Interview with Adam Blitzer, Co-founder and COO, Pardot

This week we are privileged to interview Adam Blitzer, Co-founder and COO of Pardot, one of the leading providers of cloud-based marketing automation solutions.  Adam is responsible for product management, marketing, and operations.  He was previously a senior email marketing consultant for InterContinental Hotels Group, a consultant at Moxie Interactive, and spent four years in Japan at an advertising agency.

AG:  The role of marketing continues to evolve, as more is demanded from organizations.  Can you speak to what your clients are experiencing and how they are adjusting to this change?

Blitzer: Marketing isn’t the smoke and mirrors of “branding” that it used to be.  It’s all about hard numbers. Our clients challenge us on a daily basis to think about how we can make our reporting even richer and our automation even more sophisticated. Today’s marketers are thinking in terms of efficiency and, more often looking for ways to prove the value of their spend. It’s great to see them embracing some of the best practices that are preached by our industry – really looking to bridge the gap between sale and marketing, recognizing that the whole company should be working toward a common goal and using technology to make that happen.

AG:  One of the big debates brewing of late is the idea that marketers are now responsible for generating revenue.  With this traditionally being a sales role, how do you view marketing as a revenue generator?

Blitzer: The truth of it is, marketing has always existed to support sales. Even before marketing was being asked to show the actual numbers, their ultimate goal was still to build brand recognition and get people interested in the product. So things really haven’t changed that much, except that there are new tools available to show if it’s working. It’s really an empowering position for the marketing department.  In the past, marketing was seen as a drain on resources but now they are able to point to campaign data and say, ‘My tactics resulted in xx dollars of new revenue for the company.’ There’s also the idea of the marketing touch — tracking not only marketing-sourced leads, but also any lead that comes in touch with some sort of marketing campaign. When you factor in the popularity of drip nurturing, that means marketing has their hand in almost every deal these days.

AG:  There are many statistics on how users are not getting the full investment from their marketing automation solutions.  What steps should an organization take to avoid this?

Blitzer: I think it’s common with a lot of software products that the capability of the tool is well beyond what you actually need to use at the time.  But you often look for what is going to meet your needs and provides some room to grow. Because marketing automation does have a lot of different components, we encourage people to start small and ease into it. This is essential, since it’s so important to have a strategy in place and not just unleash 100 random new process automations on your database at once.

AG:  I came across this question the other day and am interested in your response – ‘What is the next “big thing” in marketing automation?’

Blitzer: I think social is inevitably becoming a bigger part of the buying process, so it’s going to make its way into marketing automation tools as well. We’re expecting to see growth in two areas of social. The first is the social as lead gen, or basically using social profiles to obtain more information on a prospect. We display this type of information within Pardot lead records. The other element of social that can overlap with marketing automation is the social posts angle – this includes both tracking social activity and link clicks from your posts, and the ability to schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter or other sites. Think about it, if you have an event coming up – you can create your email template promoting the event, the landing page to sign up, set up a drip program for reminders and also schedule tweets to drive registration. You can tag all of those elements within a single campaign in your marketing automation system and see which tactics drove the most registrations. Since the marketing department typically owns social media, it’s a natural fit to bring some social features into the marketing automation tool.

AG:  As Pardot sells to B2B companies what are some of the changes you have seen in the B2B buyer behavior and what are you doing as an organization to adapt to it?

Blitzer: I think one of the biggest evolutions we’ve seen – even since beginning to sell our own product four years ago – is that buyers are coming into the process already educated. There is a wealth of information available out there, particularly with the trend of building great, vendor-neutral thought leadership content. Buyers seek out that information and come into the sales process on their own terms. I think it’s led to a much more personalized sales process since buyers already have an idea of the features they are looking for.   It’s about helping them understand how your tool addresses their specific challenges and why your company is the best fit to become, essentially, a partner in their business.

AG:  What role should sales play in a company’s marketing automation strategy?

Blitzer: Sales should absolutely be involved in the marketing automation strategy. So much of what these tools do provides direct benefits to the sales team – from sales alerts to activity tracking to lead nurturing. It’s important that marketing get buy-in from sales, and one of the best ways to do that is to involve them in the process. Something that marketing can sometimes forget is that sales is the one on the front lines, listening to the needs, wants and pain points of your potential clients. They can serve as an invaluable resource for developing new marketing materials and messaging.

Learn more about Pardot and read some of Adam’s most recent posts at the Pardot Blog.

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