Five Minutes With Atri Chatterjee, CMO of Act-On Software

We’ve written a lot about the rise of marketing automation here at The Hub, and one of the leading companies we’ve covered in that field is Act-On Software. Act-On occupies a unique space in the marketing automation software industry, catering to small and midsize companies as opposed to the large enterprises that are targeted by Eloqua, Adobe Campaign and ExactTarget. 

We caught up with Act-On’s CMO Atri Chatterjee and asked him to give us some of his insights, both as a digital marketer, and a developer of marketing software. Chatterjee’s a veteran tech marketer, having previously served as senior VP of marketing at McAfee and as the first VP of marketing at Responsys. Here are his thoughts on digital marketing trends in 2015, opportunities for Act-On, and what keeps his customers up at night:

What are your biggest opportunities & challenges for next 12-24 months?

 Biggest opportunities: We are operating in a nascent market – at the mid-market level, marketing automation has less than 10% penetration. Our potential market is huge – we estimate that more than one million businesses in North America alone are ready for and need marketing automation, but have yet to adopt. This presents a Greenfield market and enables us to focus on building the right product for small and mid-size businesses instead of battling the competition.

Biggest challenges: We have been growing at a rapid clip, tripling the business from 2011-2012 and more than doubling from 2012-2013. We’re on track to double the business again this year. As a result, hiring and maintaining company culture has been a challenge, and we see that continuing over the next 12-24 months. Finding the right talent and hiring at the speed needed to accommodate our expansion is not a trivial pursuit. We are a customer-centric company with a focus on employee accountability. As the company expands and opens more offices, both regionally and abroad, ensuring that the culture of the company is maintained will be of utmost importance.   

What are some unmet needs in marketing technology landscape?

Typically marketing technologies have addressed top of funnel initiatives – looking at marketing’s role in the lead generation process. However, marketers have a unique role in engaging with the buyer-customer throughout the lifecycle. A marketer’s job should not just be lead to revenue, but customer to advocate as well. This means technologies need to adapt accordingly. The unmet need doesn’t lie in the technology itself, but the mindset and process that goes into looking at the marketers role in the customer lifecycle. The focus should really be on education and enablement – delighting the marketer by showing them other ways in which they can leverage the technology (i.e. Marketing Automation Platforms) for programs like onboarding, upselling, cross-selling, winning-back and loyalty.

What keeps your clients up at night?

Our marketing clients worry about two major things:  1) Ensuring that marketing continues to innovate and directly contribute to their company’s revenue  and 2) Anticipating and using new technologies to gain and maintain a competitive advantage.  Our customers know that the new marketing playbook has changed and as digital marketers their role and responsibility towards growing their business has increased immensely. They also know that the world is fast changing and one has to constantly explore and try new things to maintain a competitive advantage.

What social network do you anticipate accelerating growth in the next year?

I anticipate Google+ accelerating growth over the next year — this is because of Google’s association of +1s with search ranking. After page authority, a URL’s +1s are more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor. More companies will claim Google Business pages in 2015. As social becomes more intertwined with search engine algorithms – and we are already seeing the blurred lines, companies should look to invest more time into building out their business page on Google+. The benefits can mean improved local search visibility and blended content/brand visibility, which is very important for SMBs and emerging growth companies looking to heighten its awareness.   

What’s the hardest thing to educate clients about?

As a technology solutions provider for businesses, we know that helping our customers with our technology is only a part of the problem. The second part is to ensure our customers have the domain knowledge and know how to get the most from our technology. It’s this education that is both challenging but also key to our customers’ success.

2015 will be all about:

For us, 2015 will be about “Marketing for the entire customer lifecycle.”

Three things to note:

1. Marketing automation will not just be categorized as a lead to revenue platform and instead leveraged throughout the customer life-cycle; for communication programs beyond acquisition and through retention and expansion.

2. Marketing automation will be the de facto front end technology for customer relationship management. Marketing is currently the first touch point for customers and it will also continue throughout the relationship. A marketers role in the customer experience will continue to be more pervasive as the use of marketing automation expands to other initiatives. 

3. Marketers will require their marketing automation platforms to be open systems that empower them to customize their solution with other third-party cloud services to enhance its overall use. Doing so will allow marketers to differentiate their digital marketing experiences and be able to augment campaigns using data from other systems such as ERP, HR, CRM and others. Think of marketing automation as a trains locomotive and the cab cars as the eco-system of apps.

Atri Chatterjee is CMO for Act-On Software

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