Interview: Hyper Island’s Anna Carlson on Personal and Digital Transformation
By Gemma JoyceOct 15th
Published August 31st 2017
In the latest in our series of blog interviews with thought leaders in the marketing world, we were delighted to talk to Meagen Eisenberg, CMO for MongoDB.
Meagen has spent over 20 years working in the high-tech industry, and she has shared with us lots of great tips on marketing and sales alignment, useful advice for women thinking of moving or starting a career in tech and much more.
Let’s have a look at what she said.
I am the CMO at MongoDB.
“Mongo” stands for humongous databases, because we deal with large volumes, variety and velocity of data with today’s modern apps.
Think of all the apps you love on your phone – a lot of them are built on top of MongoDB, our open-source document-style database for modern, mission critical apps.
My undergrad studies focused on MIS and computer science and, after graduation, I joined Cisco Systems as an IT Engineer.
They were a hot company, doing a lot of acquisitions, growing fast, and it was an exciting time to join their manufacturing IT team.
After getting my MBA at Yale School of Management, I decided I would have even more fun marketing for tech companies, because I understood the technology fairly well. I was comfortable with it and I enjoyed the role of marketing, bringing a product to market, and partnering with sales to grow revenue and the company.
After that, I joined IBM and was a product marketer, which gave me a really good foundation for marketing and understanding of not only the product, but also the buyer.
And from that, I moved on to a similar marketing role in solutions marketing for security products.
From there, made a transition into what we call demand gen and programs, running campaigns with a strong focus onbuilding pipeline with large sales teams at companies like ArcSight (an HP company) and eventually DocuSign.
During that time I was heavy into marketing technology, learnt a lot about email marketing, automation, personalization, Salesforce, and integrations.
Being really comfortable with Saas, the freemium model, product, and supporting sales teams in Corporate and Enterprise, it made a logical next step to lead a marketing organization and to be a CMO.
That’s how I arrived as the CMO of MongoDB.
I think the CMO at every company should be focused on attracting people to their company and products, converting them to becoming buyers, and then retaining them and ensuring they are happy.
Certainly the personas vary, and how you go about getting their attention can differ, but the common theme is: attract, convert and keep.
It’s also making sure I build a great team, partner with engineering to create a great experience for developers, and partner closely with our sales team. My team sees sales as an internal customer, and are here to support them in building pipeline.
In terms of measuring success for sales, it’s mainly about: how much revenue are you sourcing for sales? How much revenue are you influencing?
If you use the Sirius Decisions model, you can look across the funnel and investigate: are you delivering quality leads and are they being accepted by sales?
We look at downloads of our products. Is the number growing? We have over 30,000 downloads of our open-source product a day.
We also look at our share of voice, NPS score, social impressions and reach and how we compare against our competitors in those spaces.
We’re always gathering information when someone comes to the website and fills out a form. We want to understand them better so we can provide more targeted information for what they’re looking for.
If you provide us with an accurate title on a form, we’re going to make sure that if you’re a developer, or an architect, for instance, you get relevant content you care about.
We look at how you engage with the content we send, which form of content appeals to you most, do you need additional information around that topic, are you in a certain industry? etc.
The reasons why we gather so much information is because we don’t want to spam our audience or bother them with stuff they don’t need. It’s a waste of their time and ours. So we’re doing our best to ensure we understand the audiences’ needs.
The biggest challenge any CMO currently faces is wanting to build pipeline, maintain relevancy, stay innovative, transform their businesses, and in my particular space, keeping the hearts and minds of developers.
At the same time, we need to make sure we deliver a high performing product for that, and provide a great experience and support, so our customers can create their next giant idea.
Marketing is an exciting space that’s constantly changing.
When I look at the talent I have on my team, there are so many different skill sets such as product, creative, communications, field, digital, marketing systems and web.
With over 5,000 different marketing technologies, there’s a lot you can leverage and learn from.
There’s the social side with all social media platforms, which are constantly changing and evolving. Then, we’ve got product marketing, where you’re looking at developers, products, different industries, pricing and competitive intelligence. And PR, where you are driving awareness and interest.
It’s a very diverse field, it’s impossible to get bored in marketing. I’m attracted to it because it’s very visible and rewarding, you can really make a difference for a company. You can drive change and adoption.
I had a pretty accelerated path in my career, and I just didn’t let any road blocks stop me.
There were times when I couldn’t get where I wanted, but then I just tried a different path. I think that when someone shuts the door, there’s always another way around.
Luck is when opportunity meets preparation, so I tried to make my own luck.
In my early days at Cisco, my boss called me a hammer. He could give me any problem and I would just go and figure it out.
You need to have a strong work ethic, desire, be willing to try new things and be fine with failing. I’ve certainly failed on a few things as part of my career.
If you want it, do it.
In my case, it certainly helped to have an undergrad degree in MIS and Computer Science – but also just a problem-solving, figure-it-out, learn-new-things kind of attitude.
For instance, I once joined a company and shortly after we lost our Salesforce admin.
So I just signed up for online courses, kept playing with the technology, trying to figure it out, creating dashboards and reports, whilst trying to solve problems or answer certain questions.
You just need to have the capacity and desire to want to learn these new tools and not to be intimidated by them.
As you start to get into it, take courses. I took so many courses in the beginning as an IT Engineer – leadership, skills and technical courses.
Courses in different programming languages, team building, Lotus Notes, Excel/Office tools, got APICS certified, and later in Eloqua, Salesforce and more…Aim to learn new things to better understand the area you’re in, so you can be the best at it.
The most important thing is to align and have a relationship with sales.
To achieve that, there are three really important things: build together, have transparency in results and have habitual communication.
What I mean by build together is agree on your targets; who are they trying to talk to? What are the personas they need to work with?
Agree on how you score leads when they come in, the follow-up and assigning process. Discussing that and agreeing on all these terms is very important.
Sharing with them which campaigns worked and which ones didn’t do well, and learning from that, as well as making changes based on the results, is equally important.
Lastly, habitual communication means that you need to be talking to sales constantly, taking and acting on their feedback, where it makes sense.
Share the results with them every quarter and equip them with the right marketing tools to win pitches.
I define influencers as people we follow and learn from. We look up to them, they’re an expert in a certain area, and they teach us something.
I’ve always followed Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, and she was a Yale SOM grad as well. I’m just amazed by her career, her inspirational talks, and how she went up the ranks.
Also, Marissa Mayer, who recently left Yahoo, where she’d taken on a pretty prominent role.
She is smart about the way she looks at the business, she is very data-driven, and she also has three kids. So how does she balance that?
I had a chance to meet her at Fortune Brainstorm TECH this past month and she’s a pretty amazing woman.
I’ve also learned a lot from Brian Kardon, the CMO over at Fuze. He has done an amazing job not only being technology and data oriented, but also focusing on talent and on building excellent teams.