Rethinking the Customer Journey at Pegasystems

CMO Spotlight: Tom Libretto, Pegasystems

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Marketers must leave behind old ideas about the customer journey, the CMO of a customer-service automation company tells Drew Neisser.
Marketers must leave behind old ideas about the customer journey, the CMO of a customer-service automation company tells Drew Neisser.  Credit: istockphoto

Challenging the status quo takes courage. It also requires cunning strategy. At Pegasystems Inc., a publicly traded customer service automation company based in Boston, CMO Tom Libretto is cutting through traditional marketing treatments with precision. His competitors are the giants of customer engagement: Microsoft, IBM AND Salesforce. But Libretto believes his team is nimbler, and under his guidance has built a smarter, more conversational marketing system. That system both generates leads for "Pega" -- as the company refers to itself, internally -- and benefits its customers. It's the ultimate case of wielding the tools you sell, and it's helped the company improve and refine their services with ease.

"Our purpose is very much to change the way the world builds software, to create unprecedented business outcomes by connecting, engaging and empowering people," Libretto says. "We think about that as a challenger statement." Every marketer can benefit from learning about Libretto's journey towards a smarter, more agile product pipeline.

One funnel doesn't fit all

When Libretto joined Pega, he was already a veteran of Lotus, IBM, Nokia and Chase. He understood that despite common practice, the idea of using one singular funnel, or even several, to describe the customer's path to conversation was a gross oversimplification. "Some of the preconceived notions, [such as] that there's a plain, vanilla, generic customer decision journey that starts with awareness and finishes with loyalty, is a bit outdated," he says.

This is the essence of Pega's transformation. Libretto calls it a shift away from segment-based "batch and blast" marketing to "one-to-one" -- real-time responsiveness to each individual customer, using information like CRM data, the customer's industry, IP address and third-party information.

"Being able to tune your experience is something very easy to understand," Libretto says. "We're putting more relevant content in the hands of our prospects and customers, without having them to dig around for us."

Pegasystems' CMO Tom Libretto.
Pegasystems' CMO Tom Libretto. Credit: Pegasystems

Equal parts mindset and tech

Marketers today often refer to the pull of science versus art in driving innovation, but Libretto explains that both are necessary. His recipe for Pega's evolution required equal parts technology overhaul and change of mindset. The tech transformation began with unifying Pega's customer database infrastructure, which then evolved into implementing in-house AI technology and an automation platform called PEGA Marketing. This enabled the team to create adaptive analytics and predictive models for its channels.

Changing the mindset required an adjustment of the company's perspective on leads, as well as the role of creative.

"We had to universally change our approach away from segmented-based, long-lead, timed campaign strategies, and instead focus our effort on building wider portfolios of assets," Libretto says. These assets included content, creative, offers and CTAs, which the automation engine would eventually deliver "contextually and relevantly" for Pega's prospects and customers.

Think better, not bigger, content

Creating a wider portfolio of assets might sound like a less targeted approach, but the more nuanced the content, the more it can be hypertargeted -- and hyper relevant. "A lot of that is using adaptive analytics so that we're not inundating people with content and messages that we inherently know or intuitively know that they're not going to react to," Libretto says. "We're trying to be hyper, hyper targeted and feed people the information our models tell us are going to move or compel them to do something else or something next."

Managing change requires teamwork

The biggest hurdle for Libretto involved driving these changes across the company's functional organizations. He found that establishing a vision was crucial. "For a few months there, I considered myself the chief evangelism officer of the company," he says. "I spent a lot of time communicating the vision to our sales counterparts, or operations folks, or product organizations, to get them on board with the idea of, 'Here are the implications of what's likely to materialize if we get this right.'"

After communicating this vision, establishing milestones for progress kept the organization on the same path, and also made it easier to track results pre- and post-transition.

"It's critically important … that other functions across the company understand what we're doing and why," Libretto says. "So we've spent a lot of time in bringing people along with us, and I'd characterize that as one of the biggest lessons learned here."

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