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New VP-marketing at Navex Global sticks with proven plan

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Ken Robinson, formerly VP-marketing at ELT Inc., honed a marketing program that contributed to more than 55% of new business bookings at the San Francisco-based SaaS e-learning provider focused on employee compliance. Now ELT has merged with three other organizations to form governance, risk and compliance giant Navex Global. As the new VP-marketing at Navex, Robinson is responsible for repeating the success he delivered at ELT. His plan: Follow the proven playbook. Robinson joined ELT last year, bringing experience with marketing automation software to a company that had no such infrastructure in place. “Part of the challenge was establishing credibility,” Robinson said. “The company had a great track record. It was 20% to 30% year-over-year top-line growth. I [was] coming in with a new philosophy. There was a healthy level of skepticism.” Robinson implemented a lead management application developed by marketing automation company Marketo Inc. and partnered with ELT's VP-sales to develop a six-week pilot program. He recruited sales team members who were open to new processes and were willing to participate in training sessions and small-group meetings where they provided feedback on their experience. “It gave marketing the opportunity to work out kinks, and fix bugs and optimize things,” Robinson said. It also cultivated ambassadors and provided demonstrable results, helping to expand participation in the program. “Three to five months after the implementation, we started to get the insights, the analytics, the [key performance indicators] that were starting to inform our investments from a marketing perspective,” Robinson said. “With that platform in place, we turned our attention to our social sphere.” The company had an active corporate blog and a presence on networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn, but did not have a firm grasp on its audience or where specific followers might be within the buying cycle. “We started to create very specific social media landing pages and developed a series of smart campaigns where we could tag inbound leads,” Robinson said. Using software from Marketo, the company was able to attach social media interactions to activity in the sales pipeline and track conversions of anonymous users to known users. The company developed white papers, infographics and other materials; tested page layouts and form fields; and inventoried its assets so that it could align content and prospects. A social toolbar appeared on posts, particularly within the company's LinkedIn community, and gated content helped convert anonymous users. “We had been largely tracking vanity measurements [like number of followers],” Robinson said. “We really wanted to tear it down and rethink it from program to analytics.” Social media also helped the company provide snapshots of client enthusiasm without detailing specific compliance challenges customers would rather not discuss publicly. “We harvest the comments and the posts through some of the social channels and weave that back into our messaging with prospects,” Robinson said. “The social channel has been invaluable in capturing those points of validation.” The development of Navex Global has muddied the clear view that Robinson had of the inner workings of his marketing program. Challenges include disparate backend systems that will require integration, new sales team members and more than 8,000 clients that may represent significant cross-selling opportunities. But Robinson said he will stick to the plan he developed at ELT, rolling out pilot groups, gaining sales confidence and slowly building analytical data. “I've got a playbook,” he said, “and I know what works.”
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