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Martin Gontovnikas, a.k.a Gonto, is a software engineer at heart that moved to the “dark side” and is now VP of Growth and Marketing at Auth0. With this career transition, he found a way to combine his 2 passions by applying his “engineering thinking” model to Marketing.

As a software engineer, Gonto built a framework for AngularJS called Restangular that eventually became popular and is used today by companies like weather.com, Reuters, CNN and others. During this process, he realized that he really enjoyed making Restangular popular, by creating content for his blog, answering questions in stackoverflow, and speaking at events, more than he had enjoyed actually building the framework. The “dark side was calling...

Thanks to his engineering roots, Gonto is a very analytical person that loves creating new experiments to continuously accelerate Auth0’s revenue growth, which has historically been 90% inbound and marketing driven. 

When not leading the growth and marketing team at Auth0, Gonto can be found enjoying gourmet food at new restaurants, having beers with friends at every local brewery he can find, and traveling the globe in search of new experiences.

You can follow him on Twitter (@mgonto) or read his (not so frequent) blog posts on his website

He will be live on Oct 31 starting at 930 AM for one and a half hours during which time he will answer as many questions as possible.

Add this event to your calendar by clicking here

  • ST

    Stanley Tan

    2 months ago #

    Hi Martin,
    What are your best marketing channels for Auth0?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey,

      For us, the best marketing channel is by far SEO with Content Marketing. We have more than 500K unique users per month that go through our content on our blog, our learn pages and our docs. Most people that come to Auth0, come through Google. Approximate 70/80% of our traffic comes through there. ALso, the majority of our leads right now are inbound.

      Cheers

      5 Share
      • MG

        Martin Gontovnikas

        about 1 month ago #

        Hey @Anuj, yes I do.

        We're working on both fronts right now, increasing our inbound leads, as well as kicking off and starting to do outbound. We went from having 3/4% outbound to ~10/12 now and we're planning to move to 20.

        We created a specific team called "Enterprise Demand Generation" whose main tasks is target non developers for doing outbound with integrated campaigns including Webinars, Emails, Calls, Events, Direct Mail, etc. That team is an experimentation team, we don't expect them to just work and always do the same, but rather experiment and see what things work and then double down on those.

        The growth team continues to focus right now on inbound from developers.

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        about 1 month ago #

        Do you ever foresee a scenario where the # of leads from inbound becoming a much smaller piece of the pie? If yes, what would have to happen (internally or externally for that to occur?

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    about 1 month ago #

    So excited to have you here, Martin.

    What is Auth0's North Star Metric?
    How have you managed to rally & align the team around this key metric?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Dani! Happy to be here :D.

      Auth0 is a weird case I think. Auth0 is about adding authentication to your own custom applications, so you start seeing value as you start getting users authenticate to your app. That’s why our north star metric is # of active users that log in to your app through one of our SDKs. Having said that, if somebody has a project that gets cancelled, they’ll stop using Auth0. Because of that, we try to link accounts from the same person so that we know even if they stopped using Auth0 for project A if they still do it for project B.

      The “bad” thing about Auth0 is that once it’s configured and working, you don’t have to go back to the dashboard, it just works. However, we do want people to go back to the dashboard to learn about the new features we have. Because of that, even if it’s not our north star metric, we do try to get people back to the dashboard if we find something of value to share. We don’t try to fake it though.

      I think aligning the team around this metrics is about repetition and check of metrics. For everything we do, I ask that we have a KPI and we measure success. Usually, a measure of success could be # of signups (quantity), # of activated signups (quality, based on north star metric) and # of form fills (people who click on talk to sales but don’t signup to our trial). Since everybody checks this, then everybody remembers this is our north star metric.

      3 Share
  • GH

    Glen Harper

    about 1 month ago #

    Thank you for joining us today, Martin.
    Your title includes both Growth & Marketing - normally I see one or the other.
    Can you talk about why that is, how you draw the distinction and how these two aspects of your role work in concert with each other?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Glen, Happy to be here!

      Marketing as a whole can be divided into 3 areas:

      * Brand Marketing: This is most of the marketing strategies and tactics that are related to brand and are really hard to measure. This includes PR, AR (Analyst Relations), Events, etc.
      * Growth Marketing: This is the technical part of marketing. In here you use data, analytics and experimentation to drive an increase in acquisition through the web/digital property: A/B testings, SEO changes, understanding what type of content drives more signups, etc.
      * Growth Product: This is partnering with the product team to help them get both quantitative and qualitative data to make people use the product more (Increase activation and retention basically), as well as working in the new user experience and on boarding. We help with quantitative data as events, pageviews, heatmaps, scroll %s, feature usage, etc. We help with qualitative data like surveys, interviews, user testing, etc.

      My team works across all of those 3 disciplines which is why I say Marketing and Growth, to encompass both the growth part as well as the “softer” part like Brand.

      Having said that, I don’t believe much in titles. I believe it’s about executing well and getting things done. I just like Growth to be part of the title, since I have a strong passion about it :D.

  • TN

    Tri Nguyen

    about 1 month ago #

    1a. When does a person or company realize the need for a product like Auth0?
    1b. What tests have you'll run to put Auth0 in front of (people at) companies that might be near or at that point?
    2. Once you've hooked a prospect, can you talk about how you nurture them to the point of trialing and beyond?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      1a) In general, I believe most companies should be buying Auth0 or a service very similar to it when building their own custom applications. You want your developers and your team to focus on what adds value to your product rather than collateral things like authentication, payments, sending emails, logging, etc. But something that happens very often, is that we get a contact from people who got burnt by implementing auth in the past and that already know it’s not as easy as it sounds

      1b) What we figured out is that these custom applications are built by developers always. And more and more, developers are starting to make decisions or influence decisions on what tools they want to use. Because of that, what we do is try to create valuable content for developers regarding authentication, JWTs, etc. and then just mention a BTW that in case they don’t want to do it themselves as the tutorial suggests, they can just buy Auth0. We work on optimizing the queries that developers would do to add authentication.

      2) We still haven’t figured this out yet to be honest. I think the key part is the on boarding, where you explain them the core concepts and you guide them to get to Auth0’s wow moment and to learn the new features. We’re now working on improving our on boarding and doing changes to see if we can increase activation. We’ve tried emails in the past, but with developers, they just don’t work that well, so we’re focusing more on in product notifications and on boarding.

  • VK

    Vanessa King

    2 months ago #

    Hi, Martin! Thanks for doing this AMA.

    How does your engineering background influence your approach to marketing, especially when it comes to experimentation?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey, nice to meet you!

      I think Marketing can be separated into 3 parts: Brand Marketing, Growth Marketing and Growth Product. I think engineering background is really useful for Growth Marketing and Growth Product.
      Engineering gives you the ability to think in a more abstract way and to be able to decompose a problem into small pieces and then try to tackle each of them at a time with experimentation. Thanks to being an engineer, I’m very rigorous on the experimentation part: You must have a set of KPIs to measure, you must have a hypothesis driven by data, you must have a timeframe and a goal.
      Furthermore, I’m always very curious about experimentation, and even if they fail, we work on understanding why and doing new experiments based on that.

      • MG

        Martin Gontovnikas

        about 1 month ago #

        @Anuj we have a lot. One of the examples could be that we saw a lot of people were openning our signup form and then just dropping. We didn't know why, so we went and contacted people that had this happened to understand. What we learnt is that people didn't understand they could log in with social providers because it only had a logo and it had no text. We changed the logo to have the logo + "Sign up with X" and that increased our CR 33% :).

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        about 1 month ago #

        Any experiment(s) you can talk about that led to some big insights you didn't have before that point?

        2 Share
  • JP

    John Phamvan

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Martin

    What tools are you using at Auth0 for experimentation & analytics right now?
    Where does your data live?
    What collaboration tools does the team use?

    Thanks!
    John

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey, nice to meet you!

      Let me answer your questions one by one:

      * Where does the data live? All of our data is in our datawarehouse (DWH) in Redshift. The DWH is our main source of truth, and we get data from there our main product, stripe, salesforce, marketo, totango, web analytics, etc. We have a quite big data team (7 people) who work on mantaining the DWH, importing new sources, creating new DataMarts and doing analytics and machine learning processes. A DataMart for us is a denomralized table that joins information from differnet souces. Then we use those datamarts to cross join in an easier way to find new insights.

      * Tooling for analytics: To find new insights and to do analytics we mostly use SQL and R. We have an analytics team which takes care of doing complex analysis, but to be honest, I also throw a lot of SQLs here and there. We are using DOMO now for reporting, but we’re thinking in moving to Tableau. However, I feel Domo and Tableau are good to report data that you think is valuable, but aren’t very useful to do data discovery and exploration. I still think SQL and Excel are the best for that.

      * Analytics on the web: Furthermore, we’ve created our own analytics tool because given that our users are developers, a lot have ghostery or something similar so other analytics were blocked. We also created internally a first touch, last touch and multi touch attribution models to attribute to specific channels / campaigns new signups and deals we get. Furthermore, we’ve created a markov chain attribution as well which we think is more accuarate but we’ll be working on checking that and improving it.

      * Collaboration Tools: We use Slack for chat, Zoom for video calls, Trello for task management. We don’t use anything fancy to be honest :P

      2 Share
  • MD

    Mark Anthony de Jesus

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Martin.
    I'm interested in any tests you'll have tried around pricing?

    I'm also curious as to:
    a. Why do you have a free plan at all vs just offering a free trial for your paid plans?
    b. Why do you have flexible pricing based on active users vs flat pricing that includes up to x active users?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey,

      We’ve done a lot of experimentation in pricing, and I think we’ll continue to. We have our 5th version of pricing right now. I think they key of pricing is to tight it as much as you can to the value your customers get and the $s they get from us.

      We’ve tried having very few plans with a lot of addons, but that was very confusing and we changed that. We also constantly move features around between plans and A/B test the copy and locations of plans in the website to see if that changes something.

      However, the best way to try different pricings is with enterprise plans I think, since there the sales team has more flexibility and you have more chances to try different things without the need to update the website and once you have something that sort of works, then you go and update the website.

      Re: your specific questions:
      1) I’m a big believer in free plans. There’s a lot of people who are doing a pet project, have a very small startup and they can’t afford to pay Auth0. Because of that, I think it makes sense to give it away for free to them, since if they like it, once they go to another company, they’re going to want to use Auth0, and they can also recommend it to friends. I think we should get money from those that get value from Auth0 and can pay it and try to give it for free to those that don’t, up to certain point. For example, I believe that if somebody has more than 7K active users, they’re probably getting some money or some funding, that’s why the free plan is up to that number

      2) Because it’s value based pricing. The more users they have, the more value they have from Auth0, the more they pay. However, if you check our sliders, we do have bands. You can’t have 1.5K users, it’s either 1K or 2K for example. But other than that, I think flat plans can also work. I don’t have a strong opinion on this.

      3 Share
      • MD

        Mark Anthony de Jesus

        about 1 month ago #

        Really appreciate your thoughts here.
        One follow up about the free plan - do the people that get it free pay in some other way (ie some "powered by" branding or something thats broadcast in some way or is it truly no strings attached?

      • MG

        Martin Gontovnikas

        about 1 month ago #

        @Mark

        So different things:

        1) Free plans have a powered by Auth0 in Lock which is very subtle. If they do it by API they don't have that.

        2) Free plan has restrictions on features for a small project, small company. As they grow, they'll need features from paid plans and therefore will need to pay. The idea is to drive adoption and then 1/100000 will succeed and that one will need features that are on the paid plan. It's about clustering the features and trying to see based on use case/ industry/ etc what features add value to them.

        3) We also do have an Open Source plan where the enterprise plan is for free if your code is open source in exchange for having a badge in the OSS project as well as the website. This is good for us since we help the community and it's good publicity, also people who see this OSS code will see Auth0 code :).

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Martin - so cool to finally have you on?
    I noticed that you'll have a trial period that lasts 22 days.
    That's the first time that I've noticed such a number - normally its something like 7/14/21/1 month.

    How did you'll land up at 22 days? What data points informed this decision?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      In average removing the top 1% and bottom 1%, people take 22 days to try Auth0 and eventually pay, so we thought 22 days is a very good amount of days for that. Furthermore, it’s a weird number, so people might ask why and signup to check it out ;)

      • MG

        Martin Gontovnikas

        about 1 month ago #

        @Anuj there're a lot of things that happen that might make people take 22 days to fully try out Auth0. Instead of looking at that problem as a whole, what we do is separate the trial experience into a funnel of multiple steps (9 right now) and then we work on improving each of them separately. It's all about decomposing the problem into smaller ones and tackling one by one. That way, you don't get analysis paralysis.

        I think a lot of it is out of our control (didn't have time to try yet, got there middle way, etc.) so part of our job is to remind them that we're here to help :).

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        about 1 month ago #

        Love that - breaking the pattern will definitely get attention.
        A follow up - why does it generally taken then 22 days to full try out Auth0? What's happening in that time (and how much of that is in your control or ability to influence)?

  • JD

    James Dunn

    about 1 month ago #

    It was interesting to see that on your signup page, signing up with an email is the first option and signing up with Github/Google/Microsoft is second.
    I would've expected the the order to be the exact opposite given the business you're in.
    Is that expectation a correct assumption?
    If yes, why is the order of signup options the way it is?
    If not, why do people prefer signing up via email despite having the option to do it without typing anything?

    On a related note, with the Github/Google/Microsoft signup options - have any tests informed that order or does it not matter what the order is?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey James,

      We’ve A/B tested different positions, orders, text, etc. and for our business this is what had the highest CR to Signup. I don’t think it’s a silver bullet, it’s just what worked for us for our target market.
      Also, most people in Auth0 still register with username and password rather than social login, even though social logins is growing much faster than username and password and it’ll sometime match it.

      I don’t have a reason as to why they prefer email and password yet to answer you. We did try order of the social providers itself and it didn’t have any influence on the form.

      Having said that, one of the biggest changes in CR for signup was actually having a signup page. Before, we just had a modal asking you to signup, now we give you context in the left side on who we are, what do we do, what do you get and who uses us. That has helped us a lot in getting people to register.

      3 Share
      • JD

        James Dunn

        about 1 month ago #

        The modal vs signup page bit is so interesting - a great test for sure.
        And I can see how the added context works better.
        Thanks!

      • MG

        Martin Gontovnikas

        about 1 month ago #

        @James Dunn another thing that was very interesting for us was actually adding the text "Signup with Github" instead of only having Github's logo. That also increased CR a lot.

        Finally, I think it's key to ask the least amount of information possible on signup, every new field adds a new "barrier" to signup and if your product is great, you want them to get there as soon as you can to get them hooked.

      • JP

        Jason Peck

        about 1 month ago #

        We've found the same thing in signup page testing. Reinforcing the benefits/value and adding social proof has had dramatic impact on our signup rate.

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    about 1 month ago #

    Hola, Martin
    You're an engineer that made into growth/marketing,

    From your perspective, do you think that all marketers should know how to code/have some technical background?
    If not, what characteristics do you think someone should have if they are going to make a similar career move that you made?
    Beyond those characteristics, are there any other ones that you look for when hiring marketers for your team?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      Hola Javier!

      Let me answer your questions one by one.

      > do you think that all marketers should know how to code/have some technical background?

      I don’t think they have to know how to code, but I do think they need to have the following skills:
      * Analytical: They need to be able to think in an analytical way and try to find insights to do better experiments
      * Experimentation culture: There’s no failure. There’re just experiments. You have to continue experimenting all the time.
      * Data Driven: You have to be data driven and not just based on your gut feeling
      * Abstraction power and Problem Solving: Having abstraction power to be able to decompose big problems into smaller ones and tackle them one at a time.

      > Beyond those characteristics, are there any other ones that you look for when hiring marketers for your team?

      What I look in general for hiring is passion. If somebody is passionate about something, they learn it and investigate in their free time, and have “hunger for glory”, they’re probably going to kick ass :) and even if they don’t know something, they’ll be able to learn it.

  • DO

    Danielle Olivas

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Martin
    You have two CTAs on your home page - to sign up (which feels like the primary one given its in red) and "Talk To Sales"
    I have two questions based on this:
    1. Why do you have 2 CTAs instead of 1?
    2. Instead of "Talk to Sales", why not deploy a live chat solution to engage leads right there and then?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Danielle
      > Why do you have 2 CTAs instead of 1?

      I can answer with another question, why do you think is better to have only 1?

      We have 2 funnels:
      * Developers sign up for the free trial, they like it, they buy self serve or contact us
      * A non developer (or sometimes a dev as well) wants to talk directly to sales instead of having to try the platform.

      We want to support both funnels directly from most pages.

      > Instead of "Talk to Sales", why not deploy a live chat solution to engage leads right there and then?

      It’s a matter of scale. We used to have a live chat where we talked to everybody, but now we have so many requests, that we can’t answer in a chat right away, but we can answer emails in < 2 hours. We have a big ADR team that’s responsible of this, besides other things.
      Furthermore, we’re continually adding tests regarding what you’re saying. For example, we have a scoring, and for people who have a high score, we do open up a chat in the dashboard if we think they’re stuck to try to help them out. We open this little by little as we start having more bandwidth based on the scoring.
      We’re also shipping today something on our “Talk to sales” form where people will be able to register some time to talk to an ADR similar to calendly directly from the website, we think that might make it faster and better, since there’re no back and forths needed in email.

  • SK

    S Kodial

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Martin
    Are you able to predict when a user/organization is about to churn?
    If yes, what is the general pattern for why users churn?
    What strategies have you tested/implemented to mitigate it?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey,

      So we have 2 types of customers.

      1) Enterprise Customers: They get a CSM (Customer Succes Manager) who’s on top of their usage and what’s going on with their implementation. Usually, people churn when we don’t see many users logging in, when we see a dropout there or when we see that the communication starts to fail or that they complain

      2) Self Serve customers: This is people who pay with a credit card. For this people, we have an algorithm that uses a lot of variables to calculate likelihood of churn, but it’s also usually related to the number of users being used, # of support tickets.

      Our churn is so low that we didn’t really investigate much further on ways to optimize this since it’s not a top of mind for us.

  • PD

    Porus Daruvala

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Martin
    What is Auth0's "aha moment"?
    What do you'll do to get people trying the product to that moment as quickly as possible?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      Auth0’s aha moment is when they get a user to login to their apps through one of the SDKs that Auth0 provides.

      What we do to make them get there faster is:
      * Work on having the best possible on boarding. That way, we explain them step by step what to do to get there
      * We have SDKs for 30+ frameworks and languages, which lets them implement authentication to their apps with just a few lines of code. Furthermore, we have documentation step by step for each of those
      * We have a lot of documentation on how to use the product, even though we need to structure it better to make it easier to find new information
      * We’ve tried emails but for our target market they don’t work, so we’re thinking of new ways to do this, or even remove them completely in the future.

  • MT

    Manny Tafoya

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi, Martin! I have a question.

    What is Auth0's biggest growth challenge currently? How are you tackling it?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      I think our main challenges are

      1) Awareness with non developers: We are getting developers from big brands to try our product. We need to help them and arm them with collateral to help convince their bosses on why Auth0 is best. We’re working on it by hiring product marketing people to create this collateral, as well as hiring a corporate marketing person to drive AR and PR to generate awareness in Director+ levels

      2) Usage of the platform: As we continue to add features, we need to improve our activation and retention. For this, we’re working closely togetgher with product to check metrics weekly and have owners so that we work on improving those, as well as partnering the growth team with the product team to give them insights on how to improve the product

      2 Share
  • SS

    Susan Su

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Martin! so awesome to see you here :) I know you do a lot of experimentation. What's your team's ideation process for getting that backlog? What does the team itself look like?

    • MG

      Martin Gontovnikas

      about 1 month ago #

      We get new ideas for experiments by:
      * Doing JTBD style interviews with existing customers and with people that have chosen another provider
      * Doing Surveys to learn new things from customers and see things we can change
      * By looking at dropouts in our funnel and trying to dig deeper on what happened
      * By asking the whole companies about A/B testing ideas
      * We also do a biweekly meeting to think about new ideas

      All teams do experimentation. We have an internal team called Marketing Engineering which implements features and a/b tests related to marketing. They’re responsible of executing all experiments that marketing wants to do. All teams must fill in an experimentation template before doing one, which covers the hypothesis, kpis, timeline, success goal, resources needed

  • AR

    Abhinav Rege

    about 1 month ago #

    What all inbounds channels, and growth hacks did you implement, other than SEO and Content Marketing? What was your target persona and how'd you end up making it?

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