5 questions for Erfan, B2B Online Marketing Manager at MotionTools.
Data meets Gut Feeling: Read on to learn about Erfan, our B2B Online Marketing Manager, and his philosophy on performance marketing and what makes a great experiment.
What part of performance/online marketing do people usually underestimate?
I think the more fundamental, humane parts of marketing get neglected. Things like customer research, messaging, and also cross-functional aspects such as creating feedback loops between marketing and other functions such as sales and Customer Success.
These parts usually don’t have an immediate impact and are not concretely measurable (at least in the short term), but these things make or break the whole marketing organization in the long run.
Of course working with new marketing technologies, having solid attribution systems, and working with different performance marketing channels are necessary to generate leads, but if you neglect the most fundamental principles of marketing that are tied to psychology and human interactions, nothing’s gonna sustainably work. Even your career as a performance marketer will be in danger, because more and more day-to-day operations are getting automated, either by new marketing technologies or advancements in AI and machine learning.
Your job involves a lot of experimentation. What is the typical process and decision-making in choosing and setting up experiments?
It’s always said that marketing is a mixture of art and science, and this is the science part.
It’s gotten even more streamlined with developments in Agile Methodologies, borrowed from engineering and product teams. Basically, instead of betting on big shots blindly, we try to break down ideas into smaller projects, to enable us to make judgments based on real customer feedback, not our feelings. Implementing Agile in your marketing project management processes enables you to learn fast and iterate, therefore it minimizes risk and also speeds up your organizational learning curve.
The process starts with research and ideation and that should quickly turn into hypotheses. Experiments are done in order to validate hypotheses. If they fail, we learn something doesn’t work, and we’ll try to understand the reasons behind it. So every failure is a success on its own. If experiments don’t fail, we’ll celebrate and double down on our wins.
Our MotionTools Values are Empowerment, Collaboration, Mastery and Impact. If you had to pick one, which and why?
I would choose impact. I believe, if I don’t have an impact on the world, my existence is under question.
I like to have an impact on people. Marketing in itself has this core philosophy of creating change in people’s behavior. If people are not aware of something incredible, it simply doesn’t exist.
My goal is to make this impact through my skills, career, and the organization I work in. The exciting fact about creating impact is that it’s never-ending. There is no limit but your resources. You can always increase your impact on your surroundings, and maximizing that impact with the limited resources requires knowledge and understanding at first, and drive and action secondly.
What makes working in a startup in performance marketing different than in a larger corporation?
In larger corporations, you usually have performance baselines and goals to improve them further ahead and scale. The roles are very specialized, every performance marketer works in a specific area. Also, it’s way more organized, because processes have been built at least to some degree.
In startups, there are no baselines. You can’t make use of accumulated data over years to see what’s going on. There’s nothing, and you need to make something out of nothing. There are things that are being handled manually and no processes govern them. It’s in the nature of startups. [highly recommended read: Paul Graham (founder of Y Combinator) on doing things that don’t scale.] This leaves you with lots of ambiguity, and you need to rely on your gut feeling a lot, which is an irony because people think performance marketing is all about data, but it happens a lot that you don’t have any.
Regarding the roles, startups give a more holistic perspective to marketers, because they have to handle many aspects of marketing themselves, from research, ideation, execution, analysis, stakeholder management, and many more.
If you could give one tip to your younger self what would it be?
I wouldn’t interrupt, because that would change where I’m currently standing.