Interview With Tricia Gellman – Chief Marketing Officer at Drift

Tricia Gellman

In today’s interview, we had the opportunity to speak with Tricia Gellman – CMO at Drift

Tricia Gellman is an energetic CMO with a proven track record in growing teams, in large corporations and small start-ups, to build markets and meet or exceed business objectives. She has a proven track record working cross-functionally to drive change, lead teams, launch products and manage relationships.

Tricia Gellman, Please tell us about your Career Path, what your Role is at Drift, and How you bring about Exceptional Results in your Role?

I’m the CMO of Drift, and I had a unique path to CMO. I know this dates me, but I started my career as a graphic designer when the design industry was just moving onto computers. I was always pushing the envelope with what computers could do, which opened the door for me to have a job at Apple as an evangelist, (a term created by Guy Kawasaki) helping to build out the solutions for designers. 

Shortly after getting to Apple, my role was reorganized into Marketing. I was devastated. I didn’t understand what marketing really brought to the table. But, I loved Apple, so I stayed on — and I realized that marketing really allowed me to be both creative and strategic. I’ve been a marketer ever since. 

As my career has evolved, so has the role of the CMO. It’s shifted from being focused on building a brand, to doing that while also measuring data and making highly informed decisions — across the entire marketing mix — to drive ROI and growth, all while impacting the bottom line. 

I believe that in order to deliver exceptional results, marketing needs to have a true partnership with product, customer success, and sales. I think the future will hold even more opportunity for CMOs to help drive business success by building brands based on solid customer experience, trust, and smart, impactful engagements across the entire lifecycle. Today, marketers have a unique opportunity to bring the company together and provide the data to demonstrate the results. Being strategic on who to market to and how to drive the go to market is what gives us a seat at the table with the CEO, data drives accountability.

Drift is a Hub of a Conversational Marketing Platform that combines Chat, Email, Video, and Automation to remove the friction from Business Buying. Tell us a little about some of the most exciting, Upcoming Projects at Drift?

I came to Drift because I truly believe it’s a critical solution for driving strategic value within a company. Right now, companies are having to totally rethink their plans for digital transformation. What they thought they could do in one to three years, they now have to do in one to three months. One of the challenges people have is bringing together their people, processes, and data to drive revenue in the digital world. Prior to today’s digital challenges, Drift was established to help companies unify sales and marketing with a single way to engage customers all leveraging their website. So we are well-positioned to help people accelerate their digital transformation.

Marketers are often challenged to create a single view of their customers to execute relevant marketing that delivers value. We recently launched Drift Audiences, which allows marketers to bring the data stuck in their martech stack together in one place, so they can deliver personalized real-time engagement right on their website, ensuring they create revenue quickly. A martech stack is great – but only if it allows you to take action immediately. So that’s one thing we’re really focused on – enabling people to act and drive value and revenue immediately.  

I find it really exciting to see how technology can work together with humans to deliver exceptional results. In today’s crazy world, we are seeing that people are working more flexible hours and juggling their personal and work lives. With our AI technology, we are helping companies create 24/7 customer experiences that empower people to research solutions, schedule meetings, and accelerate connections toward the purchase, no matter when they are sitting down to do their work. It is exciting to see how AI can help add value in a challenging and changing world.

What are the Crucial New Skills that a CMO needs on their team When it comes to Adapting go to Market Planning and Strategies?

As I mentioned, CMOs used to be known for building brands. This is hugely important, but the CMO of the future needs to be focused on bringing sales, marketing, product, and customer success together — and understanding what actions can truly affect the bottom line. 

It’s now about figuring out how to connect the creative, artistic side of marketing — and the more scientific side focused on data and tangible results. You need to be able to look analytically at the business side of things. 

In the past 5 years, these new challenges have created new roles many of which are hybrids of old roles. The first, is a hybrid of IT and analytics, the operations/analyst is a person who is an expert in the latest technology and how it works, but also is analytical and can help with data analysis both to identify trends but also to point out when the tech is missing a beat as often connections go sideways. The second is a hybrid of messaging and demand. This person knows that you can spend all day but if you put the wrong message in front of the right person you will lose every day. This hybrid person is an expert at understanding how the website, paid digital, organic and the right message bring things together to drive revenue.

What should be the KPIs and Metrics evolved or Marketing Strategies you have performed to increase 10-20% in Revenue or Market Share?

Having a seat at the CEO table means you need to step up as a marketer and measure your performance to revenue. If you are talking about leads or brand and you cannot directly connect these things to the blood of the company, revenue, then you are going to get relegated lower in the organization. Unfortunately, this is what we are seeing in lots of companies where the CMO is reporting to the CRO or other leaders. This doesn’t mean everything you do has to be attributable to revenue but you need to help the company and your team see how what they do matters to the bottom line of the company. 

At Drift, we use integrated campaigns as a way to help everyone see how they are accountable to each other across the marketing organization and also how their efforts add up to our business goals as a company. With this in mind, when planning for the next quarter, we discuss as a team what we should focus on (based on business needs, outside trends, etc.) and then decide on programs that map to reaching specific audiences and achieving measurable goals. For each program, we have a program narrative that tells the story of that program — and then corresponding offers (ebooks, events, etc.) and KPIs depending on the goals. Some goals are awareness and share of voice-oriented while others are focused on pipeline and revenue. Integrated campaigns ensure that every person on the marketing team is focused on something that is truly affecting the bottom line of the company. And, by mapping the results, we can see what moved the needle and what didn’t — and double down or back off accordingly. 

If we want to talk about marketing’s contribution to growth I have a few ideas. 

First, you may have long sales cycles which makes it hard to measure effectiveness to revenue but most companies can measure marketing to the pipeline as in opportunities that over time will mature to revenue. If you evaluate all your spending based on the consistent conversion rate to pipeline vs being excited about your MQL, you can move your dollars to things that have a true business impact resulting in more revenue. 

Second, revenue is not only about new business but as many companies are seeing during the current economic crisis, retaining and growing share of wallet with existing customers is very important. As a marketing leader, you need to balance between both motions and that means looking at the customer experience from the first touch all the way through to adoption, advocacy, and expansion. Spending time improving retention and building happy customers results in renewal revenue, positive word of mouth, recommendations for new business, and expansion. It is a smart way to help increase revenue.

Finally, if you want to increase sales and marketing products to get to revenue faster I have to give a plug for Drift. Drift can help marketers double if not triple the ROI of their dollar spent in paid programs. Additionally, by having conversations when a visitor is on your website you cut out all the waiting trying to reconnect a lead with a human to advance the sales cycle. This alone can help you increase revenue. I am happy to talk to anyone about the true benefits for sales and marketing of working with Drift. 

So, What is Next for You?

Over my 20 years plus career, I learned that I am passionate about two things when it comes to my career. First, I love working at the intersection of marketing and sales. I do not think you can be a strong marketing leader without working in partnership with sales and I love that Drift is a single platform that brings the go to market process together in one place shared by both sales and marketing. I am excited to keep evangelizing this solution and learning how these two professions evolve together. Second, I am passionate about teams and culture. More and more our world is about bringing your whole self to work and you can only do that in a culture that has an emphasis on belonging fostered by promoting diversity and having a strong commitment to not just hiring for diversity but promoting the voices of a diverse group of people. This year we are seeing that there is so much more we can all do on this topic and I am committed to using my voice as a leader to make a difference both internally and externally.