Thomas Butta, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Airship talks about evolving marketing and sales trends that B2B teams need to keep alert about to drive better business ROI:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Tom, tell us about your marketing/sales journey so far and also, more about being CMO at Airship – how’s that been going and what’s a typical day at work like?
I’ve always specialized in defining new market categories and accelerating growth for what I call ‘challenger brands’. Doing that requires a strategic and operational blueprint. My blueprint, which has been tested and executed for two decades, is based on creating value for everyone involved. I’m referring to market-changing, measurable value that comes from purposeful execution of two critical elements, 1) providing a clarifying voice that makes sense of the market noise; 2) providing guidance in the form of a definitive roadmap to create and capture value.
At Airship, this has been an easily understood exercise given the company’s long leadership in mobile apps, the place where we increasingly live our lives each day, every day, from morning to night. Earnings report after earnings report from leading brands highlight mobile apps as the center of digital customer experience — generating more than three times greater revenue and transaction frequency compared to other non-app shoppers. My team and I are working diligently to bring these stories to life. We like to say no other company knows more, does more, or cares more about helping brands master the full lifecycle of mobile app experience than Airship.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on a pressing issue surrounding sales-marketing alignment; as a CMO and marketer, what are some of the practices that have always worked for you through the years that you’d like to highlight today?
I firmly believe that everyone in an organization needs to be aligned to its north star with clarity around the company’s dream for the future, how it’s differentiated versus alternatives, how its beliefs inform and inspire everything we do and benefit its customers and how that makes them feel. That foundation, alongside a highly targeted account-based marketing approach, provides the tools to earn the coveted role of trusted guide to each of our personas, which in Airship’s case is executives, digital marketers, mobile product owners and app developers.
To drive better sales processes and marketing ROI, how do you feel B2B teams need to be built out. While at it, what kind of salestech-martech do you feel should always be part of a fundamental tech stack?
There are many models for how teams need to be built, but ultimately the ones that work best are those that are uniformly aligned on the same goals and the critical indicators of success.
As for the tech stack, I am alarmed at how reliant teams are with respect to traditional communications platforms and especially email marketing. The reality is the effectiveness of email marketing will continue to erode. We surveyed more than 9,000 global consumers and found that more than three-quarters ignore or delete emails they’ve subscribed to half the time or more. Younger generations are more likely simply to ignore emails altogether — compared to boomers, Gen Z and millennials together are more than four times as likely to use anonymous or fake email addresses and more than twice as likely to say they do not often check their email.
According to Gartner, a third of B2B buyers prefer a rep-free experience. In fact, B2B buyers expect the same type of streamlined and digital self-service options that they experience in consumer shopping where mobile apps have become the digital center of customer experience. More than digital availability, buyers want useful and valuable information and services designed for them throughout their relationship with a company, all of which needs to be simple, fast and streamlined.These expectations, as we all experience, are often based on their last best experience — across all brands. That’s the bar every brand needs to attain to stay relevant today and into the future.
For businesses looking at enhancing their sales strategies and marketing processes in 2022: with the aim of unifying core processes (and data): what top tips come to mind?
The impending demise of third-party cookies, increasing data privacy regulations and greater consumer controls from Apple and Android create a critical imperative for brands to focus on creating direct customer relationships that improve relevancy, understanding opportunities to continuously create mutual benefit.
More brands will invest in loyalty programs, surveys, quizzes and QR codes to collect more customer information, and use it to both personalize offers and lower advertising costs. However, rather than one-off executions, expect to see more brands focus on delivering these experiences in apps to enable an ongoing value-exchange with customers that sustains engagement, improves the customer experience and drives critical business results. Apps generate a wealth of first-party data that give B2B marketers more insight into customers’ interests and intent, as well as the ability to help customers when they need it most — all of which are keys to building lasting relationships and higher lifetime values.
A few thoughts on the future of B2B marketing and sales?
The future of marketing is really less about scheduled campaigns, and more about real-time automation, intelligent orchestration and machine learning that reach customers in direct response to their behaviors, lifecycle stage, and much more. It’s a customer experience-focused approach to marketing that generates 5X the results of traditional promotional marketing.
Buyers will increasingly look to sellers that have well-meshed online and offline strategies and are able to meet their needs in their key moments.
Before we wrap up, we’d love to hear more about Airship’s focus area for 2022… and also more about some of the platform’s latest and upcoming innovations…
Brands today compete primarily on customer experience. Mobile apps have become the digital center of customer experience offering individualized control and streamlined, convenient experiences wherever customers (and increasingly employees) are at every critical moment. Airship customers like American Eagle Outfitters report that their app-based customers spend 2.5 times more annually than their web customers and transact 3 times more throughout the year than non-app customers.
Often the barrier to creating the best possible app is the traditional reliance on development resources and cyclical app updates and the antiquated approach to treating apps as just another promotional messaging channel. Until now.
Airship recently launched the Airship App Experience Platform (AXP), which enables a no-code approach for product, digital and marketing teams to create, adapt and publish native app experiences on their own — without ongoing developer support or app updates. New AXP innovations such as AXP Scenes, AXP Surveys and AXP Preferences, give business users full control to rapidly onboard app audiences, build first-party and zero-party data collection, and accelerate loyalty and monetization goals through a data-led approach.
The Airship App Experience Platform’s no-code approach and intuitive visual UIs empower the entire team to create and adapt customer journeys, native app experiences and app UX to capture more value from mobile apps — simply, seamlessly, and quickly.
A parting thought or sales/marketing quote to leave us with?
I’ll leave you with two:
Embrace the quest. My senior thesis at Hamilton College was the Quest Theme in American Literature. The great American novels all center on the fundamental commonality that everyone goes through some sort of quest that involves a life-altering failure that has to be overcome. Success in business and life practically requires the experience of adversity in order to fully understand how to better achieve the other side of your dreams and hopes.
Find your inspiration. How? Where? When? There’s no magic answer. It’s more simple than that. You have to be open to finding inspiration in ways, places or moments when, where, and from whom you least expect them. But when that happens, well, that is magic.
From the beginning of apps, Airship powered the first commercial messages and then expanded its data-led approach to all re-engagement channels (mobile wallet, SMS, email), app UX experimentation and feature release management. Now, with the Airship App Experience Platform (AXP), business users can create and adapt native app experiences on their own — with no ongoing developer support or app update required. Having powered trillions of mobile app interactions for thousands of global brands, Airship’s technology and deep industry expertise have enabled apps to become the digital center of customer experience, brand loyalty and monetization.
Thomas Butta is the Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of Airship, the mobile app experience company. Butta brings over two decades of marketing leadership and brand positioning expertise that has accelerated growth and established market leadership for several global enterprise SaaS companies. Prior to joining Airship, Butta was CMO at SignalFx (which was acquired by Splunk for $1.05B) where he redefined brand value around software observability , and before that Sprinklr, where he redefined the customer experience management space. His career spans category-defining CMO leadership roles at AppNexus (acquired by AT&T) and public companies, NICE Systems, Parametric Technology Corporation and Red Hat.