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How A CMO Uses Storytelling To Engage Audiences

Steve Olenski
Master Principal Sales Architect

Jeremy Duerksen is CMO at Peaksware. In his spare time he rides horses and dual sport motos - presumably not at the same time and races bikes. At Peaksware he is responsible for marketing eight different product lines across three primary markets: strength & conditioning, endurance sports and music education.

Under Jeremy’s guidance, independent marketing teams at each of Peaksware’s four companies TrainingPeaks, TrainHeroic, MakeMusic and Alfred Music continually evolve similar data-driven, content-based, LTV-focused strategies. 

I had the chance to chat with Jeremy to talk about all sorts of things. Well not about horses and sport motos, maybe next time. What we did talk about, however was things like storytelling, email, demand gen, data and more. 

Olenski: Storytelling has become a very popular and successful method to engage consumers. How do you use email marketing to tell stories to engage your audience?

Duerksen: Storytelling is core to our overall marketing strategy in that we position each brand as an educational resource for our customers. We ourselves usually aren't the experts. Instead, we curate the best experts in the industry to share their advice through articles, video, webinars and live events. Email (for all the reasons noted above) is proven to be one of our best mechanisms to deliver that content.
For a recent example from each team see: 

Each of those examples, despite targeting different markets takes a narrative approach with helpful resources to provide true value to the recipient.

Steve Olenski: From both a consumer as well as a marketer perspective email marketing continues to be a preferred marketing channel. Why do you think this “old school” channel remains so relevant? 

Jeremy Duerksen: I believe email continues to be a preferred marketing channel for three primary reasons:

  1. Email is customizable down to the individual allowing us to engage personally with our customers and prospects at relatively low expense compared with in-person connections. 
  2. Email is a channel to which we can directly attribute resulting actions and quantify ROI. 
  3. Email continues to be opened and read despite spam filters and consumer's crowded inboxes. 
    • We routinely have 25%-40% open rates and 3%-5% click through rates in large part due to lists of customers who already trust us and actively look for and value our communication. We use email more for trial nurturing, onboarding, content distribution and promotions to consumers who have opted in as opposed to cold lists where are success rates are much lower.

Olenski: How do you define Demand Generation?

Duerksen: Demand Generation is anticipating and responding to the needs of a target market with tactics aligned with product, sales and support to enlist customer advocacy and enable inbound discovery.

Olenski: What are some examples of demand gen tactics Peaksware uses today?

Duerksen: Our marketing tactics can be summarized into three buckets: 

  1. Education - clinics, workshops, e-learning, webinars and conferences to teach customers how to improve their skills and how they use our products.  
  2. Content - articles, video and ebooks to educate consumers while leveraging SEO, email and social channels to attract, engage and distribute the content.
  3. Partnerships - influencing respected thought leaders and industry leading organizations for authentic advocacy and inspiration

For an additional perspective on how each team focuses their efforts and budgets, we adhere religiously to these three marketing principles: 

  1. Data Driven: to align resources and priorities for maximum ROI
  2. Content Based: to educate and motivate while building trust
  3. LTV Focused: to attract the right eyeballs for long term engagement 

Olenski: You are responsible for eight different product lines across three primary markets.  First thing that comes to my mind hearing that is a lot of data being generated. How does Peaksware manage/handle all the data that’s being generated? Do you use a DMP or similar platform?

Duerksen: As our data grows, how we manage it is, and probably always will be one of our biggest problems same as every other company but it's the one we are more focused on solving this year than ever before. 

Olenski: Moreover, with all that data, how do you ensure the right content is being delivered to the right audience via the right medium?

Duerksen: Modeling engagement with our products and more importantly with the Deliberate Practice loop (which is the core value proposition for every one of our products) is how we are using data to get the right message to the right person at the right time. 

We use these models to identify communication opportunities at the individual user level to convert them into a paying customer or educate for deeper engagement with our products to proactively reduce churn. 
Specifically, we've identified the behaviors of select cohorts of users from which we've developed an engagement model applicable to any size cluster ranging from all customers in aggregate down to one unique individual. We are then feeding our communication tools with this data to drive the right messaging, programs and campaigns.

The communication goal for the Marketing team is to extend each point out and increase the area of the shape. Rather than typical ‘persona’ based segmentation, this data allows us to be hyper targeted and ultimately very effective with our marketing. 

Want to hear more from Jeremy... and other marketing leaders? Of course you do. Well if you're in the Denver area, make plans to come to the Modern Marketing Mashup: Denver. Come mashup pioneering thinking, valuable networking, and superb food & drink!

Thursday, February 16th
Space Gallery
400 Santa Fe Drive
Denver, CO 80204

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