Q&A with Marketing Leaders: Amit Bivas, VP of Marketing at Optimove

Here we go again with another round of QA with Marketing Leaders, a series designed to provide SaaS marketing leaders with the best insights and actionable tips on how to improve their marketing planning!

Today, we met up with the super creative Amit Bivas, the VP of Marketing at Optimove.

Optimove is the Science-first Relationship Marketing Hub, used by hundreds of customer-centric businesses to drive measurable growth by scaling customer engagement. Optimove combines the art of marketing with the science of data to autonomously generate actionable insight, empowering marketers to deliver highly-effective personalized CRM campaigns across multiple channels. The company’s unique technology suite helps marketers maximize customer spend, engagement, retention and lifetime value.

Amit has vast marketing experience in B2B SaaS. As Optimove’s VP of Marketing, Amit leads all aspects of the company’s global marketing initiatives, from strategy through execution and supports. Amit’s team is successfully supporting Optimove’s rapid growth and establishing its position as a market leader in its space, globally.

What was the best marketing advice that you’ve gotten in your career?

The best marketing advice that I’ve gotten is “you are not your own audience. Don’t market to the world as if they all think and act like you”.

How has your role – and the marketing landscape – changed in the last few years?

Technology made EVERYTHING possible. You can reach everyone with the most relevant message with a click of the mouse. For me as a marketer, today, it’s all about being creative and thinking outside of the box, as technology has evolved to a point that it’s got all the rest covered.

In the next five years, we’ll be seeing more AI-driven marketing technologies that’ll help comb through data and suggest how to optimally reach each and every prospective client.

What is the most important skill that marketing leaders need to have in your opinion?

In one word, storytelling.

Marketing leaders must be outstanding storytellers, as they are in charge of the brand story. As storytellers, they hold the opportunity and the duty to create, position and maintain the brand. They hold in their hands more than just the product, as they care for the brand’s values and vision.

What advice would you give to someone looking to become a marketing leader one day?

Start from the ground up.

Most of the marketing leaders I know, have started as content marketers or digital marketers, and have been exposed to all aspects of marketing. Only by having a deep, hands-on understanding of how all aspects of marketing work and interact would you be able to maximize your creativity, which is essential for the modern marketing leader.

What is your biggest challenge in terms of marketing strategy / planning?

The “unmeasurable”. In B2B marketing, there are many investments that you need to make without a real ability to gauge their true effect and estimate their ROI. Many CEOs won’t accept the fact that there are certain marketing initiatives that require investment, but won’t yield direct ROI.

One of my main challenges when planning my marketing strategy is how much to invest in the “unmeasurable,” and how to create proxies that do show how these investments do affect their subjects.

If your “test” budget isn’t generous enough, many times you’ll be driven to the wrong conclusion, as you didn’t invest the required critical mass in order to rule on the effectiveness of the channel.

What is one mistake you’ve done in terms of marketing strategy?

When trying new channels or vendors, you usually assign a “test” budget to see whether the certain challenge is effective or not. If your “test” budget isn’t generous enough, many times you’ll be driven to the wrong conclusion, as you didn’t invest the required critical mass in order to rule on the effectiveness of the channel.

In my past, when my marketing budgets were more modest than they are today, I have ruled out certain channels and vendors that I’d probably engage with if I’d had the budgets and mindset I have today.

What is your best advice for a young CMO in terms of marketing strategy / planning?

Hire the best and brightest.

Today’s marketing is tough. Competition is fierce, and there are endless ways to use your budget. In order to shine, you must be surrounded by the best and brightest. This doesn’t necessarily mean your team will all be senior strategists. It just means that when hiring, you must be sure that starting with your most junior team member to the most senior one, you have the best people around you.

What is your process when planning your marketing strategy?

Have a deep understanding of what worked, what didn’t and what should work moving forward. When your thoughts are set and you have good answers to all three questions, you can sit down and plan the next iteration of your strategy.

Also, make sure you have well-defined goals. Building a strategy without clear goals is impossible.

Unfortunately, there is no A/B test for marketing strategies.

How do you know that you planned well?

In my opinion, you don’t.

Unfortunately, there is no A/B test for marketing strategies. You can tell your plan was good if you have reached (or even better, exceeded) the goals you have set. Also, you want to look at how you and your team contributed to achieving the goals of the business.

The best proxy to gauge a successful plan is to calculate your marketing ROI over time and see what the trend looks like. But again, not everything can be measured in marketing.

How often you adjust your marketing planning after you create it?

At Optimove, we build an annual plan, and measure it on the run. Usually, we’d put in significant adjustments on a quarterly basis, as three months is enough time to get initial results which drive such adjustments. We review the plan and optimize it as we go, trying to ‘practice what we preach’ to our clients.