Jay Lee
Jay Lee
Metrics: A CMO’s Best & Worst Friend
On this episode, Jay walks us through partner marketing, growing site traffic, content strategy, and key learnings the team at Avalara are reflecting on post-pandemic.
Avalara (NYSE: $AVLR) is a leading provider of cloud-based tax compliance automation for businesses of all sizes. Avalara works with businesses all over the world — from corner stores to gigantic global retailers — to calculate tax accurately and automatically, at speeds measured in milliseconds.
Tax Automation

Guest Bio

Jay joined Avalara at the end of 2019 and has helped guide Avalara’s demand gen efforts through the pandemic as events came to a stop and digital efforts ramped. 

Jay oversees Avalara's growth in business through marketing, product development, and business strategy. He brings more than 20 years of experience developing high-performing marketing teams empowered to increase customer engagement and drive financial results. Prior to Avalara, Jay served as global head of marketing for PayPal's Business Financing Solutions division, where he helped small businesses obtain financing to achieve their aspirational goals. He previously held leadership positions at large companies like American Express and GE, and at smaller entrepreneurial companies like Aimia and Swift Financial (acquired PayPal).

Episode Summary

This episode features an interview with Jay Lee, CMO at Avalara, a leading provider of tax compliance automation software valued at 13 billion dollars. Jay is a two-time CMO with more than 20 years of experience developing high-performing marketing teams, and previously held leadership roles at GE, American Express, and PayPal.

Key Takeaways

  • If your company is in a rapidly changing industry, treat your website as an online newspaper. Keep your users up-to-date on what’s changing in your industry so your site is the go-to site. 
  • Always have backup marketing channels at the ready. You never know when the next curveball will be thrown your way. 
  • CMOs that don’t have the numbers on their side are in deep trouble. Metrics are your best and worst enemy.


“We are always trying to get a sense of what the spend is and then what the return is. In B2B, it's all about what kind of leads you are creating and all the different programs that you have and what kind of pipeline you're generating for sales.”

“A recommendation from a partner, ‘hey, you should use Avalara to manage your tax compliance in our system,’ that's enormous. We do a lot of direct marketing ourselves. But it's always better to have that trusted advisor or a system that you're already using to endorse us because you know that it's going to work and that’s what really matters.” 

“COVID happened in March and immediately the whole events industry shut down. That was a whole channel for us. It just went dark. If you're thinking about a multichannel approach to go to market and one of the main ones to your target audience gets shut off — what are you going to do? What we did was we leaned into all the other channels. We put up a bunch of webinars and started to get ourselves into the virtual world.” 

“What's so great about marketing versus any other part of the company is it's where you're actually supposed to test a ton of stuff. So there really isn't any bad marketing campaign. Just as long as it doesn't cause any reputational issues or do anything that’s too strange.” 

“Marketing should never say this: ‘We tried that and it didn't work.’ Because the world is always different today than it was yesterday... testing should always a part of the budget.”

Episode Highlights

Episode Transcript