Pantheon on creating a winning SaaS platform

20th June 2022

“Integral to this work has been human compassion and empathy. It’s what UX testing is all about – making sure we aren’t forcing people to make sacrifices throughout the customer journey.”

We recently interviewed Christy Marble, CMO at Pantheon, an SaaS WebOps platform that helps marketers and developers create, iterate and scale websites on the open web to reach billions of people globally. Here’s what Christy had to say:

What have you learned about marketing in the technology and SaaS industry?

Leading marketing efforts in technology and SaaS companies for the last 20-plus years has taught me (and continues to reinforce) one guiding principle: you need a test-and-learn approach to successfully engage customers, meet them where they are, and win in the market.

Consumers have multiple choices. The experiences we create and how we create them can be our best differentiators. It’s both our responsibility as marketers and a foundational customer expectation for us to be agile and responsive to consumer preferences. It’s also critical for marketing success.

We have the opportunity in digital marketing to learn from every single aspect of a digital experience. We can measure every attribute, interaction, and engagement to redirect to content, in order to create customer journeys that “intuitively” meet our audiences’ needs.

For example, when a user engages with chat to ask a question, that tells us they’re eager to engage with someone to provide with the information they’re looking for. They’ve made an active decision to use the chat feature, so why direct them to a landing page on the website to complete a form?

Rather we can conversationally collect information and meet them where they’re at in real time. It’s convenient, it’s seamless, it’s intuitive, and it solves a problem based on their choices, not our own preferences.

We’ve learned to market through a constant cycle of testing, launching, and measuring everything. The insights we gain informs decisions on how to reduce friction and delight the customer.

What marketing challenges have you learned to navigate and how?

It’s been creating the understanding that every aspect of our customer’s experience is the product. This includes the invoice they receive, the conversations they have with our support team, what they read or hear about us, or, in an e-commerce scenario, how that product arrives. The companies that succeed are the ones that empower all employees to contribute to the overall experience. 

We can demonstrate and share a commitment to deliver value to our customers through every interaction. We can share that intel with counterparts throughout our organization who are responsible for other touchpoints. By researching and mining all the data we have access to, we increase of chances of delivering the best possible experience at every stage of the journey.

We’ve also learned how not to waste a prospect or customer’s time along the way. Integral to this work has been human compassion and empathy. It’s what UX testing is all about – making sure we aren’t forcing people to make sacrifices throughout the customer journey. This is a challenge worth learning.

What’s a marketing achievement that you’re happiest about?

It was easily our team’s first hybrid event.  Those comfortable traveling came from Europe and points across the US to our headquarters in San Francisco.  It’s a really special place for us and for the city, one of the Pagoda buildings in Chinatown.  It was the first time that many of us had met each other in person, and we set-it up for lots of interaction with employees who needed to participate virtually. 

Possibly the most important achievement that we have had as a team this year is getting to know each other on a different level. This involved team building, career development, and creating shared memories while giving back to the community.

More than a year ago at Pantheon, we made some changes to the way we track our customer journey, which were quite challenging to implement and required a lot of cross-functional debate, collaboration and change management across our marketing, sales and customer organizations. 

We stuck it out and now it is a sea-change in the insights that we have into which personae prefer which experiences along different stages in their lifecycle with us. As a result, we can track ROI on digital spend and inform business planning and growth forecasting. This has a meaningful impact on our business. 

What has given you your highest ROI, & how do you measure it?

Historically, I’ve never been able to beat customer-expansion ROI, meaning that every dollar invested in programs to expand relationships with existing customers has always yielded the highest ROI.  That is an important element of our strategy.    

We’re very growth focused. On the new logo acquisition-side there are a series of interactions that we track or “attribute” to accounts won – or lost for that matter.  Our marketing teams are empowered to manage their programs to invest in the things that deliver the most revenue growth for the company.  So we apply attribution to bring Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) down to a granular level. That informs the decisions our marketing team members make about which programs to expand and which programs to sunset.

We currently have the best visibility into the ROI of elements of our digital investments. In fact, our team just increased investment in a couple of areas that we have forecasted a 4x ROI based on historic attribution. We have a multi-channel strategy that includes PLG, Partners and a direct sales team. So peeling back the layers of ROI-informed decision-making can be quite a puzzle. 

Live events, for example, are a work in progress, but I have had success with tracking ROI there in the past. Now that it’s picking up again we have an opportunity to be super innovative in our approach. With so many people working from home, this is key intelligence to have.