Liz Carter on Leading in the Tech Trenches
- Unexpected beginnings. The journey from english major to CMO.
- Staying ahead in digital. Carter’s approach to an ever-changing marketing landscape.
- Success in collaboration. A multimillion-dollar campaign strategy.
As chief marketing officer at Reputation, Liz Carter oversees the company’s global marketing organization, which includes demand gen, product marketing and corporate marketing functions. She is an experienced marketing leader who has built and managed high-performing teams that deliver results across demand gen, communications, corporate events, field marketing and thought leadership.
Previously, Liz built the field marketing and corporate events function at ServiceMax and managed various aspects of corporate marketing, communications, and demand gen. Prior to joining ServiceMax in 2011, Liz was the senior event marketing manager at SuccessFactors where she developed corporate event programs like SuccessConnect, SuccessFactors’ annual user conference and supported SuccessFactors’ goals of high growth and IPO through events. Liz holds a B.A. in English from Vanderbilt University.
We caught up with O’Neill for a five-question Q&A on her role as CMO in our latest edition of the CMSWire CMO Circle series.
Editor’s note: This transcript is edited for clarity.
An Unexpected Journey to CMO
Jennifer Torres: Hi, I’m Jennifer Torres reporter with CMSWire and this is CMO Circle, our chance to get together with a different CMO and ask them a few questions in a Q & A format. Today I’m very excited to welcome Liz Carter, chief marketing officer at Reputation. Welcome Liz.
Liz Carter: Hi. Thank you, excited to be here.
Torres: We’re very happy to have you and we’ll get right to the first question. So, what inspired you to a career in marketing? How did you get your start in this industry?
Carter: Well, I kind of fell into a career in marketing, and that’s how I like to put it. I got out of college and frankly, I was an English major. I moved to Atlanta with a bunch of girlfriends, and I ended up taking a job at a tech company in Atlanta. They needed event support because they were losing an employee. It was a team of three and they were losing someone on their team.
So, they were looking for a person with a lot of experience, but they wanted to hire a sort-of contractor to make do during the time that they were they were trying to fill this role. And so, it was event marketing — and I didn’t even know what that meant. But I like to say that it’s really what grounded me in the sort of overarching world of marketing, right? Running events and being a part of the team that builds out a tradeshow experience or a kickoff experience for a company is a way in which you really see all the elements of marketing and the cross functional relationships that marketing has played out. And it was so fun.
In the very beginning, running these events, learning about what it meant to work with the product marketing team or the field marketing team or the PR team, or how to manage all these different aspects for one event. And that’s really what inspired me to just keep learning and growing in my career and expanding sort of the knowledge that I had. And so, I really credit sort of starting in that event world as how I found a love for marketing.
Related Article: Unconventional Beginnings: From Investment Banking to Marketing Mastery
Leading in the Tech Trenches: Staying Ahead in the Digital Marketing Marathon
Torres: Great. Question number two. How do you approach the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing and emerging technologies? For example, generative AI is all the talk these days. There are all kinds of new tools coming out. How do you keep up?
Carter: Oh, my goodness, it is hard. I mean, I guess what I would say is, I read, and I try to learn. I try to learn from my peers and places like LinkedIn where your peers are posting about things that they’re doing and today’s marketing technology companies that are in the martech space are constantly wanting to educate marketers, right? I mean, that’s what they’re there to do.
So, there’s a ton of content out there, and so I think for me, it’s a matter of trying to stay up with what’s going on. It’s partnering with vendors that I believe are on the cutting edge or have an idea of how to continue to leverage new technologies like generative AI in their solutions that they provide to us. And, you know, as a company, we’re having a marketing mid-year off site, and I think we’re going to talk about AI as a marketing team. What should we be looking for, doing, or using — and sort of just bringing the team together to talk through. So, I feel like trying to stay up with the content and then really making it an environment on my team to sort of bring new ideas all the time.
The Making of a Multimillion-Dollar Campaign
Torres: Can you provide an example of a successful marketing campaign that your team executed recently? And what were the key factors that contributed to the success of it?
Carter: I’m a little over six months into my role at Reputation, so, I have been getting my arms around all the various aspects of the marketing team that we have here — the way in which we go to market as an organization and what our customers are doing with our products and solutions.
When I got here, one of the things that Reputation does really well is they put together these reports for specific industries where our customers come from, and so what I understood is there was a healthcare report that was about to come out that our team had been working across collaboratively with our data science organization around what’s happening in the healthcare industry when it comes to reputation management and customer experience.
And so, what we did differently was we really worked across the company to educate everybody on what the report was going to say, how it was coming together, and what that meant for new customer acquisition, as well as what the value of that was for our current customers. We put together not just the content of the report, but actually a sort of multichannel approach to getting that report out there. And then having a very cross functional way of doing outbound and inbound marketing with that report.
And so, it was it was one of the first kind of campaigns that we did as a team since I came on board, and I felt like it really was an opportunity for the team to see how we could work really collaboratively, not just within marketing, but across some of the other teams that we work with and support. I’m happy to say it was really well received. We had over 300 downloads and in a pretty quick amount of time, influenced, over 4 million in pipeline. What’s really important to me is making sure we track those metrics right and are able to report back to the business, what we did, what we did well, and how we can improve next time.
Related Article: Customer Acquisition Really Stinks Sometimes. Here’s Why
More Than Just Pipeline: The Art of Gauging Marketing Impact
Torres: Well, speaking of that, what metrics do you measure to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing investments?
Carter: Yes, well, obviously pipeline is huge. So, understanding where pipeline is coming from, what channels of ours are most effective. And then also, one of the things that I did when I first got here was spend a lot of time with the marketing ops team and the sales ops team to understand what our go-to market channels look like, how we’re doing from an inbound and outbound perspective. What it is that we need to drive the business in order to hit our revenue goals for the year?
And so, we built a demand model, and one of the things that we’re going to do, or continue to do each quarter, is look back at what that model said. How did we actually, perform, and what’s that telling us? I mean, the reality is, this was the first time building a demand model the way that we did. Not that the company hadn’t had one, but you know, it’s not going to be perfect, right? It doesn’t mean I’m going to see 100% across all the metrics.
I think what really gets interesting is when you can go back to it and say, OK, you know, how much pipeline did we did we drive through these channels? Where do we over-perform; where do we underperform? And a lot of it has to do with conversion rates and velocity and the average size deal. Like those are the things you have to track, not just the how much pipeline was created, but those metrics actually really matter. So, those are those are the things that we like to track and look back on to tell us how we’re doing.
Message for Future Marketers: Climb Ladders Sideways and Broaden Your Scope
Torres: OK great. Well, what advice would you give to somebody who is considering entering the field of marketing or has just entered the field and maybe, one day, they would like to become a CMO?
Carter: Oh, wow. Well, you know, what I would say is first of all, marketing is a creative collaborative environment, right? So, if that is part of what drives you, I think. Marketing is a great career path, and I think if you want to grow your career you have to be willing to sort of take new challenges, or maybe do a lateral move within the marketing team to understand a different area of marketing than you did before.
I think that everybody sort of sees the career ladder as upward movement, and I would say one of the things that I think made a difference for me was being able to take some time to say, OK, well, I’m going to learn something new. I may not be moving up, but I’m actually learning. I’m expanding the world. I think that makes just as much of a difference as actually taking a step up. Those are the things I would think about as you’re thinking about a career in marketing — and also just a career in leadership. I think those are the things that make you more well-rounded as a leader.
Torres: Well, that’s good advice. Thank you. I really enjoyed speaking to you today. Thank you for joining us. This has been Liz Carter, CMO at Reputation. Liz, we really appreciate your time. Thank you.
Carter: Absolutely. Thank you so much. It was great to talk to you.
Torres: This is Jennifer Torres with CMO Circle, and we’ll see you next time.