Our recent webinar, “Expert Insights for Building an Effective Martech Stack” (you can view the archived event here), presented the key elements of an effective martech stack as well as what to look for and avoid when selecting solutions. It was a really insightful event, and it got us thinking more about how marketers can better-use the tools they have to target tech buyers.
One of the panelists, Melia Hernandez, Senior Marketing Manager at Smartling, had a bit more advice to offer technology marketers. Below you’ll find a Q&A with her — we hope it is helpful!
What is unique about marketing to technology decision-makers, and what parts of a stack have you found are particularly useful in targeting buyers?
Melia Hernandez: Well, first of all I love marketing to tech decision makers because they just get Smartling. We’re a translation solution powered by (in my opinion) the most robust tech platform out there. Once we align on proof of concept that our technology supports their business goal, the conversation is so easy because we’re kind of speaking the same language from that point on.
On the flip side, of course you had better be prepared. I recently put a tech vendor we are reviewing through the wringer with questions about integrating with a piece of our tech stack and I was really impressed with the depth of knowledge and thoroughness of response. I came away trusting them as a subject matter expert and we’ll most likely be signing the contract.
Can I say all parts of the tech stack should be useful? Seriously though — as the director of demand gen for Smartling, I really care about our bottom line.
If we have a platform that isn’t helping us make marketing decisions that are tied to specific targets or benchmarks, it’s probably not getting renewed. This is going to be different for everyone – for our team, as an example, we do not have software for attribution modeling.
We’re too small of a team and not at the right place to be able to really leverage that data. That doesn’t mean it’s not helpful, it’s just not helpful to us right now.
What advice would you have for people in a position where they are tasked with choosing their own company’s martech solutions?
MH: Assuming you’ve followed Katie’s advice and have your basic tech stack in order, the first piece of advice I can give is from Peter Druckers “Effective Executive,” which is to focus on opportunities, not problems. For me, that means where can I go to get us more pipeline? This can be adding to the funnel or enhancing the way the funnel is performing.
I’m a bit of a nerd, I get really excited when I find an opportunity that is going to bring Smartling business. We look at our funnel as a team bi-weekly and after each review we come away with an area of opportunity.
Recently, we have seen quality website traffic increasing month over month, and all of our conversion rates are holding strong with the exception of visits → known, so we’re evaluating intent data.
It’s also a great idea to swipe what works for you when you visit other websites. In 2018 I experienced a chatbot that was so much better than any other bot I had come across. I chatted in right away – this experience is amazing! What is this tool?? And we’ve been a happy Drift customer (and quadrupled meetings booked) ever since.
Are there any “red flags” you’d advise people to question if they come across them in their searches?
MH: Yes. First, if the technology provider cannot provide a solid proof of concept for every aspect of functionality you need, that’s a problem.
Second, if the vendor cannot provide solid differentiators from competitors, or they do not have a good understanding of the competition, I would question their expertise in their field and ability to deliver a solid solution.
There are also other red flags that may be important based on your needs, and you can go to great comparison sites like G2 to find this out. For instance, if you see a lot of complaints about implementation time and you need to get up and running yesterday, that is a red flag that is specific to you.
Do you have any advice for pitching potential choices to company stakeholders?
MH: First, along the lines of what Katie mentioned, we have an internal spreadsheet template that we use so we can do apples to apples comparisons and take cross-departmental needs into consideration.
For lateral stakeholders, engage them in the process as much as possible. Understand their needs! Ensure when they are on a demo, those are spoken to. Get their feedback throughout the process. I don’t lead all of our vendor selections but I’m on all of the calls, and we have a group of team members across departments that this is true for.
For decision makers, have an executive summary. A good software provider will partner with you to get this together. Proof of concept, are we getting the best price, and is the risk low?
What would you tell B2B companies who haven’t nailed down their content strategy, and how can martech solutions help round-out B2B-related content?
MH: Content is so important to a brand and is key to communicating with your prospects and customers. Without quality content, we’d just be on the phone all day every day trying to communicate the value of our technology.
Even though I wasn’t with Smartling from the start, I’ve been through the process of working to nail down our content strategy. It’s tough. A few years ago, our marketing and leadership team had a really honest conversation where we realized we were serving up candy content and driving meaningless traffic to our website. We’d publish fluffy content that leveraged SEO but never talked about our product, or the value we offer. We weren’t enabling the sales team and we weren’t adding to the pipeline.
Obviously we needed to make a change.
First, we did a full stakeholder offsite and followed Donald Millers Story Brand methodology to start fresh. I personally really liked the process, but you can follow a methodology that works for you or get started on your own.
Since then, our whole team listens to Gong calls so we can hear what our customers and prospects are really interested in.
We stay relevant with the most up-to-date channels for content distribution and launched a really successful podcast last year that just talks about localization topics.
We scan the internet, if we see a topic that is really relevant, we write a blog post about it that day, again, because we want to provide value – a content strategy should center on what provides value to your customer base.
We realized our customers really care about the translators working on their content so we traveled the globe and interviewed our translators about their day-to-day lives, and how it impacts their translations. We published a beautiful volume with stunning photography that the whole team is so proud of, and I can tell you our customers and prospects never fail to be delighted when we present them with a copy.
A good martech stack is going to help you scale the above strategy. It should provide the ability to collect and organize data and then deploy your content to the right targets based on that data. It should give you that feedback loop.
And just know that you’ll start with the largest cohort – so what’s the largest group of people you can speak meaningfully to with one message – and you’ll branch out from there. We’re still developing our strategy for niche segments. We’re certainly not trying to do it all at once.