A marketing fanatic since his teens – Phil Gamache is an incredibly talented and passionate SaaS Marketer with extensive skills in marketing technology, marketing automation and operations, conversion rate optimization, and customer data platforms. In this podcast – we learn the secret behind his rapid career growth in this ever-evolving world of marketing.
About our host:
Dr. Saksham Sharda is the Chief Information Officer at Outgrow.co. He specializes in data collection, analysis, filtering, and transfer by the means of widgets and applets. Interactive, cultural, and trending widgets designed by him have been featured on TrendHunter, Alibaba, ProductHunt, New York Marketing Association, FactoryBerlin, Digimarcon Silicon Valley, and at The European Affiliate Summit.
About our guest:
Phil Gamache has been a Demand-Gen Manager, a Marketing Automation Manager, a Marketing Director, a Marketing Technology Instructor, a Marketing Ops Manager and a Director of Growth Marketing. He currently works at Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com.
The Podcast – The Logistics of Revenue Driven, Quality Focused and Automated Marketing with WordPress.com’s Director of Growth
Saksham Sharda: Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of Outgrow’s Market of the Month. I’m your host, Dr. Saksham Sharda I’m the Creative Director at Outgrow.co. And for this month, we are going to interview Phil Gamache, director of growth and lifecycle marketing at WordPress.com.
Thanks for joining us, Phil.
Phil Gamache: Thanks for having me, Saksham. It’s great to be here. How, how are you doing today?
Saksham Sharda: I’m doing amazing. It is nice and sunny outside. How about you?
Phil Gamache: Nice also doing good but the opposite weather here. It’s Ottawa in Canada. Got a nice rainy Monday showers, I guess are kind of starting.
The Rapid Fire Round!
Saksham Sharda: Okay. So that’s ideal for you to enter our rapid fire round, which we are going to start with just to break the ice. You get three passes in case you don’t want to answer a question. You can just say pass, but try to keep your answers to one word or one sentence only okay?
Phil Gamache: Okay. If I don’t pass anything, do I win something at the end? You
Saksham Sharda: You get a car? Just kidding. You don’t win anything. This is marketing.
Phil Gamache: Shopping for a car right now, so that’s perfect.
Saksham Sharda: All right. So the first one, at what age do you want to retire?
Phil Gamache: I don’t think I ever wanna fully retire, but I’d like to kind of start that journey maybe around like 40 years old.
Saksham Sharda: Mm-Hmm, how long does it take you to get ready in the mornings?
Phil Gamache: 20-25 minutes.
Saksham Sharda: Most embarrassing moment of your life.
Phil Gamache: Shortly after buying my first home, I fell for a door to door scam. I’ll just keep it at that.
Saksham Sharda: What is something that people often get wrong about you?
Phil Gamache: I’m introverted a lot of people kind of assume that I’m extroverted when they first meet me, but yeah, definitely more on the introverted side of the scale.
Saksham Sharda: Really. I thought you were extroverted, actually asked me about how my day was going. No one ever asked me that.
Saksham Sharda: All right. Fill in the blank and upcoming marketing trend is ___________.
Phil Gamache: I’d say, I don’t know if this upcoming trend for some, I’ll say I’ll go with propensity modeling using ML models to predict the audience behaviors.
Saksham Sharda: Okay. We’ll have to get into that. And the long questions, the next one, the city in which the best kiss of your life happened?
Phil Gamache: Ottawa, Canada and Ontario? Yeah.
Saksham Sharda: Okay. Pick one, Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey.
Phil Gamache: Jack Dorsey, for sure.
Saksham Sharda: The first movie that comes to your mind when I say the word ambition.
Phil Gamache: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Saksham Sharda: Okay. When did you last cry and why?
Phil Gamache: Ooh getting personal here. I’d say sometime last year, almost a year ago now. My wife and I had a miscarriage.
Saksham Sharda: Okay. The biggest mistake of your career?
Phil Gamache: Maybe staying too long at my first job out of university.
Saksham Sharda: How long was that?
Phil Gamache: Four and a half years.
Saksham Sharda: How do you relax?
Phil Gamache: Long hot showers and watching science fiction.
Saksham Sharda: What advice would you give your younger self?
Phil Gamache: Maybe don’t stay as long at that first job or stop chasing a salary and instead chase or look for interesting problems to solve
Saksham Sharda: A habit of yours that you hate.
Phil Gamache: Checking my heart rate on my apple watch constantly.
Saksham Sharda: Okay. And the last question, your favorite Netflix show.
Phil Gamache: Oh, has to be on Netflix. I’d say Dark,
The Big Questions!
Saksham Sharda: Dark fair. Okay. Well that was the end of the rapid fire around. You actually scored 10 and 10 and I wish I could give you a car, but I can’t. You didn’t actually pass anything, even though I asked you the tough questions, so well done for an introvert.
Saksham Sharda: Okay. All right. Long form questions.
Saksham Sharda: When would you say is the right time to implement marketing automation? Is it ever too early to implement it?
Phil Gamache: Yeah. super cool topic. Like I don’t think it’s ever really too early to implement it. Like how deep you go and how sophisticated you kind of roll out some of these automations. Like that kind of depends on the head count that you have like the team size or like the scale of the company or whatever. But yeah, I would say that like even early on like day one, having an entry level tool, like a MailChimp or mail poet or a convert kit, like whatever it is, even if you’re just a one person marketing team, messaging your users, when they’re signing up for the product, whether it’s B2C or B2B, like sending them emails after they’ve purchased something or sending kind of an ad hoc newsletter, just being kind of top of mind for your users. It doesn’t have to be a full like fledged sophisticated nurture strategy or anything like that on day one. But I think the idea of having something in place from the start allows you to eventually do something with that data, like several years down the line, like when you are ready to invest in it. So like combining MailChimp or MailPoet it with like some type of product analytics database where like, if your B2B users are in your product, they’re like engaging with it. And using specific features, you’re like starting to track that and store somewhere, even if you’re not doing anything with it. And maybe mapping that with like a CRM, like tracking like demographic stuff deal sizes, if you’re more B2B. And then like one day when you hire a marketing ops person or a life cycle person, they have like a data set to start off with. They’re not kind of starting from scratch. And even if you’re not doing anything with that data that you’re recording from day one your future self will be very thankful that you took the time to kind of set those things up. And yeah, your future self will be happy about that.
Saksham Sharda: And so do you think marketing should drive revenue, not leads? Do you agree with the statement?
Phil Gamache: Yeah, definitely wholeheartedly. That’s one of my principles for sure. I think that, like, it’s easier said than done though in, especially in B2B companies that sell like a very expensive product that has a very long sales cycle. But at the end of the day, like what you do should try to be revenue focused. A lot of teams try to like invest too much in this kind of like holy grail of attribution and, and multi-touch, and try to figure out that like, everything they did has some type of impact on revenue. But as I’ve kind of grown in my career, I’ve discovered that doing incrementality testing and figuring out what your marketing team is doing is a lot easier when you’re trying to do lift tests or experiments or AB tests, like whatever you call them being able to like separate a piece of your audience from not receiving a message or not receiving a campaign. And then like comparing that to the audience that does receive it. And then like seeing the impact of that over time ultimately like that should lead to revenue, but easier said than done, like when you’re a small startup team and you’re just like, don’t really understand anything about attribution and like, at the end of the day, you like to drive revenue. But sometimes in, in bigger B2B companies, when you’re kind of like working with a sales team, oftentimes like that really means just arriving leads, but at least try to focus on quality leads. Even though you’re not necessarily like touching revenue, like some of those leads might turn into revenue, but at least like focusing on what is a quality lead, like chatting with your sales team understanding a bit more about like the ideal customer profile that you’re trying to drive to the website. But yeah, I, in an ideal world marketer should be driving revenue for sure.
Saksham Sharda: And how would you relate to relate this to the lessons you learned from your first stint at entrepreneurship at Captive Creative?
Phil Gamache: Yeah, this is really taking me back like almost 10 years ago. Now, my first my first job out of university was a B2B company. So I was working in house like selling SAS, but before I started there, like in university, I did a couple of internships. They called like co-op internships in, in Canada. And one of them was like spending a full year at an agency and I loved it. Like I thought I found my people like working on a bunch of different companies, different products, different technology tools. And I told myself like, yeah, one day, like I, I see myself starting an agency. And so while I was kind of in house, in my first role, I was kind of like feeling that itch a little bit of like working with different people, like uncovering different types of problems instead of like always the same customers, the same product, and started my own little agency with a university buddy. And that’s the start. We were just like setting up Google analytics for kind of like mom and pop shops, more of like friends of friends and setting up WordPress sites, which is interesting kind of full circle where I am right now. But yeah, in terms of like learnings from that like the, the biggest one, like I still have a bad taste in my mouth about taxes. I know that the us is, is very similar to, to Canada for like self-employed individuals, but like taxes, just like really aren’t fun at all. They don’t motivate people to like start their own businesses. I don’t, I don’t miss that part of it for sure. But I think that, like I did it too early, like that was maybe one of my biggest learnings. And I see a lot of people doing that too. Like they graduate and they’re just like, I’m starting an agency instead of working in house. And I didn’t really have like a, a sophisticated network yet of like people to reach out to, or like, I didn’t have like a personal brand. You can talk about that maybe, but like it, it was tricky to like find interesting work or people that were willing to like spend money for digital marketing consultants. That was like maybe a third learning. There is that like mom and pop shops are not digital savvy and are willing to like figure out how to do those things, but they’re not willing to spend the money on it. They don’t see the value of it kind of right away. But yeah, definitely think I, I did it too early. Like I’m not closing the door on it in the future, but that’ll be my advice, like work, work in house or work in an agency make some connections, like grow your network, like get a body of work and experience and figure out what you like to do. Cause when I did it, I didn’t really know like what I like doing. Like I was setting up GA building WordPress sites, setting up like social profiles for companies like doing everything that they kind of needed, but didn’t really know what I enjoyed doing a lot. So like spending time in house and in agencies like allowed me to kind of discover what it, my passion was kind of like fell into marketing automation and, and life cycle and more like MarTech stuff. So yeah, if I was to do it again someday, like I have a nice idea of what that niche would be and a bit more of a network now. So I feel like it would be a bit easier.
Saksham Sharda: And so at this point in your career for WordPress, your mission is to drive growth and engagement and life cycle. So could you talk a little bit more about what that means from a marketing standpoint? What were the obstacles you had to overcome in order to get started?
Phil Gamache: Yeah, so, yeah, growth and engagement. Yeah, part of a, a small life cycle team on, on wordpress.com. Right now we have tons of users signing up for, for the product and tons of different types of users. So we have small, medium businesses that are setting up like WooCommerce sites, selling something. And then we have like the other end of the spectrum that are just like everyday users, like setting up their first blogs or setting up a portfolio site, you know just setting up a simple site. And those are two completely different sites of users. And there’s like a, a ply of like different users in the middle of that as well. So we can’t really have like one message going out to like all of those users, those users all have different use cases, different goals. So life cycle comes in when we’re trying to figure out a framework for sending the right message to the right user at the right time and tailored to what their past behaviors have been and what their goals might be in the future. That’s where life cycle comes in. We kind of start post acquisition if you will. So some of the challenges there are taking a nice big chunk of users and trying to get them to come back into the product. So oftentimes like product teams will focus on just like generating signups and like 85 plus percent of signups and SaaS, like don’t ever come back in the product after signing up. So that’s where like marketing needs to be closely tied into that onboarding journey and being a piece of the puzzle where like, all right, if the majority of users are like leaving after that first couple of hours on the product, how do we get them to come back in the product and see the value of the product and create these kind of like habit loops? So that’s what our team focuses on. Like how do we create messages, notifications? And then we send them to users. And so that they’re like interesting and valuable to users, not just like annoying and they just kind of like opt out of it, but like really focusing on like what the use case is for that user at that stage in their journey and how can we help them motivate them to get back in the product, like finish building their website or discovering a new piece of the, like a new feature that we just launched. So the challenges are, are, I guess, like it’s, it’s across a collaborative endeavor, if you will. Like, we have to work with the product team our MarTech team, our data teams. So there’s a lot of like collaboration that we need to do and understanding who our users are, is like easier said than done in, in the world of WordPress. But that’s a problem. A lot of SaaS companies have as well. And yeah, like converting that into like the unique value propositions for all of those different use cases and building like a framework for how do we actually go about doing that personalization? How do we go about like, making sure that the messages that we send are valuable to users, but also like we talked about are turning into revenue and, and incrementally, like we look at like all the stuff that we do, are we pushing the needle on revenue or are we just kind of looking at like leading indicators and click through rates and stuff like that? So yeah, I, I think it’s super interesting because like a lot of companies just like focus on that first piece of the puzzle and the last piece of the puzzle, which is kind of like acquisition and then monetization, we crowd a bunch of users on the website, all right, now that we have them, how do we push all those free users into like becoming paying subscribers, but a lot of companies forget that middle piece, this is like life cycle, and this is all about driving engagement for existing users, getting them back into the product, seeing the value of it, and then naturally wanting to upgrade and become paying users. And then you have to like focus on less of those levers and like all that acquisition work like becomes a lot more fruitful and like that retention becomes easier as well. So yeah, easier said than done, but I think it’s super important work.
Saksham Sharda: So, what do you think specifically prevents companies from successfully personalizing customer experience at scale?
Phil Gamache: Yeah, I think it has to do with like based on where the company is in, in their size or their journey, like it, it probably has to do with just like the amount of data that they have access to. Like I mentioned, like one of the things that I’m really big on right now is propensity modeling using ML models to kind of like predict user behaviors. And that sounds really nice and fancy. And it’s only something that like large companies with massive data sets get to play around with like your average startup. That’s like two or three years old. Like doesn’t have enough data to like build models and predict what users are going to be doing. Let alone, like trying to, to personalize some of those messages. So I think like making it a priority is like the, the first step of the journey and like trying to gather that data from users and doing that in a way that you’re not like annoying users. You’re not slowing them down in the signup process. Right. Like asking questions when they’re setting up their website or your users are signing up on, on your site, like not asking too many questions so that you’re like annoying users and, and they don’t finish the signup process, but asking like valuable questions so that you’re like tailoring the experience for users in the product, but also using that to like tailor and personalize your messages, whether it’s in email or SMS or push notifications or, or whatever. But yeah, like I think that like the, the biggest obstacles are a, like having the data in the first place are like, prioritizing that. So that like in, in three or four years, like when you decide to do personalized journeys, like you do have that data to kind of play with I would say the, the second or the third, I forget which one I’m on right now, but the technology piece, right. Like it’s easier said than done, for sure. Like, I think marketing ops and MarTech teams don’t get enough credit and in the personalization world and like at the end of the day, like none of that stuff is implementable without like having that technology piece in there. And so like, figuring out your strategy is the one piece of it, but then also having the tech in place to be able to do that. I think those two kind of come hand in hand and just having one without the other, like, isn’t gonna allow you to do that. Oftentimes teams will just think that, like having a clear bit on the website plus like maybe a drift like a couple of years ago in chatbots were like the hot thing, but like at the end of the day, like if you don’t have a strategy on like understanding who your users are and what they’re trying to do, and like what a valuable message looks like for a subset of your users, like the technology pieces, won’t figure that out for you. So yeah, I think prioritizing it, the data piece, the technology piece, but then like also having a good strategy for figuring out, like, what is a valuable message for the subset of users that you have.
Saksham Sharda: And I guess we should have talked about this before, but how do you think conversion rate optimization is implemented differently for B2B and B2C clients?
Phil Gamache: Yeah. We get to play with both B2B and B2C side of the audience, like I kind of mentioned. And so I’ve gotten a taste of that, but previous in my career, was mostly all B2B. So I would say that like largely the implementation pieces are very similar. Like they’re still like the core principles about like understanding your users, knowing their pain points, their use cases. And then all the experimentation methodologies, like following the right, like hypothesis, figuring out like what should be your tests, how long you should run it for what your sample size should be to hit 90ish percent significance. So that’s the same in B2B and B2C. And lyou need to do those well in, in both cases. But I think when it comes to like tactics and, and, and actually like like optimizing on some of those levers, it is different in B2B versus B2C mostly because B2B has like a lot longer sales cycle than B2C. When you think of like traditional B2C, like maybe it’s like selling shoes or you know, selling like an e-commerce like you’re more the e-commerce side of things. Most of the, the, the Crow that you’re doing on site is to just like generate more sales and the majority of those sales happen, like on the first, maybe sometime the second visit for those users. So a lot of the Crow is around like on page homepage testing, seeing how many sales we can increase by running some of these AB tests or these lift tests, but on the B2B side, like sometimes the tests that you’re running, it doesn’t really matter about the quantity. Like I mentioned, like marketing should always try to drive revenue, but sometimes it’s not always possible. And like the leading indicators are leads, but at least try to make it quality leads. So sometimes like your CRO experiments could be focused on driving more quality leads, like more M QLS or more P QLS for your sales team. And sometimes that means like driving less conversions and that’s a completely different kind of methodology than, than B to B2C. Like B2C is all about just like the number of total raw sales that we can generate from Crow. And then B to B2B. It’s a lot more about like, all right, on our homepage, can we change the signup button to book a demo instead of book a demo? Do we revert that to another landing page? And people can just like, see a video of the product, or do we have a chat bot, like there’s so many different levers to kind of like talk to sales when you’re your B2B, if you have a sales team, right. Like not all B2B companies have a sales team and especially companies that are going more of that, like product led approach. But yeah, I think the principles, the implementation is still the same in, in both B2B and B2C, but like which parts of the funnel you kind of optimize are, are gonna be different because in the B2B world, the sales cycle is a lot longer and there’s also much higher number of like buying personas as well. Like oftentimes a decision maker, won’t be the one kind of browsing in the first place. And so like doing all your CRO experiments on like someone who’s just gonna be like evaluating the tool, but not actually like purchasing it is gonna like skew all of your data in the first place. So yeah, different, different nuts to, to unpack for sure.
Saksham Sharda: And, and we’ve heard you’re a big supporter of no code and low code tools. And to what extent do you think they’re capable of entirely taking over and giving value to customers?
Phil Gamache: Yeah, I actually run my own podcast called Humans of MarTech. And we did a full episode on that. Like we dive super deep on low code, no code, I think it was episode 32. But like one of the thesis that my co-host came up with, John Taylor, like the definition of no code and, and low code is pretty loosely built in the industry today. And what we kind of came up with is the definition of low-code tool is a tool that allows you to break the dependency on technical experts, as well as subject matter experts. So in a lot of marketing teams today, maybe you have like a graphic designer and you have an HTML person or someone that’s kind of a web designer, frontend designer today in like the no code, low code tool. If you’re using Canva and you’re using wordpress.com it’s saving you from having someone who knows frontend design and HTML and CSS for, for a lot of the work, right? Like at the end of the day, like someone who know CSS is still essential in, in my opinion, but like Canva, like think of Canva as kind of like replacing a lot of like graphic design skills in some companies like before you had to have some Photoshops Photoshop skills to be able to do like something very simple that you can do in Canada today, that’s kind of like available for a lot of people, but, you know, at the end of the day, like, even though those tools are helping marketing teams maybe like launch stuff faster than, than they were able to before and break in that dependency on some of those subject matter experts at the end of the day, like how you deploy those tools and like the strategies that you have behind them, the people behind those tools that’s really what matters. So like, I don’t think that just having like a 15 no code and low-code MarTech tools on your team is gonna allow you to like, provide value to customers right away. I think at the end of the day, like how you deploy those tools, the people behind them setting up the strategies for them, that’s a lot more important to, to invest in. And those are the ones that are gonna drive value to your customers. The inputs that are going into the low-code tools more than the low local tools themselves
Saksham Sharda: Fair. And so we had an audience question as well. Cause we heard that you went to fantasy hockey, which NHL team reflects your fantasy endeavors.
Phil Gamache: Yeah, I can chat about fantasy hockey for days here. Probably spend too much time too much personal time on fantasy hockey already. I don’t know how much you know, about hockey teams, but over the last couple of years, like a dominant team has been the Tampa bay lightning. They kind of created like a, a dynasty. But yeah, not to, to pad myself on the shoulders too much there, but my endeavors would be similar to the Tampa bay lightning, I’d say.
Saksham Sharda: Okay. And the last question is what would you be doing if not this in your life currently?
Phil Gamache: I think that I would probably be like blogging or doing a newsletter for fantasy hockey. I’ve often thought about like how to match or like the intersection of like my, my fantasy hockey geekiness with like my, my background in email marketing and, and marketing automation and how I kind of tied the two together. But I always struggled with it because like fantasy hockey is like such a tiny niche of the world. And but yeah, like if, if I wasn’t, if, if money wasn’t an object if I wasn’t doing what I do today, like I think creating my own site or having a newsletter around fantasy hockey would probably be something that had kicked the tires on, but I probably still do the podcast too. Like Humans of MarTech has been super fun. Just reaching out to folks and like doing guest interviews, but also we do a lot of deep dive episodes on like specific topics. So we’ll just like chat about like email marketing deliveries one day. We’ll talk about life cycle. We did like a five series episode on life cycle. So yeah, it’s been a nice kind of way to kind of dive into, to work related topics, but also just having a conversation and loosely dive into some of those topics. So, yeah I don’t know if that really answers your question.
Saksham Sharda: It does kind of. Okay. well, that’s the last question. So thanks everyone for joining us for this month’s episode of Outgrows Market of the Month. That was Phil Gamache Gamache Gama, director of growth and lifecycle email@example.com. Thanks for joining us, Phil Gamache Gamache.
Phil Gamache: Yeah, thanks, it was a lot of fun. Thanks for nominating me for Marketer of the Month.
Saksham Sharda: Check out our website for more details and we’ll see you once again next month with another Marketer of the Month.