How one cybersecurity firm keeps its marketing human
Since the early days of the internet, cybersecurity firms have offered complex technical explanations about how their approach thwarts bad actors who can disrupt highly vulnerable computer systems. One company taking a different approach is White Ops, a cybersecurity company that protects brands from sophisticated bot attacks and fraud.
“People can see right through you if you are talking too much tech, using too many buzzwords, trying to oversell or sell too hard,” says CMO Dan Lowden, whose “Keep it Human” campaign has driven revenue growth and led to a round of funding from Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division and ClearSky Security.
How does White Ops describe the rise in sophisticated bot attacks?
So many cybersecurity companies out there—there are more than 3,000—talk about their technology. They talk about AI and machine learning and things like that. There are all these sophisticated bot attacks that look like humans ... but we want brands and enterprises to engage with real humans, because that way they're going to be more successful. So we created this campaign around keeping it human.
How have you promoted the message?
We've featured all employees in the company on our website wearing “human” T-shirts, and it's turned into so much more than that. Customers feel that the human aspect of what we do is really, really important, so more than 200 customers have joined in on the fight. It's exciting because it's different. People feel passionate about the mission. They want to see an impact and are seeing an impact.
What impact are they seeing?
For the first time ever, the amount of ad tech fraud has actually decreased. It's still a substantial number, but it's on the downturn. We did a report with the Association of National Advertisers called “The Bot Baseline,” where we work with a lot of different brands and do the measurement, put a tag on their site, and measure the amount of ad fraud that's going on. Today, we verify the humanity of more than 10 trillion interactions per week where we're determining whether it's a human or a sophisticated bot in less than five milliseconds.
How did this campaign impact the White Ops brand?
We've been recognized more and more. Our CEO, Tamer Hassan, was named most creative person in the business by Fast Company in 2019. The team was being asked to present across the globe at different events. We're being highlighted in ways that, from a marketer's perspective, are really positive because people are recognizing this is a unique story, that we're doing something unique out there in a very crowded space and we're having an impact.
How does White Ops differentiate itself in the cybersecurity space?
In most cases in cybersecurity, you play defense. With White Ops, we're out there playing offense. We want to stop fraudsters by disrupting the economics of cyber crime. We're there to try to stop them and we're having an impact and, to me, that story resonates. The customers that we work with see the value in that, too, because they're having a hard time with this. The more we can tell our story, the more we can educate enterprises and brands, the more we can do to help them solve this problem.
Has “Keep it Human” helped generate leads?
With the "Keep it Human" theme, we're very approachable. In all the conversations and all the education that we do, we do not believe in a hard sell in any way, shape or form—especially in the cybersecurity and marketing world. If people hear these stories from customer advocates or they hear it from their peers, there's no better way to be able to expand and tell that story. It's through those advocates.
How else do you get in front of customers and prospects?
In the COVID world, we do a lot of smaller virtual events, webinars and targeted engagement through LinkedIn where we can engage in a personal way. We’re finding it harder and harder in some ways to get in front of people, whether it's through email or calls or digital, so we send a FedEx box with a "human" shirt in it and say, "We'd love for you to be a part of this mission. We'd love to share the stories of how we've helped others like you stop fraud." These combined approaches and the story of keeping it human and our mission resonates, helping us win new customers.
How are you measuring the impact of this program?
We're measuring and tracking everything in our marketing mix. What type of engagement and conversion rates do we see? If we send campaigns out, what kind of response do we get? And then, how many of those, in essence, turn into meetings for sales? We're all about brand leadership and telling the story and leading the industry. But it's also important for us to try to help our sales team get in front of all the right people to tell the story to help them. We measure and track along the entire customer journey to make sure we're being as effective as possible.
What’s the best way for brands to talk to their industry audience?
People can see right through you if you are talking too much tech, using too many buzzwords, trying to oversell or sell too hard. It's all about having a real conversation with people that they can relate to, that you can get their attention with. It's really about having a conversation that resonates with them and then sharing how you've helped customers that have had similar problems and having those customers speak on your behalf. If you start developing that en masse and it starts growing, then you have something really, really special.