In this Q&A, Stephanie Cox, VP of Marketing with Lumavate, reveals why PWAs are the next big thing, how to work with agencies and why so many companies fail to get the results they want when investing in costly tech tools and ABM to scale their business.
Video shot at Digital Summit Atlanta on May 22, 2019
Bob : Hey folks, welcome. This is Bob Tripathi with Digital Sparx Marketing and what I like to do is talk to industry leaders and today I have a great industry leader, Stephanie. Welcome. Stephanie Cox is with Lumavate, a very interesting company. So Stephanie why don’t you introduce yourself.
Stephanie 200:00:31: I’m Stephanie Cox. I am the V.P. of sales and marketing at Lumavate. I have more than 15 years in digital marketing experience and I’ve worked for brands such as Salesforce and Ingersoll Rand on Project Lead The Way, and others.
Bob : Nice. So I know right now you are at Lumavate. Can you tell me what you guys do at Lumavate?
Stephanie : Yeah. So we are a platform for a billion progressive web apps. If you’ve not heard of PWAs, they’re really the next gen of what’s happening on mobile and web. They break all the native mobile functionality to the Web and allow you to develop once and have it work the same across IOS, Android and web.
Bob : Nice. I know that is a big discussion and people ask this question a lot. Should they build the app or should they build the progressive web app which is a PWA?
Stephanie : PWA all the way. And part of the reason is that if you think back to the App Store launch there was a lot of great functionality that existed and that was really impossible to do on the Web. But today, there’s been so many events from brands like Google Apple Microsoft and bringing the web browser forward that really enables you to have the same app-like experience using a PWA. The other thing it allows you to do is develop it once and then stop working. It works on android exactly the same, which is something that you can’t do with native mobile. So you have the ability to drive faster to development at more efficient costs. But then my favorite is increased adoption and engagement. So one thing that people don’t realize about PWAs is that you don’t get them on the app store. Where you can actually get them from are your URLs QR codes tags, really anywhere you stick a CTA, can now and be a part of the UI activation point which means that you’re actually getting that whole app on your phone within a matter of seconds.
So you have great experience that you can build with a PWA, but then the other thing is you can actually bypass the whole app store. And I think that’s getting to be a big issue where people have to fetch out a lot of money for these Google apps.
Bob : Is this one of the reasons why people are going in the PWA route too?
Stephanie : It is. And part of the thing is around being able to control your own publishing. Right? So this idea of it’s my app do I really own it? And what a lot of people don’t realize is actually the app store could remove it at any time. They don’t have to allow you to continue to exist. But with the PWA, you can publish it make changes as many times as you want and you don’t need anyone to review or approve it.
The other thing that’s a big benefit is that it allows you to kind of actually own it. Thinking back a couple of months ago, when people heard the news that Facebook wasn’t necessarily making great decisions with their developer credentials on the Apple App Store. So Apple revoked those credentials which actually stopped a lot of their internal apps from functioning. So the apps they’re using to run their business stopped working for almost two business days. And that’s a great example of why we need to own our own stuff.
Bob : Yeah, and I heard the story too that Mark Zuckerberg got so pissed off, if I may say so, that he changed everyone’s phone to some Android p
Stephanie : Right. So when you talk about PWAs I think one of the biggest things that people have is they can go on an app store and there is higher adoption because of the whole. App Store ecosystem. How does it work in PWA? Well it’s if somebody goes out and loves their own progressive web. How was the marketing done? How was the adoption done because you bypassing the whole huge ecosystem?
Stephanie : So there’s a couple of ways to think about it. First both Google and Microsoft actually make careers available in their stores now. So you can submit those. It’s a different process than going through an approval where you can submit them and make them available. Apple has not done that yet. What we really recommend is thinking about what we call an activation strategy. So thinking about where do people most likely want to activate your app for the first time and how do you make it easy for them? So thinking about a great example is the Starbucks PWA If you go to their mobile web site. Pinterest does the same thing. Twitter is another example. You’re going actually to their PWA and you can install it on your home screen when you’re on a mobile device. Other people will do it on signage. So we have a lot of clients where that are more sporting venues and they have big QR codes are tight. So when you first walk in and you can get it you also have other fans that use it with email flex or display ads.
Bob : So my favorite PWA is Spotify. Spotify is a great example and they have a beautiful PWA. So what do you think they’re doing right?
Stephanie : I think part of it is around the user experience. So a couple of things–I think people can make mistakes when they first are trying to just create a PWA that’s exactly like their native mobile app. Because what we’ve done over the last 10 years is we have bloated native mobile apps who stuck everything in them and we haven’t really thought about the user experience. So I think spotify’s done a really nice job with that and the other thing is you can’t build bad PWAs and you can’t make them really heavy from a code perspective. They don’t load fast and Spotify loads of really fast and has really great Google force. So I think a lot of it has been kind of based around that.
Bob : So I’ll be seeing a trend where we have 3 systems. We have the old traditional Web sites and we have an app and we have PWA. Is that the strategy that marketers will need?
Stephanie Speaker 200:05:56: As they look forward, what I would really actually caution people on doing is thinking about what makes the most sense for their users. OK. So you can do all 3. But why would you when PWAs can actually do the functionality of the first two? Okay. So if you think about a progressive web app it can have that native app like functionality. But it also can work on desktop. And what a lot of people don’t know is they’re actually installing to the desktop as well. So you can install them and they can look and feel like an app
Bob : Nice. So Stephanie, moving tracks right now, I know you’re the VP of Marketing and you’ve had some other gigs in the past including Salesforce and Ingersoll Rand. How different is it in the SaaS startup mode company to run marketing?
Stephanie : So one of the things I think is most different from startup marketing to maybe a more established brand is really the scrappiness and your ability to move fast when you’ve got limited resources. And so what I’m always challenging my team on and we do is we project accelerate which is come up with one or two ideas that we can test a week; something really small and little that we can test to see if it works. And then if it does let’s scale it and stop having these big planning strategic sessions where we think about how we’re going to implement something and six months later we do it. Startups don’t work like that. We have an idea and then sometimes, like 48 hours later it’s live.
Right. If you wait for six months you might not go or it might no longer be a good idea.
Stephanie : I think the other thing is this idea of new–I was talking to the Chief Experience Officer I TGI Friday it’s a couple weeks ago and he likes to say, what’s next? How do I be the first to market? And I think that’s a really great concept for marketers to think about. By the time you adopt something, if you’re not if you’re not an innovator, everyone and other competitors have already done that. So you’re not going to stand out.
Bob : So when you build your marketing function marketing team what are the main areas that you look at right now? When you are at Lumavate, what are the main building blocks or the functions that you must have.
Stephanie : So my marketing team is really focused on 3 kinds of groups. So one, we own all the SDR. I really am a big believer that starts to rip up their marketing and then we also have demand gen and content marketing and they really work hand-in-hand because I really believe content marketing is not what it used to be. It really needs to be part of a cohesive strategy throughout your campaigns and through APM. And then our other one is really creative. So one of the things that a lot of startups don’t always invest in is having a really strong creative team member or partnership with an agency.
So we have someone who does videos for us of all of our design work and all our web design. But what’s important about that is we’re a small team of 7. And we’re publishing 1-2 one or two videos a week. We have one podcast that we do all week right now and we’re moving to 2 episodes starting next month. We’re actually cranking out a lot of video content. And a lot of design content dialog people wouldn’t believe this is possible for such a small team.
Bob : So you look at the hybrid model where you have some folks internally who do the cool things with content but then you have the other agents to help.
Stephanie : And I think one of the things that people need to realize about agencies with startups is they have a different perspective and they can actually bring a lot to you a lot faster. And so, for instance we did all of our web design in house of what we wanted it to look like. But then we partnered with an agency to do all the actual development. And so we would we would work with them on here’s what we’re thinking from a design perspective and then we would have those tradeoff conversations. And we’ve also done it before where we’ve had an agency do all of our web work for us or we have really great partners that do a lot of our direct mail and fulfillment for us as well.
Bob : That’s nice. So as you see marketers ask, what are some of the big 3 challenges, not just what you’re facing but overall. So. I think that’s one of them.
Stephanie : Really what’s the biggest to me is this constant battle between standing out and then doing what every one else is doing. So I can’t tell you how many times I talked to colleagues and they say, oh someone said you’re doing this well tell me what you’re doing. And my response is here’s what I’m doing. I’m happy to share but that doesn’t mean it will work for you.
on’t assume what someone else is doing will work well for you. You have to figure out how do you take what other people are doing that is working and how do you make that work for you or determine it won’t work for you? So thinking about innovation and really driving what works for your brand and knowing that it’s not an apples to apples comparison, even if we sell to the same target market, it’s gonna be different.
I think the next one is around technology. One of my least favorite things in the entire world is the linkIn polls that say show me your tech stack. Because software vendors love it because it probably gets them a ton of leads if their share is on, but what it doesn’t do is it creates this assumption that if you implement this tech stock you’ll have the same results as me and you won’t get that it doesn’t include things like the strategy behind it, or the people needed to actually do it. They don’t tell you like, oh I use this vendor for X Y and Z. And I actually need two people to run it. And it was having an investment and you have a lot of marketers, especially if they’re not really familiar with Martech solutions, going out and buying solutions they’re not ready for or they don’t have the resources to support. So that’s probably one of my challenges that people need to think about. Technology isn’t always the answer. Technology, people and strategy is the answer. Have all 3 of them come together, so don’t always buy the technology before you have the strategy, which I think a lot of us are doing.
Bob : Not the bells and whistles, but see what works.
Stephanie : Exactly. And then I think the third one is really around changing the dynamic of what’s expected from marketing. We’ve really lived this. You know how many leads are you getting me per week. I know we joke with sales like what have you done for me lately.? But it’s the same in marketing. What have you done for me lately? How many leads. What’s your lead score look like? How many of those are getting qualified and passed over to sales? And I think that’s also important. Things we should measure but by the same token, there is a much different conversation around brand that needs to happen. And that’s harder to manage. It’s harder to measure. So I think it’s really figuring out how do you get more of your senior leadership team like your CEO to understand? Yes, I’m still driving leads, but I’m also focused on building this brand because now people are coming to us and that’s not tomorrow. That’s six months from now; a year from now. But you need me to do that in addition to the demand and lead stuff. Or we’re not going to beat my competitors in 18 months.
Bob : All right. That’s great. That’s great insights that I think I agree on the technology. One last question is about ABM. I talk a lot about ABM. We work with laudable ABM. But what are some of the mistakes that you have you seen people do and implement because that’s everyone’s favorite child right now. So your thoughts on that.
Stephanie : Yeah, it’s one of my favorite topics as well because we do a ton of ABM at Lumavate and I have a lot of conversations with other marketing leaders on it. I think my biggest one is probably about 2 or 3years ago when ABM really started becoming a buzz word and I joke about it. It was a buzz word but like good marketers have actually really been doing it for a while before it had a name. So it’s not new. But when it starts becoming a buzz word a lot of technology solutions start popping up to help solve the ABM problem. And marketers bought them and didn’t really understand what they thought it would like to do ABM for them. But now it does a portion of it. There’s still a ton of other work.
So I think:
1. not jumping to technology I think really sitting down and saying what am I trying to accomplish with my ABM strategy? So for us, we run ABM campaigns. And so we’ll go after a specific industry and we have done a ton of research on what’s happening in the industry. We have these quick industry research docs that explain what are the highest digital topics. What are some of the use cases they might use our platform? And then we do research on people. And so while we might be going after an account we’re also going after Bob as a person. So what do we know about you? And that’s how we reach out to you. It’s not that, yes we want to meet with you because of who you work for. But we’re trying to connect with you on a personal level. And so we do a lot of things like personalized video. We do have personal direct mail but everything you get from Lumavate is gonna be highly personalized which people say isn’t scalable. But it is if you do it the right way.
And I think a lot of what we’ve done is start small, start with an idea like personalized video. When I brought that to my team about 18 months ago, I wanted to do a personalized video for every single person we reach out to for all prospecting wise. They all thought I was crazy, like how would we do this? And so we just hacked our way into it.
So we start with 20 people. We did them old school. I recorded them off a web cam and put them private on YouTube. Sent them out on a Friday afternoon, which is part of the worst time to send them out honestly. But by Monday we had six responses that wanted to meet with us because they’d never seen a thing like that. And then that has allowed us to get better at the process to get better at our research. To actually speed that up. And I think you can get efficiencies after you figure out what works and when people see what works on your team. They find ways to do it faster. Right?
Bob : So I think the whole temptation of trying to close the lead should not be there as opposed to building the relationship.
Stephanie : Exactly. Building a relationship. We have times where we might reach out to someone. This is a great example–we reach out to them, ran a campaign last fall and they weren’t ready for us. And so we reached out again as part of kind of like a follow-up campaign a couple weeks ago and literally off the first outreach we got like four people who responded right away, which is not normal for your first outreach, usually. And they’re like, ‘hey, let’s do this another time and talk. I know we weren’t ready then but we’re ready now, or you’ve given us a lot to think about. And they remember who reached out to them. They don’t they remember Lumavate, but they remember that was Greg or that it was Emily. And I think that’s a big difference with in doing ABM right than just doing general outbound runs.
Bob : That’s right. This is great stuff. Thank you.
Stephanie : You’re welcome.
Bob : I’ve learned a lot. I’m sure you folks learned a lot too. Thank you for your time chatting with us.
Stephanie : I enjoyed chatting with you as well.