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Building Blocks: Curtis Peterson, Digital Marketing Manager at SmartFile Talks Marketing Tech

December 28, 2016

1. Could you tell me a little about yourself and how you came to be the Digital Marketing Manager at SmartFile?

I started executing marketing tactics before I was a teenager. In fact, I’ve been attempting to do SEO since AltaVista was a search engine! At each career stop, I expanded my knowledge in a certain way, whether that was customer acquisition tactics, existing customer marketing, review acquisition or marketing analytics. Each time I focused on a few channels too, whether that was SEO, email, paid or social. When the opportunity at SmartFile opened up, I jumped at it.

At SmartFile, I strive to be a “T-shaped marketer”, someone with a wide breadth of skills who can understand a variety of business scenarios where I can help the team

Our team has primarily used content marketing tactics driven by in-house and strategic partnerships to become a thought leader in secure file management.

2. Are you happy with the buy-in for Marketing Technology that exists at SmartFile? Do you think the investments being made are adequate or could be more?

I’m very pleased with our marketing investment at SmartFile. Our CEO comes from a creative background, so he supports us where he can. For a company our size, we have all the tools to get the job done. If we start to identify a need, we growth hack it until we can prove out the ROI, and then we invest in a more robust tool once it’s proven.

3. What is the key problem you are attempting to solve with marketing technology implementation – could be 360 customer view, better customer experiences, crafting better journeys, full circle attribution?

We’re always trying to solve lead generation problems. How do we get more leads? What marketing channels contribute to the prospect journey to becoming a lead? So our marketing technology serves that purpose. What does the journey look like for a prospective customer? How did they first hear about us? What led to the first form or trial conversion? Then for the sales team, what does that journey look like from a sales qualified lead to a converted customer? How long does that process take? Our marketing technology solutions either need to help us acquire leads and trials, or answer those questions about the journey and help us improve it.

4. What are some of the challenges your team faces from a technology & integration perspective?

A common problem is just getting different systems to talk to one another. For instance, we need to use our API to mark cloud trial application data into our marketing tools, like Hubspot. Then how do we leverage that data to improve the overall customer experience? Right now we use some APIs and tools to get 3rd party solutions to speak to one another, for instance, if a user upgrades their account or cancels via an invoice system.

5. What is your take on the massive explosion of MarTech cos across so many categories? Do you feel spoilt for choice or is it just more of a chore to evaluate additional options?

To be honest, it’s nice to an extent but it’s also a chore. Too many tools claim they do everything great, when really, they might do one or two things great and then they acquired a few tools or white-label a solution and add it to their all-in-one tool for a premium. It’s one thing to be a completely in-house built all-in-one tool. In fact, we do for file management.

All-in-one tools that are built from the ground up are often better at the customer experience and scale better. However, tools that are a mismatch of different acquired or white-labeled technologies often are clunky

Unfortunately, you don’t notice some of these cracks in tools like this until you’ve used their tool for an extended period of time. For instance, one database might not talk to the other for some unknown reason. Or you can’t query off data that you can easily see listed on a record. For martech companies built this way, they are trying to add a few checklist items to their product feature portfolio. What the feature checklist doesn’t tell you is how well those features work on their own or with the rest of the product.

6. What is the one area of investment you’d like to make in the immediate future from a marketing tech perspective?

To be honest, the people behind the technology. The best tools can only take you so far. You need someone to drive them and understand their use in the grand strategy of meeting your marketing goals. For us, that’s lead generation. How can we get more leads? Once you have that strategy, what people have the skills to best execute it and what tools do they need to be put in the best position to be successful?

7. Build your own stack or buy into a pre-built martech cloud – what team are you on?

Buy when possible, but there isn’t a tool for everything yet, so you’ll have to piece some of it together. I say buy though because martech companies know the hurdles, something we’d have to discover through trial and error if we built it all ourselves. Now, coming from my SmartFile background, I will leave a caveat. You must work with IT to understand any compliance or regulation hurdles with a tool. For instance, plenty of marketing tools have cloud file storage or hosting features. Should you be using that? Is that secure enough to protect intellectual property or even customer data? Or do you need to leverage a solution that has that expertise, like SmartFile. We have plenty of people who work in marketing
that leverage a wide variety of great marketing tools but turn to us for secure file management.