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How Outreach Does Adoption and Customer Marketing

June 19, 2024

tl;dr: Dive into our convo with Ali Jawin, Outreach's SVP and Head of Global Marketing, as she shares her insights on how marketing is impacting adoption, the forever-challenging dynamic of sales and marketing, if and how to market AI features, and what she's excited to test this year.

Ali discusses:

  • The Value of AI: Importance of highlighting AI's role in solutions for credibility.
  • Marketing Communication:The importance of clear, value-driven communication.
  • Sales and Marketing Collaboration: The dynamic between sales and marketing teams and the value of mutual respect.
  • Customer Engagement Strategies: Innovative ways to engage customers and highlight their successes.
  • Effective Benchmarking: The importance of benchmarking for performance assessment and competitiveness.


Angela, Laudable: Why is customer adoption one of the focus areas at Outreach and what are you doing there?

Ali, Outreach: People often think of traditional customer marketing like case studies and reference programs, which are important and we take seriously at Outreach. However, we realized making our customers successful involved getting them into the product earlier. We took an unusual approach by moving a team from our CX into marketing. Their goal was to get users engaged with the product within the first 30, 60, 90 days, ensuring they see value and get onboarded. This is typically a CX function, but spreading that message at scale is a marketing task.

By bringing this team into marketing and leveraging our resources, we changed our approach. Now, we focus on how quickly customers find success and value in the product. Once they are successful, we can then focus on traditional marketing efforts like introducing additional features and connecting them with other customers. Early success is crucial; without it, the rest doesn’t matter.

Angela, Laudable: This seems smart, especially with the new AI features at Outreach. Establishing strong adoption early is essential. What are your thoughts?

Ali, Outreach: Exactly, because once they've seen value, the rest becomes easier. Instead of coaching, it's like giving them the mic to share their success. At Outreach, we deal with go-to-market organizations and sales teams who often fear AI might take their jobs or automate too much. Quick note: I don't think salespeople are going anywhere. The human connection in sales can't be replaced by AI. Salespeople excel because they're skilled at their craft, building relationships, and communicating—qualities AI won't replace.

We can, however, enhance their impact by integrating AI into their onboarding and daily workflows, showing how it can help. This hands-on experience with AI reassures them that their roles are secure and highlights AI's efficiency benefits. While AI can make us more efficient, deep emotional conversations with AI remain unlikely. But who knows? Talk to me in 10 years.

Angela, Laudable: You mentioned bringing a CX team into marketing. What activities have you experimented with, and what's working or not?

Ali, Outreach: My motto is "data, not drama". One thing we discovered through extensive testing is that different channels and messages for different personas are crucial. At Outreach, we found that for AI SaaS tools to show value, the admin or owner needs to be successful first. Testing revealed that email wasn't effective for admins, often in RevOps, who are always on platforms like Slack. In-app messages showed high adoption rates. Instead of focusing on features, we saw better results when addressing specific problems users face.

For senior execs like CEOs and CROs, who might not log into the platform often, email and one-to-one communication, like ABM campaigns, were more effective. Testing the right channels for the right personas and tailoring messages accordingly made all the difference. Customers are diverse, even within one account, and we must meet them where they are, addressing their unique problems and preferences.

Angela, Laudable: Can you elaborate on the success metrics and findings from your data analysis?

Ali, Outreach: One interesting discovery we made was resetting expectations about success metrics. For example, an 18% increase in admin feature usage might seem modest, but it’s actually significant, especially when considering its impact on reducing churn. We found that admins who configured eight key tasks reduced their churn risk from 50% to 10%. This analysis highlighted the importance of setting realistic goals and recognizing the varied needs of different personas. For account managers, focusing on account planning and deal health is crucial, while CROs require concise, relevant updates without being overwhelmed by communication.

As marketers, we must balance communication frequency and relevance. Overloading customers with emails or webinars can lead to disengagement. Our focus should be on solving their problems, not just promoting features. I regularly check in with my team to stay close to their efforts and ensure we're meeting customer needs effectively. For instance, our expansion customer marketing team intentionally resets communication frequency to avoid overwhelming our database. 

Angela, Laudable: How are you driving adoption of AI products and featuring early adopters' successes?

Ali, Outreach: I've often debated how much we should emphasize that AI drives our pipeline generation report, which predicts if you'll hit your pipeline goals by analyzing numerous factors. Do sales leaders care about the AI behind it, or just the results? Recently, I've realized that mentioning AI is crucial for trust and perceived quality. If people don't know AI is involved, they might not trust it or think it's as good.

However, the product should perform effectively regardless of how it's powered, with AI simply enhancing its capabilities. I frequently highlight early adopters because salespeople are inherently competitive. Having worked closely with sales and being married to a seller, I get firsthand feedback. I've seen skepticism turn into enthusiasm when someone sees a peer's success and wants to outperform them. Highlighting customer success is always important, but it's particularly fun in sales where the competitive spirit drives people to excel.

Angela, Laudable: Can you tell me more about the Spotify Wrapped-style report for customers?

Ali, Outreach: I love Spotify Wrapped, not so much for myself because it embarrassingly highlights how often I listen to the Barbie soundtrack, but I enjoy seeing others' music habits. Similarly, I get a weekly email from Grammarly praising my vocabulary. Everyone loves knowing how they're doing, and that's what we want to offer our customers.

We're now providing more specific performance insights. For sales teams, this means showing how many more calls they made compared to others in their industry or how they rank against fellow AEs. It's essentially benchmarking, but more engaging, helping customers see if they're within the expected range or excelling in certain areas. This isn't meant to be a strict report card but rather a fun and valuable way to gauge performance and identify areas for improvement. Everyone loves to know where they stand, especially in sales, and we believe this data will be both useful and enjoyable.

Angela, Laudable: You have a PhD in philosophy. How does that influence your work today?

Ali, Outreach: I didn't finish my PhD in ancient Greek philosophy; I have a master's and half a PhD. But philosophy taught me logic and clarity in writing, which helps me cut through buzzwords and communicate effectively as a marketer. Understanding the value of clear communication is essential in marketing. It's about delivering substance, not fluff, ensuring our messages resonate and aren't lost in noise. I believe in concise, impactful communication—no room for intellectual laziness or unnecessary complexity. This mindset shapes how we present ourselves and our products: clear, concise, and meaningful.

Angela, Laudable: Is there any customer marketing content you find overrated or underrated between case studies, testimonial videos, and G2 reviews?

Ali, Outreach: From a customer marketing perspective, I don't think G2 drives much value. *However, for growth and demand generation, we LOVE G2 because it brings great traffic and high conversions. Case studies and testimonials provide more value to customers by showing how problems are solved in detail. G2 reviews are less tactical but still important for conversions, making them indispensable from a growth and demand generation standpoint.

June 19, 2024

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