Martech Stacked Episode 24: Why Selecting A Lesser-Known Martech Tool Could Be A Better Option - with Vic Miller
5th November 2020
I’m joined today by a lady who was previously Managing Director at B2B agency, Man Bites Dog - working with brands such as Google, KPMG and Castrol. Nowadays she’s VP of Global Comms and Content at digital consumer intelligence company Brandwatch - welcome to Martech Stacked, Vic Miller.
Listen to Martech Stacked on Apple, Google Podcasts or Spotify.
#1: Brandwatch Brandwatch brings structure and meaning to the voices of billions of people, so you can make decisions that truly fit with consumer and buyer needs.
#2: Pi Datametrics An award-winning global search solution, enabling users to boost online market visibility, make cost savings and drive sales globally.
#3: Drift Bring your go-to-market teams together to deliver personalized customer experiences in real time – so you can increase your revenue, shorten your sales cycles, and strengthen your brand.
David Bain: I'm joined today by a lady who was previously managing director at B2B agency Man Bites Dog, working with brands, such as Google, KPMG, and Castrol. Nowadays, she's VP of Global Comms and Content at digital consumer intelligence company, Brandwatch. Welcome to MarTech Stacked, Vic Miller.
Vic Miller: Hi, nice to meet you, David. Glad to be here.
David Bain: Thank you so much for joining us. Great to have you on the call there. So of course you can find you over at brandwatch.com. So Vic, explain what Brandwatch does and how you use marketing technology to make it better.
Vic Miller: Yeah. Great. I mean, so we are marketing technology. Which is sort of interesting, but we're a marketing technology company using lots of different MarTech. So Brandwatch is a digital consumer intelligence company as you started off with. And basically what we do is we help a number of organizations, understand their consumers, their markets, competitors, and just the world around them. So we have a really clever platform which allows you to analyze a huge, vast amount of online data. And from that data derive insights and useful meaning.
David Bain: Great. And to be honest with you, I don't believe that I've used Brandwatch before. I've used a lot of marketing technology before, but I'm sorry about that. I haven't used Brandwatch before. So for someone listening that hasn't used Brandwatch before, what other tools out there would you compare it against and what makes it a little bit different?
Vic Miller: Yeah. I mean our direct competitors would be the likes of Talkwalker, Sprinklr, NetBase. So there's a few of us out there. I would definitely say that we are different, but obviously it's my job to say that. We have a very powerful platform, which combines AI technology with a really flexible interface. So it allows you to harness a vast, vast amount of online data, millions of conversations online, and that flexible interface allows you to quickly uncover peaks in conversation, changing feelings towards different topics.
Vic Miller: So you can imagine whether you're monitoring your brand and tracking what people are saying about a specific brand or whether you're delving into a very big conversation or topic that you know little about, it's incredibly powerful. So you can see how that could be used across the whole marketing mix in a number of different ways.
David Bain: Great. Great summary. And in terms of marketing technology in general, what main categories of technology are more important for Brandwatch at the moment. I'm talking about marketing technology outside of using Brandwatch.
Vic Miller: Yeah, of course. I mean, we're a team globally, marketing team of about 30 and I head up the communications, the content and the customer marketing side of things, but working very closely, obviously with our demand generation team, product marketing, design. So, there's a lot of specialists within our team using marketing technology in very different ways. I think what's key for us is the integration piece. So how are we are integrating all of our different information, particularly in terms of results and measurement.
Vic Miller: For example, for me, content attribution is really fundamental. How are we feeding that demand generation in the sales pipeline and how can we ensure that we're putting the right content in and how's that working across the sales journey. That's really, really fundamental for us. We have some really clever growth marketing people at Brandwatch that are always looking at that. And so it's really fundamental for us to be working together, but also have the right technology in place for us to be able to track what we're doing.
David Bain: Great. Okay. Well, hopefully we can get a flavor of your content marketing strategy later on, what technology are you using to, I guess, track what has been more successful-
Vic Miller: Definitely.
David Bain: ... as you've published different forms of content, but let's focus in on specifics at the moment, the three pieces of marketing technology that are most successful in your business. So starting off with number three, what are your top three tools in your current MarTech stack and why?
Vic Miller: Great. Yeah, this is a hard one. There's so many that we use and for different reasons. I would start with Drift, which is a piece of software that helps to automate the sales process. This has been really successful for us. Our growth manager, a guy called Matt, he's brilliant. He actually brought this in, in late 2018 and we've seen such a fantastic result from it. So the reason that he procured this piece of software initially was because we really wanted to improve our website conversion. So we've got a really, really broad mix of people coming to the website with different use cases, different needs. And so he really wanted to smooth out the user experience on our website and rather than just having forms and the ability to book a meeting or a demo, we really wanted to be able to have a conversation and be able to provide them with different content.
Vic Miller: And often people are looking for a number of different things or trying to investigate the different ways in which they could use our technology. So it felt really fundamental and it really has been. I mean, I know the way that Matt implemented it, was really well thought through, and he's created lots of different playbooks, so considering all the different use cases and he's done a lot of very clever tweaking and foundational work for it. But it's been brilliant. And I think what's been successful is obviously, we can say a number. So £2m worth of closed won business is always a nice indicator that we've done well with it.
Vic Miller: But I think just the ability to have conversations for our website and improve and sort of almost, I would say warm up that user experience on the website in terms of the sales process has been really critical.
David Bain: So you talk about your website quite a bit there. Does that mean that Drift is only used for yourselves from your website? Or is it also integrated into other platforms such as Facebook or other paid campaigns to actually automate the chat experience for users initially when they just find out about you?
Vic Miller: Yeah. We've been using it initially on our website and actually we started just in the US and the UK, but have now put it through our other markets as well. So, no, we haven't used it yet. I know that there's talk about us doing so. We found it incredibly successful for website and website is definitely our number one, we have a huge amount of traffic, so that was our priority.
David Bain: Just staying on Drift just for a second. How does it integrate with other marketing tools that you use and at what point of your customer interaction, do you tend to use other technologies instead of Drift?
Vic Miller: Sure. So, I mean, there's two aspects here that I think are important. Its integration with Salesforce has been really fundamental. So that was really important and a key driver for choosing them. So we're able to track all the conversations and look at the full journey. But the other thing is also just our people. So how our sales teams have been trained to use it and gain the information from it that's going to be valuable to them and understanding how's that prospect come to our website? What were they looking for? What conversation did they have today and therefore where's it best to pick it up with them in person? So I think that's been really good and that sort of flow has been really smooth and the integration with our people, but also our sales force.
David Bain: So does Drift lead score as well, or is it just a case of categorizing leads based upon how they're interacting with different forms of content?
Vic Miller: Do you know what? I don't know actually about our lead scoring with it, but what I know has been critical is just the number of conversations and what content they've touched and as a result of the flow. So I know that that's, what's been critical. The reason I know that is because I'm always thinking from the content side of things.
David Bain: So that's Drift, that's your marketing technology tool number three. What is your tool number two?
Vic Miller: Yep. So they're a different one, something called Pi Datametrics, which is a search intelligence platform. And actually this is very different than talking about pipeline and lead generation, much more about content and finding out interesting insights. So within my team, particularly in the content side of my team, we love to create content that's useful, interesting, intriguing to our customers and to our prospects. And actually there's so much from our own platform that we can gain, but we really love to blend datasets. And the combination of search and social is fascinating and can actually tell us so many different things. And looking at a topic or a problem, a challenge from different angles is a great way for us to give content to both our customers and our prospects that's genuinely useful, and that they wouldn't have found out themselves or would have to do a lot of legwork to find out themselves.
Vic Miller: So we use Pi Datametrics to understand search behavior around the topics that we're looking at ourselves in terms of social and online data. For example, the pandemic's obviously been something very difficult for us all to navigate. We've been doing vast amounts of research around the pandemic and its impact on markets, consumers, et cetera. And often we've been looking at it from a search perspective, as well as social. And it's really interesting. For example, looking at brand purpose. So we did a big report around brand purpose and considering how consumers' expectations may have changed or sort of have lowered or what's happened across the pandemic and across this year. And we looked at that certainly on social. We looked at through survey, but also through search. And it just gives you different intricacies on the topic.
Vic Miller: Yes, there is definitely a feeling that consumers will be more cost sensitive as a result of this year and the pandemic. And when we're thinking around brand purpose, sustainable and ethical products, are people more likely to want them, are they still interested and engaged with that topic because pre-pandemic plastic waste and ethical sustainable products were vast. And the online conversation was huge. And actually what our research found online in terms of social was that that's still very much the case. But also if you look at search traffic and looking at the data there, it's fascinating to see that that's not going away and people are still very much searching for ethical products and sustainable products. So it's just really interesting. It really builds another layer into the content that we produce and the insights that we're able to give all of our key stakeholders in different ways.
David Bain: So I'm certainly aware of Pi Datametrics. I've seen Jon Earnshaw do excellent speeches at places like Brighton SEO. Why Pi Datametrics over another similar tool? You mentioned social media, perhaps that's a better part of the insight that they can give compared with other tools out there. But why not SEMrush or something else out there similar to Pi?
Vic Miller: Sure. I mean, for me, there's a really simple reason and that's its people. So we were both founded in Brighton and we got to know the Pi Datametrics team. So it's actually as simple as just, they've got some really smart marketers there that we get on with. We do partner with them in some respects. So we would offer Pi Datametrics to customers in that sense. And that's how I got to know them actually, and our team did. And then we just started realizing that we could do some really fun content combinations with them. And that's how we just, as a team, came to use Pi Datametrics. And I think people are a big part in why you pick marketing technology. It certainly is for me. And the same with Drift, brilliant team. It makes a big, big difference.
David Bain: I love that answer because it is so, so important. Sometimes if a tool gets too big and you're not able to speak to significant people within the business easily, then it's more challenging to, I guess, get slightly bespoke requirements. But if they live in the same location as you, and you're quite friendly with them, then it can make a big difference. And if you can hopefully partner together and produce content materials that I guess can benefit both businesses, then that's another win for you as well.
Vic Miller: Yeah, definitely. It's been a definite win and yeah, I love working with other people who love working with data. It's always fun.
David Bain: Okay. So we've got Drift at number three, we've got Pi Datametrics at number two. Were they just closely edged out to number one, and who is your number one?
Vic Miller: Well, I've just been really blatant in my number one and number one is Brandwatch Consumer Research, which is our own analytics platform...
David Bain: That's all right. I mean, lots of more marketers have been on the show and recommended their own platform and it's quite appropriate as well because they're more likely to be on their platform a lot and know it extensively-
Vic Miller: Well, this is it.
David Bain: And use it a lot as well. So I guess what aspects of Brandwatch do you use most yourself?
Vic Miller: Yeah. So as you say, we are in our platform every day, all day, every day, and particularly well, both our comms people and our content people, because we believe in show, don't tell. So we're here to help our customers, not to tell them what to do. We're here to show them the interesting things that the platform can do. And I think it's the best team to be in, in the company, to be in the comms and content team, because you get to play with the platform, create really fun and interesting things.
Vic Miller: So there's a really big part of our use of the platform, which is inspiring content and comms. So for example, our director of comms, he spends a lot of time in the platform, pulling data for the media and for journalists to help them with stories and to understand sort of breaking news. So that's a really fascinating use case and actually a really important part of how we create brand awareness. So being in the media and providing useful and relevant data points is a really important part of the mix of things that we do.
Vic Miller: But on the other side of that, it's just creating content. And I've already talked about some of the research that we do and bringing in search data, but actually fundamentally, we're really interested in what's going on online, what conversations are happening online and what that can tell us about what's changing with consumers, what's changing with the world. So I talked about the pandemic, obviously that's been on everyone's minds this year and still is. And it just helps us to navigate what's being said, why it's being said and who by allows us to create really interesting content.
David Bain: So what's an example then of a really interesting piece of content that you've published over the last year or so, that has been fairly successful in terms of, I guess the number of eyeballs it's received, or the number of journalists that have picked it up?
Vic Miller: Well, probably not a surprise, but it's definitely pandemic related. As soon as the pandemic hit, we were mindful that particularly our customers, they really needed as much help as possible and giving them insights and showing them what's happening in different sectors was a quick and helpful way for us to be able to just, they could leverage that, use it for their own marketing, but also share with their execs, et cetera.
Vic Miller: So we started doing a daily bulletin of just COVID trends. So what was the most important topic of the moment? What could we see changing? And these bulletins, a huge subscriber list of thousands and thousands, and an open rate of around 40%, which we've been really, really pleased with. So these daily bulletins cover all sorts of topics, and it could be, for example, the increase in people buying garden furniture or home exercise equipment, right through to more serious topics around mental health and people struggling to sleep.
Vic Miller: So we digged into so many different topics and we took our inspiration from having a number of queries set up to just track the conversation around the pandemic and to understand the impact and the twists and turns of which there have been many.
David Bain: And then what's your approach for trying to get people to publish the data that you uncover? Do you already have relationships with journalists in those sectors? Do you reach out to them once you have the data?
Vic Miller: Yeah, definitely. We have a number of friendly relationships where journalists will be looking for the data to back up a theory or to dig into a new breaking story. So those have long-lived and I think because we're able to give data in real time, we become a popular choice in that respect. I think almost more important for us is the way that our customers engage with it. And what they're telling us is that they're sharing it internally with their teams and that it's helping them to make decisions on what's the right tone of voice in the current climate around certain issues. How are people responding to the pandemic in terms of products they need or don't want, whether it be about sustainability, purpose and values, or whether it be more simply about online delivery issues and how people are struggling to buy online.
Vic Miller: So there's such a broad mix. I mean, you could imagine the possibilities are endless at the things that we can look into. And we are very much guided by being always on and always in it and looking at what's happening, but also customers telling us what they're struggling with or what they're looking at. So we also work on the customer marketing within our team. So we're very, very close to our customers and we understand the challenges and we've had some great events with them over this year where we've delved into those challenges. So we'll take them away and we'll dig into them more, do lots of research.
David Bain: So if I was a company that hadn't used Brandwatch before, and perhaps hadn't even engaged in too much content marketing before, but wanted to start to dip my toe into it, what are the few first steps that I would do to actually start to take advantage of Brandwatch? Is there a recommended first few steps?
Vic Miller: Yeah, definitely. I think as a brand, I would definitely start off by just understanding the conversation around your brand and your competitors. So the ability to benchmark yourself and the conversation, even if we just took simple terms of, I am X brand, what's the sentiment around my brand and the level of conversation? And then how does that compare with my top three or four competitors? And the amount that you can see just from that comparison alone is quite incredible. If you look at the conversation around just your brand, you'll be able to see the peaks and the troughs in that conversation, there's often a lot to glean from those insights.
David Bain: Okay. That's a great starting point. So let's get a better understanding of how you actually use marketing technology in general. So I'll ask you as Brandwatch grows, what's an example of a process that you currently do manually that you may wish to automate using marketing technology in the future?
Vic Miller: Yeah, so I can think of a couple, actually. One for me is this year, I think we've really nailed the OKRs. I feel like we really well-defined it at the start of the year, really joined up. And I've really enjoyed the really regular reviewing and tracking against those OKRs. And we've got a vast amount of KPIs across the whole marketing org, huge, huge amount. But actually manually tracking against them and then in separate teams looking at them and comparing, it depends on lots of different people to make that process clean and neat, and to understand how well we've performed collectively.
Vic Miller: So I personally would love to see a tool that would allow us to really cleanly and jointly review our OKRs as a collective. That would be brilliant for me. That would save me lots of time and I'd love to see how my peers in the marketing team are performing against our OKRs and how we can tweak things to help them and vice versa.
David Bain: I think one of the reasons why I find that answer really interesting is the fact that it's not just marketing data that you're talking about there really, and marketing technology leads into general business technology, and then other functions within the business as well. It blends very closely with HR, with accounting, with sales as well. And marketing to a certain degree is leading the way from a technological perspective and businesses starting to embrace new types of software. But it's really exciting. What departments within the business are you finding yourself starting to work more closely with that you perhaps didn't do a couple of years ago?
Vic Miller: That's a really good question. I think all of them more than we used to, if that makes sense. I just think that we're generally working a lot more across department, which is brilliant. And as we've got bigger, I've just felt the need to do that a lot more because you're not naturally sitting next to someone or be able to walk across the room. So as a global company, we really have to be mindful of working with all the different teams.
Vic Miller: One team that I've been working with a lot more in the last year is strategy and insights and our research teams, because doing really good content marketing requires really good research and really clever analysts. And we've got those in our team, but also to when the pandemic hit working with them was really interesting. And also they've got loads of really good ideas that relate to marketing, loads of genius ideas. And they're in front of the customer every day, doing research for them, so they understand the pain point. So I think strategy and insights have been really critical for us this year.
David Bain: So have you started to build a more structured formal process in order to capture those ideas? Or is it still a fairly informal type of communication that you have with them?
Vic Miller: That's a good question, how formal is it? I would say it's pretty informal, but what I think we've got really good at in the last year or so is compiling combined briefs. So when we've got a project idea, we'll all come together and we'll be much more mindful about, okay, what are we looking to achieve here and who are the key players and what are the key actions? So I feel like, I think the formal part of it is good project management and being mindful of the different things that each team's going to need to bring. So that's something that I've seen developing a lot this year.
David Bain: That's great. Yeah. We had a discussion before we started recording and I told you, I like taking different rabbit holes or detours in the discussion. And I think it's important to do that when you see something that certainly could be a learning for other organizations as well. I'm not sure if it's technology and businesses as a whole changing or perhaps even growing challenges that certain businesses have, businesses that are perhaps growing more rapidly than others and having an increased number of employees and having to work more closely or ensuring that the information, they could once just talk among the whole team. They just can't do so successfully now because I guess more people are working from home and there's more departments as well. What software do you use for communicating in general throughout the company?
Vic Miller: Well, Slack is critical to how we communicate. Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, Slack can sort of drive you crazy as well as it can just make everything possible. I think it's really important used well. It's kind of respecting the boundaries, isn't it, I think with Slack. But actually, if I think about, I do a lot of work with our US team and Slack is just critical for that because it's not always possible to hop on a call or a Zoom. So yeah, I think Slack, when it's used well, it's magic and our team Slack channel is where I spend most of my time. So yeah, it's very important to us.
David Bain: Okay. So let's ask you now, what is something that you have in mind that would be a wonderful piece of marketing technology that perhaps doesn't even exist yet, but you would love to see created?
Vic Miller: Yeah, this is a really interesting one because actually we've been talking about it in the past few weeks within our team. I would love a tool that allows us to put our content, all types of content through it to check for tone of voice. And actually also thinking about diversity and inclusion and just making sure that our language is as inclusive as it can be. We use a tool actually on the recruitment side of the business and in terms of our job specs, to make sure that the language is as inclusive as it can be.
Vic Miller: But I really love the idea of a tool that in a bespoke way, to our tone of voice and our brand language can help everyone across the business to understand when they're not quite hitting the mark. And actually, I think it's something that we'd love to build ourselves and we've been talking about. But it's the idea that, I don't think you can replace the person when it comes to really good proofing copy, but I do think you can get part of the job done in terms of just identifying issues with tone and brand language.
David Bain: So when you talk about it, potentially giving everyone in the company an opportunity to ensure that the content that they publish, I guess, closely resembles what you're trying to create and publish as a brand. Does that mean that you encourage everyone in the business, not just marketers to do things like publish on social media and represent the brand that way?
Vic Miller: I'm laughing because that's a terrifying prospect to me. No, it's more actually, because I'm a big believer that within an organization, we're responsible for all communication that goes out of the business. So we proof and publish basically whether we're creating it ourselves or someone else's. But I think just in terms of there's so many things that we can't touch as a team, whether it be an email going out or actually it being more internal comms. And I think it'd be really interesting just... Internal comms is as critical as external comms. So how inclusive our internal language is within our emails and our Slack messages and everything is just as important as a press release or report that we publish.
Vic Miller: So I just think there's something really interesting in a joined up understanding across an organization of, and not in a forced way, because there's a real authenticity to the way that people speak I think in a company, but in an understanding of shared values around the tone of voice that we use and the language we use.
David Bain: It feels that technology has come on so much over the last five years or so, but it also feels like we're only at the starting point in terms of what is to come. And that's exciting, maybe a little bit frightening, but also exciting at the same time.
Vic Miller: Terrifying.
David Bain: Vic, you shared a lot of interesting insight as part of our discussion today. Thanks so much for coming on. What would you say is the key takeaway for the listener from either what we've discussed or feel free to bring in another key point of view if you'd like to do so.
Vic Miller: I think coming back to the point of how important the people are behind a piece of technology. So for me, particularly if I'm going to buy a new piece of marketing technology or if I'm procuring, I'm looking for a team that brings an energy and makes me feel excited about using a piece of technology and people that I can pick up the phone to and ask a question or that I feel excited to work with. So for me, people are really, really critical.
Vic Miller: Also, I think I'm really terrible at getting stuck into trying out new technologies because I work at a tech company, but I wouldn't consider myself highly techie. So I think just roll your sleeves up and jump in and really try out a broad range of things because every time I've done that, I've been really pleasantly surprised by the different possibilities and by testing different things against each other and really being mindful to try out a few different things. I think that's really important.
David Bain: It's interesting what you're saying about people being so important and also your number three choice was a web chat as well. I often use web chat to decide whether or not I'm actually going to go with a new piece of technology. If a piece of technology looks good, I'll jump on the web chat. I'll chat to the team, I'll see what the people are like, if they interact with me quickly and also what type of interaction I get. So people very, very important, even though it is technology we're talking about.
Vic Miller: Yeah, I agree. And the website. I mean, I know that I'm incredibly judgmental when I go to a website. So it is that whole process from when you land on the website, but yeah, particularly the people part.
David Bain: Well, Vic, thank you so much for your time and your tips today. What's the best way for the listener to find out more about you and what you do?
Vic Miller: So I'm Vic Miller on LinkedIn. That's always a really good way to connect with me. I'm not really, really active on social media, but LinkedIn I really am. So definitely get in touch via LinkedIn.
David Bain: Superb. Well, thank you again for joining us.
Vic Miller: Okay. Thanks very much, David.