablo for data analysis. So quarter after to be able to now scale the company.
Guillaume: Cool. Okay. And so I think that there’s an interesting thing here where we are seeing… So I’ve worked at like companies like the size above or after OpenClassroom and it’s interesting for you all to understand like the shift in MarTech stack by company size. But also I think that’s the next question that I have for Alice, is the decisions that you’re taking now as CEO and founder of the company. Some of them will be hard to reverse if you choose a CRM now and it’s going to, it’s going to be really hard to go back on that later on the cost of migration. And so what I want to know is what kind of vision do you have for your MarTech stack? How are you making that decision right now? By more MarTech stack, less MarTech stack? We saw what CMOs are doing. Yeah.
Alice: We were just mentioning it earlier. I think the decision we have to make today is how do we want to be or how much will you want to rely on just humans doing the work. We’re still at a stage where the product evolves a lot. We’re not at product market fit and so we’re making decisions that are impacting the product. And so today we’re thinking more about we have to rely on humans to be able to be flexible, to move super fast to experiment and later down the road be able to go towards tools when we have a better idea of what we want to do and how we want to optimize what works. So right now we’re more human heavy, but we are making decisions of going to a CRM and being able to define the best ways to grow with that CRM today.
Guillaume: And Pauline, you were telling me earlier about the role of your team at the company. Tell us quickly the size of your team at OpenClassroom, how it’s grown recently and how you work with other teams. Like interoperability with like engineers and with marketing.
Pauline: Yeah, sure. So OpenClassroom has been growing very fast over the past year, so when I joined we were three people in the marketing team. We’re now eight people and we have more and more experts in their field to help us to go further in the different funnels that we have. We as a marketing team work a lot with of course the sales team, but also with the tech team. As of today it’s a bit complicated for the marketing to be completely autonomous, so we rely a lot on the tech team and we need to find a way to also as a marketing team to be more technical and to have more competencies in ours. Even though we are not real developers, but maybe this will come at some point. I think it will be useful for a company where we really had to, at the same time we have more experts in the different fields to make sure so that our serve as marketer, we are able to know a bit more of coding to be able to connect our different tools with APIs or just to go faster and have more experiments as Alice was saying.
Guillaume: Cool. And so what’s the current scope of your team in terms of tools or what kind of channels you cover? What kind of tools do you cover right now?
Pauline: Our role is mainly to generate leads. That’s the main role of the marketing team at OpenClassrooms. So we have a team who is working on paid acquisition and another one on the organic acquisition. And we work a lot with the sales teams who is dealing with a lot of leads, we have to make sure so that we are really able to track and measure all the investment that we are doing, require lengthy sales cycles. And we need to really be able to always constantly measure everything that we are doing. But mainly it’s a towards a lead generation as of today.
Guillaume: And so there’s a lot of scope there. And you talked earlier about how it’s becoming more and more technical. I want to know like how do you decide like what you do in your team and like the ability of your team versus when do you call the technical engineering team?
Pauline: Sure, when it’s only our team who is being exposed to what we’re doing. I think we’re doing as much as possible to do it ourselves again just to save time and to be able to experiment faster. As soon as what we are doing is going to impact other teams are always going to touch the product. This is very good to do tech team, but we try as much as possible to generate data and to come to the different teams saying, Hey, we’ve been doing this. We have some data, it has showed us that we maybe could go further and also help us to have like the team following us on this. But we really try as much as possible to be independent. That’s why we are trying to be more technical on our sides, but when we get to touch the product or other teams, this is where we go to the other one.
Guillaume: Alice, when I met you a couple of years ago, you were one of the first marketing people at front app and then you moved to product and marketing at Sunrise, which was acquired by Microsoft, and now you’re the founder of your company. Which means you’ve got an interesting perspective of having a marketing background in successful startups and now being the decision maker. And as of right now people, like market fits, I’d say a company. All right, and so my question is how do you leverage a MarTech or how are you trying to leverage MarTech at your stage right now with the experience that you’ve had in those past successful companies? What would you do differently? What would you do the same?
Alice: It’s interesting because the jobs I had in marketing before are so different than what’s required from me today. At Sunrise for example, we had a 1 million monthly active users, so we were not about discovering who our customer was or how to speak to them. It was mostly just how to activate them, how to make them come back to the app.
Alice: Today where I’m still doing a lot of customer developments, I’m doing a lot of acquisition and so they’re parts of marketing which are really different. I think what helps at my stage is still be able to know what’s going to come ahead and getting ready for that. So even if we’re not at product market fit and we’re still figuring out the right product to build and who to sell it to. Starting to think about brand, about how we want to sell the product later down the road, how we want to build communities, which we did at at Sunrise and at Front before that, and keeping this in mind as we’re building experiments.
Alice: An example that I can give is right now we’re really focused on building a community around what we’re building. And so we have this entire concept of having a waiting list that people can sign up on on our websites. And then we send them emails to keep them updated about what we’re doing. In a way, we used to do a lot of content at Sunrise, and at Front before that, and so even though the goal is a bit different here, there’s still things that stayed the same between experiences.
Guillaume: So I want the two perspectives of like culturally, right. Alice is based in New York I’m based in SF and Pauline, you’re based in Paris. So I want to understand first maybe by asking Pauline like what do you think your focus is on a product versus marketing for your company if you’re more marketing focused or product focused, and what are the consequences of those choices for you and your company?
Pauline: Sure. Well OpenClassrooms is definitely focused on product right now and this is how the company has been able to grow. Things are changing now that we are scaling and reading to really develop the the company, but as a marketing team we are are trying as much as possible more and more with the product team, with the tech team, and to show them also that marketing is a really here to have the company grow and it’s not just a message or trying to do the things on our own.
Pauline: It’s also really part of the the product itself. If you don’t have the rights message or if you don’t reach the people that need that could benefit from the product is going to be difficult to also expand the company. But what we’ve seen recently is that we are more and more so working with other companies to also help us our roads, our marketing. We recently signed a partnership with Salesforce and Microsoft, who are our code developing training path, training path weavers. So you’re so help us to really get the brand and the marketing emphasized to reinsure people that we are serious and that we are really committed not only in the product versus showing who we are.
Guillaume: Cool. I have one last question for both of you and then we’ll take the Slido questions and I encourage the audience to go on Slido. I really want this to be as interactive as possible.
Guillaume: So my last like two questions is I want to understand your policy around build versus buy, and then I want to know like how do you make your marketing competitive? How do you build a moat for your company if you’re taking let’s say genomic tools, the same as your competitors, do you want to start Pauline?
Pauline: Sure. As the company’s growing a lot now and so we have to take into consideration that the teams are working a lot with each other. So every time now that we actually are choosing a tool, we are trying to make sure that it’s going to serve the teams and that the investment that we are doing is going to have the right ROI.
Pauline: We had tons of tools being used by all the teams within the company and as of today we are more and more looking at tools which can give us the right data. So we need tools which are going to be able to communicate between themselves so we are able to track our performance more so to a great user experience, toolo that it is being used at marketing. For instance, is going to be able to be connected to Salesforce because this is the tool that the sales team is going to use to handle all the leads that we’re doing.
Alice: On our side, the resources are super limited. As I said, there’s only seven of us in the team and so all the build resources that we have go to the product. They don’t go to marketing yet. So we are mostly buying everything that we’re doing right now. But I’d love to know if you think we’re making a mistake and if we should like change course.
Guillaume: I have a different opinion, right? And my opinion is the teams that have built are really engineering focused and I buy a lot, but I customize a lot and I build a lot, because I believe that’s my competitive modes. I believe that if I use the same tools as my competitors in the same way, how am I going to win? Right? If I can only win by spending more dollars on the same channel, that’s a way to lose. And so I don’t always build everything. But for example, if I look at my past two companies that Drift at Segments, I was the only marketer and the rest of my team was engineers. And so we were building custom solutions, often on top of off the shelf stuff, but we’re building custom on top of it so that we can have a competitive moat that we would create. So that that is my portrait, it’s very engineering heavy and it has worked.
Guillaume: And so let’s take the first question here from Angie from a Smart BNB. What’s the essential marketing stack every SaaS should have regardless of size?
Guillaume: So I’ll take the first dab at it. I’ve built that three times at a small company mentioned and then Segment and then Drifts. And for me it really starts by having some kind of data collection, being able to understand who’s on your website, who’s on your app, what are they doing? Right? The first thing is like I need to collect it to understand. And so I spent the first two months building a really deep tracking plan to understand everything that we’re doing, right? But there was enough volume, which is like, I was going to give us a different perspective at low volume things, right?
Guillaume: And then I need to be able to like do some BI, some analysis. So I plug in some amplitude. And if you’re a small company, it’s basically free, right? So some segments, some amplitude, and then they need to reach out to those people. Based on the analysis. What I do is I break down my audience in different buckets based on the behaviors, based on the demographics.
Guillaume: And then I try to customize their experience. How do I customize that emails in that messaging onboarding. So it could be some app cues, it can be some a drift, it can be some customer IO. So I can touch the multiple channels. But that’s basically my stack, data collection, data analysis, and data action is how I break it down.
Guillaume: And I want to anticipate another question, which is how much do I pay for that? Because I left both companies I can actually talk about it. So at my past role, I spent about $300,000 in MarTech stack per year at a discount at about 60% all right, so the list price for those products is about $700,000. And then I was leveraging three engineers. So the budget for the team was about a million and that team would bring in about 5 million in revenue. All right, so $300,000 from MarTech, $700,000 worth of people, and about five X with our investments. That’s more or less my economics. Pauline, you have a perspective maybe on this question?
Pauline: Oh yeah. I would have said data for me is essential. If you are not able to know who is coming to your website or what’s working, what’s not working and what’s going on on your product it’s going to be very difficult even to make choices with marketing. But yes, probably just maybe also where Alice is, but being able to track and then be able to talk with your customers when you’re doing whatever you are, in whatever state you are, I think it’s really essential that you are always able to get feedback from your customers and also to engage with them with the right message at the right time.
Guillaume: Yeah. Alice, I think you have an interesting perspective on that one because you’re at the very early stage and basically you need to engage for sure. You’re doing one to one marketing. Do you also collect data? Do you do any analysis at your stage?
Alice: Yes, we do. We have data everywhere, so we have Tablo, we use mode, which is kind of like amplitude.
Guillaume: You have Tablo in the pre product market fit company?
Guillaume: Okay I’m just checking.
Alice: Our ops director who was in charge of data, I loves Tablo and so he set it up but we use mode as a smaller size.
Pauline: So just to understand because you don’t have many users or customers, so what do you analyze in Tablo? Is it like your own data or is it like market data?
Alice: It’s our own data so we have it connected to our products. We have apps that are in product beta, but we have people using our apps. Right now we’re mostly just tracking feature usage and which features are using the app? Which one should we push for? Which one should we kill? We’re killing 50% of the app this week, as an example, because we realized that it wasn’t necessary, so we use it just to help the product mostly. And then mode is more trends like how do people use specific features? Do they come back to it? It has retention, things like that.
Guillaume: Okay, cool. Let’s go to the second question. How to measure marketing activities in B2B sales, enterprise sales with long sales process is nine months, plus any attribution tips when marketing to enterprise?
Guillaume: Yeah, segments sales cycle on the enterprise side is long, maybe not nine months, but some deals are past nine months for sure. And basically it’s my take on it at my stage was to be able to understand the number of interactions with the accounts. We’re talking enterprise here. With the accounts over time. Right? So how many times did we touch the accounts over a period of time. And we do regressions to understand how touches impact our conversion rates. And what we saw, which is fairly obvious, is that the more touch points interactions we have, the higher the likelihood to close.
Guillaume: These days is a word for that. It’s called conversational marketing. Right? When I talk about a touch, it’s not sending an email because that has zero value. It’s did the end user receive value from my touch? Which it means basically did they respond to my email. Did they call us or were we able to talk to them, that they came to a booth at an event, or did we have a chat with them. So do we have a conversation? What is the length of the conversation, and how frequent is that conversation?
Guillaume: The name of the model is RFM. It’s a recent recency and frequency model. So how recent is the last conversation and how frequent is the conversation? Right. So if we have five conversations in the past 30 days, that’s good. All right. It’s really good. And so that’s how we were measuring marketing effectiveness, the ability to generate conversations, responses. So that’s what I have. Alice, I think you have some experience in that from your days at accelerate in Front? Not too much?
Alice: No not really. Sunrise was B2C, but Front was B2B sales, but we have shorter cycles. I wouldn’t say that they would take nine months. On our side, we did a lot of contents and a lot of like newsletters and what you were saying about making sure that you stay very present with your lead until they make the final decision. So contacting them on a frequent basis, going back to them, sharing new updates, new features.
Guillaume: Yeah, I want to give a different view that is very easy is that I send very personal, I say automatically very personal emails, right? That look like texts and there was no link. There’s no …, there’s no button. Right? The goal of the email at the enterprise level is to get a response. So the email comes from the sales leader, the sales rep or the CEO. Depending on the company size, the goal is to get a response. The responses are automatically analyzed by MonkeyLearn, which is an AI tool. And so I can do some sentiment analysis. Is the response positive, negative, or neutral? If it’s positive, it goes back to the sales inbox. If it’s neutral or negative, it goes to the trash. All right. And the goal of that is to understand are we creating a high volume of positive responses? Right. And that is super scalable. I scaled that at segments to thousands of emails per week.
Guillaume: Let’s take the next one. Do we have any golden rules for hiring something/someone versus both buying a platform? Alice, I want to start with you because you asked me exactly that question like 20 minutes ago.
Alice: Yes. So I don’t have the answer but I have to rephrase. The question is we are so super small team, we’re mostly focused on product right now and probably the same as I know my next role has to be some sort of marketing role. We’ve hired on the product and engineering team a lot, and the question is, I don’t know which role to hire for because we’re still, I’m not sure which product I’m selling. I’m not sure who I’m selling it to, and we’re mostly experimenting right now. We’re doing events, we’re doing a tiny bit of content, we’re doing community building partnerships. And I don’t know if I should just give this to someone, like to an agency. Should I hire someone internally? How do I make that decision? It’s like it’s kind of, it goes with the same question.
Guillaume: My, my take on it is I never hire someone to rebuild a specific product that already exists, right? I hire who are able to customize complex tools. HubSpot is a good example of that use Zapier, but competing… Like having a human that competes with an entire company, which is dedicated to building a product is a losing battle. There’s no way I can hire someone to compete with HubSpot. Does that make sense? Or any tool to send emails, this is no value there. Right? And so I tried to hire people who can improve existing products further and build relationships with those tools. Your team has grown from like three to eight people in the past six months. So maybe you can tell us a bit about how they have specialized in how you decide around like the build versus buy.
Pauline: Yeah, sure. And it’s actually very interesting because we are more and more doing things internally. But we are also more and more making sure that the marketing team is also being built again to make the connections sometimes with the different tools and teams. For instance in our case I’ve been able to connect our CRM tool with the customer success teams so we’re able to proactively contact students if we need to, and also it’s a matter of seeing that all the value that we have somewhere can be a shared. Having people more with more and more competencies, expert in a field but also being able to have a step back and understand a bit how different tools work and how you can link them is very helpful. Whether just being good at just one thing like how exactly like how do you go further and how do you create value with all the tools and data that you have?
Guillaume: Yeah. The next question is most companies don’t invest in data infrastructure segment and such in the beginning, when do you say it’s the right time to do so?
Guillaume: At the beginning is the right time because it’s not so much a tooling problem as it is a culture problem, right? It’s always easy to like hire consultants and like say we’re going to do tracking, we’re going to put tracking everywhere on the app, but you haven’t really solved the problem. Which is people don’t know what the tracking naming is. They don’t know how to preserve it. What’s impressive, I see them being used from like very early stage to like segments still uses it. Drifts still uses it. It’s fairly impressive. The downside of Zapier, what you might see is that when you have like 200 people building zaps, it’s really hard to understand like what the data flow is. So yeah.
Guillaume: What are some ways that marketing and customer success can work together? Pauline, take that one.
Pauline: Sure. Well in our case, the first one was our talking to each other. It might look a bit stupid, but our OpenClassrooms were always even a bit of a fight. For instance, every time we will launch a email marketing campaign, then the customer success will comes in and say, “Hey, we are going to have tons of tickets behind is going to kill our KPI and stuff.” But we’ve been able to slowly understand each other’s needs and to find ways to reach each other’s objective.
Pauline: In our case when we are launching new projects, we are always getting the student success team where we could have an impact on their work. So we will make sure that we have full in advance what were the needs and what we can improve. We are serving some of their needs, so for instance I was talking briefly, but we have our demarketizing team developed a system of alerts so that the customer’s success can proactively reach out to customers and this was not possible without the help of the CRM. So at just building the bridge and talking to each other for me is the key to success.
Guillaume: Okay. Thanks. Someone’s asking the question about the role of influencer marketing in the marketing mix and if we use any platform, like I called Square too automated, I don’t know about that platform and I haven’t done myself influencer marketing. I’ve done community marketing and I’ve built virtual platforms for sure. Influencers, if it’s in the scope of B2C, I know almost nothing about B2C because I’m almost on the B2B.
Guillaume: Alice, do you have from Sunrise days some stuff on how do you use influencers?
Alice: No, we never did that. Nope. Sorry.
Guillaume: Okay. Well sorry for that question. Let’s move to the, to Emil who’s asking a question about OpenClassroom, how do you work with marketing automation, et cetera. The second question from the top.
Pauline: Yeah, what other marketing… If I understood the question, but inside of marketing team, as I said, so we have different people working in their expert field, then maybe my job is more to again, create a link. For instance, when we have a new acquisition, companies are being launched, how do we make sure that people have the right tracking, receive afterwards the right message, that the sales team have the right information about their lead. So really due to mission is also so more about collecting and enriching the data so that we all have clear information about the leads and the customers that we have. I don’t know if it answers the question or not. I’m not sure if I understood, but.
Guillaume: And then I think we’ll take the two last questions from the top. So in an early stage startup with no current marketing hires, how would you advise the first dimension hire spend the first few months? Yeah, I’ve been there and you have been there too.
Alice: I’m wondering the same thing. So if you want to answer this one, go for it.
Guillaume: For me. If you’re talking early stages, like pre product market fits the job of that marketing hire is to…finding the market fit. An example of that is that person should be able to build 20 Unbounce pages, spend $2,000 on ad words and Facebook drive traffic to those pages which have different copies, different appeal to different audiences, different messages, and understand the KPIs of what’s the click through on my ad, what’s the conversion rate on my phone or my Unbounce on my type FOMA and who has actually converted. Understand the size of that audience and then give back to your CEO information on like this is the size of that audience persona. This is how much it costs to reach each of them. This is the quality of that audience and here’s the message that appeals best with them, because building a product is one thing, but imagine Alice builds a product, then she wants to acquire those users.
Guillaume: Isn’t it better if she already knows exactly the metrics, the cost of acquisition and the conversion? Like one of the best strategies is often to build a fake payment page, right? If you have a product that requires payments, and there’s actually no payment happening. Build a fake payment page and see what is the on payment page conversion. Does your message and your fake product resonate well enough that people are willing to pay for it? If the answer is yes, you have a product, just go and build it, right? If the answer is no, then you have a challenge, right? And that reduces the cost of spending on products, especially here in France, and I’m French as you hear. French, people tend to build way too much product before they go to the market. Way too much product. So build less product and go to market sooner.
Guillaume: And I’ll take the last two questions. How do I take on Intercom adrift?
Guillaume: That’s, I’d say fairly easy. So for those who don’t know, Intercom is just biggest competitor. What I did was I created a competitive modes of marketing. What means is I found channels and I found ways to reach the audience that my competitor was not using. So I could build acquisition at a fraction of the cost of my competitor. Right? And so basically to summarize what we did is we built an advanced system to predict which companies were about to buy Intercom. And we reached out before they were talking to Intercom with a cheaper price offer, right? So we rent prediction systems, say, “Hey, those people are going to buy some chats” or the end the market for chats and we would reach out, and if it means we were undercutting Intercom on time and on price, and we would also go after each of them in renewals.
Guillaume: So I’m really good at a market when there’s a large incumbents, a leader, because I can go after all of their customers and, steal the customers. So that is how I do it.
Guillaume: And should the CMO should be the first marketing team employee?
Guillaume: We hire him at the later stage. It’s very rare for a person to be able to be very hands on. Your first employee is very hands on, and builds everything himself or herself. Right? And then you want that person to also be a good team leader, a good manager, and good at building forecasts and sitting for hours in executive meetings. That is a recipe for disaster. So for example, like I know myself, I’m really good at SaaS dollars between 30 people and 200 people. That’s why I left segment. That’s why I just left drifts, because at a certain stage, I no longer do anything.
Guillaume: I’m just sitting in exec meetings and looking at slides, right? And that’s not what I want. Right? And I have a team of beyond 10 people. It means I’m not doing growth myself. I’m not doing marketing. Right? So you might find those people. It is exceedingly rare cause it means that someone who has succeeded at being a team lead, a fantastic leader and is still very knowledgeable on hands on building marketing. So I would not recommend that at all.
Guillaume: And I think we’re right on time. 40 minutes. So thank you very much. Thank you, Pauline. Thank you Alice for coming. Thank you all for coming.