What is it that our product does that enable them to drive business results? It is so easy to fall back on talking about this feature and that feature, but that’s a storyline that is all about us – not the customer.
Marketing veteran Christy Marble has had the front seat to major market transformations and is now donning the CMO cape for the third time at Pantheon. In this interview, Marble talks about what Pantheon’s WebOps platform helps businesses accomplish, her journey alongside the evolution of SaaS in some of the biggest markets around the globe, her experience with category creation, and her favorite marketing strategies. She gives us a peek into her team’s current focus – creating moments that matter – and what’s next on her reading list.
Christy, can you tell us about your professional background and your current role at Pantheon Platform.
Over the last 20-plus years as a marketing professional, I’ve had some really incredible experiences. I’ve overseen successful go-to-market transformations; market expansions and acquisitions; billion-dollar brand and portfolio growth; and countless product, e-commerce and partner launches.
I am now in my third CMO role, with Pantheon. Our website operations (WebOps) platform empowers teams to develop, test, and release website changes faster and more reliably. With tools to automate, collaborate cross-functionally, and optimize sites, teams can focus on producing digital experiences that deliver extraordinary website performance for businesses. This is an exciting role, because what Pantheon delivers to marketers, developers and designers solves some of the biggest challenges growth marketers face today.
Can you tell us more about your experience as a SaaS CMO and how you have created categories in the past?
Many of the opportunities and the moves I’ve made throughout my career have been a mix of being in the right place at the right time and having a keen eye toward what’s next in marketing and technology. Early in my career, I led consumer marketing for student lender Sallie Mae and had the incredible opportunity to launch and grow its consumer brand into a multi-billion dollar portfolio. While I was with E-centives, I worked with CPG companies including Nestle-Purina and Gerber to create their first consumer databases, and was also part of the effort to bring the first couponing to Germany with our customer, Reckitt Benkiser. More recently heading global marketing at SAP Concur, I had the opportunity to lead a lot of global expansion in the era where SaaS was really taking hold and I had the privilege of leading one of the first marketing teams to introduce cloud applications to people working in mainland China.
The category creation process is a long-term effort that requires cross-functional focus. What I’ve learned is that it’s essential to focus on telling the story of the value that customers experience, and that story needs to pull through every touchpoint. What is it that our product does that enable them to drive business results? It is so easy to fall back on talking about this feature and that feature, but that’s a storyline that is all about us – not the customer. What matters most when creating a category is never losing sight of the impact that customers achieve when they embrace our technology. When you are doing something really disruptive, you’ve got to definitely prove that it is a better way of doing something. That means sharing examples and putting customer stories at the heart of any thought leadership initiatives.
Building relationships with industry analysts is also a must. They hold tremendous influence with technology buyers and will be instrumental in accelerating – or slowing down – the market’s recognition of the category you’re trying to create. Beyond keeping them up to date on the latest product developments and customer stories, it’s equally important to tap them for insights and input and to help poke holes in your strategy and provide valuable input. They can share both what they’re seeing in the technology space, with existing and emerging competitors, and also what our ideal customers are experiencing.
Tell us more about Pantheon platform and how marketers can leverage Pantheon SaaS platform.
Our platform uniquely helps companies whose web experience consists of multiple websites. Often brands – think CPG, pharma, large universities, etc. – have multiple people across business units who are responsible for multiple sites. This can quickly grow to hundreds of sites in a single organization’s ecosystem. But, for visitors, it should feel like one seamless experience, even if they are jumping from site to site. Pantheon supports these organizations’ need to scale efforts across portfolios by delivering features that introduce new levels of productivity, automation, and collaboration among stakeholders.
We had one customer who, before they used Pantheon, couldn’t even run an A/B test to measure engagement and pinpoint the root of the business results issue. Within 6 months on our platform, they began seeing a 30% conversion increase from the baseline. This is just one example of the ways marketers are winning with our platform. Pantheon customers typically think about business performance. They want to measure, monitor, test and grow, and that’s exactly what our platform allows them to do.
How does Pantheon SaaS Platform differ from traditional web hosting solutions?
Our purpose is to make it really, really easy for companies to create very dynamic websites that bring the magic of the internet to everyone everywhere. Our platform delivers the modern WebOps capabilities that enable a constant cycle of improvement and drive extraordinary results for companies. It also introduces new levels of productivity and addresses some of the biggest pain points for today’s digital teams.
With automated workflows and no infrastructure to configure, our platform provides environments where multiple developers can work faster and more easily on multiple parts of websites, giving them more time to innovate and deliver even greater value to the organization. Marketers appreciate the control Pantheon gives them, enabling them to quickly publish content, release new features and improve the elements site performance that they care about like lead conversion, trials, and engagement. And, IT enjoys the peace of mind that comes from Pantheon’s technical performance capabilities including advanced site monitoring, automated backups, unrivaled speed, and unlimited scalability and uptime. Together, these teams are empowered to work together to develop, test, and release website changes quickly and reliably, with the confidence of knowing their sites will remain stable and secure – even during the biggest traffic spikes. Pantheon cloud-native software also includes governance, security and collaboration tools that make it easy to securely manage a single website or thousands of websites across multiple teams, all in one platform.
As a marketing touchpoint, what 3 things can business owners do to optimize their website.
- Implement personalization. Delivering personalized journeys for different types of site visitors will be critical, especially in a cookieless world. These journeys will be built to anticipate what customers want before they articulate it. The push to personalization opens up infinite possibilities for new ways of interaction in the previously flat world of websites. We’ll see changing navigation, content flows, and types of content become increasingly conversational, while accounting for unique visitor preferences. Not everyone enters your website through your home page!
- Ensure you are enabling seamless brand engagement. Today, it can be an incredibly choppy experience to interact with a brand across platforms. For example, think about privacy banners that appear on the bottom of a website. When you move to the mobile version, that same banner might block half of your screen. Users scramble to get past it. This interrupts the customer experience, and consumers will not have patience for it in the coming years. The shift from mobile, to the website, to in-app and beyond will need to be streamlined, and brands will need to prioritize removing friction.
- Consider evolving your site architecture. Headless site architecture will continue to grow and change the way digital teams deliver website experiences. By splitting up how websites are designed and built, headless architectures allow developers and marketers to work in parallel without bottlenecking each other or breaking anything along the way, so that each team is able to meet their own goals faster and more efficiently. This will enable organizations to more quickly modernize their site’s experience layer and continue to support agile marketing approaches. Trials, apps, live data, streaming and other dynamic experiences will be more widely integrated into website experiences going forward.
Any thoughts on – How WebOps, a SaaS sweet spot, enables web developers, marketers to move web strategies as quickly as their campaigns.
You need a test-and-learn approach to successfully engage customers, meet them where they are and win in the market. Consumers have so many choices. It’s a really competitive world, and the experiences we create – and the ways we create them – can be our best differentiators. It’s all about rooting ourselves in the fact that we’re creating digital experiences for people. They have preferences, likes, dislikes … and it’s our responsibility as marketers to be agile and respond. It’s a foundational customer expectation, and we have to deliver on it to be successful.
The world of digital marketing lets us create really meaningful dialogue and engagement, because we have the opportunity to learn from every single aspect of these digital interactions. We can measure every attribute, every interaction, every engagement to redirect to content, experiences and customer journeys that “intuitively” meet the customer’s needs, right then. For example, if a customer chooses to use chat to ask a question, that tells us they’re eager to engage with someone to provide the valuable information that allows us to give them what they’re looking for. They’ve made an active decision to use the chat feature. So why would we then force them to a landing page on the website to complete a form? That’s a signal to us about their preference. We should conversationally collect that information, in the moment, and meet them where they are. Solve that issue through that mechanism. Make it so convenient, easy and seamless – that it feels intuitive – all based on the choice they made.
At Pantheon, the goal for our own marketing organization is to be in a constant cycle of testing, launching, measuring everything. That provides the insights we use to iterate our strategies to remove friction and delight the customer. This is what our product delivers to marketers, too. We provide software that enables companies to create websites that deliver extraordinary results. To get there, our product enables new levels of speed and agility for WebOps teams – web developers, designers, content producers and marketers – to develop, test and release website changes faster and more reliably. It enables teams to build flexible, iterative strategies to continuously improve the customer experience and deliver business results. Modern WebOps teams are growth drivers for their companies; they deliver new customers and are accountable for return on marketing investment.
Can you give examples of the data-driven go-to-market strategies you have used to deliver market share, revenue growth, and ROI for B2B, B2C, and B2B2C companies across various industries?
Years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to blend customer segmentation with geodemographic systems to help retailers determine where to locate their stores, and help retail banks to determine where to locate ATMs – not just at bank branches, but in grocery stores, malls, airports and more. These were both examples of brick-and-mortar market penetration strategies that are still in use today. Now the brick and mortar strategies are often highly integrated into what is called omni-channel market penetration strategies that often include digital and ecosystem partners.
My favorite marketing strategies incorporate consumers into B2B go-to-market strategies. By consumers I’m referring to the end-users of software, when the buyer of the software may or may not actually use the software. In this environment, the go-to-market strategy focuses on achieving customer advocacy – at every interaction. This is not easy, but when you nail it, it’s wildly differentiating. Companies that achieve it have created a culture that inspires every team in the company, marketing, development, sales and customer success to be empowered to create an experience through every customer touchpoint to deliver value or remove friction for the people using your service. This requires a backbone of telemetry, which is the data about the customers interactions with your service.
It’s truly customer centric: when you think about marketing data, it is about prospective customers, current customers and prior customers. The key to success is that every go-to-market function needs to share the data and collaborate on decision-making using the data-driven insights. It is highly collaborative, requires high customer empathy and room for people to fail and fix to continue to hone the experience and drive growth. This is the secret to the land-and-expand growth flywheel where both new customer and customer expansion revenue contribute to profitable revenue growth.
What is the biggest problem you or your team solving in this year?
We are focused on creating moments that matter. We want our customer experience to feel like a dialogue, no matter what stage the customer is in. That means anticipating what the customer needs and wants, and having that ready before they even know they need it. In the SaaS world, marketers have to consider the very first customer experience. How are we helping customers get started and drive results fast? How do we build that feeling that they love our product so much that they want to tell people about it? These are the kinds of things our team thinks about, and that’s why we build partnerships across the organization that have us all working toward the same goals. Our constant focus is on delivering extraordinary experiences so our customers can achieve extraordinary results.
Is there anything that you’re currently reading, or any favorite books, that you’d Recommend?
I had the opportunity to contribute to Decisively Digital by Alexander Loth. It features interviews, advice and real-world customer examples from industry leaders about how technology can improve business decisions and results. . It’s not just for marketers, there is a lot of great advice from business leaders for business leaders.
Others that are on my list:
- Lead from the Heart, for leaders.
- Checklist Manifesto, for any business person, especially those at small companies need to put in place simple processes that make a big difference. I have often had teams read this before offsites.
- Multipliers, for rising leaders/first-time managers who want to grow from managing to leading.
As head of marketing at Pantheon, Christy is focused on leading growth by bringing their platform to people who are inspired to harness the values of the open web to make an impact on the world. Her team leads the go-to-market programs that bring the company vision to life and delight customers at every stage of the customer journey. In her 20 years as a marketing executive, she has overseen successful digital, martech, and go-to-market transformations; product, e-commerce, and partner launches; acquisitions and integrations; successful rebranding; market expansion; and billion-dollar brand and portfolio growth success. She holds an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA and a Bachelor of Arts from Pepperdine University.
Pantheon is the platform for websites that deliver extraordinary performance, running sites in the cloud for customers including Stitch Fix, Okta, Home Depot, Pernod Ricard and The Barack Obama Foundation. Modern organizations choose Pantheon to empower their digital teams to continuously optimize and innovate to deliver more engaging digital experiences. Using Pantheon’s WebOps platform, developers, marketers and IT are empowered to work together to develop, test, and release website changes quickly and reliably, knowing their sites will remain stable and secure – even during the biggest traffic spikes.