Share This Page


Share This Page


Possibilities Podcast Episode: 10

Digital transformation is simply this: When technology lets you solve a problem in a completely new way that somehow makes things better.

In other words, Can you apply technology to solve problems that weren’t solved before?

Applied to marketing, it’s the ability to make your ads more relevant and personalized. It’s the difference between a billboard on a highway and a “Minority Report billboard” that knows who you are and can interact with you.

We recently interviewed Jon Miller, CEO and Co-Founder at Engagio and former Co-Founder of Marketo, on the Possibilities podcast.

Jon shared a history of marketing automation, three major shifts in digital transformation for marketers today, and how to toe the line between data capturing and data privacy (i.e., how to be personalized but not creepy).

Here are the highlights from his interview.

3 Major Shifts in Marketing: Why First-Generation Marketing Automation No Longer Gets It Right


After almost 10 years at Marketo, Jon discovered an interesting paradox.

As companies get bigger, the pace of innovation slows down. However, the general changes in marketing today, if anything, are accelerating.

There are a few inflection points here:

1) A tool like Marketo was built for generating leads. But salespeople don’t sell leads—they sell accounts. When a sales rep closes out a quarter, they don’t talk about how many leads they sold. They talk about accounts.

2) Companies are getting more and more of their revenue from their existing customers. Companies are not just interested in generating new business. Today, it’s so much more about getting the land and then expanding. Upselling, cross-selling, retention . . . They require a whole different set of marketing muscles you have to exercise. And frankly, first-generation marketing tools don’t help much here.

3) There’s a change in dynamic between marketing and sales. The traditional model was a “lead handoff,” a baton pass between marketing to a sales rep to an account executive. But that’s not the right selling model for today.

A better one is that of an American football team, where you have different players and positions, but everyone works together as a team to move the ball down the field. Sometimes the ball will be in the hands of the quarterback. At other times, it’ll belong to the running back or wide receiver.

But no matter what, everybody has to work together to ultimately achieve the goal.

Salespeople don’t sell leads: they sell accounts.

Personalized Advertising vs. Data Privacy: How Much Creepiness Is Too Much?

On one end, marketers are trying to collect data. On the other end, as consumers, we want to maintain our privacy. How will this trend eventually play out?

Jon is a bit of a privacy contrarian. In his view, consumers have shown time and time again that they are willing to trade some element of privacy for value, whether that’s convenience, better personalization, etc.

“I’m a marketer who thinks that most marketing tends to suck,” Jon said. “I try to tune it out.” It isn’t relevant to his needs.

Yet, as a consumer, he sees examples every day of personalization being used to make his experience better, whether it’s his Netflix recommendations or his Amazon product suggestions.

Consumers are increasingly expecting that level of personalization—and they’re smart enough to know it will come at the expense of some data. The issue is that you’ve got to avoid the “creepy factor.”

Much of the data needed to make things relevant is actually not terribly personal. You don’t need to know my exact income or the name of my newborn child to give me a great experience with your brand. Many times, just observing my behaviors can give you a lot of what you need.

The other thing to watch for on the creepy factor: use data to be relevant, but don’t put it in someone’s face that you have the data.

For example, the Engagio technology lets their sales team know when somebody is on their website. It’s great, because if they call the person they’re much likelier to get through. But the last thing sales should do is say, “Hey, I see you’re on the site raising your hand.”

That’s creepy. Instead, say, “Hey, is now a good time to connect about Engagio?”

Ultimately, the long-term arc here is probably in favor of data and relevance. At the same time, there are regulations that companies have to respond to and respect.

You do have to take them seriously, but in the end, doing the kind of marketing that makes someone feel as if you get them will likely win out.

This post is based on a Possibilities podcast with Jon Miller. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe here.

To listen to this episode, click here


About the Author

Brendan Kavaney
Global Head of Field Marketing and Demand Generation

Brendan Kavaney- Possibilities Podcast Host and Global Head of Field Marketing and Demand Generation at Mindtree, a 20 year Marketer with a big passion for Marketing Technology and all things Digital. He leads a highly innovative team across a vast array of industries including Banking, Financial Services & Insurance, Retail, Manufacturing & Consumer Goods, Travel, Transportation & Hospitality, Technology & Media.

Other Stories by the Author

Let's Talk About Your Needs

Thank you for your submission. We'll be in touch.