Usually before presenting an interview, I give a few words of introduction towards the participant and company in question. When it comes to Facebook, I find it hard to believe that there is anyone reading this article who is not familiar with such an online Titan.
It is not every day that I receive the privilege to deliver my questions towards such a source of vast ability and performance.
On this note, I would like to thank Durgesh Kaushik, Marketing Manager at Facebook, for this great opportunity and for being a great sport.
INTERVIEW WITH DURGESH KAUSHIK MARKETING MANAGER AT FACEBOOK:
Please tell us a bit about your background.
I did my engineering from NSIT, University of Delhi and worked at Dell services (formerly Perot Systems) as a software engineer for a couple of years. Thereafter, I went to the United States to pursue my MBA from the University of California-Irvine where I focused on marketing and strategy, and engaged in research projects on social networks and privacy. After my MBA, I joined a Silicon Valley based tech start-up called InfoStretch Corporation and built the marketing team from ground-up. I also developed the go-to-market strategy for InfoStretch’s mobile solutions and SaaS based test management tool – QMetry. Currently, I am working at Facebook, managing the SMB/SME Marketing for EMEA and LATAM regions.
Can you briefly describe your role in Facebook?
Currently, I am managing the SMB Marketing at Facebook for EMEA and LATAM regions. I am responsible for creating, optimizing and executing marketing programs focused on adoption, acquisition and retention of Small to Medium sized Businesses (SMBs/SMEs) on our platform.
In my role, I manage various offline and online channels like Facebook pages and ads, SEO, SEM, email marketing, direct mail, co-marketing, partner marketing and call centers to cost-effectively target SMBs. I partner with marketing communications, sales, PR, agencies, customer support and product teams to align on organizational marketing plans and goals.
As a performance marketer, I drive the analytical insight necessary to achieve superior results from volume and ROI perspective.
What new Marketing challenges do the software providers of today need to overcome in order to sustain growth? Have these challenges changed over the past 2 years?
The barriers to entry into software market are constantly diminishing with the advent of cloud and open source technologies. While this presents a great opportunity for new entrants, there is an increased competition and software vendors need to vigorously differentiate themselves, more than ever before. Several new marketing technologies are now available and can help software vendors tackle these challenges effectively, but they need to re-think the way they have been approaching their marketing.
One of the biggest marketing challenges for software vendors is to understand new marketing tools and technologies, especially social media as a means to create brand awareness, demand generation and fulfillment. The next challenge is to integrate these technologies in their overall marketing mix.
From my interactions with various software vendors during my time at InfoStretch, I noticed that most software vendors, especially B2B providers were hesitant in trying new tools and defaulted to traditional marketing methods like magazine and events. They tend to undermine the importance of understanding and connecting with their customers and end up ignoring social media for marketing. However, this trend is gradually changing, and the companies that have already embraced the new marketing technologies and employed them effectively have set themselves up for success. In the next couple of years, we’ll see software companies adopting new marketing technologies like marketing automation tools like Hubspot, Pardot, Marketo, Eloqua etc. and social media.
From your experience what are the most effective ways for SaaS vendors to introduce their online solution to new users/first time visitors?
With the number of options available to users today, SaaS vendors need to focus on developing crisp and to the point value propositions that will resonate with their users immediately. They need to test various permutations and combinations of UI elements, value proposition, call to actions, sign-up process etc. on their websites and closely measure the effectiveness of each before finalizing the landing pages and going for a full scale launch. Marketing automation tools can help in this process of testing and continuous optimization while maintaining the target ROI.
Also, many SaaS based companies are increasingly using global login services like Facebook connect to simplify the sign-up process, which is a great way to get instant conversions.
Once the customers are into your eco-system, the next step is to understand, connect and engage with them. Traditionally, emails follow-ups have been great for reaching these users, but social technologies like Facebook’s Custom Audiences tool have created new possibilities of engaging with users and their friends in unprecedented ways. Not only do these technologies help you precisely target and engage your existing user-base, but also help in boosting acquisitions by influencing their friends.
Hence, the best strategy for SaaS vendors to introduce their services is to develop a crisp value proposition, test and iterate to optimize it, simplify the sign-up process and engage with their customers through social mediaץ
How should B2B SaaS vendors position themselves to best to compete in crowded markets?
B2B SaaS vendors face a bigger challenge compared to B2C SaaS vendors because of longer sales cycles and oftentimes, very niche market segments. From my experience of developing the go-to-market strategy for a SaaS based B2B tool, QMetry, the most frequently asked questions during the sales cycle were centered on the safety and privacy of data. To build trust, we decided to focus on positioning QMetry as a thought leader in the industry. We produced high quality content in the form of whitepapers, case studies, webinars, video tutorials, and blogs and aggressively promoted it through different online channels including social media, SEO, SEM, technology forums, PR etc. This helped us quickly position QMetry as one of the top SaaS based test management tool in a highly crowded market.
Based on my experience, I believe the best marketing strategy for a B2B SaaS vendor is to focus on building thought leadership and content marketing, which will help them create a strong brand image and will naturally drive trust and a loyal customer base.
If you had only one marketing tip for young SaaS startups, what would it be?
Focus on developing trust by being transparent in marketing communications, developing thought leadership and utilizing new social technologies to connect with your customers.