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Growth, Attribution, and AI - A Marketing Journey with Rosalind Lutsky
In this interview, Rosalind Lutsky walks us through her professional journey as a B2B marketer - sharing examples of successful campaigns, marketing strategies, and key lessons learned - working at several, well-known SaaS companies. She describes some of the many challenges associated with growth marketing and how to tackle these through experimentation, working with the product team, and mentorship. Rosalind also identifies three key marketing trends that she believes will change the game: AI and its impact on SEO, attribution, and how companies define ‘growth.’
Hi Rosalind, can you tell us a little bit about your journey as a B2B marketing professional.
Absolutely! I actually got my start in marketing as a Copywriter at CircleCI. I knew I wanted to transition into SaaS, and I felt as if leaning into my strengths in writing/editing would give me the best introduction. And it certainly did in a lot of ways! Right off the bat, I was working on projects that spanned across different marketing disciplines – landing page and in-app copy for product marketing, technical blog content & culture pieces, incident response, email, webinars, ad copy, the list goes on. That role in particular really helped me learn the language of dev tooling which has carried through in every role I’ve taken on since.
After about a year working as a copywriter, I found myself spending a lot of my time working on lifecycle marketing (email nurtures, collaborative projects with customer support) and product-led growth, which was pretty new to CircleCI at the time. I loved that this new area of marketing let me flex skills in math, logic, and data analytics. Trying to figure out the behavioral signals that indicate growth and then turning that behavior into a conversation with a user was a really interesting challenge.
In my next role after CircleCI, I joined the team at Teleport. That was a fantastic opportunity for me to dive deeper into the demand gen side of marketing: setting up ad campaigns, experimenting with new channels, optimizing spend. I was lucky to have the guidance of an amazing marketing leader, Anadelia Fadeev, who was a mentor and partner in regrowing marketing at Teleport from the ground up. A major highlight in my career was being part of growing a full marketing team. We grew from a team of 2 (across all of marketing) to an immediate team of 5, eventually adding even more folks to demand gen and many others to the other wings of the marketing team. The massive leaps and bounds we were able to make on ads, email, website, and beyond was incredibly exciting and fun to be part of.
Joining Sym back in February, I was faced with even more greenfield than I’d experienced at Teleport. The whole go-to-market team consisted of just me (no other full time sales or marketing folks!) which led me to dive right into everything marketing – quickly growing from Head of Growth into the Head of Marketing there. The technical team at Sym has some of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with, and it’s been an incredible learning experience growing a marketing engine from scratch.
What are some of the key lessons that you’ve learned as a Growth Marketing Manager at these companies?
I’d break it down into 3 main lessons:
Test test test. One of the hardest realities of working in growth marketing is that you have to try a lot of things - which means you have to be okay having a lot of things fail, too. That requires some serious expectation setting when you’re kicking things off. It also requires persistence, and a willingness to be wrong. You can’t come into a role expecting every strategy you’ve used before to work in a completely new circumstance. You have to be eager to try a lot of things (marketing channels, strategies, messaging, etc.) to find out what sticks.
Create a close relationship with the product. Some growth roles actually fall under the product team. The types of growth roles I’ve taken on have been more demand-focused, but even still, being in lockstep with product makes a huge difference. Not only are they a team of people with great domain expertise (I come from a non-technical background, so I always need to rely on folks with this sort of knowledge), but they can help influence the direction of the product. Where I’ve seen the most success is when you’re taking advantage of the learnings from product and putting it into growth strategies and using what you learn from growth to influence the product.
Lean on strong mentors, but don’t be afraid to pave your own way. This is general career advice, really, but something I’ve found extremely useful in growth roles in particular. I’ve talked to a lot of folks in various marketing roles and leaned on them for advice: CMOs, growth leaders, demand gen leaders, generalists, specialists, the list goes on. I recognize that my knowledge and experience is limited, and getting an outside perspective whether it’s on a specific problem you’re facing or about your career more broadly has been massive for me so far. That said, everyone is going to have a slightly different opinion. Going back to point #1, you have to be willing to commit to something and try it, even if it might fail.
Can you share any examples of past marketing strategies that have been most effective for you?
In dev tooling in particular, I find that a lot of marketing looks like finding ways to add value for your prospective users. You can’t just show what your tool does, you have to have a perspective and tap into your team’s knowledge. For instance, at Sym, we saw a massive jump in leads when we introduced an ebook on just-in-time access in AWS. This is a major use case for folks who come to Sym, and yet in the vast landscape that is AWS, it can be hard to find clear direction on how to implement JIT access well. Creating an ebook based on our team’s knowledge and experience (combined with external sources) and offering that up on our website and via ads caused a major jump in the volume of leads we received.
Can you share any recent successful campaigns or initiatives that have significantly impacted your product's growth or market positioning, and what were the key factors behind their success?
The first one that comes to mind is a campaign I worked on at Teleport. We were thinking through the types of companies that would get the most value out of our product (compliance-heavy, complex infra). We came up with a few verticals to run campaigns around, and I owned our fintech campaign. We saw a massive ROI from that campaign in particular. I’d attribute the success of that particular campaign to a few things:
First, we took a multi-pronged approach, we created a landing page, ran targeted ads, created a nurture campaign, and involved our SDR team.
Second, we let it run for a couple of months, giving it enough time to work.
Third, we followed through on tracking and attribution – it’s one thing to create a campaign and ship it out into the world, but it’s another to be thoughtful about tracking how it performs.
It may seem obvious, but tying revenue to marketing activities can be surprisingly difficult in practice. Making a concerted effort to follow through on that helped us learn more from the campaign and refine our strategy for the next one.
How do you identify emerging trends and adapt your marketing strategies to capitalize on them effectively?
This question feels especially poignant with all of the recent developments in AI. I think step #1 in staying up to date is to read: read LinkedIn posts from leaders you like, read newsletters or blogs that are informative (I particularly like MKT1 and Growth Unhinged from Kyle Poyar), and stay up to date on industry news. Going back to experimentation (and leaning on mentors!) I’d say seriously check out strategic recommendations, data, and tool suggestions from other leaders in the space.
That said, I do think we have a tendency in marketing especially to rebrand foundational marketing concepts. Being aware of what’s truly ‘new’ and what’s the same thing reframed is an important piece of the puzzle.
Software products often cater to diverse target audiences. How do you segment your marketing efforts to resonate with different customer segments, and what challenges have you encountered in this regard?
This is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult challenges in marketing. Getting your target audience exactly right is tough, and especially so when you have multiple segments/buyers you want to talk to at once. I’ve found the most success with:
1. Talking to your audience (your existing customers, prospects, etc.) to understand how they’re talking about the challenges they're facing and goals they’re working towards and…
2. Being willing to focus and iterate. You don’t want to go too small with your audience, but being willing to focus your efforts on a specific ICP is extremely helpful. That, and being willing to test new targeting, new messaging, new ad types, etc. until you see traction.
Could you share your approach to measuring the ROI of marketing efforts for software products? What KPIs and metrics do you find most valuable in assessing the success of a campaign?
My favorite way to measure the ROI of marketing is through SQLs (or an equivalent metric). Having a number that reaches beyond ‘marketing qualified’ I think is the key to making sure your marketing tactics are actually successful. Making sure your leads are good quality and paying attention to pipeline is crucial.
That said, specific KPIs and metrics are so dependent on the company stage. In the early days, I think the focus should be more on building: setting up the engine that will get you to a reliable ‘dollars in dollar out’ marketing motion. I’d say looking at guardrail metrics like website pageviews, inbounds, ad CTRs and CPCs, email opens/replies, etc. is always going to be important, but your quarterly goals will likely differ based on company stage.
In the context of software marketing, what role does content play in establishing thought leadership, and how do you ensure the quality and relevance of your content?
Content is huge, especially now. Being able to provide insight, perspective, and technical guidance is crucial in software marketing. With AI, we’re seeing a flood of (not great) content which certainly complicates things. I think, though, that there will be an even greater appetite for quality content as more repetitive content gets pushed out into the world (that, and quality AI tools that support the creation of good work, like Writer).
I think the relevance of your content depends on your goals. Are you trying to establish a founder at your company as a thought leader? Are you hoping to drive leads? Do you want to share product news? There are a host of goals that underlie the content you produce, and what’s relevant to your audience (and who makes up that audience) is hyper-dependent on those goals. In broad strokes, though, I’d say that making sure your content is technical enough for your audience is key, as is finding strong writers. Those writers can come from your internal team or you can lean on external folks (for instance, I particularly like working with the technical writing team at Wizard on Demand).
What emerging technologies or marketing trends do you believe will have the most significant impact on the software marketing landscape, and how is your company preparing for these changes?
Here are a few emerging technologies/marketing trends that I think will change the game:
Unsurprisingly, AI is a big one. Not only is it changing content, but it’s no doubt going to have a massive impact on SEO. I think using AI to enhance your work is going to be key for software marketers.
Second, I’d say attribution. Obviously, attribution isn’t new. But, I think there’s going to be an increased emphasis on collecting valuable, clean data throughout the marketing funnel. That, coupled with the push for increased privacy, will make for an interesting mix.
Lastly, the concept of growth. For a lot of tech companies, I think this means acknowledging the importance of self-serve and hiring people to support that motion. For other teams (where growth looks more like demand gen), I’d say it means creating much closer alignment between product and marketing teams.
As a company, being willing to embrace change, looking at new tools and ideas with a critical eye, and using new technologies to enhance, rather than replace creativity and ingenuity I think is the key.