Gali Arad Kovacs, Director of Cloud Revenue Marketing At NetApp, On How Cloud Marketers Can Increase Revenue By Leveraging Data

In this episode, our guest is Gali Arad Kovacs, Director of Cloud Revenue Marketing at NetApp. Gali has over ten years of experience turning marketing organizations into revenue producers that drive demand and growth for subscription-based services.


Show Notes

On enhancing marketing's effectiveness through account-based strategies

"As marketers, we're trying to expand our reach, right? And the best way that we found to do that is to first identify the highest value market opportunities, and then generate those campaigns based on the business needs of our target audience." (04:55)

"Targeting is super important – you really need to be there at the right place at the right time with the right message." (05:22)

On lessons learned during COVID-19

"[The pandemic] has really put digital customer experience front and center. We've had to rethink traditional marketing tactics [and] digitally innovate how we interact with potential customers, especially on the bottom of the funnel." (18:31)

On the biggest opportunities for today's cloud marketers

"There's room for companies to develop more mature partner marketing plans to sell through and with cloud providers, coming together with the customer-first. There's no limit to what we can do to drive innovative co-marketing, additional revenue, and ARR." (23:57)

On advice for teams beginning to implement co-marketing

"Take a customer-first approach. What's the joint value prop you bring together? Define that, and make sure that it's locked in, and everybody agrees on it. Otherwise, you'll get lost in the execution." (21:26)

"The best [programs] are the ones that are joint – joint webinar; joint follow-up on leads. It's a coming together, rather than a separation between the cloud provider and vendor." (22:19)

Full Transcript

Michael Pollack [00:00:09] Hello, everyone, and welcome to Selling in the Cloud, a podcast about the business of cloud sales and marketing, brought to you by Intricately, the authoritative source of digital product adoption, usage, and spend data for cloud sales and marketing teams. I'm Michael Pollack and I'm here with my co-host, Sarah E. Brown.

Sarah E. Brown [00:00:39] Michael, great to be with you here today.

Michael Pollack [00:00:41] I'm stoked to be here in this episode.

Sarah E. Brown [00:00:44] We're speaking with Gali Arad Kovacs, Director of Cloud Revenue Marketing at NetApp. Shall we dive in?

Michael Pollack [00:00:49] Let's do it.

Sarah E. Brown [00:00:50] Gali, welcome to the show. Great to have you here with us.

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:00:53] Thank you. Great to be here.

Sarah E. Brown [00:00:54] Tell us a bit about your background and a brief history of how you got to where you are today at NetApp running cloud revenue marketing.

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:01:01] So, you know, before I joined NetApp, I worked for companies like SanDisk, IBM, Djakarta, where I built B2B marketing revenue, global teams. I actually joined NetApp about five years ago out of the Tel Aviv office. I then started marketing our most mature and kind of almost first cloud product, Cloud Volumes ONTAP, where I started really focusing on that digital frictionless journey, started the cloud website and really architected demand strategy around cloud acquisition. I then moved to the States and actually kind of like my first big thing at NetApp with the pilot of frictionless go-to-market to our Azure NetApp Files product, which is a first party product developed by NetApp and actually sold by Microsoft as the first party Microsoft product. And then I moved into my current role as Director of Cloud Solutions for Revenue Marketing, where I lead our hyperscale and co-marketing efforts for AWS and Microsoft Azure, as well as lead the Global Digital Demand Generation program for our entire portfolio. So that's me in a nutshell.

Michael Pollack [00:02:13] I appreciate that background. Thank you for sharing that. I would ask for our audience, many of whom is familiar with NetApp, I would think a lot of people know NetApp as a company that services the Fortune 500 and really big and established companies. I'd love for you maybe to probably correct that notion because I'm sure there's increasingly a huge assortment of products that cover the gamut. But it'd be great for you just to share, in your words, really the solution NetApp provides the products you sell and then I guess most importantly, who NetApp sells to today.

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:02:45] You know, we are known in the industry as a storage leader, but we've actually, we've been going through a transformation to be really a cloud led software company. And we sell products that help customers solve the challenges of managing data in a hybrid cloud. We partner with the world's leading organizations and the three leading hyperscalers, and we undertake a lot of digital transformation. So anything from, you know, migrating your storage, optimizing it, monitoring it, we do it all.

Michael Pollack [00:03:20] Got it. So just curious for our audience, for companies who have this hybrid infrastructure, many of whom are advanced or more mature companies, I'm curious today, does NetApp have solutions for cloud native companies or companies that are born in the cloud? Is that a space you guys are increasingly seeing demand too, or you have solutions for? Or how do you think about that?

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:03:40] Both actually, to be honest. NetApp has a variety of cloud data services and is really a true partner to the cloud strategy of our partners. Also, regardless of their cloud of choice, there's no lock-in. We work with the biggest cloud providers and public cloud services span storage, compute, monitoring, and optimization for both hybrid and cloud native workloads.

Sarah E. Brown [00:04:03] It'd be great to talk a little bit more about that. So your market at NetApp, as you're thinking about reaching them, are new companies constantly crossing the quote unquote, "we need NetApp" threshold? And how do you think about finding and targeting those prospects as well as who you would define as your best prospects?

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:04:21] So you know, we've got our valued customers who have been with us for a long time. You know, they've got our storage on prem. And of course, we open up the opportunities to help them migrate and offer our services in the cloud, whether for their hybrid workloads or their cloud native workloads. But in addition, we also, as marketers, and especially in my role, we try to expand our reach. Right. And the best way that we found to do that, first we try to identify the highest value market opportunities and then generate those campaigns based on the business needs of our target audience. That could be anywhere from, you know, we want a disaster recovery solution in the cloud or, you know, we want a simple file share, a native file share. But we always try to go after a potential audience with a problem. Right. And be able to say here's how we solve for it. So once we identify that opportunity and that target audience and targeting is super important here because you really want to be there at the right place at the right time with the right message. Content really kicks in. So content is really a vehicle for us to drive new audience. And we generate content that is intended to create high engagement and really serves that proof point of how we solve the problems. We're also looking at implementing digital sales, so this is less about a lead generator campaign and it's more about best practices and techniques on driving frictionless digital acquisitions into products. So you basically want to drive people into a trial experience, into your product, and then continue from there through growth and expansion and in-app marketing and be able to kind of drive that acquisition all the way into a buying customer and a purchase. And that is more of being a sales angle rather than your traditional demand and marketing. So we do both, right? We do both.

Michael Pollack [00:06:16] You had a great point in there just around being able to contact people at the right time, at the right place with the right message. And so that's a theme we hear again and again and something we focus on in our business. And so I'd love for you to unpack that a little bit. What is the data specifically, if you can share, that your team uses to ensure you're engaging somebody at the right time, at the right place? And maybe if you can even talk about the evolution of how you identified that data or how that data has become so critical to your marketing sales motion.

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:06:48] Great, great question. So I think as you map out the content and the data, you really being there at the right time, at the right place with the right content is really trying to put yourself in the eyes of the customer and where they are in their buying journey. Right. So if it's a high level inquiry, if it's just introducing, hi, how are you, it'll be be more about, you know, solution level, "what can we do for you" type of content? But as you identify the leads and potential customers actually engaging with your content and you're seeing a more a higher engaged lead, that's where we come in with more product-specific data. Right. That could be a benchmark, it could be an ROI calculator that we let people play around with and kind of email results so they can also show their internal stakeholders, to really think it's really important to have that type of content across the funnel, so all the way from top funnel to really low funnel. Because remember, this is a cloud marketing team, the team that I run and the cloud sells and really that digital sales motion of driving people into trials and activation, that is a very different notion than just generating the lead. And, you know, as to your question on how do we identify or how do we track that? So we kind of built to pass. Right. So how do we know that somebody is really engaging with our content? We have a system of identifying hand raisers, which we deem as being ready to buy. Right. That could be I want a demo or I want a meeting or I'd like to trial your product. To us, that's an indication that somebody is engaged enough that they're ready to buy and we move them forward into the next step.

Sarah E. Brown [00:08:35] Really want to dig into this, because what you're talking about here, to me, sounds like your program really is part of the customer success journey as well, given your relationship to product. And I'm curious, where do you see the handoff from marketing to sales to customer success, given the data you have both on the marketing side with content downloads, hand raising activities, but also with product usage and all the benchmarks that you share? And I'm curious how you prioritize all of that data, given those handoffs.

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:09:05] Right. So I try to look at it as three paths. Your digital sales path or frictionless path is more about driving people into products, into trial and then building nurtures and content based on consumption data. Have they activated the trial? Have they not activated the trial? Have they transitioned into a paying customer after 30 days? Have they churned? And if not, really try to communicate all the way to the end and really just having your content be reactive to how the customer is using or not using the product. So that's one path. The other path I talked about earlier is really more of your traditional what we call marketing qualified lead or hand raiser. But this is far beyond "I scored high enough because I did multiple things". This is a much bigger indication of being ready to buy. And I talked about those hand raisers – I want a demo. I want a meeting. And then the last thing, and this is really kind of more of a vision of where we want transition cloud marketing, is to do more account-based selling. So this is where we don't look at an individual, whether they're a lead or they're a trial. But we try to track activity of a buying group. So it could be a person from Company A in Singapore has been engaging with us by downloading a white paper. And a person from Company A in London has been engaging with us by watching videos. Now, if you just look at each of them is, as a separate person, they may not have passed the threshold of a hand raiser, but if you start to transition into looking at buying groups within companies and you find five or 10 people within a company who haven't been engaging with you, then you have a buying group and that, you know, you can send that notification to sales and say, you know, there's intent to buy in this company, go contact them. So really, those three paths, hand raisers, directly into product, or a buying group in a company is how I'd like to envision growth and success for cloud marketing.

Michael Pollack [00:11:16] And I have to say, I appreciate both the level of detail you walk through, as well as the key components that go into that. I think that's something A) I know our audience appreciates, but B) does a wonderful job of walking through some of the key elements. You rattled off really an impressive amount of attributes that you're able to pull out of the process. Is there any data you wish you had or is there data that it's tangential to what you have? And if you have this one thing or this one piece of information, it'd be way easier. Are there things that jump to mind there?

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:11:47] You know, I think as I was answering the previous questions, the first and second are really what I'm driving at the moment with cloud marketing. The buying group concept is a vision and is a data that I am working on building with our extended team at NetApp Marketing so that if I had to think about data points, that is what I'd like to have and build for to be able to do that account-based marketing and generate those buying groups and opportunities.

Sarah E. Brown [00:12:17] To bring the question of services into this – does your marketing organization have an interaction with your services program? Is there a sense of education that needs to happen around how to implement NetApp and be successful, or is that something that other teams handle and your team is focused elsewhere?

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:12:33] You know, NetApp public cloud services are services, right? So we don't work with the services directly, but our public cloud services are meant to be there for our customers, regardless of where they are in the cloud journey, and help them migrate to data and optimize cloud storage across multiple cloud, including monitoring and optimizing. So our services themselves are hosted on the three biggest cloud providers, which to me means that as a marketing team, we work very, very closely with the marketing teams that enable AWS and Microsoft. When it comes to my responsibility in a lot of expertise, goes into kind of architecting that buyer's journey. And so you can imagine that adds a lot of complexity and unknowns to a more traditional dimension, but it also adds fun and excitement and multiple work streams. So I try to look at our public cloud services and how we provide services to our potential customers.

Michael Pollack [00:13:33] When you talk about the buyer journey, in particular, the buyer journey for a business who is considering NetApp, this is obviously a product that, you know, you don't undertake lightly, meaning there's some complicated onboarding, there's some complicated pieces to get this set up. There's sandboxes and trials, but perhaps my understanding of that is incorrect. But for the buyer journey, is that true? Does it take a fair amount of time to be able to on board? And does that present unique opportunities or is the onboarding process simpler and that creates its own set of opportunities? How do you balance that out? Is there a specific uniqueness to NetApp product suite that makes the buyer journey really distinct or unique?

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:14:15] You know, I think NetApp has such a big variety of cloud services that I can give you multiple answers to your questions. It really depends on the product. Some of them are cloud native. It's a click of a button here and there, and then creating volumes. And then you can migrate your data instantly. And some of them require a longer setup. So there's not one answer to fit that. Some of them are even, you know, hyperscale or native. It's not even our product. It's bought and purchased through Azure or Google. So multiple customer journeys. I can comment from owning the cloud marketing is that for me, that means that my team and the extended team really have multiple types of marketing. Where we can have that support, that frictionless buy is where we would do more activation nurtures and churn nurtures and things like that, where a product requires more how to guide or getting started guide. That's where we would go to that type of content and connect more with our sales team. And in general, through all these buyer's journey, we work very, very closely with our sales team because we always assume there is some sort of a touch, whether low or high, and we try to enable our sales team as well. With content, with books, with scripts to help that buyer's journey as well, when they are actually talking to the prospect.

Michael Pollack [00:15:43] That's helpful. And I guess you're right when I imagine how big the product suite is for NetApp, it encompasses many different, I should say, complicated, but bigger products and simpler products and easy tambour products. With that in mind for you, over the past five years, at your time with NetApp, have you seen a shift internally from focusing on the efforts around marketing for net new versus the effort around expansion and ensuring that customer success and other teams not only get a deal or customer to closed-won, but are continuously showcasing all these unique, innovative products? How do you balance that out between the push to secure new customers, but also to expand to existing customers? How do you approach that?

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:16:29] Well, absolutely. It's in the DNA of the business, right? It's recurring revenue. So if somebody stops using your product, your ARR drops. So you have to have that mindset in where you can actually communicate and grow and expand, you should be doing that. And I think we do that at different levels, again, depending on the maturity of the product and where it's hosted on which hyperscale or whether it's a third party service or first party service, you know, there's different approaches here, depending on the product. But absolutely, there has to be growth and expansion marketing. And that's a very different type of marketing that we're used to be doing and executing. And it's actually the fun part. And the exciting part of my role is to support that shift in marketing and to do more growth and expansion, marketing and inact marketing and marketing that its of actual usage in addition to the traditional lead generation type of marketing, which brings in the news. So, you know, we've transitioned to top, low funnel all the way to growth and expansion.

Sarah E. Brown [00:17:35] I love that. And I'm curious for folks who are listening to this and maybe are building out their programs and have been building them out during this time, what have you done differently maybe during the last year, during the pandemic, maybe different approaches, given that current events reality? Curious if you also have any advice or learnings from some of the shifts that you've probably had to undergo?

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:17:55] Oh, my goodness. I'm sure everybody has met this challenge, right? I mean, the number one thing that we can probably see happen is that it put digital customer experience in front and center. We all, as marketers, had to rethink traditional marketing like events or even a lunch and learn, you know, like get 20 customers together. Let's talk. And we had to, like, really digitally innovate how we interact with potential customers, especially on the bottom of the funnel. So, you know, we've tried a few tactics, virtual gifts, virtual demo labs, really trying not to lose that momentum and keeping it real. I mean, I think my best advice and what we've seen work best is. You know, think about our potential customers, they're home with Zoom, they're fatigued. They're like us. They're just looking for a way to kind of break that routine. So, you know, instead of in-person dinner and we've had dinner sent to them, for example, we're just really trying to take the approach of people first. And in my experience, that's when a connection happens with customers and potential customers, like, what would make me happy would make them happy. So that's kind of what we've been trying to do to be really innovative, how we still reach our customers, although all of us are in our own homes and we can't see each other face to face.

Michael Pollack [00:19:14] I think that's incredibly true of this moment. So I appreciate that context and I think we're living it right now. Maybe just to switch gears for a minute here, given that you have a front row seat, I think to some of the cloud market trends and some of the things you're seeing, I can tell you in our business, we increasingly see data about customers and businesses increasing their migration, obviously to cloud and generally, but adopting things like hybrid cloud and a number of different things that are unique to the current environment. I'd love to ask you on your side where you said, can you comment on some of the trends you're seeing across the cloud universe that you think will become increasing themes in 2021 and 2022?

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:19:56] Yeah, I mean, I think I have seen and am still seeing a lot of hype around mission-critical workloads that are transitioning for the cloud, so for example, SAP made that a priority. So obviously we've made that a priority as well as supporting that transition. There's also a lot of hype around enabling workloads such as virtual desktop as a priority. I see that across our cloud providers. It's a priority because so many of us are working from home. So virtual desktop suddenly became such an important solution for companies to have. The last thing that I would say is I am actually seeing it's maybe less of a market trend, but more of an opportunity is there's room for companies to develop more mature partner marketing plans to sell through and with our cloud providers coming together with the customer first approach and really coming together as a vendor and cloud providers. And there's much more we can do there to drive kind of innovative co-marketing and drive more revenue. And ARR. And I know that that's something that I've been focusing on, but I really see that as an opportunity for all of us as cloud marketers.

Sarah E. Brown [00:21:01] Follow up question there for folks who are listening, who are getting started building out their partner marketing programs. What advice would you have for them?

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:21:09] I would say take a customer-first approach first and foremost. What is the joint value prop that we bring together? Define that and make sure that it's locked, you know, and everybody agrees on that because otherwise you get lost with, like, you know, multiple execution. That happens. A lot of execution and a lot of campaigns. But you lose kind of like your starts. First and foremost, sit down with your partner and identify that joint messaging, that joint value prop. Honestly, everything else falls into place after that, once that's defined. But I would say after you identify that joint value prop, think about the strategy of how you want to, you know, what is the strategy, how you want to bring that to life and try to plan programs that has you know, that is there's always a healthy mix of seller-led and partner-led. But the ones that work the best are the ones that happen that are joint, you know, like have a joint webinar and have a joint follow up on those leads. And so it's your coming together rather than just as a cloud provider or as a vendor. And I find that those programs work the best.

Sarah E. Brown [00:22:22] Excellent. Well, Gali, it's been fantastic having you with us on the show. For those who are listening, who are interested in learning more about you and your work, where should we direct them to?

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:22:31] First of all, if you want to learn about NetApp and Cloud and everything that we do, obviously, everything's in there. And then, of course, my email I'll be happy to answer any questions.

Sarah E. Brown [00:22:44] Fantastic. Thank you. Seriously, that was a fantastic episode. I selfishly wish I could talk to you for another hour. I've so many questions and I'm sure could learn from and I know you've a lot of public speaking that you've done that I can dig into, but thank you so much. Really appreciate you sharing your your expertize with our audience.

Gali Arad Kovacs [00:22:59] Thank you, guys. I appreciate the opportunity. It's great chatting with you.

Michael Pollack [00:23:03] Yeah. Thank you again, Gali.

Sarah E. Brown [00:23:04] Well, that's it for us. This episode may be over, but we can continue the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #SellingInTheCloud. On Twitter, I'm @SEBMarketing.

Michael Pollack [00:23:13] And I'm @MRPollack.

Sarah E. Brown [00:23:15] Thank you to everyone for joining us for this episode of Selling in the Cloud, brought to you by Intricately, the authoritative source of digital product adoption, usage, and spend data for cloud sales and marketing teams. If you like the show, head on over to iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts, and please give us a review. We appreciate it. Until next time.

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