Q&A with Ryan Phelan, Marketing Chief / Fractional CMO at Origin Email

Q&A with Ryan Phelan
Ryan Phelan, Marketing Chief / Fractional CMO at Origin Email has nearly two decades of global online marketing experience focusing on driving GTM strategies for high growth SaaS software and Fortune 250 companies. Ryan is a respected thought leader and nationally distinguished speaker with a history of experience from Adestra, Acxiom, BlueHornet, Sears Holdings, Hewlett-Packard (Global), Skype, First National Bank of Omaha, and U.S. Bank and others. In 2013 he was named one of the top 30 strategists in online marketing and is the Chairman Emeritus of the EEC Advisory Board.  

MEDIA 7: With two decades of global online and email marketing experience, how do you see the online marketing landscape evolving as we tread through uncertain times?

RYAN PHELAN:
What powers marketing best is that it's predictable and influenced by data. That has changed.
Here’s what’s coming in the next 12 months: At every level, from B2B to B2C, you have to throw your marketing plans out the window. These uncertain times not only detail the unpredictability of commerce but also highlight consumer unpredictability. Companies must start weekly strategy sessions that rely on following the news, statistics and customer sentiment. Start war rooms – virtual or not – that look at how to speak to different parts of the country.

These war rooms look at each channel to ensure that the message is consistent and ties into the socioeconomic channels in cities and states across the country. We also need to look at new ways of communicating with customers. Communications have to focus on the emotive and empathetic part of marketing instead of "Buy this." This is a challenge because it requires non-traditional, non-predictable thinking. It requires a strategic approach, which most marketers aren't used to taking. I've written often about the need to set down a strategy first and then figure out the tactics later. This need is more present and more fluid today than ever before. What's your strategy for this week? For next week?

That fluidity in the strategy-making process is going to be a challenge for most marketers. You can see this today in the absence of advertising from Fortune 100 companies. Rightly so, many have pulled back on ads to rethink their strategy. Finally, systems like CRMs  are not designed to rapidly react to events or predict what will happen. All that investment we put into our systems to help us plan our marketing will now have to pivot. We will be reworking technology to fit in with a narrative that is not planned far in advance but created weekly. These uncertain times have created chaos and is testing the resolve and creativity of marketers across the spectrum.


"B2B companies should adopt ABM technology to level up their communications and react quickly."

M7: What according to you are some of the most innovative go-to-market strategies that today’s high-growth tech companies should be using?

RP:
The most common strategies in B2B revolve around marketing automation, account-based marketing and search engine optimization. Most companies that invested heavily in marketing automation have a lot of programs running but ignore most of them. They send massive amounts of communications, but they aren't in touch. I review their technology to help them recognize intent signals like number of web visitors, time spent on site or on specific pages and what pages they visit. I also audit programs and match them up with qualitative data sets that indicate whether they're sending the right messages at the right times in the right channels.

Then there are companies with a few automation programs. They're focused on just the basics of communications and automation. They need to re-optimize existing programs and invest quickly in new programs that recognize intent. Account-based marketing is a game changer and is true marketing at its best. ABM has two definitions. One is on the sales side, where ABM takes a group of accounts and tries to influence them with personalized, ungated content. On the marketing side, ABM is used to drive traffic, to recognize intent and to reverse-influence users. The marketing side recognizes that people are coming to the property and reverse-engineers content that drives higher intent. Both use ungated content. ABM uses buyer intent that indicates "I'm going to check you out before I want to talk to you." These customers want to learn more before they'll take a phone all or walk through yet another demo.

B2B companies should adopt ABM technology to level up their communications and react quickly. SEO is something B2B marketers should get up to speed on. CEOs hate to spend money on natural search, and that's a mistake. Companies that focus on boosting natural or organic search are finding their investments are paying off, and it complements their paid-search strategy. I advise companies using both paid and natural search to hire an expert to do the work. SEO is not something you can teach yourself and master in six months.

M7: What are some of the common mistakes that modern marketers make in running their digital marketing campaigns? What are the strategies you would recommend to minimize or eliminate those errors?

RP:
The biggest mistake is that email marketers favor tactics over strategy. They don't look at why someone reads their emails instead of how they read them or how to send to them. From promotional to triggered emails, from welcome messages to cart abandonment, any kind of email message you can think needs to have a strategy, a "why" behind it. Entrepreneurs who say they don't have time to map out email strategy are missing the boat, and I question their leadership abilities. You don't have to plan out a strategy a year in advance, or even a month. Maybe you plan on Friday for the week ahead. You don't have to map out each point in your strategy either. But you do have to have at least the broad outline.

I'm a big believer in planning a strategy retreat, where you and your team take yourselves out of the day-to-day rat race and plan strategy for the coming year. Even a half-day can work if you can keep the focus strictly on strategic planning – the "why" of what you want to do. Most importantly, you need to get everybody on board with it, first in the conversations and then in the planning and execution. Things are different this year – the strategy you might have planned out so carefully has just blown up – but you can always get the gang back together to come up with new strategies.


"The true sign of an insider is giving back to your industry community without pitching your company or self-aggrandizing. That might mean you join an organization and help others learn and do their jobs better."

M7: From your experience, what are technology companies not doing enough for customer activation?

RP:
Recognition of intent. I don't think a lot of SaaS companies are looking for those signals the way they should. What are companies doing to look at pages on-site that indicate high intent? How do you recognize those signals so you can act on them, whether through your marketing automation, sales, email or phone calls?

We aren't thinking about intent on a scale to match the need. A lot of companies go through an exercise where they point-score their prospects. You have to start thinking about what combination of behaviors recognize intent. Consumers, whether in B2B or B2C, give off signals that they're interested. Companies can recognize and react appropriately. Not every action means you should pick up the phone and call them. Recognizing intent signals means you know what you need to do next to move that person down the spectrum so they become a lead or request information or indicate you can call or email them or contact them in some way.

M7: How important is channel integration for the success of a marketing campaign? What are the most essential components of a perfectly orchestrated campaign?

RP:
I have never seen a perfectly orchestrated campaign.
What we have instead is coordinated channel distribution. This means I have an idea, and I spread it out evenly across my channels. We see this in big-box communications at Christmas. The retailer will have a theme, and you see that theme in every email, tweet and social media post. That's just a coordinated campaign. A truly orchestrated channel integration means I come up with a strategy and a sub-strategy for each channel that respects the purpose and capability of that channel.

I would ask: How can email support my theme? Then, integrate these actions and insights to other channels. For channel propensity, I've done studies where we looked at consumer cohorts and what the primary method for communications should be. Sometimes it's email. Sometimes it's social. Other times it's direct mail. A truly orchestrated campaign looks at integration of data not just across channels but also customer propensity. That's why I say I haven't seen truly orchestrated campaigns. It takes a lot of work to get to that Nirvana, but you can get there through small steps if you use incremental innovation, which builds on one small improvement at a time. It won't happen overnight, but you can orchestrate over time and gather learnings along the way.


"It takes a lot of work to get to Nirvana, but you can get there through small steps if you use incremental innovation, which builds on one small improvement at a time."

M7: You have a regular article on Marketing Land. Could you tell us about your library of thought leadership blogs, white papers and presentations?

RP:
I focus on two audiences with my Marketing Land content. I try to speak in some articles to people from C-level executives on down to the specialists working on the front lines. What I try to do is write on things that matter, things that move the needle for the marketing program. My strategy is to write about things they can put into practice today – a playbook for their marketing programs.
I try to point out what's happening in the world. We're all looking for answers, especially with COVID-19. Nobody knows the right way to move forward. I call on 20 years of experience to suggest things to try, to show where reality and theory get in the way. I try to help save people from the mistakes of the past. I've seen where theory gets in the way of reality. I want to dispel all thoughts of rainbows and unicorns.


M7: What advice would you give to young digital marketers from the point of sharpening their skills as a marketer?

RP:
Whenever I start a session with a new client, I show a slide listing authors that marketers should read consistently. A lot of people write about digital or email marketing, but I think there are about 40 who have a valid voice in our industry, and those 40 are on my list. So, the first thing I suggest is to read and soak up all the knowledge that's out there. The second is to ask questions. It's infuriating to run into marketers who think they know everything. There's no room for cockiness in this career. I have been in email marketing for 20 years, and I learn all the time. I ask the stupid questions. We are always learning.

Next, find a mentor. This is the person you go to with stupid questions and to get career advice. I'm not talking about getting free consulting but talking with someone who can point you toward the best way to go with your career.

Finally, give back. The true sign of an insider is giving back to your industry community without pitching your company or self-aggrandizing. That might mean you join an organization and help others learn and do their jobs better. Write articles. Lead webinar. Answer questions on community forums. Speak at conferences.

The true insiders bend over backwards to help others without directly benefiting themselves.


M7: You love cooking during your free time. What are the cuisines you have tried and would want to try using your culinary skills?

RP:
I have a collection of about 400 recipes. I enjoy all kinds of cooking. I love Italian food. My mother-in-law is Italian and taught me well. I'm known for steaks and have gotten into sous-vide – a method of cooking in which you put food in a vacuum-sealed bag and cook it in a temperature-controlled water bath. I thoroughly enjoy it. It lets me be creative and experimental, and I've got enough equipment to have a product showcase on QVC.

If you want to see my creations, find me on Instagram.
Give me a recipe, and I can riff. But I'd love to learn how to make food on the fly. I'd love to be as good as the guys on Chopped, where you walk into a kitchen and you're told, "Here, you get this and this and this. Now make something."

ABOUT ORIGIN EMAIL

Origin Email Agency is a group of diverse and experienced digital marketers who know that marketing can be tough in the execution but when you step back, truly step back, you can create greatness. 

Most professionals are focused on the tactics when that's generally what we all are good at.  What companies worldwide need is effective strategies to define the "why" first and the "how" second. 

That's where we come in.  Creating mind-blowing, technology agnostic strategies for some of the largest and smallest companies across the globe.

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All Specializations can be obtained at the regional and global level as well as two levels of achievement for further differentiation. Additional Partner Specializations are expected to be launched in 2024. The three Partner Specializations are expected to be available for partners to obtain starting in ServiceNow’s second quarter of 2024. Many partners have already expressed their feedback on the importance of the ServiceNow Partner Specializations including: Jason Rosenfeld, Senior Vice President at Cask: “ServiceNow’s new Partner Specializations offer an opportunity for Cask to showcase our unique consulting expertise and change management solutions to drive digital transformation across enterprises. Program updates like subsequent badging and product line achievements provide greater reach and visibility with organizations looking for the best partner to meet their specific needs. We believe Specializations and the partner finder are a winning combo for connecting customers with the right support and implementations.” Michael Lombardo, Chief Executive Officer at GlideFast Consulting: “We’re thrilled about the new designations to ServiceNow’s Partner Program. With new Partner Specializations, we can continue expanding our technical consulting services and delivering deep ServiceNow expertise to new markets. We look forward to helping customers find value in the Now Platform.” Michael Vadini, Chief Executive Officer at Infocenter:“Today, organizations are looking for a collaborative partner for support with the adoption and scale of new technologies. ServiceNow’s new Partner Specializations will help Infocenter build industry-specific solutions and accelerate technology for customers and their businesses more quickly. We are excited about the enhanced benefits offered by ServiceNow and the continued focus on partners.” Jon Reynolds, Senior VP Global Alliances & Corp Development at Thirdera, a Cognizant Company:“As our company looks to further expand our work across different industries, we’re focused on differentiating our services and ServiceNow platform expertise. ServiceNow's comprehensive Partner Program provides valued guidance and incentives to improve how we advise, implement and optimize technology for businesses worldwide. ServiceNow sets a standard for what it means to be an innovative partner.” ServiceNow is also launching a brand-new partner channel on LinkedIn. Join the new social community for the latest ServiceNow partner news here. For more information on the ServiceNow Partner Specializations visit here. About ServiceNow ServiceNow (NYSE: NOW) makes the world work better for everyone. Our cloud-based platform and solutions help digitize and unify organizations so that they can find smarter, faster, better ways to make work flow. So employees and customers can be more connected, more innovative, and more agile. And we can all create the future we imagine. The world works with ServiceNow™. For more information, visit: www.servicenow.com.

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Marketing Analytics

Abnormal Security Expands Channel and Alliances Leadership, Appoints Jonathan Corini and Stephanie Goodman

Business Wire | January 11, 2024

Abnormal Security, the leading AI-native cloud email security platform, today announced that it is fueling its continued hypergrowth by expanding its sales leadership. The company has appointed two executives to lead its channel and alliances initiatives, with Jonathan Corini joining as Vice President of Worldwide Channel Sales and Stephanie Goodman as Head of Global Alliances. Corini will lead Abnormal’s global channel sales strategy and oversee all aspects of the company’s channel partner program, while Goodman will expand Abnormal’s strategic alliances ecosystem and accelerate growth among technology partners. These appointments cap a banner year for the company, which now serves 1,880+ customers and recently crossed $100M in ARR. This unprecedented success over the past year is due in large part to the company’s extensive partner system, ongoing dedication to the channel, and deep technology alliances across the industry—all of which will continue under new leadership. Corini has over 23 years of experience in cybersecurity and has held numerous sales and channel leadership positions. He most recently served as the VP of Global Channels at HYPR, where he designed and launched a new channel-focused GTM strategy that was responsible for over one-third of the company’s pipeline. Previously, Corini was SVP of Global Channels at Mimecast, where he grew channel sourced bookings to over 40% of the company's revenue and expanded the global MSP business to 20,000+ customers. In addition, Corini has held channel leadership roles at ForeScout Technologies, Tanium, and Intel Security throughout his extensive career. Goodman brings over 15 years of security experience and comes to Abnormal most recently from Google, where she served as the Global Lead of Strategic Alliances & OEMs. While there, she launched a global OEM program that grew over 200% in its first year and led her team to grow GSI revenue by 250% over the course of 2023. Previously, Goodman was the Director of Global Strategic Alliances at ForeScout Technologies, where the alliance team created an integration monetization plan that now represents 25% of overall company revenue, and held channel program management roles at McAfee. The two executives are joining an established channel-first organization with strong technology partnerships. Abnormal currently supports dozens of strategic partners, including value-added resellers, by providing its behavioral AI platform to protect customers against the growing threat of advanced, socially-engineered email attacks. The email security platform currently integrates with Microsoft, Google, and CrowdStrike, as well as dozens of other cybersecurity platforms. Moving forward, the focus will be on deepening relationships with enterprise partners throughout North America, expanding channel partnerships across Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and launching strategic alliances with key organizations across the industry. About Abnormal Security Abnormal Security provides the leading behavioral AI-based email security platform that leverages machine learning to stop sophisticated inbound email attacks and dangerous email platform attacks that evade traditional solutions. The anomaly detection engine leverages identity and context to analyze the risk of every cloud email event, preventing inbound email attacks, detecting compromised accounts, and remediating emails and messages—all while providing visibility into configuration drifts across your environment. You can deploy Abnormal in minutes with an API integration for Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace and experience the full value of the platform instantly, with additional protection available for Slack, Teams, and Zoom. More information is available at abnormalsecurity.com.

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Channel Partnerships

ZINFI Releases Its Latest Complimentary Best Practices Guidebook: "The Ultimate Guide to Channel Partner Management"

PR Newswire | January 04, 2024

ZINFI Technologies, Inc., a company leading the definition and creation of Unified Partner Management (UPM) solutions, today announced that its latest best practices guide —The Ultimate Guide to Channel Partner Management — is now available as a complimentary downloadable eBook. Among the most comprehensive and practical guides to partner management, the guidebook was designed to help organization of all sizes and in every industry learn how to unlock new markets, innovate faster, and deliver better customer experiences. The Ultimate Guide to Channel Partner Management consists of 10 detailed chapters based on common questions from business professionals, including: What Are the Different Types of Channel Partners? How to Find and Recruit Channel Partner What Are the Benefits of Having Channel Partners? How to Choose the Right Channel Partners for Your Business How to Get Started with Channel Partnerships How to Align Partners with Overall Business Strategy What Are the Challenges of Managing Channel Partners? How Do We Evolve Channel Partnerships over Time? What Are the Best Practices for Channel Partnership Management? What Are the Future Trends in Channel Partnerships? "We know that effective partnerships can significantly extend a company's market reach, enhance product distribution and fortify its competitive edge," said Sugata Sanyal, CEO and founder of ZINFI Technologies. "Channel partners are not just another route to market. Indeed, they are a strategic asset that, when managed well, can become a source of sustained competitive advantage. But what exactly constitutes a channel partner, and how can a business harness a robust network of partners to realize its full potential? We created this new guidebook to provide detailed answers to a whole host of questions like these that people ask us every day as they try to understand how to unleash the power of partner relationships and partner ecosystems. The future of channel partnerships is bright, and this guidebook is just what business executives and marketing professionals need to prepare for a world of opportunity." The Ultimate Guide to Channel Partner Management can be downloaded here: https://www.zinfi.com/guidebooks/channel-partner-management-ultimate-guide/ ZINFI has consistently been named a PRM "leader" by G2, the world's leading business solutions review website. ZINFI has earned this distinction over multiple consecutive quarters dating back to 2019, most recently in G2's Winter 2024 G2 Grid® Report for Partner Management Software. G2 scores are based on the responses of real, verified users and data aggregated from online sources and social networks. To access more information about ZINFI's partner relationship management platform or to download a copy of ZINFI's best practices guide on partner relationship management, please visit our website at www.zinfi.com. You can also follow ZINFI Technologies on LinkedIn and at the ZINFI Channel Marketing Best Practices blog. ZINFI offers its potential customers a 30-day free trial (no credit card required) providing access to its entire Unified Partner Marketing (UPM) automation platform. This will allow any prospective buyers to test-drive its industry-leading channel management applications before making a purchase decision. About ZINFI Technologies ZINFI Technologies, Inc., a company leading the definition and creation of Unified Partner Management (UPM) solutions, enables vendors and their channel partners to seamlessly collaborate in a virtual environment to achieve profitable growth on a global SaaS platform. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, USA, we at ZINFI see an immense opportunity to build high-performing sales channels by deploying a powerful virtual collaboration platform that has been rated #1 by leading analyst firms for simple to complex enterprise channels. ZINFI's state-of-the-art SaaS Unified Partner Management (UPM) automation platform allows brands and their global partner networks to work together remotely throughout the entire partner lifecycle via three core state-of-the-art SaaS applications—partner relationship management, partner marketing management and partner sales management. ZINFI's UPM is super easy to use and affordably priced, and it comes with a complete set of do-it-yourself tools in multiple languages.

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