Scaling Audience Engagement for the Fortune 500 Ep. 27

In this week’s episode of the Demand Gen Visionaries podcast, we’re joined by Leela Srinivasan, CMO at SurveyMonkey.

Scaling Audience Engagement for the Fortune 500 Ep. 27
Corinne Pearce
Corinne Pearce
January 15, 2021
min read
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Apple Podcast LinkGoogle Podcast LinkSpotify Podcast Link

This episode features an interview with Leela Srinivasan, CMO of SurveyMonkey. Leela joined SurveyMonkey in April 2018 to lead all marketing functions including brand strategy, growth marketing, product marketing, and communications. Previously, she served as Chief Marketing Officer at Lever, VP of Marketing at OpenTable, and Director of Marketing at LinkedIn. 

On this episode, Leela dives deep into the key components of her strategy, including how to truly understand and add value for your prospects, put your customers at the forefront of your marketing, optimize your channels and tactics, build community, and much more.

Tune in to the episode to hear Leela reveal her demand gen strategies, including:

  • How her team approaches having a wide customer base across organizational functions
  • Her perspective on thought leadership 
  • Favorite ways that her team evolved and pivoted during the pandemic

Want to skip ahead to the highlights? Check out these can’t-miss moments:

Episode Highlights

(2:10) Leela’s Career Path

  • First job generating demand was at a consumer products company, selling through radio commercials
  • First crack at demand gen in the B2B environment was at LinkedIn 
  • She started her career with 5 years in sales

(3:20) An Overview of Leela’s CMO role at SurveyMonkey

  • Many people know the SurveyMonkey brand, but they should know what SurveyMonkey is in 2021, which has expanded
  • They have different business areas, which includes the surveys business but also fast-growing business areas focused on customer experience and market research
  • She runs those 3 pillars, including demand gen, product marketing, social, comms and growth 

(4:40) What Leela’s Demand Gen Strategy Looks Like

  • The first thing that comes to mind is knowing your prospect really well and understanding how you can add value to them
  • To drive demand you really need to know what you bring to them that offers unique value since there are many things competing for their attention
  • It’s also important to identify the customers that you have who will influence your next customers, and then finding ways to put them in the spotlight
  • The third thing she focuses on is making sure that you are joined at the hip with your sales partners, getting fully aligned and accountable with your strategy
  • She also thinks it’s critical to experiment, optimize and measure; demand gen is a portfolio of approaches and tactics that are in different stages of maturation. 
  • Scale the tactics that work, keep experimenting with the tactics that aren’t yet mature

(7:23) SurveyMonkey’s Target Market Has Expanded

  • They work with 98% of the Fortune 500 
  • They help organizations capture and operationalize feedback, which is a very horizontal strategy, across HR, IT and Marketing
  • Over the years, the use cases for SurveyMonkey have really exploded 
  • They are starting to move into Customer Experience as well, which can even extend to product design
  • They’ve found that there are tight ties between Customer Experience and Employee Experience; if you can bring your employees closer to the experience of customers, they are more likely to stay with your organization

(13:45) What is SurveyMonkey’s Category?

  • SurveyMonkey doesn’t quite fit in a single category, with a broad base set of solutions, so she has the team focus on categories where they provide the most value
  • Experience management is a major use case, where they are the most agile player in the space, helping companies roll products out much more quickly than before

(15:42) Leela’s Uncuttable Budget Items

  • For Leela it’s less about 3 specific channels, but more about an idea, a campaign that you feed in to different channels and tactics
  • So one of those ideas is research and data-backed thought leadership content that you can package and leverage across all of your channels
  • An example of a thought leadership asset she developed was around hiring trends as LinkedIn was building their talent solution, which became the “meat” of campaigns across additional channels and formats
  • With video content the same approach applies, there should be a 6 second version, 30 second version, etc to get engagement in different contexts
  • Much more is coming on the brand campaign front to help drive the perception shift of how SurveyMonkey adds value and who they serve

(22:54) What Will Happen to Events?

  • She is excited for physical events to return in the later half of the year, and believes they will continue to have a place for awareness, brand loyalty and community
  • However, she wonders about the future of large scale events and if their importance will fade away
  • She personally doesn’t believe she will be going to as many events in the future
  • Her marketing org will invest less in big events, as she thinks that with fewer target personas attending, such as herself, there will be less ROI for being present there
  • New approaches may be needed to solve for gaining interaction with senior execs going forward

(25:59) Best Learning Experiences of 2020 

  • Her team did a great job of responding and pivoting because of the pandemic
  • A highlight was evolving solutions to help organizations keep in touch with workers newly working from home
  • Another highlight is what she’s seen come from the conversations around racial equity
  • They partnered with a group called The Justice Collective to launch a robust set of survey templates for organizations to gauge how their employees felt about the conversations around racial equity
  • SurveyMonkey has launched a vendor diversity template, an effort made together with 20 other companies to evaluate the collective buying power they have and hold their suppliers accountable to be thinking about diversity and inclusion
  • She is looking forward to invest more in podcasts going forward

(31:58) One Company, Two Websites 

  • They have two websites to manage, and 
  • There are slightly different teams focused on each website area, with the experience management team more focused on GetFeedback
  • They have a growth team that thinks about the overall ecosystem, and how they route a visitor from one website to another when necessary

(36:42) Leela’s View on NPS

  • Marketers more than ever need to be closer to the customer experience
  • She sees a lot of companies that are measuring NPS, but people to know why they are measuring this and developing a plan to act on what they learn
  • Her recommendation for charting a path forward to improve NPS is to know that you can’t tackle everything at once

(40:45) Quick Hits: Getting to Know Leela

  • If she wasn’t in marketing, she’d be homeschooling her kids
  • Her plans for 2021 include going back to Scotland, where she is from
  • If visiting Scotland, she recommends visitors go to Edinburgh, where she is from
  • She also recommends renting a car, driving up to Skye and having dinner at Three Chimneys
  • Her New Year’s resolution is to train for a marathon

(42:05) Advice to a New CMO

  • Be joined at the hip with sales

“We live in such a noisy world, and your prospects are being pinged left and right with messages and offers and opportunities from all of your competitors. So to have the right strategy, you have to understand what you can uniquely bring in terms of value to that prospect conversation.”
“Something that has been a mainstay of my demand gen strategy across companies is identifying the customers that you have who will influence your next customers, and then finding ways to put them in the spotlight, because nothing will convince the next set of customers like your current customers and the success that they are seeing with your solutions.”
“Experiment, optimize, and measure. I think about demand gen as a portfolio of approaches or tactics, and they're often at different stages of maturation. For the most mature ones, you are scaling and optimizing those, but in the interest of having value to add to your customer and reaching them in different ways, you have to be experimenting with different channels and different approaches at all times. You're constantly doubling down on things that are working while trying to find the next set of channels or tactics that are going to take you to the next level.”
“How do you add value to your prospect? What can you share with them that will be of insight to them? have that be the central meat of your campaign, and then figure out how to leverage that across as many viable channels as possible.”
“On NPS, I see a lot of companies that are measuring it, but the question is, what do you do with that? And do you understand the why? That's the big gap that I see sometimes is the failure to really understand the root causes of an NPS score and then put an action plan in place and charge after it, because it’s not a vanity metric. We shouldn't be navel gazing, we should be acting on what we learn.”

Ready to hear from more Demand Gen Visionaries? You can subscribe and find all episodes here.

Check out this open Demand Gen Leadership role at SurveyMonkey
SurveyMonkey Future of Work Resources

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