Leave a comment
Get the GH Bookmarklet

AMAs

As CMO of Act-On, Michelle oversees the company’s brand, demand, and customer expansion marketing efforts. She has 17+ years’ experience helping market leading companies, including Salesforce and Oracle, connect customers with technology solutions to grow their business.

Previously, Michelle was GM of Salesforce’s Data.com division after having served as the VP of Marketing for the group. Prior to her tenure at Salesforce, Michelle was a Senior Director at Oracle and a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Stellent (acquired by Oracle). Topics that Michelle is passionate about include the role of artificial intelligence and machine learning in marketing and how marketing executives can form alliances across other departments in their organizations.

You can follow her on Twitter: @michelle_huff.

She will be live on Nov 2 starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which she will answer as many questions as possible.

  • EF

    Ed Fry

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi @michelle_huff - thanks for doing this AMA!

    Given Act-On's positioning in the marketing automation space, how do you see the future of marketing automation platforms in a world with 5000+ marketing tools? (Scott Brinker's MarTech 5000) How do you at Act-On and your customers manage a centralized all-in-one platform with the dozens of peripheral point solutions teams are using? How do you see this evolving?

    And on a similar vein, how do you see marketing automation platforms integrating deeper with other team's core tools. Sales CRMs have long been a friend but how do marketing and customer success / product / support / SDRs align their tools, teams, and data? What's the "source of truth" across multiple teams?

    • MH

      Michelle Huff

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Ed - I think that's an interesting question - the martech landscape can definitely be overwhelming even for us marketers that are in it! From my B2B marketing-world perspective, I think of Marketing as a function that really helps Sales scale. And technology is what really helps Marketing scale. I bucket the tech into:
      1. foundational (i.e. the things that will help my team scale) and
      2. Innovation (i.e. tech that we are experimenting with to see if it can help us better differentiate or stand out in a crowd or help us engage with prospects and customers in a different way).

      Marketing Automation, Web/CMS, Webinar, Attribution, Analytics tech is pretty foundational to me. And then there’s other tech that we use from a peripheral perspective to test. I think as the role of marketing changes and the mindset in companies shift to be more customer focused (and therefore more digital-focused to meet their customer needs) - we’ll continue to see a pretty dynamic martech landscape.

      4 Share
    • MH

      Michelle Huff

      about 1 month ago #

      Hi Ed- part 2 to your question. :) From a marketing automation perspective - you’re able to see incredibly valuable engagement data that really needs to be shared and integrated with CRM, Product, Customer Success tools to give a clearer picture of the customer. As MA evolves to use more things like artificial intelligence and machine learning, the more access to product data, CRM data and Customer Success data - the better the recommendations. It’s tempting though to think that everything has be integrated and be a “source of truth.” However, when it comes to data you have to be pretty specific about what you are trying to do.

      I’ve seen in my past arguments about having a single “source of truth” around a customer’s address and IT putting in stipulations that there can only be one. When in reality, it depends on the question and what the team that is asking the question is trying to do. Finance need to know the billing address, sales wants to know the address to either (a. verify that it’s in their territory and or b. know where to meet the buyer wherever they are based). marketing wants to know who to invite to local events or where to send the direct mail piece to reach the buyer, etc. All these addresses can be different. If you force too generic of a definition on data - teams will just find ways to manage the information separately so that they can get their job done.

      2 Share
  • DH

    Dani Hart

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Michelle - very excited to have you here.

    I'd love to hear more how your team operates in an efficient cross-functional manner.
    The reason I'm interested in this because, this in essence, is how growth teams operate by having representation across product/engineering/creative/data/marketing/sales.
    Which also leads me to my related question of whether you'll have a growth team as well - and if not, why not?

    • MH

      Michelle Huff

      about 1 month ago #

      Yes! I think team organization and alignment across the business is really important for marketing - since we are driving the Brand, Demand Generation, Expanding the customer relationship and setting the GTM strategy and vision of our offering along with the Product team . I have leaders on my team that align specifically to the CEO & People team for Brand, CRO for Demand Gen, CCO (Chief Customer Officer) for Customer Marketing , and SVP Product for Product Marketing. And then to support me and these teams I have integrated marketing and marketing ops.

      * Head of Corporate Marketing: with leaders that are responsible for Brand & waking up every day and thinking pipeline and booking new business with Sales.
      * Head of Customer Marketing: that partners with our Customer Success Group. Goals are aligned with this team around adoption, retention and ultimately our revenue stream (being in a SaaS business)
      * Head of Product Marketing: partners with Tech & Products. Goals aligned around our GTM strategy, establishing our “Why Act-On” mission and them.
      * Head of Integrated Marketing: supports all of marketing with our creative teams, owned channels (web, podcast, blog), and drives our integrated campaigns
      * Head of Marketing Ops: responsible for partnering with Sales Ops and creating reports and managing our MA system and the data and helping to execute on our campaigns.

      Regarding a “Growth team” - I think my job is to drive growth for the business and it needs to be through these various channels. Everyone on my team needs to think about growth, not just one. And I think it’s important to align each function with another leader in the business and align how you measure success - because growth can be achieved in different ways.

      3 Share
    • LC

      Lingling Chen

      about 1 month ago #

      Hi Dani - is Michelle still here? I refreshed multiple times but not sure I see the answers....not sure if it is my computer problem.

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    about 1 month ago #

    Hola, Michelle
    What is your most successful user acquisition channel currently?
    Are you doing something unique within that channel that you think makes this channel your top one?

    • MH

      Michelle Huff

      about 1 month ago #

      Hi Javier - “user acquisition” - do you mean customer? Or are you thinking specific users of the platform? If customer - today our top channel is our website. I’m not sure if our approach is unique, but we are driving a lot of traffic through social, our blog and podcast series. We are putting more focus on PPC and changing our approach right now, as we think there’s greater opportunity for that to be a bigger driver for us.

  • JP

    John Phamvan

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Michelle

    What tools are you using at ActOn for experimentation & analytics right now (other than your own tools, obviously)?
    Where does your data live?
    What collaboration tools does the team use?

    Thanks!
    John

    • MH

      Michelle Huff

      about 1 month ago #

      Hi John,

      Yes, well besides Act-On and our reporting tools. 😃
      We actually use a few tools. We use Salesforce as our CRM internally and use their out of the box reporting. We also have some neat reports and dashboards from our deliverability team (so I can better understand the effectiveness of email campaigns) created in Microsoft Power BI. And we use Sisense to do reporting rollups and include Marketing data into a centralized set of Exec Dashboards. We also use Infer to better understand and categorize our prospects. For collaboration, we use Jive internally as our intranet (and Google Drive as well)

      2 Share
  • GH

    Glen Harper

    about 1 month ago #

    Thank you for joining us today, Michelle.
    I noticed on your site that your primary CTA is to "See It In Action" which leads to a form for a 10 minute recording of the product.
    You also have CTAs elsewhere on the site to schedule demos.

    If you're going to make people fill out a form, why not go straight for the demo and have that be the primary CTA?

    • MH

      Michelle Huff

      about 1 month ago #

      Hey Glen,

      We are actually right in the process of rethinking our demo CTAs right now! 😃
      Our target market is the mid-market - and we are exploring new ways on the site to help identify and target buying intent. Today, we only have two “models” for the demo - one where a person would prefer to hop on a call and request a live demo. And then another where they can watch a pre-recorded demo for 10 min. We’ve seen that some people prefer to schedule and others rather watch a video and not talk to people. So, we’ve always offered both. And we’re doing a little testing right now with the approach.

      What we’ve also seen is that 10 min is a pretty long investment of time to watch a video - and for those people - they are showing us digitally a greater buying intent. And in that situation, we would rather get them in front of a SDR to schedule a custom demo. But in the meantime, show them a snappier 2 min overview demo to have them get a better feel for the product (in case they are not yet ready to talk to someone). This is being built right now.

  • TN

    Tri Nguyen

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Michelle,

    Clearly the product does a lot but I found the pricing page to be quite confusing tbh.
    From what I can gather there are (optional) separate costs with add-ons, onboarding and ongoing support.
    Then with the add-ons - you have to get a quote.
    This makes it quite difficult to get a sense what costs you're looking at even in the ballpark range.

    So I'd love to understand more about why you'll have your pricing page the way you do and why that works best for you?

    • MH

      Michelle Huff

      about 1 month ago #

      Hi Tri,

      I think it all depends on you go to market and the type of sales team that you have in place and the customers you sell to. What we’ve seen work best in the mid-market for our offering is more of a solution-selling model where marketers want more a partner to help through the pre as well as post sale experience. There’s a variety of factors to think through and so a conversation tends to work best.

      In this model, from a marketing perspective, what you are trying to do is quickly find buying intent through digital channels and get the person in front of a SDR (sales development rep). The pricing page is often used as that signal. But the pricing page is used as a content piece that supports the RSM during the sales process - they point to it in follow up emails to highlight the differentiated way that we price with Active Contacts, etc. When you have more of a transactional sale, the pricing page is often used as one of those last steps before calling in an order or buying online.

      2 Share
  • MD

    Mark Anthony de Jesus

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Michelle,
    Can you talk about your lead scoring model and how you nurture leads through conversion?

    • MH

      Michelle Huff

      about 1 month ago #

      Hi Mark,
      Yes, we’ve actually been revamping our lead scoring model this year to change up how we are engaging with our prospects and customers.
      We changed our GTM model over the past year and so we needed to first start with an agreement with a new funnel definition and set of terms with Sales. We then did a little analysis of our existing assets and figured out what items lead to an increase in deal size, higher win rates and/or faster sales cycles. We then modified the scores accordingly. We also increased our scoring threshold (to 50). We also created a new buying journey and organized topics into top, middle and bottom of the funnel terms and started creating some assets.

      Right now we are working to specifically identify buying intent (bottom of the funnel) activities (like specific PPC landing page topics) and up the score and change how we alert and route to sales. For nurturing, we built out a few programs that map to the sales process in Salesforce and we are continuing to roll those out. We also kicked off some really interesting customer nurturing programs as well to drive product adoption and engagement and help support our renewals team. For example, we’ve seen that customers are typically more susceptible to hearing about alternative solutions in SaaS about 5 months prior to the renewal. So we started some drip programs to help remind them that they are with a Leader in the Forrester Wave and a Vision in the Gartner MQ. 😃

      2 Share
  • MT

    Manny Tafoya

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Michelle! Thanks for joining!

    What is the biggest growth challenge you're facing currently? How are you tackling it?

  • DO

    Danielle Olivas

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Michelle!
    I'd love for you to elaborate more on what you spoke about in your bio about the role of artificial intelligence and machine learning in marketing.
    What about this excites you the most?
    What do you foresee as big challenges (obvious and non-obvious ones) with having AI/ML be in the mix.

    Also, can you point to any companies that you think have brought AI/ML elements into their marketing in a good/meaningful way (and what specifically demonstrates the application of these pieces)?

    • MH

      Michelle Huff

      about 1 month ago #

      Hi Danielle,

      I’m pretty excited about AI and machine learning and the role that it will play in marketing. I was working on a talk with my head of sales the other day and we were talking about the differences between sales vs. marketing
      * Relationships: 1:1 vs. 1:many
      * Planning: Short term vs. long term
      * Thoughts on Structure: Gets in the way of selling vs. necessary to scale
      * Decision making: Intuition driven vs. data driven
      When I think about the point about decision making. With marketing, you often don’t have the luxury of talking to a person live and reading their body language or conversation signals to steer the conversation into another direction or bring up different points. With marketing, most of our cues nowadays are digital - which means a ton of data. And it’s hard to really analyze all of this in real time to pivot the conversation or drive interest or adoption the best possible way. I think AI and Machine Learning will really help us out in these roles. I think making sure the recommendations provide us with real insights will be critical, because if it’s a black box - we’ll have no idea how to improve the messaging we write, etc.
      I read an interesting article about how machine learning impacted how people play Chess and wrote a blog on Marketer vs. Machine here:
      http://blog.salesleadmgmtassn.com/2017/06/marketer-vs-machine-the-next-frontier.html

  • JD

    James Dunn

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Michelle,
    When do marketers feel the need for what Act-On Offers?
    What are you doing to raise the odds of being a solution they consider when they feel that need?

  • PD

    Porus Daruvala

    about 1 month ago #

    Thanks for being here, Michelle
    You'll have a lot of app integrations.

    2 questions on this:
    a. How do you'll decide who to partner with given the 1000s of martech options available?
    b. I noticed some integrations on list are marked as "with Zapier" - which clearly are not "direct" integrations. How does it work with those types of integrations? Did you'll work with Zapier on those or was there some other way those came about?

  • SK

    S Kodial

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Michelle,
    What was it about the opportunity at Act-On that attracted you to it?
    And if I can ask, was there anything about after you joined that was an unexpected surprise for you?

  • LC

    Lingling Chen

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Michelle, so nice to have you here! I have two questions ;)

    What are the biggest marketing lessons you learned at Salesforce & Oracle?

    Would you recommend a recent graduate to start working at big companies to gain the best practices, or smaller companies to work on broader scope of projects?

    Thank you so much!

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    about 1 month ago #

    So cool to finally have you on Michelle!
    I have an unrealistic q for you - If you had to hire a marketer that had only one skill what would that be?

  • AG

    Alexander Garovi

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Michelle,

    Really appreciate you hosting this!

    As a successful marketing leader, what do you feel are the main drivers to consider for leveraging AI and Machine Learning across your Marketing Funnel?

    - Alexander

  • PM

    Pierre Martinow

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Michelle, Thanks for giving the AMA today. Great chance to learn from you.

    I was wondering - what's you approach for outbound?

    Do you manage the sales development team as well?

    Are you providing leads to them? Sales Intelligence?

    What's your take on outbound sales and personalization at scale to increase response rates?

    What do you think can be helpful for junior reps to get comfortable with personalization and how do you think that could be achievable with daily activity targets? (x amount of emails and x amount of calls)

    I know that you might not even manage the sales development part of the business, but sometimes Marketing Executives do or they at least have a partial responsibility.

    I would also be interested to know more about especially successful campaigns you were running.

    THANKS A LOT and all the best.

    Pierre

  • W

    Khayrattee Wasseem

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Michelle,

    my questions are:

    1) Is the word "Marketeer" a legit word to use or I should stick to "Marketer"? What's your say on this?

    2) What are the challenges that you see marketeers will face and how you think we could address them?

    3) What the biggest challenge that came your way and how you approached it?

    Thank you very much

  • DH

    David Hoos

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Michelle!

    What sort of marketing mix and channels have you found work well in your business? I lead marketing in a business that also serves marketers (a CRO firm) and I'm always curious what is working/not working for others who are trying to reach the same audience as us.

    Thanks for your help!

  • MH

    Michelle Huff

    about 1 month ago #

    Phew!! These were some great questions! I can't believe how quickly an hour and a half goes. I have to run, but I'll try to reply back to some of the questions that I still left unanswered. This was fun for me, hopefully everyone found it to be helpful. Thanks GrowthHackers for thinking of me!!

  • AE

    Ahmed Elbougha

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and help with us,

    I am of technical development background and I'm about to finish my MBA in marketing En Shaa Allah. What do you think my next steps should be?

    Also, I'm co-founder in a startup software development company that is project based (we don't have our own product but we do projects for other people), I wonder if you can give me a couple of pieces of advice how I should think about business to business marketing for my situation?

Join over 70,000 growth pros from companies like Uber, Pinterest & Twitter

Get Weekly Top Posts
High five! You’re in.
SHARE
31
31