Getting Value From Marketing Tech Spend

“Helping people use software more effectively. That’s what our vision and mission is,” said Todd Olson, founder and CEO of Pendo.

How important a goal is that? I remember meeting someone at a conference who had just been put in charge of marketing ops at his company. Despite heavy investment in a very well known marketing solution, progress had faltered when the person in the company who was the designated expert in managing solution had left. The new guy had been sent to the conference to try to catch up. Pendo VIA is a product designed to lower the barrier to efficient use of marketing tech solutions — starting with Marketo.

“We install into the application, we capture data on how users are using the product, and we complement that with the ability to message users in-app. The messages can be used for onboarding, education, and training,” Olson explained. Pendo VIA also feeds data back to the teams designing the original software to help them improve the UX. “When they see something not being used as much as they anticipated, maybe it’s an early indicator of a poor job in building that feature, or room for improvement. Users likely won’t notice Pendo’s intervention in their experience. “It should look like the software itself.”

Why Marketo? “Marketo is a large enterprise application, and what we’ve heard, talking with Marketo admins, is that it’s been a challenge to roll out Marketo and make sure there’s consistency of usage. For us, it’s making sure they get the full value out of the Marketo spend. They’re using our product as a way to train, reinforce the training, and enforce things like compliance.”

The aim is clear, but I didn’t understand why Pendo’s customer would be the Marketo client rather than Marketo itself. “In this case, it’s the company who purchased Marketo, although Marketo does use us to help improve its software.”

In addition to the situation where a company might lose it’s sole in-house Marketo expert, Olson outlined another use case: “We’ve encountered situations where they’re scared to roll out Marketo to a number of users because they’re fearful that people might use it in the wrong way, and it may create more issues, more questions for the marketing ops team, which is already over-worked.” Pendo VIA enables the workload to be more widely distributed, thus guarding against one or two users monopolizing the company’s knowledge of the solution.

One Pendo client is sales performance software vendor Xactly. VP of demand gen, Brett Theiss, said in a release: “Marketo is an incredibly powerful platform, but with power comes responsibility. Like most marketing organizations, we’ve contained our Marketo usage to a very small handful of power users who are deeply skilled in Marketo. The prospect of expanding usage to other marketers, while maintaining the control we count on, is an exciting proposition.”

So what do users actually see from Pendo VIA in practice? “Part of the power is that we empower Marketo admins to create whatever user experience they want; but out of the box, it introduces you to the subscription, shows you around, and gives you information about how the customer has implemented Marketo.” Different customers implement Marketo in different ways. 

 But it’s not like Marketo presents unique challenges. It’s not the most challenging of the marketing hubs out there, based on many conversations I’ve had. It sounds like Pendo would have a role to play with almost any of the larger, enterprise marketing tech applications. “Right now, Marketo is the first one we’re announcing, but we’re in conversation with a variety of others. To be honest, though, we want to go deep on Marketo and the Marketo eco-system, which is thriving — even more thriving now it’s part of Adobe — but our technology is agnostic.”

Olson believes Pendo’s offering complements the offerings of implementation partners. “I think there is symbiosis. While I don’t have anything to announce today, I think there’s a great opportunity to partner with a lot of those implementation specialists.”

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