Meet the Marketer: Jennifer Johnson of RingCentral

“I cut my teeth on the product marketing side, and I enjoyed connecting the dots between user needs and how technology could work to overcome their problems. But over the years, what’s become interesting to me are patterns; the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what.’ What do companies believe in, and why do people come to work every day (especially in tech), and work so hard to help businesses solve their problem.”

Jennifer Johnson, VP of Corporate Marketing at RingCentral, the cloud-based business comms platform, was looking back over the twenty years which had taken from a product marketer for middleware, to proprietorship of marketing consultancy 454 Marketing LLC, and most recently–it’s been about a year–the RingCentral role. I asked her what challenges she faced on joining RingCentral.

“I was initially brought in to solve the challenge of integrated marketing,” she said. RingCentral, Johnson told me, had targeted small businesses with its fast-and-easy VoIP solution. Steadily moving upmarket to target fast-growing customers with global distribution, it needed to establish “more discipline and muscle” in its marketing. RingCentral had established itself as a vendor of fast-and-easy VoIP deployment to small businesses. 

In particular, she found that each of the company’s marketing channels was operating in isolation. “Over the last six months,” she said, “people have had to get into the mode of aligning around a central strategy rather than just hitting their own metrics. Changing behavior is always hard, but people are now seeing the value of channels working in harmony. Everyone gets a lift.”

Johnson has structured her division to reflect this realignment. Corporate Marketing at RingCentral oversees Communications/PR, an in-house Creative Services operation, and now an Integrated Marketing and Content team led by Mahvish Bari (previously a senior integrated marketing manager at Citrix). The Communications team now works “hand-in-glove” with the Integrated Marketing team, said Johnson, and there was a plan to institute a formal editorial review board to oversee aligned content. “If we’re going to get larger, it’s important to start developing processes at an early stage.”

Although marketing tech underpins these efforts, Johnson describes it as “an area where we’re still needing to build some more infrastructure.” Kapost is the content platform. The creative team is highly productive (“over 665 assets in the last quarter,” said Johnson); Kapost provides workflows for review and sign-off. As a tool, said Johnson, “you need to get used to it,” and she wishes it had more of a campaign orientation. She also looking at other options like Percolate.

For social media management, the teams rely on Birdeye (brand reputation) and Influitive (advocate marketing). Glip is a proprietary tool acquired last year which serves as a unified internal communications hub and collaborative environment–not just for conversations but for project management and file sharing. RingCentral sells Glip to customers, and also uses it. “Another product I’ve started to play with is Trello,” Johnson told me. Trello is a visual project management tool. “I like it, but I don’t yet know what to do with it.” Outside Johnson’s personal remit, the company also uses a customized stack based on Marketo and Salesforce for lead generation.

Did she see any gaps in the marketing tech landscape. “I’m sure the tools are out there,” she said, “but I’d like to see something for content efficacy.” Content is so expensive and time-consuming to produce, and Johnson would like to find better ways to track which pieces work best.

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