Interview with David Fortino

SVP Audience and Product at NetLine Corporation

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Hi this is Bob Samuels founder tech
connector tech connector is a
marketplace and campaign management
platform of Best of Breed account based
marketing lead generation solutions
we’ve partnered with the b2b marketing
exchange to bring you wisdom from
leading account based marketing thought
leaders to that end I’m happy to
introduce you to David 14o senior vice
president of audience and product at
Matalan corporation I’ve known David for
more years than I care to mention from
our days in that line David’s always
been aware of cutting edge technology
and best practices solutions and b2b
marketing his presentation on lead
generation through the Byers lens was
well received by a standing-room-only
crowd at the b2b marketing exchange
event last week
David it’s always a pleasure to speak
with you how are you today doing well
Bobby how are you the events been going
great thus far how about how things been
for us in three of the last few days
wonderful event I love it because it’s
this it’s great networking and it’s
great topics and it’s people here they
want to meet other people and lots of
them are relevant even if they’re not
relevant they’re really good it’s just
that the this is this and serious
decisions are my favorite too this was a
little less pricey but they’re I think
they’re far away above the other ones
it’s been it’s been great and I got a
chance to see your presentation that was
awesome thank you and it was standing
room only I got to sit in front of
somebody but sitting on the floor as
well which is always good to see but
awkward’s you’re panning down looking at
people on the top of their head it’s
good to see nonetheless so I was just
thinking I’ve known you about 20 years
now which is ageing us a little bit and
we’ve seen a lot of changes in this
industry it started off it was truly
content syndication it was putting it
out there and everybody could go after
it and it was all inbound as opposed to
outbound and it’s switched yeah
at that time a lot of the content
syndication campaigns were mostly
unfiltered it was about just simply
amplification of content may be
targeting audiences very light filtering
the marketers expectations were somewhat
lenient perhaps even infantile at that
stage right it was a very early idea for
that model and execution people were
still kind of first coming from display
and used to buying traffic and buying
media and so they were kind of treating
content syndication only gen would still
that media lends but obviously things
have changed quite a bit so I’m sure
we’re gonna dig into that a little bit
now I mean it started with you take
whatever you got
throw out you know a filter out the junk
the Mickey Mouse and unemployed and the
students but you got what you got
and then people said okay so all filters
fine you’ll pay for filters and you’ll
pay that’s much more for each filter
then they want I want specific companies
so now they didn’t call it at the time
but that was ABM yeah I mean as we all
know and I’m sure a bunch of your other
sessions have all spoke about this I
mean ABM as an idea an execution of
practice is not a new idea how its
deployed today is obviously very
different than the idea that perhaps
started a hundred years ago of having
accounts that someone was specifically
targeting the difference of knocking on
doors versus delivering pixels these
days is very different but the
conceptual idea of having key accounts
that you are looking to gain traction
and/or win is still very much of a
fundamental business application across
every industry around the world
regardless of your scope size and/or
product and I forgot to really give you
a good introduction of you and I
apologize and I forgot people don’t know
you as well as I do but could you tell
that tell us a little bit about your
background and you know what you’ve seen
along the way and you know what you’ve
learned and some of the cool things that
you can share about way the way people
do things right sure so yeah Bobby said
I’m deportee no I’m SVP of audience and
and marketing at net line I’ve been in
space my entire career straight out of
college I was lucky enough to find
myself at a dot-com kind of 1.0 startup
called vertical net I was the b2b poster
child back then
typical rise and fall story went public
massive success massive crash private
jets amazing parties all kinds of stuff
looking back at that period of my life
and career I always tell everyone on
that moment really taught me everything
about what not to do as a professional
as a marketer as now an executive it
really didn’t teach me a lot of things
to do but it was an amazing experience
and then through vertical net I was able
to really learn about net line very
early on in that lines life and decided
to make the move over to net line once I
was done at vertical night we had sold
off a business unit I was part of the
management team there and then left yeah
looking backwards on my stay here at nut
it’s been a phenomenal ride I’m still
excited about where we’re going we’ve
processed I believe now over forty six
million forty seven million leads in
aggregate for business we typically are
processing around eight hundred thousand
gated asset leads per month
many of them are ABM specific and we can
kind of unpack some of that that process
is kind of amazing to see in the sense
that we are in this I view it very much
akin to kind of being in a control tower
whereby we’re managing thousands of
campaigns there’s typically about 8,000
assets live on the platform at any given
time representing hundreds of different
vendors all around the world different
industries and so on so we’re in the
unique position to have a ton of
observations around what works what
doesn’t work who’s creative who’s
falling behind sometimes you’d be
shocked to see the most successful
public companies are some of those that
are perhaps more conservatively
deploying tactics and strategies
some of the more innovative startups
tend to be approaching things a bit more
differently but yeah it’s it’s a it’s
been a great point of exposure and
learning and to me that’s been probably
the most exciting part of my job is
being exposed to so many bright
marketers acting as our clients we
inherently just get smarter and smarter
every day by working with these folks
you are in a very nice position to to
work with some of the best so what do
you have some examples of some folks if
you can name names that’s good
or ideas of successes that you’ve seen
along around ABM and yeah I’ll probably
refrain from naming names and setting
get a approval for this I think some of
the more innovative approaches has not
just been about an ABM strategy right
because I think everyone’s deploying
that in some capacity and they’re
probably doing it across channels and
perhaps across multiple vendors too so
there’s everything from more
programmatic and display oriented
deployments there’s email oriented ABM
strategies there’s and that’s both
inbound and outbound there is nurture
path specific to a beyond but to me
where the matrix of ABM success really
comes into play is as you layer that
over with content ideation and curation
and publishing it’s not enough to simply
target accounts successfully across
channels but specifically speak to those
accounts differently and so you’re
starting to get into personalization
ideas but you’re also getting into
influencer type ideas as well whereby
that one piece of content or landing
page that you’re trying to drive people
to that was acceptable a few years ago
now when you’re targeting a count but
now by targeting a single account you’re
inherently targeting a ton of different
people in that account that are
influencing that decision having a
solitary piece of content or landing
page and supporting materials isn’t
enough you need to be specifically
speaking to the pain points of
individually the different stakeholders
in that company that is your targeted
account and why perhaps the finance
person needs to understand things a
little bit more differently about you
your solutions and obviously your price
point for them and what the proposed ROI
is going to be
versus the marketer and or perhaps
c-suite decision makers the companies
that I’ve seen deploy successfully in a
more creative fashion or leveraging
those ideas whereby it’s not just this
idea that here’s my target account list
here’s you know five assets that we’re
using to try to engage with these people
and we’re gonna promote them by a
multitude of channels and outreach and
call it a day there and then they’re
going into a nurture path which is the
exact same nurture path that every other
lead goes into they’re just simply
calling this the EBM one to me that’s
rather sophisticated I mean rather
juvenile in an approach the more
sophisticated deployments are actually
just more or less kind of getting rid of
that that connection to traditional
nurture paths and treating ABM as if
it’s just another flow of inbound leads
but very much kind of working from the
ground up with a new paradigm and new
approach to these accounts specifically
and speaking of paradigm the topic of
your speech yesterday was along the
lines of marketing with I guess with
with the customers lens in mind correct
what do you mean by that what do you
mean by the buyers yeah so I got into
that a little bit yesterday during our
session here at b2b MX and it’s a big
misstep regardless of your strategy
whether it’s a B an or content
syndication even display I would say and
we don’t really play there but you still
see it all the time and that marketers
you get so entrenched of thinking of all
the various stakeholders inside your own
company that you start losing touch of
your actual customers and thinking about
things through their eyes and their
through their lens so we playfully made
everybody wear net line branded
sunglasses in our session yesterday to
get people to kind of quickly come up to
speed that they need to be thinking
about things through their own buyer’s
lens versus their own it’s a very simple
idea but one that sadly gets ignored or
diluted by the time campaigns get
executed and that’s a challenge that I’d
raise to most marketers is constantly
remind yourself to think of yourself as
if I am the buyer if I am the prospect
how am I going
to feel what are my emotions connected
to this asset what resonates with me
with this landing page why would I
perhaps want to reach out and ask for a
demo or learn more or download this
piece of content or watch your 45-minute
webinar those are all big asks of people
everyone is incredibly busy you’ve got
to be providing you know answers to
their problems content allows you to do
so quite easily but if you’re not
thinking of their pain points it becomes
very challenging you start sounding just
like a echo chamber of all of your
internal constituents right the CMO
needs you to say one thing to the market
you’re getting pressure from your
director about saying this other thing
and perhaps there’s even a phrase that
needs to be repeated all of those things
at the end of the day you’re kind of
making decisions and before you know it
you’ve launched a campaign that’s
completely diluted from what the buyer
really wants you to say what they’re
looking for and from there that becomes
problematic and then you’re looking at
KPIs that don’t make sense and so on
very challenging thank you so you also
talked about content and and maybe
personalizing content toward the toward
the person it can’t be every single
piece of content or the white paper the
case that he can’t be exactly
specifically rewritten for every
audience but maybe for groups or redraw
the lines so I think right there it’s
important to understand the influencers
within your targeted accounts and so
it’s not enough to say okay I’m
targeting marketers who are managers and
above in companies of 500 employees and
greater and also here’s my target
account list you need to understand all
of the various people along that path so
it’s not just a one standard default
persona anymore that makes sense
buyers committees within these
organizations are quite complicated not
only are they typically multifunctional
across departments but they’re also
multi-level and so the the concerns of
perhaps a manager or maybe even like a
individual contributor on their team
who’s very execution and tactically
oriented their needs are completely
different right
they’re not thinking about the strategic
ROI of making a decision they’re not
thinking about your viability as a
company and your customer roster and so
on these are all different pieces of
content that need to find homes with the
appropriate person who’s making
decisions that are relevant to those
values and so when you talk about
personalization sometimes yes it could
mean actually trying to tailor content
that specifically references their brand
dynamically specifically references
their name things like that but to me
that’s kind of very primitive right
those are those are attributes that you
should be able to have access to
especially if this is an outbound effort
based upon internal databases that
you’ve already accumulated with
prospects very simple to deploy but when
you start going into this notion of that
being more than one persona in your
campaign that’s a great opportunity to
start thinking differently and so I had
a question during that session yesterday
how do you go about doing that if you
don’t really know these people and so my
suggestion always with marketers is to
be involved in that sales process as
much as possible and not the internal
process it’s the outside process be
there if if nothing else listen to
customers if possible talk to customers
as well during the actual selling cycle
really understand their pain points they
will gladly tell you that yeah my CMO is
adamant that we are not investing in
this type of technology or we’re not
going this way with our stack whatever
it might be
conversely they will say our CFO has
deep concerns about these types of
companies and/or expenditures over
certain amount so if we can find a way
to slide in under that then we can
tended work somewhat independently
independently and autonomously you get
to IT complications if you’re talking
about anything that’s being installed or
touching another stack that relates
internally so you should have
documentation speaking to those
complexities and so on and so once you
understand the hurdles that exist within
your typical persona and also your
targeted accounts those are learnings
that you get to extract and kind of
somewhat replicate right every company
is going to be different there’s going
to be a different gene or Jim
who is always the obstructionist there’s
always going to be that person you’re
always going to hate them the the the
reality is though once you understand
what makes that person tick then you can
create content that really will do your
best to appease those concerns one of
the other things liked about your
presentation was the the concept of
allowing the target person the persona
to tell you what where they’re at in
their in their journey
absolutely yeah so oftentimes these
marketers tend to approach content as a
way of obviously creating engagement
with prospects but we we create content
speaking to the journey without really
thinking about allowing the users to
vocalize where they’re at an attorney we
we think that’s maybe perhaps for sales
to do or based upon enough intent being
scored out that this users then
escalated over threshold and then gets
to sales but users if done elegantly
will actually self select and deliver
their intent based upon the types of
content that you’re publishing and so if
you’re always arming your sales team
with perhaps down funnel or mid funnel
content and it’s never publicly exposed
surely you’ll never generate a deeper
more engaged higher intent lead off of
perhaps your own sites your blog your
social feeds and so on because you never
gave these users the chance to even find
it and so it gets to some ideas around
how do you bubble up some of that
content make it more accessible both on
an inbound and outbound strategy but
also how do you align content to the
journey in a way that the users don’t
feel like they’re making those decisions
and letting you know where they stand by
but by positioning the the content in a
way that allows the users to see this in
somewhat of a library type environment
but abbreviate it right have a few
pieces focused on discovery and
awareness a few pieces focused on
consideration and that ultimately
from there it’s amazing simply by doing
that and if you design the resources
correctly and position the page
concisely you’re able to extract
phenomenal learnings a recent tests of
ours showed that simply by having a
multitude of assets speaking to
different stages of the journey without
asking the users without vocalizing that
this asset is more aligned to making a
final decision we were able to gain a
31% increase in discovery of where these
users actually exist in their journey
without ever asking a question there
wasn’t a custom question needed not a
phone call nothing it’s simply about
accessibility to that content it’s a
beautiful concept itself it’s self
selection and they get what they need
it’s a wonderful concept and it’s very
elegant it’s it’s beautiful thing so
what are your thoughts about about a/b
and what are some of the misconceptions
that around today as far as ABM and
where do you think it’s heading one year
from now five years from now what’s
what’s what’s your crystal ball stay on
that so we’ll start with the some of my
perceptions and and misconceptions about
ABM today so there’s a few different
strategies that are being deployed I
think at a high level you can kind of
relate it to their first inbound and
outbound philosophies approaching ABM
I’ll probably speak more about outbound
related strategies first and so a lot of
the industry has really moved towards
programmatically oriented display
executions a lot of that is around
almost every session here you’re hearing
about intent and signals and exhaust
data and so on and so on and so on all
of its viable all of it is useful the
reality of it is is that it it does get
to some complicated and/or cumbersome
use cases whereby you’ve got a user
perhaps of a software suite of I’m not
going to name any of these vendors but
you’re subscribing to one of these
platforms you’ve been alerted that
company X is surging around a specific
topic that’s interesting and that’s very
helpful for the marketing team and sales
team to know that
now that same vendor delivers you a
multitude of contacts within that
company that are likely to be the people
doing that activity the reality of it is
many times EVM campaigns because of the
very definition tend to be very large
organizations and those large
organizations also have very large teams
for obvious reasons when you’re
delivered a list of three to five
contacts saying that this is potentially
the people doing it all it is is it’s
saying that instead of it’s a needle in
a haystack it’s there are needles in the
haystack that you still need to figure
out who to hold a contact what’s the
approach is it helpful to know that they
are actively researching around a given
topic yes but I as I was kind of
breaking down in my session yesterday
that’s all third party data it to me the
biggest fallacy of that value prop of
those being leads is that those users
never knowingly took part of that
process they were on a website they were
on Forbes maybe and they’re reading an
article now I don’t know Internet /
technology marketing automation
semiconductor processing I could be a
million things the fact that they were
on that page if there’s enough activity
associated to that that’s a surge of
their activity associated to that
account now what’s interesting there is
that really doesn’t take into
consideration true depth of intent and
engagements so viewing a webpage even if
you viewed 20 of them there’s no way in
hell I would articulate that to the same
level of intent as sitting through a
45-minute webinar that was scheduled at
2:00 p.m. Eastern right you’ve blocked
out a slot of your day you’ve registered
for that you’ve personally said that I
am Dave 40 no I’m attending this webinar
I’m volunteering information and my time
to do this versus casually perusing
content and perhaps never even finishing
it but showing an indication that you’re
interested is fine but beyond that I
think there’s a big disparity between
what people believe they’re getting from
some AVM solutions and what they really
are getting
the first party data versus third party
data is a completely different use case
I’m not arguing against third party
validity I think it does serve a purpose
but it’s really important to level set
your expectations as to what that is
what you’re getting versus what you’re
sold in some cases I think that story is
not all that clear that’s unfortunate
because I think our industry pays the
price for that collectively across the
board there’s a ton of confusion
specifically at this event there’s a lot
of vendors talking about ABM I’ve had
people come over talking to us flat-out
saying they can’t tell the difference
between most of the vendors here so
that’s a question mark and a challenge
to all of us as to how do we separate
not only our value props but our true
value that we deliver to these
organizations and make it clear what
they’re getting what they’re not getting
what is smoke and mirrors what is real
sadly marketers are phenomenal telling
very creative stories and that’s that’s
a great thing and it’s also a curse
right because a lot of times our
customers really truly don’t understand
one vendor from the next without really
digging in more deeply I think your next
part of your question was about where
things are going whoo I wish I had true
answers here I’ve got some thoughts
first off I think there’s going to be
massive consolidation specifically in
the programmatic side of the industry
there are far too many vendors selling
the exact same product period they all
know it
most amore vc-backed so it is a race to
the end at some point someone will be
claimed a leader and then there’ll be a
momentary kind of collapse of that that
story for a while
it’s very akin to kind of social and and
perhaps mobile those things never went
away they become part of our toolset
they are no longer viewed as the sexy
shiny object though they are just
day-to-day what we do to that point
there seems to be some consolidation
going on on the data side – yeah on the
data side is is this part of the
industry I don’t I don’t pay enough
attention to I know all the players
being that we don’t really ingest
much of that it’s it’s a little bit
outside of my scope on the day to day
basis but that’s true and that’s also a
similar observation right there were a
ton of companies running around and they
all say they’ve got the best database in
the world and it’s like so my first
question is like where’s that data from
how how did you go about building this
database and how on earth and why do you
guys all have 40 million leads how is it
possible is there really it’s like is
everyone leaving with the database when
they go find their new job I don’t know
I’m Bobby’s laughing at me right now but
um yeah these are questions I have I and
that gets back to like the buyers lense
right where if you’re the buyer of data
from any of these companies for any use
case even if you’re not using it for
marketing purposes let’s say you’re just
using it for research how do you tell
the difference between any of these
vendors they all seemingly have
phenomenal pedigrees very bright people
nicely designed websites great customer
rosters all of those 40 million records
how do I tell the difference between
them I don’t know I quite honestly don’t
know I could look at their history and
perhaps you know their presence in the
space to say okay some are more
legitimate than others but I don’t know
how you tell the difference between
perhaps testing I keep talking about
that yeah bake-off yeah I don’t know if
they’d show up so a hum that would be my
question is what would they
so the consolidation on the data side
certainly there the consolidation I
think on the ABM side is likely the
bigger questions they’ll relate to what
kind of implication especially when
you’re talking about third party
deployment of ABM strategies what
implications are looming not globally
because everybody knows about gdpr and
where that’s going and will continue to
go but where that will go domestically
here in the states I just saw Firefox
just published guidelines for this year
2019 Firefox by default will be blocking
every third-party pixel that implicates
everyone’s business model in
programmatic period the question is is
Firefox statistic
significant to cause pain for them now I
don’t know I think you know our
percentage share visitation from Firefox
users is certainly down a ton from where
it was that said look at Apple and where
they’ve pivoted recently right they’ve
changed their story quite a bit and
they’ve become a very security-conscious
client our customer in the sense that
they are proactively telling users that
if you use an Android system Android is
is inherently a data centric model right
you are the product when you’re using
the Android phone I’m happily doing so
that said if you’re using an Apple
device you or not the product is the
phone you are not the product they don’t
use your data they don’t sell your data
it’s all somewhat walled off they’ve
gone through great the great amount of
effort and pushback from the advertising
industry to make that position so take
that for what it’s worth if Apple
continues that direction that’s a lot of
power being wielded there versus Firefox
which is a bit different so let’s say
that gets rolled into Safari now that’s
another major browser we’ve got a vacuum
I think somewhere behind right now sorry
about that so we’ve got that now the
last kind of holdout and sorry Microsoft
I’m not acknowledging edge we are
talking about chrome and so will Google
take a stance against third-party pixels
I don’t see how they could Chrome was
inherently connected to the Google ad
stack so there’s so much but perhaps and
there if they connected it and simply
said we’re not accepting or firing any
third-party pixels beyond Google that’s
that’s an amazing message for them to
deploy gutsy I don’t know if they would
I don’t know what kind of lobbying
they’d receive back from the various ad
tech players against that but that’s
certainly a possibility so I think if
you’re connected to those models those
are some things to be cognizant of and I
don’t know how they’ll play out but I’m
certain that there will be changes I
think that’s the certainty
gdpr that’s a great point about that’s
the few that’s gonna affect ABM and
significantly withhold PII and
everything so one other thing I’ll let
you go soon it’s a good conversation
though the difference between ABM as far
as programmatic and ABM lead generation
content syndication people get confused
about what the value is or what what
they’re getting out of it yeah so I
think you know content syndication as a
execution can be done with or without
ABM targeting right content syndication
simply means you’ve got some form of
content that’s typically highly produced
right it’s probably not a blog post it
could be but it’s typically packaged
content so it’s a file in most cases
like a PDF it could be a webinar or it
could be a podcast it could be even a
recording of something like this whereby
you are providing value and syndicating
that content into relevant audience
touch points across channels so that
could be web inclusions native mobile
app inclusions XML feeds and so on and
so on newsletters dynamically as well
the difference though is that the
primary pricing model associated to all
content syndication models that I’m
aware of are that they’re performance
based connected back to the actual
acquisition of the lead itself versus
ABM deployed through programmatic
there’s typically two cost structures
one is you’re paying for the access to
the software suite that you’re using to
deploy and then beyond that you’re also
paying for media costs and so from there
then you’re challenged to with the
reality of you driving users back to a
form that you hope converts into a
qualified lead it’s not guaranteed that
comes back to is your form design well
as a responsive are you doing using
predictive data a million things to
think about versus simply contracting
with vendors that are delivering
qualified leads based upon users making
first-party decisions to engage with
your asset again it’s that big Delta
between first party data and third party
users proactively playing a role and
self-identifying intense and interest to
engage with your brand versus not
knowing that they’re even doing this as
a salesperson I mean we talked to our
salespeople all the time
salespeople love talking with people
that are pre-engaged and said like yeah
I’m interested in you I caught your
webinar I checked out your white paper
no it’s not cold at all versus knowing
that a company’s active knowing that
they’re in market knowing all that these
things are very helpful but still for
the for the rep that’s cold right you’re
reaching out to who you hope might be
the person making that decision oh it’s
not chain oh all right let’s go give Jim
a call oh it’s not Jim either you know
and you keep going obviously until
that’s your job until you can make
breakthrough the reality though is that
you’re somewhat still guessing where to
begin we’re to end and I think content
syndication comes at it from the
completely opposite perspective David
but it’s a it’s a pleasure lots of good
stuff I could talk forever if you have
any couple minutes although we’re
getting bombarded here with it
background noise hope you guys are
enjoying it out there it’s a great
conversation any parting words otherwise
look forward to seeing you know I
appreciate the opportunity it’s always
great catching up I’ve been fortunate
enough to know you for a long time it’s
great to Sketch up out here in Arizona
so yeah until next time we’ll practice
in s– since this one so talk to you
thanks I look forward to David Cheers

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Jay McBain

Principal Analyst – Global Channels at Forrester

Sangram Vajre

Chief Evangelist and Co-Founder of Terminus

Download our “Quick Guide for Creating & Managing Successful B2B Lead Generation Campaigns!

TechConnectr a leading B2B Lead Generation Marketplace

TechConnectr a Leading Lead Generation Marketplace

We Would Like to Interview you!

If you are an influencer or industry leader and have an amazing story to tell regarding B2B lead generation, demand generation, marketing technologies and ABM (account based marketing) or if you are an outstanding B2B marketer then we would love to interview you and share your thoughts on "Candid with Bob"!

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