Mind Your Stack and Master Your Metrics: Insights from the Cutting-Edge with Marketer Tarah Speck

February 13, 2018
by Christine Viera
  • Mind Your Stack and Master Your Metrics

How Coffee Drove This Creative Lady in a New Direction

Tarah Speck is a Swiss army knife of a marketer. Creative, visionary, and hardworking—she’s been a content marketer, digital marketer, and product marketer. That makes for a refreshingly unique perspective. Here’s a peek into her marketing journey. She offers great insights into what marketing metrics measure success and a compelling prediction about the evolution of martech. Enjoy!


Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a product and solutions marketing manager at Marketo. I’m responsible for our quarterly product releases, go to market messaging, positioning, and training for our customer-facing teams. Before Marketo, I worked in various roles in demand generation, digital marketing, and content marketing for several martech and adtech companies.


How did you choose a career in marketing?

I don’t think I chose marketing so much as it chose me. Strangely enough, my degree is in International Development. I planned to have a career in foreign policy. So, right out of college, I moved to Washington DC to work for an international advocacy NGO on Capitol Hill. I helped research and edit policy briefs, coordinated foreign diplomatic travel for conferences, and basically poured a LOT of coffee for visitors in various positions of power.

I was unhappy, and found myself meandering to the marketing communications office to see if they needed any help. Their more creative roles made me drool with envy. After two years of Capitol Hill, my husband and I were burnt-out and we fled to the Colorado mountains. I wound up consulting and freelance writing for non-profit organizations for two years. In that time, I did a LOT of studying on marketing best practices and read a ton of eBooks from Marketo and Hubspot. I knew I wanted to break into Colorado’s increasingly hot tech market. Then, I finally got my break at a tech company as a marketing specialist, and the rest is history!


A Shift from Digital to Product Marketing


What does a typical day look like?

Every day looks different for me, which is one of the reasons why I love marketing! My day usually involves at least one of the following:

  • Supporting a sales deal, either through a training for our sales team, presenting to a prospect with a deal team, or on calls with prospects;
  • Creating go to market messaging for products, verticals, and segments;
  • Coordinating across departments for quarterly product releases; or
  • Working on or giving presentations at Marketo events, universities, or trade show panels.


What was the most surprising thing you learned about digital marketing?

We all know that metrics matter in digital marketing, but to determine which metrics to report to different audiences was (and still is) a real challenge. Metrics that matter to your peers will be different from your immediate boss, which will undoubtedly be different for the C-level and Board.

With ALL of the data at our disposal today, it’s tricky to decide what to track and how to track it.


What do you think the difference is between digital and product marketing?

Product marketing is the craft of bringing a new or enhanced product to market. We act as the bridge between the product and engineering team and the sales and marketing organization. We build the market-facing story of the product. We also equip our sales and marketing teams to be the voice and channel for the products that we launch.   

Digital marketing is just one of the mechanisms through which we attract new and existing customers TO our products. Digital marketing can look a bit different depending on the company, but at Marketo it generally includes paid advertising programs, organic social media, search engine optimization, and other digital programs.


What’s the Secret to Your Success?


How do you learn the marketing skills you need? Is there a favorite source of content you use?

I’ve always been a relationship person. So for me, when I meet someone who is wise, creative, or forward thinking, I love being around them. I dedicate time and energy to get to know them and their process. I’ve had the great privilege of having many tremendous mentors throughout my career thus far. I also enjoy mentoring new grads as they enter the workforce. To me, no blog post or professional book will ever have as profound an impact on my professional and personal growth as the 1:1 time I’ve had with these mentors and professionals.


What practical tips do you have for understanding what your customers want?

Talk to them!

There is no better way to learn about your customers than to actually listen to what they have to say.

Sure, there are great tools out there to track how they use (or don’t use) your product. Those are important. But there’s no replacement for hearing the voice of your customer as they talk about their experience with your product and company. The insights you can get simply by listening for keywords and patterns are unmatched.

If you don’t have a job that’s customer-facing, that’s still no excuse to not listen to your customers. 😊 Make friends and establish trust with a couple of customer success managers or sales development reps. Ask them if you can be a “silent observer” on some of their calls. I promise that if have the singular goal of learning, you’ll gain a lot from these experiences. You’ll inevitably incorporate these learnings into your marketing activity.  


How Do You Measure Success?


What marketing metrics measure your success?

The answer to that question is 100% dependent on your company and their goals.

  • Is your company more focused on brand awareness than revenue-driven goals? Maybe you care about:
    • Influencer mentions
    • Increased number of brand and customer advocates
    • Organic social engagement
  • Does your company have aggressive revenue goals for new business/logos? Maybe you care about:
    • # of qualified leads (marketing qualified and/or sales qualified)
    • Marketing-sourced pipeline
    • Marketing-sourced % of closed won
  • Is your company focused on increasing revenue from existing customers through cross-sell activities? Maybe you care about:
    • Marketing sourced % of cross-sell ready leads for customer success or inside sales
    • Increased retention and cross-sell revenue


What Prediction Do You Have for Marketing in 2018?

From feedback I’ve heard from other marketers and prospects in 2017, I think the C-Suite will push marketers to aggressively audit their tech stack this year. They’ll want every tool optimized to drive the company toward its goals.

The last decade has been characterized by a drive to acquire new martech solutions to keep up with rapid digitization in the market. We all need to accommodate the rise in digital-first buyers. As a result, there are well over 3,500 martech tools on the market. 

As marketers, we’re drowning.

It seems like there’s a point solution for just about everything you could possibly need. Rarely do these tools “talk” to each other. There isn’t a single platform to “rule them all.” Despite the hype, even marketing cloud solutions are still black boxes. It limits customers to using the set of point solutions that come out of the box with their product.

The market has grown a bit weary of this ecosystem and the need to buy a tool for every little thing. As a result, marketers will reevaluate their laundry lists of point solutions. They’ll find which ones are truly moving the needle and which ones just add more noise to their busy days.


High energy, inspired B2B Marketer. Lessons learned largely in high tech and communications industries where I've worked with very smart folks, on very cool things, in very dynamic environments. I like helping others navigate people, tech, programs, and problems with vision, courage, and impact. All opinions are solely my own.

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