The art and science of B2B marketing with Mary Ellen Dugan, CMO at WP Engine

Mary Ellen Dugan is Chief Marketing Officer at WP Engine, the world’s leading WordPress Digital Experience Platform.

FINITE founder Alex recorded this episode with Mary Ellen to explore how modern day B2B marketing is a mix of both art and science, and the challenges that marketers face in balancing brand building with performance marketing whilst driving growth.

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Full Transcript

Alex (00:07):

Hello everyone and welcome back to another FINITE Podcast episode. Our episode today is with Mary Ellen Dugan. Mary Ellen is the Chief Marketing Officer at WP Engine, the leading technology platform, helping to deliver digital experiences built on WordPress. 

Mary Ellen and I are going to be talking about balancing the art and the science of B2B marketing, the big, bold, brand building creative stuff, paired with the hardcore performance marketing data driven stuff. How you can balance the two? Do you have to make choices between the two? Or can you do both at the same time? Those and other questions coming up on this episode, I hope you enjoy.

FINITE (00:43):

The FINITE community and podcast are kindly supported by 93x, the digital agency working exclusively with ambitious fast growth B2B technology companies, visit 93x.agency to find out about how they partner with marketing team and B2B technology companies to drive digital growth.

Alex (01:08):

Hey, Mary Ellen, thanks for joining me today.

Mary Ellen (01:10):

Thank you so glad to be here. It’s an honour.

Alex (01:12):

I’m looking forward to talking. We’ve got a lot to talk about. We’re going to be talking about the art and the science of modern B2B marketing. But as we always do, I was going to ask you to give us a bit of background, introduce yourself. Tell us about your career today and what you’re working on at the moment.

About Mary Ellen and the marketing function at WP Engine 

Mary Ellen (01:28):

Sure. Well, I’m currently the CMO of WP Engine and we are the world’s largest WordPress digital experience platform. And so what that means is, and I know obviously you’re well aware of WordPress, but if people are building on and building with WordPress, we really hope that they use our platform. So we currently have over a million different websites or digital experiences on the platform, over 600,000 customers across about 150 companies. 

And so I’ve been with WP Engine four years, a little over four years, and really came in as we were starting on this big growth trajectory to really define not only the brand, but then the components of the marketing organisation. The demand gen performance marketing, might be called different things for different folks, as well as business development and agency programme. And the, what you would say, the more traditional parts of marketing, whether it’s advertising SEO, comms, events, et cetera. So it’s been an amazing ride to this point and we’re just getting started. 

And prior to that, I held positions at indeed.com. So if you’re looking for a job, many people would know that as a search engine. I always laugh, people say, I’m not looking for a job, but I certainly know who they are, which I always chuckle. I also, from a big brand perspective, worked at Dell Technologies, similar roles in marketing, and then have spent a stint in agencies. So kind of run the gamut, certainly the last decade or so in technology.

Alex (03:04):

Cool. And tell us a bit about, I mean, you listed loads of things there, which are under your umbrella at WP engine now. And quite far reaching across lots of different areas. What’s the size and shape and function of, I guess what falls under the marketing umbrella for you at WP Engine?

Mary Ellen (03:21):

Yeah, we have about a thousand employees in total at WP Engine, and so marketing is about 75 or 80. So, you know, under the hundred mark and again, those teams run while we have joint goals and business goals together, they functionally are the things that I mentioned you have. People that are focused on advertising, demand gen, content, writers. 

We have data analysts, we have developers on the team and that we look at as almost that internal agency and really combining both the dev and the design together. Product marketing as well, so really lots of different disciplines that come together to make marketing.

Alex (04:02):

And what did that look like when you started four years ago at WP Engine? What was the kind of size and shape? Was it more generalist and less specialism and obviously a smaller team? But just give us a sense of the kind of the growth that has happened.

Mary Ellen (04:14):

Yeah, I would say it was about a quarter of that size, than today. And I think as we grew, we did add in expertise. One example might be paid media. So we purchase any of the media that we have, and that is not something you could do through an agency, but we brought that in house. 

And so we’ve looked to build out an expertise in areas, specific areas that may be a discipline, if you will. And so that’s been some of the growth. We really expanded our own events and our event strategy and our agency focus and our agency partnership, and that required more operational minded people. So some different disciplines coming into marketing or ones that you might not always consider there.

Alex (04:59):

So we’re going to be talking about the art and the science of modern B2B marketing. I guess there’s this struggle that I think every B2B marketer can relate to in some form or another, of bridging the gap between data-driven performance marketing and building a brand and the creative side of marketing. And I guess juggling both, trying to balance both side by side. But before we dig into it, in terms of just setting the scene at a top level, how do you see the B2B marketing landscape now?

How the B2B landscape is shifting to digital 

Mary Ellen (05:26):

Yeah, I think the B2B, B2C has always been a controversy, right? How different or how similar they are. And I would say, I think this pandemic has brought them so much closer together. And for a couple reasons, I think, you know, many people are working from home. 

The bridge between what you would have thought your more personal B2C component, and your B2B life has really started to melt, I guess, for lack of a better word. And so I think what you’re seeing in B2B marketing is this push to be much more agile and very quick to launching things Go To Market. That has always been a hallmark, I think, of B2C companies. 

And now as we got into this it’s, we’ve got to be digital first and move much more quickly. We are seeing it at WP Engine. For example, projects. Everybody had technology projects one through 25 or whatever. Now, all of a sudden that 25th project may have jumped up to the first because you’re having to communicate with your customers in a new and fresh way. 

So I think that is changing the B2B landscape even faster. It was going that way, but the new front door is your website or digital experience. And so I think B2B is rapidly catching up and gonna be using the same techniques and philosophies that you see in B2C.

Alex (06:53):

Yeah. The nature of what you do, obviously you take websites pretty seriously, I’m sure in your own marketing, but I guess a lot of B2B tech companies have relied heavily on events and a lot of face to face stuff for pipeline. And that’s been a traditional, strong component of B2B tech marketing and all those kind of field marketing things, which have pretty much been paused and aren’t happening generally, or definitely not in the same way. So have you felt like you’ve been shifting resource and budget even from those kinds of things into more digital channels?

Mary Ellen (07:22):

Yeah, I think you’re spot on and we’re seeing that from just the movement since, you know, March or so, even on the WP Engine platform and a couple of things have come to pass. Exactly what you’ve said, if you’re going to, you know, events are now virtual, you have to have compelling content, how do you keep people interested for multiple hours? And that is probably almost like creating a campaign in a day, right? 

You’re trying to say, okay, I’ve hooked you, I’ve got you here, I need to keep you engaged. And then what’s the followup to that? And how do you take your content, your thought leadership and extend that? So I think what you’re seeing now from companies as they are very quickly saying, how do I become virtual? What is my new virtual front door? That might be a sub domain or their main domain, you know, it just depends on what their projects are. 

But rethinking that whole digital landscape is paramount. So for us in particular, I’ll give you an example. We typically do one of our own events. It’s our summits, our marquee series, and we’ve done one in the US and one in London and one in Australia. And when this hit, we moved it from an in person to a virtual event. And so in person we were hoping to have about seven or 800 people attend in June. We had 5,000 people register. And while I would say about 50% of those showed up on the day, another 50% used that content and came to that content in the weeks following. 

So I have to say, as a CMO, I’m changing my whole opinion now, I don’t think you are definitely not going to have face to face events, but you’re going to have to have both of these and it just changes your reach and impact, but the pace at which you need to put content and those things up has just changed dramatically.

Alex (09:08):

Makes sense. So I want to dig into this balance between short term and long term thinking as a marketer, to some extent. And I guess I’m not necessarily directly related to the art and the science, but I guess you could argue that building a brand and investing in the more art side of marketing you have to do with maybe a bit of a longer term vision, whereas the kind of performance marketing world drives the more instant stuff. 

And I think a lot of the data we see, I think the average tenure of a CMO is something like three years, if that in some recent data. So you’re above average at four already, but whichever way we look at it, there’s a pressure on marketers to deliver results pretty quickly, right? No matter how we approach this. Do you find that that’s a pressure that’s difficult to balance in terms of instantly delivering results now, versus doing things that build a brand for five years time?

Why you need short term AND long term marketing goals 

Mary Ellen (10:00):

I think you are asking one of the biggest challenges of CMOs and you’re right. It is a scary statistic, whether it’s three years or some say two years, or you know wherever we are. And so how I would say that when I originally came up through the marketing ranks, I would say, the brand is a promise. And it’s the promise we’re making to our customers. 

And there was this innate acceptance that it took time and it took multiple years and things like that. I think now the pace of business has changed dramatically. I’ve shifted my mindset, and you’ll see this in my Twitter feed and other places. I say brand equals business, so you have to present as a CMO that anything you’re doing to build your brand is, you hope it’s the long term. But at the end of the day, if you cannot show the things that you’re doing in the short term, I think you will not get the funding and you’ll not get the impact. 

So what I do in this case at WP Engine and at other companies, I have said, look, we as a company, as a set of marketers, have one goal: we want to be the brand of choice. That is measured if you can only buy one pair of shoes, one car, only use one WordPress platform, this is the one we have. We want to be it. That is what I would say is our longterm goal. 

And then everything we’re doing, you can measure a whole bunch of short term things. Does that messaging and everything that we’re doing in a campaign? Are we driving more traffic to the site? Is that a leading trend? That’s saying from a performance marketing standpoint, you’re making progress. Are we driving enough leads or opportunities to our sales organisation? Are we getting more agency people involved to consider us? 

So I think that the balance here is that you communicate to your CFO and CEO that while we want to build the brand, we’re not going to do anything that’s not going to impact business. Saying it that way peaks people’s ears and they’ll go tell me more. And then you’re saying, here are the short term metrics from performance marketing that we’re going to say, are we actually getting to that brand of choice goal? And are we not? So that’s kind of how I structure the organisation. 

I also say to my organisation, we need actionable brand efforts. We can not afford at a company our size, or really just the pace of business, to do things that feel good. If we can’t drive action with any of our brand work from events to velocities, to this documentary, if we can’t show action, then we can’t do it because brand has to equal business.

Alex (12:26):

It’s a great way of putting it. I guess I might jump ahead a bit and ask you a question that relates to that, which is taking the C suite on the journey, because I think what you’ve described is something that a lot of people can probably think they can relate to in theory. 

But then to some extent, if you’re not in an environment where others, in terms of CFO, CEO, if they believe that marketing is just advertising and putting something on a billboard, or they have a kind of completely warped view of what marketing really is, I guess, do you feel like you’ve had to adapt? How you talk about some of these things so that it fits the language of the boardroom? 

As weird as that sounds and how much of this is just relying on having the right people elsewhere on the board and in the C suite? Because ultimately if they aren’t the right people are they just going to block you from getting one of those done, no matter how you phrase it?

Communicating the value of marketing to the C suite

Mary Ellen (13:14):

I think this is a challenge, again I faced in my career and probably everybody out there in marketing or even in an agency is saying, how do we convince somebody that the work that we’re doing has value? And I would say one thing that has helped is stop trying to use marketing words. 

So one of the things that’s engaged, I have engaged people in the finance department that either report up to the CFO and say, as a finance person, how would I present this marketing data and ROI in a way that marries how you guys talk about it in your meetings? So that one has certainly helped. I also am really conscious we take the business goals of the company, and in our case we’re a monthly recurring revenue we’d have churn, things of that nature. 

And so I take those business goals and then I say, what are the things we are doing to impact that business goal? I find that really helps because if you can take the executives on a journey. This may be three steps removed, I know you don’t quite understand how an impression, if somebody watched our video how’s that going to translate? You have to take them on the journey. Well, they saw this, we retargeted to them, this many people came back and this many people bought. So one is really talking the language of the CFO and the finance organisation and the CEO, the board, how do they want to have information served up and adapt your marketing? 

And the second thing I would say, we, as marketers are guilty of saying, we want to build an emotional connection. And I think when you say that word, everybody, a finance person, I’m stereotyping, but is going to cringe. If you say we’re going to cause an emotional reaction or interaction with our company, they are like, okay tell me more. So I think being really careful of the vernacular, action oriented words, business metrics, and exactly what is that journey from the first time they’re aware of us to they actually bought something, crystal clear on that ROI. And then you can win.

Alex (15:21):

I had a very similar discussion with another CMO recently on the podcast, which, and I think that the point about language came up as well. And he had actually, I think done some financial training and done some short courses on accounting CMO, really got his head around talking the language of the CFO and being able to translate everything he did into a language that was understood. So I think that’s a really interesting point. 

And I think even we as marketers, I mean, I regularly have discussions with people in marketing or clients where we’re talking about the same things, but using different words and even within marketing, we can confuse ourselves. So I think I have to realise that outside of marketing, it’s a completely different world, right?

Mary Ellen (15:56):

Yes. I think you’re absolutely right. And taking cues in your organisation, you can look at who’s right brain and left brain potentially through the organisation. And if you need to tap into engineers or finance or operation people, and every company has different language, right? So that I find is the most important. And then linking back to business actionable words. 

Alex (16:24):

I think one question that I always get asked about a lot is if you’re a smaller business, how much you can afford to invest in brand building activities? And we’ll come on to talk a little bit about some of the stuff you’ve done in the documentary. But I think particularly when, if you’re a 20 person B2B tech startup, and you’ve got one generalist marketer, I guess there’s a bit of a reluctance to invest in what we’re talking about in terms of building a brand. 

And I think what you’ve described in terms of brand equals businesses is maybe part of the answer to that, but do you think that smaller businesses earlier in their journey can embrace some of these more brand led marketing initiatives and build a brand early on, and not just rely on the kind of short term performance marketing metrics or running a LinkedIn campaign or, you know, the stuff that generates leads for four weeks, but actually where are they in four years?

Building brand as a small business 

Mary Ellen (17:15):

Yeah. That’s a great question. I think any company, no matter what their size is, needs to start the journey. And so I think things as simple as can you crisply articulate your brand differentiation? You know, invest in that work either do it yourself or that’s money well spent to say, what is our brand differentiation? What is our promise and how? Because from there everything falls off of that. 

So you may not say, oh, we’re doing a big brand campaign, but your brand is certainly going to help you do an awareness campaign. Because you have to do that you can’t do a LinkedIn campaign, like what are we talking about, right? We’re trying to take people on that journey. They know who we are and why should they buy from us? So I think at a minimum, no matter what your size is, it’s about being crystal clear of this is what our brand is and what our brand isn’t. 

And then from there using that as a strategy to all the creative, all the messaging, all the digital experiences, your website, everything you’re building comes off that brand positioning. And you may not say you have a brand campaign, but to me, many of those things are going to be brand led.

You know, if you’re going to go to an event or a virtual event, how are you going to position yourself? Some people are going to say that is a performance marketing effort, right? That is trying to get leads, great, but you can do brand building activities with that that are not going to be flagged as brand per se. And so that’s how I would approach it at any size. And as you grow, you can take more risk on some things, but you have to know what your brand is, or that performance marketing doesn’t work in my opinion.

Alex (18:54):

So I guess what you’re saying is that rather than trying to separate them out as two separate things, actually there’s probably more opportunity than people think to do both at the same time, almost sometimes without even realising that the two are kind of working in tandem.

Mary Ellen (19:06):

Exactly. You know, when your CFO is going to ask you, well, we paid this money to do LinkedIn or whatnot. They’re not going to typically ask you what you put in market. They’re just going to ask you, did it work? You as the marketing lead, know what you put in market and how you messaged it and what worked. And so I think you can control the brand and feel like you’re building the brand. Even if many of your activities are more quote unquote performance market. 

Alex (19:37):

Yeah. Makes sense. Do you think there’s a risk that the very heavy focus in recent times on the performance side of things can drive short-sightedness and some businesses? I mean, I can’t help but feel that I see some businesses that have such an opportunity to build a brand and be in such a strong position in a couple of years time or even shorter, but all the metrics are so measured in the short term with such shortsightedness that I almost feel like I come across marketers who are strapped to their desk by a spreadsheet and they just can’t escape and it’s all about driving short term results. Do you think there’s a risk? Do you think that can be a limiting factor? If some of this more brand led stuff is not worked in?

How a heavy focus on performance marketing can be dangerous 

Mary Ellen (20:18):

I think that in a tech space, I can speak to that specifically, it is a danger because technology companies and, you’ve seen some of them have made lots and lots of money. We hear about all the time in the news and the financial markets. And there is the sense of if we just optimise optimise, then that will get us to where we are. 

One of the things we talk a lot about is, while we’re always optimising, what is the what that we’re putting out there. It’s not just making the button pink and then the button blue, when we’re testing on a website, we don’t have pink or blue, but if we did. It is about how are you intriguing people? 

And I think, we’ve done this research about different generations and certainly how Gen Z is looking at it. And it’s very clear that this next generation wants to be a part of your brand. They feel they are part of the brand, they’re savvy. You know you’re close enough to that, even though you’re a savvy businessman. But I’m gonna say you’re close to that generation. You have built a brand, both for yourself and your company. 

So I think we need to look at this next generation that’s saying, I want to be part of your brand, I will help you, I will participate, but you’ve got to have a brand. You have to have a point of view, and it’s not just about the performance marketing, how many clicks we got. You can really lose sight of that very quickly. If you’re not clear, again back to what is our brand, how are we positioned? And then we go from there.

Alex (21:43):

So you recently invested in making a documentary, which is something that not a lot of big technology companies have done, but tell us what it is, a bit about it, and kind of what was driving that as an initiative.

Investing in a documentary for brand building 

Mary Ellen (21:57):

Yeah. This certainly is one of those brand building efforts that we certainly couldn’t have done four years ago when I started. And I’m going to be candid with you. When the team, the marketing team, the brand team came and said, we want to do it, I thought no way we could afford to do it. So that was kind of a big shocker. I have done 15 different TV spots and, I have extensive experience in this and I thought no way. And actually when I found out we were able to do it. So that’s kind of one of those tidbits, don’t assume you can’t do something with the budget you have. 

And the reason that we did it, we were really looking at how has creative technology shifted and reshifted what agencies are delivering to their clients. What clients are asking, what has happened over the last 10 years of where technology has played a role and how has it really shifted the advertising and the digital marketing space. And so we went out and asked an amazing collection of people from very small shop, to the largest shops out there. People who had 25 plus years experience and 10 years experience, we asked chief technologist, creative technologists, as well as what you would say the executives or more on the account side or design side. 

And so it’s an amazing makeshift film. It’s free, you can stream it. And it really is a great example of truly how digital is the great equaliser now. It does not matter what size you are, you can really punch way above your weight. And just some of the equality that technology is affording agencies and marketers.

Alex (23:33):

Very cool. As marketers, we talk a lot about sweating the asset and investing in something that we can then use in so many ways. I mean, this is the dream example of a pillar piece of content that probably just keeps you fuelled. I imagine across so many different channels and so many different ways for months, if not years, is it something that’s really, you’re able to keep using in different ways to drive all kinds of different marketing initiatives?

Mary Ellen (23:58):

Yeah. And this is a perfect example of trying to convince somebody we’re going to spend money to make a documentary that could feel like, oh marketing is just doing something that’s fun, right? How we ended up using this, we did use it as content in our events. So we were able to pique people’s interest there. We actually have a series that we will roll out this fall, where we could have a panel discussion at an agency where even if you weren’t in the film, you can critique it. You could love it or hate it, but it allows our sales and business development team to say, we just want to have a dialogue, especially for people. 

We were also doing this while we were well known in people that know WordPress. And if you have not worked in WordPress before, or don’t know that CMS, you may not know WP Engine. So this has been a real door opener for us in people seeing it and fine tuning it. So there are very distinct performance marketing lead gen activities with this. Of course there’s awareness and interest, but whether it’s at an event directly with an agency, we then actually cut shorts in this. So if you don’t want to watch the hour and 10 minutes, we have three different three minute ones that are about Open Source and WordPress and how people hacked the channel. 

So we are really, this is something with legs for certainly a year plus. So that was really the only way to get it done, to say it isn’t just a fun thing to do, it actually has to show business.

Alex (25:27):

It’s such a great idea. I think just having so much you can do with it once it’s produced and it can just go in so many different directions and open so many doors and it’s the great example of the more you put into a piece of content the more it can… I feel like describing it as a piece of content is doing an injustice given just how big and great it is, but how long did it take to produce from first discussion through to making it happen?

Mary Ellen (25:55):

Gosh, you know, it was probably between six and nine months that we interviewed a variety of people and then there were many edits. I think maybe 30 or something like that we were trying to get it down to. And then so much additional film there. And I think to your point of, I call it moving film, I think that people need to reinvent. You’re doing that here today with FINITE. 

And we need as marketers to reinvent whatever we’re calling the podcast or documentary or virtual events, the world has changed and people are going to consume content over these, either verbally or over the screen. And so I think coming at it from that lens is really the opportunity. And we did not know that going into it, that the pandemic was going to change and we were going to have this, but I’ll take credit for it, but it was a lucky strike.

Alex (26:51):

We talked a little bit earlier around optimising, potentially over optimising, particularly in digital marketing, I think this is pretty prevalent. I think a recent podcast I did as well, that hasn’t come out yet, but will be out actually by the time this episode is out with Rory Sutherland. 

He was talking about how he felt a certain amount of digital marketing budget should just be used to play around with and how particularly within digital marketing, it’s kind of run by people who are just so obsessed with optimising around the same point that eventually you potentially lose out on any opportunities which are tangental or kind of pop up. He believes that all marketers should be biologists, not physicists. And I know he’s got some fascinating views. 

But yeah, so you mentioned when we talked before about how a certain percentage of marketing spend goes into testing generally. You talked a little bit about this already, but what does that look like in practice? And is testing something that you feel like you have to really work on culturally within a marketing organization?

How much budget should go into testing and what should you test

Mary Ellen (27:49):

Yeah, it’s a great question. I try to loosely put 10% of our variable expenses, marketing budget to the side for testing or trying new things. And I think the important thing there, first of all, back to the earlier discussion of how do you take the CFO and people on a journey 10% doesn’t feel like you’re killing us. So it’s an easy way to get it in, from a mind share with executives. 

I think you need to be clear that when you do that, you will waste money. It’s just the nature of, you’re trying to take this 10% and try and test new things. And some of them will work and some of them will not. And so the way that I look at that, we do have AB testing and that’s a commonly, you know, everybody talks about AB testing. I think in that case, AB testing is more in the performance marketing. 

You should always be looking about how do we get a little bit better? You don’t AB test typically on brand new things or like a whole new vehicle. So this 10% budget is really designed around. I’ll give you a couple examples. A couple of years ago, we did this research on different generations and we’ve really honed in on Gen Z because they’re the most different, that was a test, right? That was like, wow, I don’t know maybe we wouldn’t do it again the next year. It turned out to be very successful, as really insightful information. So we have continued it. 

So Makeshift is another one. You know, we put money aside to do this, we’re not probably going to do, well we won’t be be doing a documentary every year. But what we learned from this were things I was just talking about. How do you use moving film and video in new and compelling ways? 

So what I would say, if you’re going to test, that whatever percentage of a marketing budget you can put aside and say, we need to be innovative. I think the two words you need to be clear on is there’s testing that needs to be done. And then I think everybody recognises, and testing for me is AB and how do we get better? And all the performance and all the efficiencies we have. 

And then you want to use some portion of your budget for innovative marketing, and you can phrase it that way, innovative marketing. You don’t even have to say innovative brand building, but things that you’re going to say, this is not enough money to hurt our overall budget or impact of business. 

However, if we don’t keep moving forward, we’re going to be doing the same things over and over and over again. So certain portion, try innovation and then keep your testing, and then you have to convince people, no, don’t worry, we’re still doing all this other testing on the side. But this innovation budget is slightly different.

Alex (30:22):

And with that in mind, do you think you need to structure a marketing team in a certain way to do the R&D testing side of things within marketing? Is this something that everybody’s responsible for? How do you approach it and make use of that budget and apply it across the two?

Using a team for research and development 

Mary Ellen (30:38):

Yeah, that’s a great question. I think having a cross functional discipline team is really important. I think assuming that every marketer is a great data scientist and can gather insights and can really do analytics, it’s just likely not true. So I think being really clear on this is our testing unit, if we will, and what are the functions that are on that? 

We talk about our business as self-serve. So if you buy directly, you don’t talk to anybody on eCommerce. So we spun up a team called Fro-Yo, which in America self-serve yogurt is called. So that’s why it was the code name. But really the point there was, not the name, but we had R&D people on it, we had analysts on it, we had a finance person on it, we had marketers on it. And we said, what is the next set of tests that we want to go run, that we think collectively will move the business? 

I find that was a really energising way for new tests and getting a variety of people involved. They were excited to be on a team. They could collectively decide here’s the next three or four things we’re going to do, and you use that diversity of discipline. Whether you have the bandwidth, we did not have the bandwidth to have a totally separate team. So to your question of how do you do this in an agile way? Those are ways to do it, this cross functional team that can be energised. It’s not their full time job, but it certainly is something that they can be creative and innovative in thought.

Alex (32:10):

I think that’s a great way of structuring it. So looking a little bit ahead, obviously the WP Engine growth continues. I’m sure in the last few months with everything we’ve talked about, I know it’s been a weird time for most businesses, but I’m sure that the demand for moving online and investing in more digital properties generally is increasing. 

As that happens, have you got plans on the marketing front? Things you want to test out? Any big initiatives? Obviously not things that are your big secrets that you don’t want to share with any competitors, but anything that you’re excited about or looking forward to?

Future plans for WP Engine

Mary Ellen (32:43):

Well, we kicked off the last podcast, we were talking about how the new front door has changed, accelerated. The school has changed, I have a 15 year old and one day he’s in the school room and then the next day he’s sitting upstairs in his bedroom. Same thing for the yoga studio where you used to go in, and now you’re streaming. 

Really we’ve taken our brand, our brand lines press ahead. And it’s all about how we help move your business forward at a faster pace. And we have just recently launched a campaign around what does that new front door mean? And what are examples that we’re seeing of it and who’s doing it? How do you think about it as an agency or marketer? So that’s something we’ll be leaning into, that new front door concept. How does that help you press ahead over the coming months and beyond, so really excited about that. 

You know, I think for us a big focus is the user experience, our own user experience. And knowing that the world has changed, how do we become more agile, faster? How do we make sure the platform is in a place that every marketer, developer and agency can use it in the way that gets them to market. And so that whole user experience from coming in that front door on the website, to our portal will be something that we are actively doing. 

And that’s where I look at your user experience is a brand. It is a brand experience for sure. And that is, in this case, owned by the whole company. So really looking to how do we actually take marketing efforts and really have it owned across everybody from when you check out and you pay finance. You know, give us money. So that’s going to be a big, big focus for us. 

And then continuing on our thought leadership to, what are topics people are interested in? We’ve done a CMS study about WordPress versus other closed CMS and how that is working. What’s the role of head lists and then certainly generational. So those are kind of some of the things that we’re looking short term.

Alex (34:43):

Awesome, sounds exciting. You sound busy and I’m sure things will get busier. It’s been a pleasure talking, there’s so much there that I think is valuable for any marketer, no matter where they are in the journey and in their career. I know that I feel like I’ve taken lots of bits of insight that I will take away and apply and think about, so lots of food for thought, but I’m really grateful for you sharing your time, Mary Ellen, jumping on the podcast. Big, thank you.

Mary Ellen (35:07):

This was a real, this was an honour and it really is. Nobody has a crystal ball, but I think if we all work together and share some of the ideas and concepts, then we’ll get closer. We’ll get closer to the crystal ball. So thank you again. This has really been wonderful, appreciate it.

FINITE (35:25):

Thanks for listening. We’re super busy at FINITE building the best community possible for marketers working in the B2B technology sector to connect, share, and learn. Along with our podcast, we host a series of online discussions, so make sure you head to finite.community to subscribe and keep up to date with upcoming events.

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