We’ve talked a lot about the current macroeconomic conditions and how it’s a challenging time for businesses, especially for marketing and sales teams. We’ve covered strategies to keep your marketing performing at its best in a down economy, and the rise of micro-marketing to combat these challenges, but let’s go a bit higher level now. Let’s see how C-Suite executives are leading the charge to navigate the current economic climate.
We sat down with our own CMO, Ritu Kapoor, and CRO, Cory Hogan, to hear their perspective on what’s going on with the economy and how Lob itself is adapting to the conditions and growing our business.
Before we get to the questions, can both of you introduce yourselves?
Ritu: I’m Ritu Kapoor and I started my journey in Kuwait, where I spent the first 18 years of my life. After stints in India, Kuwait, Singapore, and Texas throughout my early career, I landed in California in 2013. My kids and I call Los Altos home today. I started my career as a software engineer and eventually made my way to marketing technology, as I’ve always loved technology. I’ve been leading companies in tech that have transformed legacy spaces: Flexera, Automation Anywhere, and now, Lob.
I was blown away by the vision, customer base, and tech-forward approach of Lob. And the people, we have such a fantastic get it done culture and I’m excited to be here. I currently serve as the CMO and lead a team to market a direct mail automation platform that handles everything, from creation, printing, postage, delivery, and end-to-end analytics.
Cory: I’m Cory Hogan and my after I completed my undergraduate degree in construction management I began my career launching a design-built startup, which grew surprisingly fast. That industry was in need of modernization, a process that has become one of my career themes. After multiple years of triple-digit growth, I sold that company, planning to buy, modernize, and likely sell further companies.
Excited to learn enterprise software motions, I joined Oracle and spent eight years there - very successfully helping to modernize that legacy, on-premise database giant to a modern cloud company, organically and via M&A. After Oracle, I joined a smaller company, Qualtrics, scaling their enterprise growth heading into that massive IPO. Finally, I spent the last three years at InMoment, focusing on profitable growth as a PE-backed company.
Lob reached out when I was still at InMoment - and not at all interested in direct mail. However, as I came to appreciate the very unique position, momentum, and opportunity Lob has to truly modernize and own an entire channel, I became very intrigued. Once I got to meet the people of Lob (and thoroughly review the books), I concluded I better make the leap or regret it forever: Lob is going places. So I accelerated my own intentions, joined Lob as CRO, and have not looked back since.
Excellent, thank you both for being with us today and sharing your C-Suite perspectives when it comes to marketing and managing business during these economic changes.
Q1: Has our marketing strategy changed to navigate this new normal?
Ritu: It has and it hasn’t. Understanding customer expectation is still key to staying ahead of the curve. With all the data available today, consumers expect connected journeys – both B2B and B2C. That means junk is out and personalized, connected experiences are in.
At Lob, we are still committed to revamping our brand to better reflect a company with 11,000 customers and focus on championing the channel for all our direct mail marketers out there. I believe strong brands build trust and familiarity with consumers and that trust is the best insurance in this market. Our focus is on conversion rates across both the sales and marketing funnel and with that we will be heavy on A/B testing and optimization across all aspects of the funnel. We are also laser-focused on our customer journeys and understanding the contribution of individual touchpoints and our brand in purchase decisions.
Cory: With increasing pressures to do more with less, my number one goal is to ensure our existing customers realize maximize ROI from their investments. As we help them achieve break-out results with their limited budget, our customers naturally grow with us and spread the word. The strategy is add value, not noise. For many of our customers, that requires shifting spend away from both expensive digital channels and spammy junk mail, investing instead in what we call Intelligent Mail: a more connected, personalized, and scalable replacement for traditional alternatives.
Q2: Where would you recommend other CMOs and CROs allocate the budget? Toward customer retention or toward advertising to drive new leads?
Ritu: Both. The marketing function is not a cost center, but a revenue center. Growth and retention are very important, but this is the time to increase budgets for retention.
Cory: Agreed with Ritu. Growing existing relationships - cross-sell, upsell, retention, re-activition, will always be more efficient than pure acquisition. Think of it in three stages: First, retention: increase loyalty and commitment with those you do business with today - this is not the time to lose your base. Second, explore avenues to expand those healthy, committed relationships. Third, invest to acquire new customers. They are the lifeblood of your future.
Q3: If you could only pick three metrics or KPIs to measure our success during this time, what would they be?
Cory: Varies by business but I think a lot about CAC:LTV, Net Retention Rate, and Conversion Rate by source and segment.
Ritu: Website conversion rates, payback periods, and pipeline.
Q4: Why should businesses invest in direct mail marketing at this time?
Cory: Our mission, at the highest level, is to connect the world one mailbox at a time. The premise is in the digital world, the most powerful connections can be found human to human. Both modern marketers and their audiences are getting saturated with the ubiquitous, expensive digital ads. Our phones, our searches, our inboxes, they’re full of ads to which most of us are increasingly numb and oblivious to in spite of some really serious and significant investments behind them.
I believe modern marketing methods will continue to evolve, but Lob is finding surprising success as we bring our tech-first, digital approach to the direct mail category. Effectively, we’re killing junk mail with more efficient Intelligent Mail. Picture highly-personalized content arriving at your home at the perfect moment. You have no choice but to actually open that mailbox, look at all of those pieces, give them at least a couple of seconds of thought, which is more than a lot of the messages that come in our inbox. Lob’s secret sauce - the power of a fully personalized, timely, extremely relevant message, really gets attention. It gets results.
Ritu: The share of voice that you have in the world of consumers today is minimal. The number of messages people receive are so much higher than ever before. If you want to be seen that’s where direct mail comes in. Direct mail works for brand awareness, lead generation, and retention.
Direct mail is a high performing marketing channel and when paired with other marketing channels can garner a 27% response rate. I’m biased here of course, which is why we invest in marketing reports that survey both marketers and consumers to better understand the impact of direct mail. 67% of marketers surveyed for our last State of Direct Mail report tell us that direct mail has the best ROI of any marketing channel they use, and 62% of consumers agreed that a piece of direct mail has inspired them to take action.
Another way we measure the impact of direct mail is through our Customer Success team and hearing first-hand accounts of how our customers create, send, and measure their direct mail campaigns.
Lastly, it’s not your grandmother’s direct mail! It has such a high conversion rate with new personalization techniques, attribution methods, and analytics thanks to the software and platforms that are tech-first like Cory mentioned. We used to hear that it’s an expensive channel, but with the saturation and expense of digital, we don’t hear that very often anymore. This is direct mail marketing for today.
Q5: What marketing technology is a must-have investment regardless of the economic conditions?
Ritu: Testing technologies. Tools like Optimizely for webpages, Marketo for email, Lob for direct mail. Data will be your best friend in 2023 as you optimize your marketing assets and campaigns.
Cory: I’ll second Ritu. Modern performance-marketing requires a data-first marketing automation hub with integrated spokes for every channel, including mail, to ensure cross-channel optimization.
Q6: Finally, what advice would you give to your fellow C-Suite executives to weather this storm?
Ritu: First is to understand if your primary persona is changing or their influence is changing in the new economy. Keep on top of their priorities and centers of influence. You should also stay close to your CRO and have an ear on the ground. We can fight and argue with each other all day about who gets credit for the lead, but acquiring a lead is worthless without a strategy to deploy it to your sales team. Without a sales strategy, the lead means nothing. Luckily, our CRO Cory is an amazing strategic leader.
Cory: Thanks, Ritu - it takes the right marketing partner! I believe go-to-market leaders across all functions and levels need to be uniquely emphatic these days. Sales and marketing has never been easy, but it can be extra challenging right now. Be patient, be supportive, and stand strong by your people. This is the time to rally and inspire: anyone can lead in a bull market - great leaders emerge in a downturn.
Discover real-world marketing strategies to crush ROI
Ready to dive deep into the topic of direct mail marketing and how it drives ROI? Join us on October 5 for an engaging webinar where we’ll look at real-world examples of brands using cost-effective automated direct mail to achieve their marketing goals. Register now!