MarTech360 Interview With Jennifer Flanagan, VP Marketing, Adtaxi

“Marketing automation, and digital specifically, has created a shift that has allowed a larger portion of the discovery and evaluation phase to happen before anyone speaks to a sales person.”

Hi, Jennifer, can you tell us something about your professional journey? How has it been so far?

I started my career in digital marketing & advertising in 2004 working for as a Sales & Marketing Coordinator. I’ve held a variety of roles over the years: Client Services, Channel Development, Content Operations, and now Marketing. While each of these roles have been different in scope, most had a couple of common themes:

  • The first is a focus on the customer experience. In each of my roles, whether directly or indirectly, I always think of the client and how they are serviced as a part of our partnership. In the end, if the customer is happy and successful in the goals that they are looking to achieve, then we are being successful.
  • The second is a sense of entrepreneurship. Many of the roles that I have held over the years were the first one of its kind within that particular organization. This allowed me to build out the framework, the processes, the goals, and the team supporting that department from scratch – really making it my own. This is something I truly enjoy doing. While I’ve been in the same position for a number of years at Adtaxi, the industry and technology available has changed significantly during my time, so that we are constantly testing and experimenting and learning new things to achieve our goals and be successful.

Tell us about your role at Adtaxi.

I head up Marketing at Adtaxi, a full-funnel digital marketing agency. As a part of this, I lead lead generation brand development, sales, enablement, and revenue development. Over the years I have made it a point to focus on aligning marketing and sales as closely as possible. This allows for a holistic focus on key initiatives and enables us to move the needle on revenue growth and retention of clients more effectively.

Within the marketing organization at Adtaxi, we have two distinct teams. The first handles the core marketing functions like content marketing, product marketing, research, demand generation, sales enablement, and branding. The second is our sales development team whose core responsibility is to nurture leads that come in through marketing channels and get them primed for a conversation with our sales teams. Having these two teams within the marketing umbrella has helped to further align sales and marketing ensuring our messaging is consistent and we’re all focused on similar initiatives.

Also Read: MarTech360 Interview With Angela Young, Sr. Field Enablement Specialist, Siteimprove

What sets Adtaxi apart from the competition?

There are a few key areas that really differentiate us from our competitors in the space:

First, we are big enough to have access to the best resources but small enough to execute and provide high touch service/attention.

Second, our baseline for service is incredibly high. We believe that developing a true partnership with our clients enables us to be successful with whatever goals they may have.

Third, our campaign managers are the best in the business. Our operations team is organized by platform, meaning that they develop deep expertise within their medium, enabling them to deliver remarkable performance time and again. Our client services team functions as the quarterback of every account and campaigns, ensuring consistency in goals and strategy across each of the platforms. This enables our campaign managers to specialize in their respective platforms, gaining platform expertise at a much deeper level than many of our competitors.

Do you think Marketing Automation has impacted the traditional Sales and Marketing funnels?

Absolutely. Traditionally within the B2B space, potential clients reached out to vendors, and immediately engaged with their sales teams to understand the value that their product or service could bring to their business. The evaluation and discovery phases would be conducted in person or remotely, but directly with sales. Marketing automation, and digital specifically, has created a shift that has allowed a larger portion of the discovery and evaluation phase to happen before anyone speaks to a sales person. This means that marketers need to be hyper aware of their target personas, what their pain points are, so that the content on their website and journey that is created reflects their decision making process. Marketing automation has allowed that to scale and allowed for greater personalization during that process.

How has MarTech evolved over the years? What are the 4 progressive changes it has brought about for marketers?

  1. Personalization – marketing automation has allowed marketers to pull in a variety of data points, including behaviors and insights and activities of their users, and then personalize the content being shown to them either via email via ad campaigns or via the website. People are more likely to respond to messages that are relevant to them versus something that is a blanket message across all audiences.
  2. Scale – personalization is key, but only when it can be done at scale. Marketing automation has allowed for that scale and allowed marketers to take that personalized approach across thousands of their users segmenting audiences sending batched emails creating flows for when and how a particular user is nurtured. None of those things were possible without marketing automation at scale.
  3. Attribution – oh, many of the marketing automation platforms out there, allow for highly detailed, tracking against particular, marketing campaigns channels, etc.. This ability to track and measure engagement has led to a much greater understanding around attribution and what channels or content are actually influencing customer’s decision making process and which ones are not, having deeper visibility into attribution allows for marketers to optimize their efforts, much more effectively and much more quickly than when using traditional marketing methods.
  4. Immediacy – with the digital age everyone wants everything right now. Marketing automation has also allowed for that. If I go to a website to download a piece of content, it is immediately available for me to read that white paper, etc. In addition, marketing automation can then trigger a notification to a sales person or sales development rep, letting them know of the activity that was just taken by that particular user. In the B2B space, that is important so that you have a deeper understanding of what is of interest to your potential client and how and when you should be reaching out.

According to you, how and why has digital marketing grown to be much more popular than offline marketing?

There are two primary reasons why digital marketing has taken off so much in the last number of years and become much more popular than off-line marketing.

First, the prevalence of digital in everyday consumers’ lives has skyrocketed: e-commerce transactions, researching purchases, social media, and more are a part of our daily lives to such an extent that it is a natural connection to have marketing and advertising channels be a part of that.

Second, the ability to measure actions taken online helps to justify ad spend and other marketing spend in a much greater fashion than can ever be done with traditional off-line marketing channels. It makes it easier to prove out ROI and know exactly what touch points a consumer is taking in their decision making process.

How does Adtaxi help advertisers in solving complex marketing challenges? And what are your inputs in the process?

Adtaxi first starts with a thorough audit of a prospect’s marketing efforts, including looking at their website performance, looking at their ad campaigns, understanding their target audience, and the goals of that business. Through this audit, we learn a lot about the company: where their biggest challenges are and where the opportunities lie. Only after we have established that initial baseline do we put together a holistic strategy for the client to really help them achieve their goals and break down obstacles that have blocked them from achieving those goals.

We are constantly looking at data from ad campaigns, and otherwise to learn and understand if what we are doing is having an impact and where we might need to adjust in order to increase performance. In addition, we focus on real business outcomes, so we also can’t look at this data in a silo, but really need to have discussions with the client to understand how they view performance and success.

How does marketing help organizations achieve scalable revenue growth?

Our focus on delivering against key business outcomes is paramount and helping any business achieve revenue growth. While our primary function is to deliver paid media campaigns, we partner with our clients in a much more holistic fashion to really understand the ins and outs of their business, which allows us to align our campaigns, and our strategy much more closely

Than if we were to look at it in a silo for example, with an e-commerce client, the primary goal may be online sales, but in order to achieve true revenue growth, we need to analyze the online sales data to understand where consumers may be getting hung up which products are most profitable where we may be able to find other consumers that have an affinity to purchase those particular products, and then adjust our campaigns accordingly.

In addition, we just launched marketing research services in which we have two separate solutions that we can provide. One is focusing on business reports analyzing their markets, their audience or their industry, and putting together a custom report, along with analysis to help them make key business decisions the other is consumer surveys that allows us to put together a custom survey and get much deeper insights into the behaviors and opinions of their target audience, or those who may look like them all of these together really help our clients to drive revenue.

Could you name some platforms/tools that you use for marketing?

At Adtaxi, we have a variety of tools in our tech-stack, with Salesforce and Pardot being the center point and where most of the magic happens. Additionally, below are some of the other platforms we leverage:

  • Outreach and ZoomInfo with our sales development team
  • The Trade Desk, Facebook, Google Ads, LinkedIn, and Microsoft Ads for advertising
  • BrightTalk and Netline for content distribution
  • Adobe Suite for graphic design
  • All the major social media channels to drive social engagement

What would you like to advise all the “to be” marketers/marketing professionals out there?

I truly believe that as marketers we need to remain nimble and constantly be in testing or experimentation mode. When we push ourselves to take risks and try a new tactic, it is only then that we learn what works and what doesn’t and what can move the needle a bit more.

Never stop learning. Never stop trying to push your teams to discover something new.

In addition, make sure that the marketing and sales teams are working together as closely as possible. If sales and marketing teams are working in a silo and marketing doesn’t have an understanding of what sales needs and what our clients are looking for, we will miss the mark every time.

Thanks, Jennifer!

Jennifer is the Vice President, of Marketing at AdTaxi. With nearly 20 years of experience in digital, Jennifer Flanagan is a proven executive marketing leader with the ability to clearly articulate vision and strategic plans, build, and mobilize high-performance teams, and achieve aggressive business goals.  She is passionate about marketing automation, content marketing, and connecting with people through content and education.  Jennifer joined Adtaxi in 2013 to build out native advertising solutions across MediaNews Group, and her role quickly expanded to include product marketing across all solutions and build out Adtaxi’s marketing team from scratch.  Her responsibilities include strategic planning, revenue development, demand generation, marketing technology, branding, analytics, and sales enablement.  Prior to Adtaxi, Jennifer led content operations at Say Media and client services at The McClatchy Company. Jennifer lives in Denver, CO, with her husband and daughter.

Adtaxi was founded in 2010 within MediaNews Group, Adtaxi is a client-centric digital organization that brings passion, precision, and sophistication to digital marketing. Leveraging the belief that people matter as much as technology, we help customers solve complex marketing challenges with custom, performance-driven solutions. We made our mark in programmatic advertising before expanding into search, social, and connected TV. Over time, we have refined and perfected our holistic performance-based strategy designed with an innovative full-funnel methodology that utilizes a variety of tools and processes. By using omnichannel optimizations across channels throughout the client lifecycle, we are able to maximize performance and deliver superior value for advertisers. We function as a true partner with our clients, acting as a single point of contact and support through multi-platform campaign cycles.

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