Interview with Jennifer Grant, Chief Marketing Officer at Looker

June 14, 2017

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MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role at Looker and how you got here.

After experiencing the wild amazing journey of growing Box from 30 employees to almost 1,000 employees, I was looking for another company with similar potential. When I found Looker, not only did they have a product that customers loved, they had a great leadership team with an authentic and friendly culture that I wanted to be a part of.  I’m now the CMO here, and I oversee all things marketing – Demand Gen, Brand, Corp Comm, Product Marketing, Field and Sales Acceleration as well as our SDRs (Sales Development Reps).

MTS: Give the plethora of sales and marketing analytic tools available today, how does Looker (as a platform) distinguish itself from the rest?

Looker is a data platform that can serve every department so that’s much broader than any sales or marketing specific tool. Imagine if you could combine your advertising data with your product and support data. If you could say which keywords produced the most engaged users and which clicks garnered the customers that churn. Connecting these different data silos together and allowing a business to analyze across all this customer data can seem difficult, but that is what we do that is different from any of the siloed tools available for marketers today.

Instead of walking into a meeting with Sales and arguing over whose data is right, you both have the same data, same definitions and metrics, and can talk about strategies to take the business forward.

MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?

We have been living in data silos for a long long time and that has caused tremendous stress between the sales and marketing teams. Without a clear, shared view of the data and metrics of the business, Sales and Marketing leaders have been set against each other, fighting to prove their worth with different silos of data.

Having a single source of truth for the company gives us a new opportunity to work together with our sales counterparts and actually focus on the business and solving real problems. It seems like such a small change, but when you’re working with incomplete data, decisions on what to do next to become politically charged and emotionally draining. For me, getting back to the real goal of building a business and doing it as a team, is a huge step forward for everyone.

MTS: What’s the biggest challenge for startups to integrate an analytics platform like Looker into their stack?

The first step is to actually collect accurate data. Very often you set up your Salesforce or other CRM at the early stages of a start-up and you don’t have the conversation about the future. What data do you want to collect today – and what might you be asking in the future? The more time you spend on the data strategy early on, the faster you can scale your understanding of what’s happening in your business. Even if you know you won’t have time today to do the analysis, collect the data for the future. The second step is when you’re ready to pull all that data together and let Looker clean it up and join it together for analysis.

If you’ve already been collecting the data you need for the questions you have, you’ll be in better shape to pull it all together from all the marketing and sales tools now available and get it centralized. Once you’ve done those two things, the rest is fairly easy. With a data platform, you can then figure out what each department needs, create dashboards, and push data into everyone’s existing workflow – Slack or Salesforce – to make it as easy as possible to make better, more informed, decisions.

MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?

G2 Crowd is my current favorite start-up. They have hit upon a key moment of the buying cycle where people want a neutral comparison. And what better way to compare products than to get customer reviews, compile them and find where each of tools does well and where they are weak. Their content has been very effective for us in capturing people who are in the later stages of the buying cycle.

MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017

Salesforce and Marketo are the biggies. Infer for lead scoring, Clearbit for data augmentation, Bizible for online tracking / attribution, Influitive for brand advocacy, On24 for webinars, Optimizely for website testing, Google Analytics to track the website, Drift for website chat, Uberflip to manage our website content, DocSend to cleanly get it in sales hands, Outreach.ioto help with sales engagement, and Bizzabo for all our events. We also love Buffer for our social media and Dynamic Signalfor our employee advocacy.

Of course, all the data is pulled into Looker where we have company-wide and department specific KPI dashboards, we track progress against goals throughout the funnel and do all our ad-hoc analysis.

MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (what was your target audience and how did you measure success)

Our best campaign was with the launch of G2 Crowd’s report comparing BI tools where we did very well against the competition. Our target audience is data analysts so our focus was on that persona.  For the top of the funnel, we pushed the content through PPC channels (Google, Linkedin, Bing, Facebook) and third party sites (Tech Target, DBTA, and other Data Analyst focused content websites).

We had employees posting on all the socials sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and encourage this through VoiceStorm/Dynamic Signal’s app that notifies employees when interesting content is ready for them to post about. We also put it on our homepage and in our Learn Center to capture website traffic on our site. We then worked the middle of the funnel, using it to nurture our database of leads, including an email that our SDRs and Sales Reps could easily use to re-engage a prospect.

The effort was one of the most expansive and integrated efforts lead by our Demand Gen team and it produced great results driving more than 20% of our total meetings for the sales team.

MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

I don’t think AI is going to make anything we’re doing now obsolete so there’s not much to do to prepare. We already have small forms of AI in some of the technology that Infer and other lead scoring tools offer. They are looking at the profile of leads that turned into deals in the past and then scoring new news based on the predictive algorithms they built.

When lead scoring became real, the main issue that we as marketers struggled with was getting the rest of the non-marketing leadership to chill out. I had VPs coming to me and telling me that lead scoring was going to change our marketing so fundamentally that we would have to raise our targets.

While lead scoring is an excellent tool in any B2B marketers’ arsenal – it has not had a step function impact that would cause such an enormous shift. AI will likely be the same. Everyone will get excited (overexcited) about the impact, and then it will settle into tools that we integrate into our stack. There could be some technologies that go by the wayside, but it won’t happen overnight.

How I work

MTS: One word that best describes how you work.


MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Looker. Gmail. Google Calendar, Zoom Conferencing. Accompany.

MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

Subscribe to The Skimm. It gets you all the world news in a non-biased but entertaining format so you can know what’s happening in the world in 5 mins without actually doing the work of reading all the various news sources.

MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

My favorite writers are Tomasz Tungus from RedPoint, Simon Sinek’s books and talks, and my non-work reading which is currently Sarah Beth Durst, who writes YA fantasy. I can usually bond with any teenager who likes fantasy because I’ve read them all from Harry Potter to Rick Riordan and now Sarah Beth Durst.  As for daily news, I usually get my business news from Accompany and my world news from The Skimm.

MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Lean back, listen and ask questions. This is especially helpful when someone is criticizing or offering unwelcome advice.

MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

I have four kids (7-year-old step-son, Two 10-year-old daughters, and a 13-year-old son) and a blended family, everyone is constantly going in different directions, different schools, schedules, different activities, homework – it’s a wild wild ride. Even with all the chaos and the seriousness of my job as CMO at Looker, I have made it work.

Every second of the day I am looking for how to be more efficient: groceries online, Amazon subscriptions, a blackboard with the dinner menu for the week, a calendar on the wall, bill pay all online and automated… It has made me exceptionally efficient and a multi-tasking wizard.

I have at least 5 – usually more – projects in my head at all times – thinking about my son’s volleyball game, our next big marketing idea, how to keep the team motivated and happy –  and I can zero in on the one I focus on when I need to. I’m constantly looking for how we could do things faster and more automated – and as the CMO of Looker this means how we can scale – can we do this the same way when we have 10x the users, 10x the businesses, 10x the leads coming in? – that’s the only way to scale and grow a business. It’s a combination of “more more more” all while massively increasing efficiency.

MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Menaka Shroff, former CMO at Betterworks.

MTS: Thank you, Jennifer! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Jennifer Grant serves as Looker’s CMO. Prior, she spent the last 15 years building powerhouse brands from the ground-up. As the first executive marketing hire at Box, she oversaw its growth from a small “consumer back-up” start-up to an industry-leading enterprise content collaboration company used by the majority of the Fortune 500. After Box, she spent a few years advising Homebrew’s portfolio, on the board of directors of nonprofit K-12 Team, and led the rebranding of Elastic as CMO. Prior to Box, Grant spent 4 years at Google leading the Google Apps EDU, Gmail and Book Search marketing teams.

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