Dan Brown has over 25 years of experience in high tech marketing, including nine years with Verint, a billion-dollar software company providing customer and employee engagement solutions to 10,000-plus customers in over 180 countries. Verint’s customers include 85 percent of the Fortune 500.
As vice president of marketing operations at Verint, The Customer Engagement Company, Dan has seen dramatic changes in the drivers of successful marketing over the years—particularly regarding how the role of technology and artificial intelligence play in the distribution, use and analytics surrounding marketing content. These changes create new ways for marketing to collaborate internally and with sales, while also presenting new challenges for marketing practitioners to navigate.
Dan’s recent focus at Verint has been on driving sales and marketing alignment, determining where best to invest in technology to fill gaps in the Martech stack, and integrating marketing plans following acquisitions. (Verint has expanded its portfolio significantly in recent years through key strategic acquisitions of companies whose technology complements and enhances Verint’s core solution set, most recently ForeSee).
Here, Dan shares best practices and lessons learned throughout his marketing journey.
1. What does marketing ops look like in a billion-dollar company?
At Verint, our marketing ops mission is: To create an environment that allows the global marketing team to operate efficiently and effectively, achieve optimal results, and drive revenue.
With the explosion of text and video content across a growing number of digital channels, it became clear that we needed better visibility into how our content was being used by sales and marketing. What content was working to support our Account-Based Marketing (ABM) efforts? Which content types needed to live, and which needed to die?
Answering these questions was not an easy task. We have a large portfolio of solutions to assist a wide range of buyers, and we have a large and diversified sales and channel organization. We had a massive number of assets sitting in many repositories and residing on sellers’ desktops. We had hundreds of content owners in disparate groups around the globe. We had a dynamic environment that often led to short content life spans. We turned to technology to help us figure it all out, ensure that our processes are efficient and that our technology investments are used wisely.
How we use new marketing technologies to stay on track.
We began by working with sales to assess the gaps in current systems and processes. First, we needed to know what marketing assets they were viewing and downloading. We deployed a mix of new artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics technologies to help us get a tighter grip on how effective our content is and where improvements need to be made.
We found the need to go beyond the basic reporting tools within SharePoint, so we implemented an AI engine called SalesTing. It gave us clearer analytics on what sales was viewing and downloading.
SalesTing helped us take the effort one step further, giving us a window into not only what sales views and downloads, but also into what assets are being sent to prospects and customers. We still leverage our sales enablement system, a single source where sales could access thousands of assets, so marketing can understand what is being viewed and downloaded. But once a salesperson had downloaded a document onto their laptop, we lost visibility.
SalesTing helps us see the number of content “touches” by accounts, and how responsive contacts are to what we have sent. It is very insightful to be able to drill down into an account and see all the activity, and to have the intelligence to assess if the account is getting the right content. These technology tools are playing an important role in our quest to assess the role of content in nurturing and accelerating opportunities, and to see how future content should be shaped to meet new requirements and make the greatest impact.
We also wanted to better understand content performance on the website. Of course, we had Google Analytics and several other tools, but we needed something more robust to help us gauge website content effectiveness. We fulfilled the requirement with a solution called Siteimprove for richer analytics around website content and a more accurate measure of content quality, freshness and the user’s experience with it.
The difference is clear.
Once the new technology started working for us, we made some key discoveries. First, we started to get a view of top performers—sellers using the right content in the right situations. We could see where content helped drive leads, nurture accounts and accelerate deals. We also exposed many examples of the wrong content, and evidence of missed opportunities as a result.
This graphic gives a good synopsis of our “before” and “after” state and the benefits AI content analytics delivers. Most important is the foundation it has provided for tighter collaboration between marketing and sales—collaboration that is essential to our staying on task.
2. What are your next steps in the content analytics initiative?
We are working toward the ability to suggest content for a particular opportunity based on its attributes. That’s how proactive we want to be with our sales organization! We currently have the tracking in place that provides us with a view of an opportunity, when meetings took place and what content was sent. Now, our goal is to take the process to the next level with predictive capabilities and proactive involvement with sales in providing the right content “fit” for new opportunities. We’re not there yet, but it’s an innovative and evolving long-term vision.
3. How do you navigate all the new marketing technologies without over-complicating your Martech stack?
This is a tremendous challenge for my team because of the thousands of tools available. Like every other company, we adhere to budgets and dedicated resources, so it becomes challenging to identify the technology gaps that matter most. We can’t choose every bright, shiny object that comes along.
We’ve developed a roadmap with a comprehensive inventory of all the technologies and their capabilities that we employ in our marketing stack. The technologies are plotted and color-coded to identify where we have a robust solution in play, a solution gap, or a solution that isn’t working.
With extensive external research and feedback from marketing, sales and other teams, we keep the roadmap current. It’s incredibly helpful to have a tool that gives us a reasonable assessment of where we are doing well and where we need to bolster our stack.
It sounds simple, but with a complex organization that has a long list of technologies at play, it’s important to understand and have a view of the entire footprint. By keeping the roadmap up to date, we can provide a clear picture at any given point in time of where our greatest pains and opportunities are.
4. How can marketers succeed during mergers and acquisitions?
Despite the challenges associated with mergers and acquisitions, we have developed strong practices throughout the entire lifecycle of an acquisition process to ensure success.
It’s not uncommon for members of the marketing team to get involved as early as the due diligence phase of an acquisition. This might include participating in the early review process of products, solutions and services, as well as evaluating existing marketing capabilities. Being involved this early in the process helps prepare the marketing team to respond nimbly to whatever challenges come along.
A member of the communications team is also involved well ahead of the close date, to make sure that all communications are adequately planned. After the announcement, having the teams aligned is crucial, which includes developing and sharing a clear project plan for marketing integration. This plan covers processes, systems, data migration, lead flow, social media, website, brand transition and much more.
Critical to the success of marketing integration is good communication and project management. From a marketing and communications standpoint, we have a robust process that begins in advance of finalizing an acquisition. By the time we get to making an announcement, we are prepared to communicate with all the appropriate employees within Verint, the company being acquired, their customers and partners, and ours.
5. It sounds like communication is an instrumental part of the acquisition process. Can you share some examples of how you are communicating to make things go more smoothly?
One example is our recent acquisition of ForeSee, a leading cloud voice of the customer (VoC) provider. The acquisition provides Verint not only with clear leadership in the digital VoC space, but also with the ability to extend our market leading Customer Engagement portfolio to include comprehensive measurement and analysis of digital interactions. With this acquisition, we become the industry’s only provider of an omnichannel analytics-rich customer experience measurement solution that will allow organizations to measure and understand customer experiences and prioritize improvements to have the greatest business impact.
After the acquisition was announced, we quickly connected with the company’s marketing team to go through an introduction presentation that outlined marketing, communications, analyst relations, marketing capabilities, as well as systems and functions available to them. We’ve learned that if we communicate with the teams early, we can relieve a lot of the concern and confusion about how to access information and resources necessary for project success.
Another point for consideration is that we always try to have an objective point of view when reviewing the systems and processes of an acquired company. We don’t want to miss something they might be doing better that should be incorporated into the mainstream approach.
As I mentioned earlier, our mission at Verint marketing ops remains the same, but we are always open to new ways to achieve it.