Discussing Product Led Growth and the Future of SMS Marketing | Brian Malkerson, CRO at Attentive

Discussing Product Led Growth and the Future of SMS Marketing | Brian Malkerson, CRO at Attentive

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Episode Summary

Each business owner's goal is to attract as many new customers as possible using every channel available. So, perhaps you’re wondering how SMS can fit into the mix for your product? 

In this episode Breezy Beaumont connects with Brian Malkerson, the Chief Revenue Officer at Attentive, an SMS marketing platform. During the episode, Brian and Breezy discuss the past, present, and future of SMS marketing. They also dive into how the team at Attentive is using insights from their customer usage data to drive new revenue opportunities and help their customers be more successful.

According to Brian, more and more companies will use SMS in the future. "I'm guessing there's probably 40% or 50% of e-commerce retail brands that are doing SMS marketing today. There's no reason it shouldn't be 90%, 100% in the next couple of years."

Brian and Breezy also touch upon the importance of company culture and agree that a strong relationship between customer success and sales teams drives success.


💡 Name: Brian Malkerson

💡 What he does: Brian is the Chief Revenue Officer at Attentive. 

💡 Company: Attentive

💡 Noteworthy: As the Chief Revenue Officer, Brian's job is to oversee everything in the go-to-market side from sales and sales operations, sales development team, partnerships, and enablement.

💡 Where to find Brian: LinkedIn

Key Insights

We tend to give a trial or free trial.

Brian talks about the impact free trials can have on business success. Some of the most famous companies gained success thanks to free trials and self-service models they offer. However, Brian's company doesn't have a pure self-serve model, and that's something they are looking to change. ''It's something we're constantly thinking about. We've built a lot to make sure that clients, some of them are more, I should say, power users, and they want to go in and do a bunch of stuff themselves. We have a great partner community that goes in and will do a lot as far as helping power campaigns. And so, we want to continue to keep making it easier for us to launch customers as well as people at Attentive, but also our partners and brands too, to be able to use the platform.''

We came to the point when people are asking why SMS?

As we all know, SMS as a communication tool has existed for several decades now. However, SMS marketing wasn't well-received in the past. However, things are changing, and once again, the benefits of SMS marketing are under the spotlight. So, what has caused that turn? "The more people you get out there talking about the channel and pushing it, help drive up that adoption curve. If you think about it, I'm guessing there's probably 40% or 50% of e-commerce retail brands that are doing SMS marketing today. There's no reason it shouldn't be 90%, 100% over the next couple of years. So, we've already seen really strong adoption. And then, on the agency side. Usually the agencies, they're trying to solve a problem for the brands. So, most of the agencies had just been focused on more traditional channels, but then all of a sudden, most, if not all the agencies, are being like, 'Oh, we need to have an SMS solution or SMS part.'"

We need customer success and sales teams working together.

The company is successful if teams work as one. Of course, independence is significant, but understanding is crucial. In a company such as Attentive, building a solid relationship between customer success and sales teams may be challenging, but it is worth working on. ''We have a fantastic head of marketing. So, I think it helped to have those good experiences and strong relationships. I think also making sure that you set up the right processes and feedback loops in place, and this is something we still work on.''

Episode Highlights

How to Get Product Data Into the Hands of Sales Teams 

''We do it in a number of different ways. Most of it is through different Looker dashboards. So, we'll pipe in different data, and we'd look at it from a few different lenses; the pre-launch and launch process. Then we also look at it when somebody is in trial and then coming out of a trial, and once they're part of a longer-term engagement. So we're trying to look for different elements of that product adoption in those different life cycles.''

We're an SMS Marketing Platform

''We sell it to marketers. I'd say a couple of the key elements they look for in a successful SMS marketing program is, one, can we grow the list quickly to make it a meaningful and impactful program? And then, two, are we driving a lot of revenue for the business? On average, about 18% to 20% of their digital revenue will be driven by platforms very similar to other channels like email. And then lastly, are they seeing good ROI on that platform? So we try and understand there are certain elements they're setting up and both adopting those parts of our platform, and are they working well? 

Another good example is setting up different types of messaging flows. So, we have things like triggered messages, abandoned carts, or abandoned browse messages. We have more campaign-type messages, so they can go in and see how many messages they have sent out and how that has changed over time. But also, what types of messaging and how much segmentation are they doing for their future messages. And then, use that to compare against best practices.''

The Goal Is Not Just Attracting New Customers But Engaging the Existing Ones

''As we continue to develop and roll out additional products, we're gonna have more and more focus on not just selling into net-new customers, but driving adoption within our existing customer base. So, I think, in that case, it'll be looking at a variety of different factors, some of the demographics of those customers, as well as maybe other elements of the tech stack they're using. How they're using our core product to understand better which customers we should be reaching out to for different products and how we want to position those sales.''

"Winning creates culture" 

''I do think there's an element of that where success helps. But I think when you're a five or ten-person startup, and then you have early employees and that kind of culture, it's like an us-against-the-world mentality. And then, as you scale and you bring in different people along with different parts of that journey, and then you throw in a pandemic where, for us, 90% of people were in our New York office. We went to a remote-first culture and hired 60%+ of my department in our company in the pandemic. 

And so, we've been doing a ton of virtual events; we started doing more in-person quarterly events to get people together and sales kickoffs on an annual basis. And trying to insert the way we do incentives and goals, and trying to make sure that people feel aligned from a team perspective because we think that's important to our culture and our future success.''

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