MarTech360 Interview with Lindsay Boyajian Hagan, VP of Marketing, Conductor

“Those that invest in organic marketing and create valuable content for their customers see long-term wins and are less affected by drastic economic and industry shifts.”

Could you tell us about your journey in the Marketing industry?

I’m an entrepreneur at heart. In 2010, I launched my own digital startup focused on helping travelers navigate optimal packing lists for vacations based on length of trip, climate, and personal style. As a founder, you’re lucky enough to touch every part of the business. While I enjoyed the multi-faceted exposure that comes with entrepreneurship, I quickly found myself gravitating toward go-to-market (GTM) activities, centered around how to launch products and engage with customers.

Since then, I’ve been drawn to working at fast-growing startups, primarily focused on B2B marketing. Five years ago, I joined Conductor—an SEO and content marketing technology platform—leading their product marketing function where I focused on building out the team to support sales enablement, product positioning, and GTM.

Conductor has really evolved since I joined; we were acquired by—and subsequently bought ourselves back from—WeWork in 2018, and then formed an entirely employee-owned company. Even now, we’re in a period of incredible growth, fueled by our recent round of $150 million Series A funding and acquisition of ContentKing, the only 24/7 real-time monitoring and auditing solution on the market.

Today, as the VP of Marketing for Conductor, I lead a 20-person team across all functional areas, including Product Marketing, Demand Generation, Brand, and Corporate Communications. While I’m no longer an entrepreneur, I am lucky to now leverage many of the skills I developed during that time.

What challenges did the COVID-19 pandemic pose for you and your team?

In early 2020, we had just bought ourselves back from WeWork. We were energized and excited to invest and hire in marketing. However, like many companies, once the pandemic hit, we were faced with uncertainty and had to put hiring plans on pause.

Because of our smaller headcount, our team had to work extra hard to deliver on our initiatives—on top of the stresses of COVID and having to adapt to a fully remote work environment. We had to shift all of our in-person events to digital platforms including, for the first time in a decade, our flagship annual organic marketing conference, C3.

We were also faced with the challenge of shifting our internal communications strategy targeted at an in-office audience to now a fully remote office. Without dedicated communications support, it was a challenge to ensure our employees felt informed, connected, and cared for, especially while we were all at home. To help forge stronger connections across the company, we started hosting weekly virtual All Hands and ramped up our now-virtual Town Halls with engaging entertainment.

Going into 2021, we were able to start reinvesting in Marketing and continue our planned hiring, welcoming 11 new teammates across Content, Communications, Product Marketing, and Brand. It’s been an incredibly energizing time and great to experience a period of such fast-paced growth after a pandemic pause.

Also Read: MarTech360 Interview With Patrick Moorhead, Chief Marketing Officer, Pricefx

What sets Conductor apart from the competition?

Conductor is 100% built for enterprise organic marketing teams. Other tools are designed for agencies or small- and medium-sized businesses. Conductor is laser-focused on the needs of enterprise marketers, content, SEO, and web teams as they work to improve their organization’s visibility.

Not only does our platform have functionality for all experience levels—from novices to experts—but we:

  • Have the largest global keyword index available, with 20B+ keywords
  • Have the only 24/7 website monitoring and alerting tool, ContentKing, which works faster than crawlers and search engines
  • Uniquely deliver actionable, AI-powered recommendations to create and optimize high-ranking content—and implement changes in one click
  • Are the only platform that ties SEO to ROI by automatically aggregating search data, activity tracking, and analytics to show how changes impact a site’s performance
  • Have the most user-friendly workflows with comprehensive integrations with tools teams are already using—including Jira, Trello, Asana, and Chrome—to ensure changes and new content can be implemented quickly

How, according to you, has the Digital Marketing landscape evolved and will evolve in the coming years?

The digital marketing landscape has evolved tremendously in a short amount of time, accelerated by the pandemic. With everyone at home during the lockdown, brands were forced to re-evaluate their marketing mix and lean harder into digital than ever before.

Now, paid media is becoming increasingly more expensive as brands compete for a limited number of coveted spots. However, as savvy customers get better at avoiding ads and privacy/cookies changes go into effect, marketers are looking for alternatives to get in front of customers via digital channels.

From my seat, organic marketing and SEO are the future. It’s a long game; by creating valuable content that builds trust with customers, enterprises can build long-term loyalty and profit from long-term ROI. We’re seeing more and more marketing leaders embracing the value of organic—dedicating dollars to SEO headcount and technology, building content to help their customers, and prioritizing strong SEO health. 

While paid ads are a key component of an enterprise’s marketing mix and can provide great short-term results, investing in organic channels is investing in your business for the long haul; it may take more time, but the returns are ten-fold.

Looking ahead, as we see increased market volatility—along with the rising cost of paid media and consumers’ distrust of paid ads—we’re likely going to see more brands diversifying their marketing mix. When economic shifts like this occur, it’s critical to have a solid organic presence to lean on. 

As we saw during the pandemic, those that invest in organic marketing and create valuable content for their customers see long-term wins and are less affected by drastic economic and industry shifts.

How, according to you, has Marketing Automation impacted the traditional Sales and Marketing funnels?

The Sales and Marketing funnels have now consolidated into one Sales & Marketing funnel. With the upper and lower funnels deeply connected, marketing leaders must own the whole funnel and know what’s happening at every stage.

To see success, enterprises need tight alignment between Marketing, Sales, and Business Development Representatives (BDRs) to maximize the impact of marketing automation. If Marketing launches an automated program but the BDR team isn’t in the know, we won’t have an effective follow-up and conversions.

How do you envisage Product Marketing evolving, in the years to come?

Before COVID, I ran the NYC Product Marketing Meetup. Talking to fellow marketers, I learned that product marketing responsibilities vary greatly from business to business. Depending on factors like industry or company maturity, each Product Marketing Manager’s role looks different.

Despite the range of responsibilities, I think we’ll continue to see Product Marketing embedded earlier and earlier in the product life cycle. Because they are often the keepers of customer feedback, marketing insights, and sales insights, engaging them earlier as a partner will ultimately help product managers as they launch new products and features.

Do go-to-marketing strategies help in more customer engagement?

Absolutely, GTM strategies influence customer engagement in organic and inbound marketing, in creating valuable content for your audience, and, in turn, in building trust and long-term relationships with your audience.

Could you name the Top 5 apps/platforms that you use for Marketing?

Within the Conductor Marketing team, the top five platforms that we use are:

  • Asana, for shared calendars, task tracking, and project management
  • Google Suite, for collaborating on presentations, documents, and deliverables
  • Bizible, to understand what each of our investments is delivering
  • Marketo, for orchestrating emails to our customers and prospects
  • Pendo, to examine product usage data and communicate with customers in-app

Could you name one other VP in Marketing that you would like to see featured here?

At our annual organic marketing conference C3, there was a really insightful and dynamic panel discussion—Why and How Brands Build Their Marketing Strategy Around Customer-First Content—with:

  • Amy Kolzow, VP of Global Digital Marketing at Wolters Kluwer
  • Jenn VandeZande, Editor in Chief at SAP 
  • Pati Atrian, Senior Director of SEO at Live Nation Entertainment

Each leader had profound thoughts on marketing strategy and why marketers must put customers at the center of everything they do. Amy, Jenn, and Pati would all be great Marketers to feature here; they truly believe in the power of content and SEO as the future of digital marketing.

As a MarTech Leader, what is the one piece of advice you would give to those who aspire to make a career in marketing?

Know your audience! No matter what function you’re in, knowing who your audience is and what their pain points ensure the marketing you deliver resonates with the people you’re trying to reach.

This also applies to internal audiences; to get new ideas or programs approved, you’ll typically need to present a case to stakeholders. Having a good grasp on your audience and tailoring your message to fit their needs—considering their “what’s in it for me?”—will often lead to better results.

 Thanks, Lindsay!

Also Read: MarTech360 Interview With Elizabeth Cholawsky, Chief Executive Officer, HG Insights

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