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Marketo Power User of Jessica Kao of Digital Pi

The story of how this Oncology Scientist became a Revenue Cycle Analytics expert

plus7.pngAs part of our Marketo Power User Series, we sat down with Jessica Kao, Director of Client Services at Digital Pi, to learn about her incredibly unique journey from the oncology lab to marketing automation, along with her expert perspectives on Marketo best practices.

Zak: Now Jessica before we get into it, I think your background is so you unique, can we start by sharing that?

Jessica: Absolutely, go ahead.

Zak: Here’s what Jessica shared with me when I asked her to describe herself and give a little bit of background.   “I am a Marketo Champion and guarantee you that no one else has a background like I do. I randomly found my way into Marketo and a career in marketing automation.  I pivoted from being a lab bench scientist with a PhD in Oncology to running marketing automation and demand generation for several companies and now I just play in Marketo all day every day.   Surprisingly marketing automation and marketing have a lot of similarities to science and experimental design.  I’ve been trying to get more people in the life sciences and medicine to really consider looking at a career in marketing automation.”

I thought this was such an amazing story and excited to sit down with you.

Can you start by telling us about Digital Pi and then we’ll work in your backstory?

Jessica: We are like-minded marketing professionals who love marketing, technology, people and solving problems and just happen to know Marketo inside and out. We help marketers define the outcomes they want, and do whatever it takes to help them achieve their goals. We help clients take advantage and get the most out of their Marketo system and their broader marketing technology stack.

The beauty of marketing automation occurs when everything works together in unison. We work with customers on the full picture – lead lifecycle, lead scoring, lead nurturing and lead reporting. They are intrinsically woven together.

Zak: What is your role and key responsibilities?

Jessica: I work with four or five different clients at a time. We help them solve different challenges every day, which could range form helping them pull the data they need to building out board slides on their sales & marketing effectiveness to get funding. We help them strategically integrate their technology and get it all to work together. For me, it’s like a big puzzle. I find that people who like logic puzzles, like Marketo.

Zak: As I mentioned earlier, you have a fascinating background. Can you share how you got into marketing automation?

Jessica: I truly stumbled into it. My background is in science; I started doing research when I was 14 and did research all throughout high school and college.

I got a PhD in cancer biology at Stanford and became a field application scientist. My job at that point was similar to a customer success manager, helping customers understand how to use the scientific products that we were selling and ultimately how to interpret the large quantity of data that came out of it. There was a lot of data analysis involved and at that point scientists were not used to the sheer volume of data that they had to manage, which is very relevant to what we do today as marketers.

In that type of role, you are helping one customer at a time. I wanted to find a way to scale and help more customers at one time, so I moved to a marketing role – which really wasn’t that different because marketing is really around educating customers and prospects about our product and what problem it can solve.

Zak: What a great story, what happened next?

Jessica: I moved into a global marketing programs role, which meant I was doing tradeshows, webinars and email blasts. I would do a tradeshow, come back, and hand someone my data and they’d put it in Eloqua. I was faced with the question, ‘How do I nurture my leads?’ How do I segment? How do I target the right people? The more questions I asked the more I realized that success was contingent on having a good marketing automation set up, and we didn’t have one. This was my first foray into marketing automation.

I then went to a smaller biotech company and implemented Marketo for that company. And for the next two companies I worked for, both in the sciences space, I built Marketo from the ground up.

What I then realized was that I had created a skill set in marketing automaton that was very valuable and could be transferred across any industry, so I then moved out of the science space and into the B2B tech space in the Valley.

Zak: The parallel to the science space is interesting.

Jessica: It really is. My PhD is in cancer gene signatures. What that involves is analyzing people and their DNA, and predicting if they will have an aggressive cancer or not.

And with marketing we look at people and their demographics and their behavior, and look to predict if they will be a quality lead or a quality customer. It’s the exact same analysis and same way of thinking.

That background has been so helpful in diving into the world of marketing data science.

Zak: Given your expertise, I want to dive deeper into the reporting topic. First off what is your approach to closed loop reporting in Marketo?

Jessica: Revenue Cycle Analytics and Revenue Cycle Explorer are the essentials. Before I was a consultant, I would not take a role in the company if they were not using RCA or willing to buy it. It’s the mechanism for closed loop reporting with Marketo.

Everyone wants closed loop marketing. The CMO is getting asked, “You got $10 million, what happened? What revenue and pipeline did you generate?

Zak: Realizing this is a complex topic, what are the keys to getting it setup correctly?

Jessica: There are three organizing units that you have to work with – Channels, Tags and Programs.

There’s some decision making involved on how you want to structure it. Do I want to have apples, oranges and broccoli all next to each other? Or do I want to group them under fruits and vegetables? That kind of thing.

Or in the marketing world, do I have a channel for Google, LinkedIn and Twitter, or do I have a channel called Online Advertising and use tags for these? It’s important to have these conversations before you start building programs

It’s a little more complex than we have time for but I have given many talks on this topic. Here’s a link to a webinar I gave for Marketo.

Zak: How do you recommend customers approach their setup?

Jessica: The best practice is you don’t want to have a bazillion channels – be strict around the list of channels you create with a standard list. So for example, a standard set of channels I recommend are Online Advertising, Sales Generated, Tradeshow, Roadshow, List Purchase, Organic Search, Website Referral, Website Direct, Referral, Telemarketing and Direct Mail.

Then you can use tags for any type of grouping that you want – a grouping could be a set of media channels like LinkedIn vs. Google vs. Twitter. It could be an industry or a product line.

And then use programs for the most granular level of reporting you want, so you might have a program structure like: LinkedIn Sponsored Update Industry A; LinkedIn Sponsored Update Industry B; LinkedIn Sponsored Update Industry C.

Zak: That’s a smart approach. Program setup is critical as the unit of measurement, if you will, for reporting. Do you find people tend to go overboard with the number of programs they create?

Jessica: Sometimes. If you need say 50 programs, it’s possible to create, but I also council customers not to report for the sake of reporting. Oftentimes customers start out by saying they need very detailed and granular reports when they really don’t. Many times when you are starting out on your reporting journey, you don’t have a clear idea of what you want. Don’t report for the sake or reporting. Report to gain insight into things that are actionable. What are you going to do differently based on your knowledge?

And it’s funny – it’s the same thing with scientists. Scientists can get stuck on analysis paralysis. But you want to report on things that are actionable. Ask yourself – what are you going to do with this data? What kind of decisions are you looking for help with? And don’t collect data for the sake of collecting data. Structure the data so that it can help you make decision around what you need to.

A wise mentor once taught me to ask the questions: What are you going to do more of? What are you going to do less of? What are you going to do differently?

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Zak Pines

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Zak Pines

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