Beyond HumanBig PictureCatalystsConnected WorldExchangeMarketing MixNew MoneyNew SchoolPeople SciencePulse

MongoDB’s Meagen Eisenberg on what it means to be a unicorn CMO

hero image hero image

The database giant boasts some of the world's biggest companies as customers. CMO Meagen Eisenberg tells us what it means to market a unicorn company.

In its ‘Big Data NoSQL’ Q3 2016 report, Forrester called MongoDB, “the most popular NoSQL database.” It’s a claim backed up considerably when looking at the company’s current set of advocates, which include AXA, Barclays, Comcast, DHL, Gap, eBay, Citigroup, Metlife and the UK Goverment’s Gov.uk to name a few.

MongoDB’s CMO Meagen Eisenberg is charged with continuing to identify and effectively market to these customers, a task she handles by focussing on delivering the right individual messages to the broad church of industries that use the platform. As part of Hot Topics’ series on the world’s leading B2B marketing teams, we sat down with Meagen to discuss the most important relationships for a CMO to nurture, the effective use and distribution of content, and embracing the power of measurement technologies.

HT: You’ve been in the CMO chair for around 18 months now. What are the main challenges it brings at MongoDB?

I love this role because it’s so different, it’s always changing. I do think that CMO is one of the toughest roles you can hold, because it’s so public and everyone has an opinion on B2B marketing. At times it feels like spinning many plates at once, be it the website, managing press, or fostering a good relationship with sales.

It’s also hiring the right people with the different skillsets you need to be successful. You need the kind of people who can develop your messaging and your strategy, the MBAs that can run product B2B marketing as well as understand the market fit and pricing. Then you also need the team that’s executing on your brand in the field, running your annual events, your city tours, and your user groups. You’ll also have a creative team, who make everything from your booths, to the external emails, to your website design. All different personalities, all different backgrounds.

As a manager, you need to be able to pull together this diverse skillset. I do think that you are looking for a bit of a unicorn when you’re looking for a CMO.

HT: What are the most important relationships you hold internally as CMO?

Definitely with the head of sales [CRO Carlos Delatorre], making sure they are productive and that we’re hitting our targets, because without them we don’t have viable business revenue to put back into R&D. Every week we meet as an executive team and I partner with our co-founder CTO, Eliot [Horowitz], to make sure he’s got what he needs. He knows this world, he invented it, so I look to him for trends in the market. Then, of course, my boss CEO [Dev Ittycheria].

For me, and I think for anyone, your most important relationships are your peers. If you aren’t functioning at that level you’re not going to be successful, because almost everything we do is either partnering with sales or with engineering to get products out the door. If we are not aligned, my team is not going to be able to collaborate as well as it could.

HT: A recurrent theme in our B2B marketer series is the evolving relationship with sales, something you’ve touched upon. What is the key to ensuring a good working relationship with the CRO and sales team?

Firstly, it’s definitely important that marketing doesn’t report into sales. I think you need two leaders that have goals that are aligned around revenue, but I think there’s also a natural tension that needs to occur [between the two disciplines] in order to be efficient. You need effective B2B marketing to bring in customers who are engaged, but you need sales to convert them, and some of the things that sales are focused on may not be always aligned [with your priorities]. Particularly around branding, awareness, and other external market-facing activity you’re undertaking.

For example, I’ve got a developer community that needs very specific information and content, so I can’t always be focussed 100% on sales and revenue. I’ve got to focus on reach. I’ve got to make sure that we get this amazing product into the hands of developers and not always look to monetize, as adoption rates are so important to the future of the company.

I definitely think the two functions are very separate. I see sales as a partnership with my team, but ultimately, if they don’t make their revenue targets we all go home. I’m conscious that when business does go down, marketing tends to go first, then the head of sales, and then the CEO after you have unsuccessful quarters. They [sales] are my internal customer. If I’m not listening to what they need, then I’m not doing my job. If I’m not driving pipeline for them, I’m not doing my job.

HT: How much of a role does content play in reaching your target audiences?

It’s our number one influencer on deals. We create a lot of content in-house around things we identify happening in the space, certainty around customer case studies and success stories. We also work closely with analysts; Gartner, Forrester, 451, Stack Overflow.

We work with a number of different people to generate content in this space, to educate the market further, even just around the difference between SQL databases and not only SQL databases [NoSQL]. There’s a lot of education that goes into it, and content is certainly extremely important for that. It’s what draws people to our website to learn more, and they’re often willing to exchange their contact information so sales can follow up. There’s real value to that.

HT: Considering who you’re trying to reach, is distribution arguably more difficult than content creation? How do you measure the impact of different campaigns or pieces of content?

We use Salesforce, which allows us to tie every piece of content we produce to the campaign associated with it. For example, the white papers on our website have landing pages, which when someone fills out [to gain access] we can tie them to the campaign. If we [subsequently] run an email, we already know who these people are, we don’t make them fill out another form. We track every single asset; every webinar has a campaign, every event, even individual social media plays can be tracked.

We also worked with a company called YesPath, who have an overview of the top 1,400 accounts that we are targeting. During our two day event in New York this past June, of the accounts that attended, we saw a 50% lift in engagement to the website. Of the accounts that didn’t attend, we saw 300% lift. We interpret engagement to mean their IP address was hitting our website, viewing our content. It was very interesting to see the stuff that we were putting out there actually got companies that weren’t even at the event to come to our website and engage with us.

HT: Which format of content do you find resonates best with your target audience?

Certainly webinars. At companies prior I’ve always run them, and attendances can vary wildly. If it’s an industry one, you might get up to 200 people. If it’s a product webinar, maybe even less. But if it’s thought leadership, you might get upwards of 1,000 people.

Engagement is typically a lot higher with our developers, as they’re trying to learn and understand the technology we build. For example, we ran one for one of our paid products – not an open sourced product – and had over 3,000 people register. It’s the most I have ever seen at a webinar, and completely blew me away. We use Vidyard to track video engagement, and we can tell that people definitely engage. They’re sitting on there for 30 minutes, sometimes an hour depending on the length of the webinar, so that’s impressive.

HT: You mentioned Salesforce and Vidyard, are there any other tools and technologies that you have come to rely on?

We have 18 in total. The top one I always go to is Eloqua, my B2B marketing automation platform. Then I usually go to Demandbase right away because it allows us to personalize the website when users come to us based on their IPs. We can also optimize our forums in this way.

Influitive is our customer advocacy hub. We also use Insightpool for nurturing and social. We’ve got Social123, DiscoverOrg and InsightView, which are our information databases. We’ve got YesPath for some account based B2B marketing that we’re doing, Captora for SEO, Full Circle CRM, LeanData which is for sales & marketing ops hand off and measurement. We’re using Hive9 to measure ROI on the campaigns.

I’ve used Influitive at most companies I’ve worked at now, because of its great customer advocacy functions. This is the first year we’ve used Sprinklr for measurement, which is built on MongoDB. We do tend to favor some of the companies built on us. I’ve used Lattice Engines, Mintigo, HootSuite, and SocialChorus in the past for the predictive scoring, and we’re using EverString for customer DNA this year. Those are all great.

HT: That’s quite a lot. Does it feel like you’re becoming a data scientist?

[laughs] Yeah, it’s amazing. As soon as we target and deliver messaging that’s exactly for our visitor’s persona and where they are in the buying cycle, our response and engagement goes up and our unsubscribes go down.

It’s really important that we have enough information to follow up with, but that we don’t ask for too much [input from users]. A big part of the job is figuring that out. The open source side is also a different animal than what I’m used to. I think It’s really B2C [but more specifically] it’s B to developers.

We have 20 million downloads of the database overall, 20 to 30 thousand a day. These people are the IT admins, database administrations, operations, all with different personas. My job is to find out of all the downloads who are the ones that we should be putting in front of sales.