Pavan Kumar runs marketing operations for Capillary Technologies. We recently sat down with Pavan to talk about his background in marketing automation, and how Capillary generates leads for sales through marketing automation.
Background on Capillary Technologies
Zak: Your company, Capillary Technologies, is in a hot space and your investors include Sequoia, Warburg Pincus, Nortwest Venture Partners, American Express Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures. Can you share background on what Capillary does?
Pavan: Capillary’s technology solutions help businesses get ahead of the digital evolution and stay ‘Always Consumer Ready’ through Retail CRM, eCommerce & Loyalty Platforms. Over 400 marquee brands across 30+ countries, including Pizza Hut, VF Brands, Wal-mart, Al-Futtaim, and Samsung, trust Capillary to enable easy and seamless consumer experiences.
With over 300 million consumers and 35,000 stores on the platform, Capillary is Asia’s leading SaaS product company. Over 800 Capillary associates across 14 global offices are continually innovating to find new ways for brands to make their consumers’ lives easier, and experiences memorable.
Zak: What is your ideal customer then?
Pavan: We would work large consumer brands and retailers (agnostic if vertical), who have 30-40 stores or above. It could be global or regional brands. Our customers include many names you have heard of such as Wal-Mart, BATA, SAMSUNG and Pizza Hut. Our geographic focus is around Southeast Asia, the Middle East, India and China.
Marketing Operations & Lead Nurturing at Capillary
Zak: As head of marketing operations at Capillary, how is the role defined and how does it fit within the broader marketing team?
Pavan: I own marketing automation and the CRM. I plan out the flow, the stages of a lead, and how happens between marketing and sales at each.
We’ve developed drip campaigns for each stage in the lead cycle, and we’ve defined at what point does a lead move from stage to stage. We have eight different nurture streams based on the stage and segment of the lead.
Zak: Can you tell us more about those details?
Pavan: We score leads based on various interactions - how they interact with our website, how they interact with email. Their score can advance them to a Sales Ready Lead, at which time they are flagged for calling by the Inside Sales Team.
The Inside Sales Team will advance them to Sales Qualified Lead and hand off to our Sales Executives, who would then manage as an opportunity.
In addition to our drip campaigns, we also use trigger campaigns based on specific website interactions. For example, if you are engaging with specific content on our website, we will email you a relevant follow-up message to try to further engage you.
Zak: In the customers we talk to, everyone has their own unique journey to get into marketing or marketing operations. How did you get into this role?
Pavan: I have a development background, and in my last company I took on this type of marketing technology role. It started by coding emails and evolved from there.
I like how marketing works, and I enjoy the technical side of it. It’s a blend of technology and applying that technology to help the company. There are a lot of areas I go deep into such as email deliverability, domain reputation, bounceback management, database health, etc.
Zak: And how does your role fit within your marketing team?
Pavan: From a marketing mix perspective, we cover both inbound and outbound channels. Our focus is on organic search, social media channels, email, and automation.
We have different specialists on the team including designers and developers. We report to our AVP who in turn reports to our CMO. In total, there are 12 full time people on the marketing team.
Marketing Automation via Marketo
Zak: You’ve described a lot of marketing automation techniques so far, like trigger based emails and nurture streams based on lead stage. What marketing automation are you using?
Pavan: We’re using Marketo. I’ve used it in a previous role and it was a good fit for our requirements. Lead scoring as I’ve noted is very important to our lead qualification, so we needed very strong scoring capabilities. Landing pages and lead nurturing capabilities are also key. I also like Marketo’s email performance reporting quite a bit, especially how they can report on specific link performance. That helps me optimize our various emails based on what’s working to engage our audience.
Zak: It’s clear your role takes you very deep into the technicalities of optimizing email performance. What are some of your top tips and recommendations for other marketing automation power users?
Pavan: The cleanliness of the database is key. You need to keep the database vibrant and updated. They say industry best practice is for a bounce rate for a particular email to not be above five percent; for us we want that to be no more than three percent.
Subject lines matter. We keep them short - the shorter the subject line the better. The right length is 35-55 characters. We are also big into A/B testing to optimize performance, hence the importance of the Email Link Performance metrics I mentioned earlier.
Syncing Marketo & Zoho CRM
Zak: With Marketo as your main marketing system, how do you stay aligned with your sales team?
Pavan: Our sales team is using Zoho CRM and has been for a while. We are bi-directionally syncing Marketo & Zoho through Bedrock Data - which is important because although most of our leads originate in Marketo, we also have some leads that originate in Zoho. So this way in either direct we match to existing records based on email address, to avoid duplicates. Let’s say a record comes into Zoho and syncs to Marketo - if the record had already been sitting in Marketo it will match to that existing record.
Our inside sales team is filtering their records based on the lead stage and score that I mentioned earlier, to prioritize their calling efforts. Any updates they make to leads sync back to Marketo, and once they qualify the lead it moves to our sales team. Opportunity data also syncs back to Marketo to ensure we are closing the loop and keeping the two data sets consistent.
Zak: What tips would you share with other users preparing for a similar integration such as Marketo & Zoho?
Pavan: We had to be aware that Zoho has certain required fields for leads, for example a Zoho lead has to have a Last Name. So be sure to set default values for required CRM fields, so that you don’t hit any errors syncing the data. We also had to put some thought into the rules for company names, as companies are accounts in Zoho and we don’t have that data being overwritten when it syncs from Marketo based on the Bedrock system of record rules.
Zak: What are some of your upcoming priorities to build on the process you’ve put in place?
Pavan: It’s very valuable on the Marketo side that we can tell who is in an opportunity. Our marketing team is planning on developing specific campaigns to accelerate deals through Marketo programs.
We want to continue to build out Marketo as the central source for marketing engagement. For example there’s an initiative to deploy LinkedIn ads as an additional marketing channel.
Zak: How does the Marketo-Zoho data sync itself work for you?
Pavan: It works well, it’s reliable and gets the job done. We are syncing leads and contacts, bi-directionally, as I mentioned, and syncing accounts and opportunities from Zoho back to Marketo. The Bedrock sync plays a very important role to key our marketing and sales data consistent, and it usually takes just a few minutes to update back and forth.