Spring has finally sprung and that means Q1 is nearly coming to an end already! How are you measuring up to your marketing goals so far?
We’re excited to share with you the latest installment of the Insider Inbox. This time, we’re talking with Keith Sibson, VP, Product & Marketing at PostUp. One of the leading email, mobile and social media marketing platforms, PostUp powers the digital marketing strategies of some of the biggest brand names in the world, including mobile gaming company Zynga, NBC, RetailMeNot, Intuit, Walt Disney and Sony.
As a hands-on leader in the industry, Keith has developed deep expertise in weaving together email marketing, data science, analytics and technology strategy to deliver personalized marketing communications that drive results. Prior to his VP role at PostUp, Keith co-founded a construction management software company, and held executive roles at SpareFoot (a self-storage marketing company) and NetSpend Corporation, in the financial services industry.
His diverse experience gives him a great perspective on the digital marketing industry. Let’s hear what he has to say about the current state of affairs, and where we’re headed.
1. Why did you choose marketing, or maybe it chose you?
It chose me. I was originally by education a computer scientist, a software developer and manager. A few companies ago, I was asked to spearhead the creation of a new online business line. I’d always assumed my career would progress through the engineering and technical track, but my manager at the time saw something else in me and I ended up with a crash course in business and marketing.
It worked out well, though. In the digital marketing business, it really helps to have the technical background. If I’d come of age in the Don Draper [of the TV show “Mad Men”] era, it probably wouldn’t have helped, but since marketing has shifted to become so reliant on technology and technical expertise, the timing was good.
2. What is your personal mission statement?
To always keep creating new things and exploring new business opportunities. I was in academia for many years, and I learned the hard way that there are diminishing returns in being an expert in one thing. Success comes from having a very broad perspective. I’ve personally jumped from industry to industry…from financial services to self-storage to email to automotive. I think you have to be a generalist to succeed.
3. Tell me something about your job @PostUp that inspires you to keep working there.
The same thing that inspired me to come here in the first place: it’s successful, profitable, has a solid foundation, and we have a mandate for growth and innovation. I’ve worked at a lot of startups, which can be both good and bad. But at PostUp, you get the best of both worlds: we’re creating something new, like a startup would, but it’s an established business. It’s stable, and we’re growing on top of it. It’s a great formula for keeping your sanity, where you minimize risk, but still have a great upside for innovation.
4. Offices or open work space?
For executives? Definitely offices. To have an open plan for everyone? I get it, sometimes budget is an issue and you just can’t afford it. But it’s the antithesis of productivity. For me, the ideal office environment is one where everyone has office, because sometimes you need to have a place where you can go shut the door, to focus, with no distractions, or have private meetings. It’s needed to get stuff done.
5. What is a skill that every digital marketer should have and why?
One must be able to interpret data. Not necessarily go to college and study statistics, but there are some things under the surface level of looking at charts that you need to understand about how data works.
When I’m looking at data, it’s all about ratios—that’s how I think we should understand the world. Conversion rates, open rates, etc. the actual numbers don’t matter. What are the ratios? That’s what really gives us better visibility about how the marketing machine works and its performance. Absolute numbers work for things like topline revenue, but as a product manager or in marketing, it’s about ratios—how much can you influence them?
Having more of a tech background is also a foundational strength, I think. It helps to be able to understand the mechanics of things and how they work. To understand what’s viable about an idea, an opportunity, etc. is extremely helpful. Is it technically viable before you go down that road? Being able to determine that early on is very useful, to be able to understand how the world and your business works.
6. What is the best part about your job?
I get to be involved at all levels, in strategy, in what markets to go after, product design, working with tech teams, op teams, etc. I really enjoy being part of the whole spectrum of activities here at PostUp, being able to help constructively with the whole process. It’s not a siloed environment. That’s the reality – if you’re launching a big product, it impacts all parts of the organization and being able to constructively help at all parts of the organization is very good. It’s not just empowering, but also results in a higher likelihood of success.
7. If you could only use five (digital) marketing tools, what would they be? And why?
I actually have 6:
• eDataSource is good for getting visibility into the activity of our sales process, to have some understanding about message delivery.
• ReturnPath is essential.
• Of course, the PostUp platform.
• LinkedIn is so helpful for being able to research who you’re talking to when prospecting. The ability to reverse engineer the psychology, to see who it is and what they’re all about is enormously helpful.
• HubSpot, which is especially useful in the B2B world.
• GoogleDocs. Not that I dislike the Microsoft suite, but I really like Docs for the way that you can collaborate on documents. We’ve had so much success using Spreadsheets to plan a project. You can have 6 people in there working on the same document. It’s such a giant leap from where we used to be, all working in separate docs and with different versions everywhere.
8. Facebook or Twitter?I casually spend time on Facebook, but I’m not a big user of either. Mark Zuckerberg’s famous quote about the creation of Twitter being like clown car that drove into a gold mine and fell in pretty much sums up my feeling on it. Twitter is a toy. It’s great news fodder, but it’s not a business. It’s full of self-promoters and trolls. In my view, Facebook has all the data, and therefore all of the business power.
9. What is the biggest digital marketing trend that will drive success or is the biggest digital marketing challenge in 2017?
If I knew what the biggest success trend would be, I’d be in that business! But, I think I am…I’m probably biased, but I think it will be email.
What will the biggest challenge be? Unequivocally, it’s Facebook. It’s asserting itself as liege to the publishing industry and this trend is accelerating, having a huge impact on publishers just over the past 12 months. Every media company needs to figure out how to mitigate that dependence.
I believe what Facebook and Zuckerberg are doing is generally in the interest of their users, but the changes emphasizing personal relationship over brands in the newsfeed can have big impacts on publishers, which inflicts collateral damage to brands. They want everyone using Facebook all the time. They want control, but they’re taking away that direct relationship between publishers and audiences. Facebook is altruistic, but only in the interest of its users.
10. What’s your go-to Karaoke song? And why?
I don’t sing karaoke. But, if I did….you know, the comedian Nate Bargatz once told this joke that if you really want to mess with people, start signing “We Built This City” [by Starship] because they’ll be singing it for hours later. They can’t get it out of their heads. So, yeah, I’d probably go with that.
Thanks Keith! Great insight into the tools and trends shaping the industry!
As we head into Q2, we hope the advice and solutions our Insiders share can help keep you on track with your goals for this year. Next up, we’ll hear from Tim Watson, founder of Zettasphere, and a 6-year member of the DMA’s Email Council.
Until next time… Happy Spring!