25 januari, 2022

Content Intel—episode 9: marketing ops in a digital world

Optimizely’s Manager of Marketing Operations, Michelle King, sits down with Content Intel to talk about the effect going digital has had on marketing ops and how companies have adapted over the last almost two years since the pandemic started.




Laura Dolan (00:00):

Hello, everyone. And welcome to Content Intel brought to you by Optimizely. I am Laura Dolan, and I am so excited to introduce my guest today. She is our Manager of Marketing Operations here at Optimizely, Michelle King. So good to have you on Michelle. Welcome to the podcast.

Michelle King (00:17):

Thank you, Laura. Thank you for having me.

Laura Dolan (00:19):

Absolutely. Thank you for joining me today. I am so sorry about my voice.

Michelle King (00:24):

That's fine.

Laura Dolan (00:24):

I got a little bit of a cold. I promise you it's not COVID. I've had two negative tests in the last two weeks, but I don't know. I feel I sound better this way though. I don't know.

Michelle King (00:34):

It's a nice different tone.

Laura Dolan (00:36):

It is. It's like Phoebe on Friends, when she got her cold and she wanted to sound that way all the time. I'm like, I'll just keep myself sick. Anyway, I digress. One hot topic that I wanted to talk to you about now that we're in 2022 and we're basically almost going on two years of this pandemic, obviously we've all had to pivot to a more digital platform. How do you think that has affected marketing operations and how do you think companies are faring, having to make that change?

Michelle King (01:07):

Yeah, it's crazy, right? Because I feel like when this all happened, it was overnight. We were at the end of Q1 and then all of a sudden, the next week you had to have a completely virtual plan for the next two quarters when things started shutting down. Yeah. It was just crazy. You got to, there were so many new softwares and techs that came out, everything went virtual starting in March. So, if you had a trade show, you were going to have to do it virtually or things got pushed out. So, enterprise businesses, we were dealing with, we did a lot of in-person events. So that really, it affected pretty much the whole operation. It was always trying to recreate that. It still is. Trying to recreate that in-person experience. I remember there was one that came out a fireside chat software. So, it's like you virtually felt you were at a fireside chat, but every single one of those platforms brought in a new program, a new API, a new way of measuring so it got really complicated very quickly.

Laura Dolan (02:18):

The whole concept of a fireside chat is still very new to me. I actually didn't even learn what that was till April of 2021, when I was asked to participate in fireside chat and I realized it's basically just a deckless webinar. I was like, okay. So, we're just talking to each other. People just watch us talk to each other. Is that awkward? Maybe.

Image: Laura Dolan in a Firside Chat with James Robert Lay, Founder and CEO of Digital Growth Institute

Michelle King (02:41):

So true!

Laura Dolan (02:41):

But I mean, you think about this whole concept of us just being virtual and the whole you're on mute and is the camera on? Can you see me? Just amazing how new reality, new normal came out of that.

Michelle King (02:56):

Yeah. I remember too, when this all started, you had to shift to a virtual presence. You had to be comfortable or get comfortable on camera because you still have to show up, I guess, to work.

Laura Dolan (03:12):

Yeah. And it's interesting.

Michelle King (03:13):

Even if it's virtual.

Laura Dolan (03:14):

It's interesting because you don't think about that. When you're in person, you're sitting there in a room together, you don't really think about your presence as much as when you're on camera. And I just, maybe I'm thinking too hard about that, but I'm just like, I feel when you're on camera, you have to look more engaged. You almost have to work a little harder because if your camera's off, obviously doesn't matter. But I like to have my camera on so that everybody knows I'm paying attention, that I am participating, but I feel like that just takes more energy. I don't know. Was it like that for you?

Michelle King (03:46):

You know what? Something I noticed, so Optimizely, we always have our cam- they want us to have our cameras on rightfully so, because you will have just one-on-ones. And we'll talk to each other or whatever. So, it feels like you're in the same room virtually. But yeah, I just, I feel like it just sets the tone up for, it makes you feel like you're there. There is some essence that you have to still virtually meet people. And I don't know, it's been a really interesting trend.

Laura Dolan (04:20):

It has. But I also love the fact that I hope it puts the doubters in a different frame of mind prior to when all this happened, how working from home was this foreign concept. And they feel like if you're working from home, you're not being productive and you're not getting your work done. I feel like that hit, that's such an antiquated way to now because of where we are two years later and how well our company's doing and how well other companies are doing. So that's really not a belief anymore. And I hope a lot of companies out there that still think that way could get with the times and realize things have changed...

Michelle King (05:00):

Especially with global tech. Our team, half of our team is in Europe, somewhere in Europe. And it really helps like to have that morning time. To be able to catch up on emails and get back to that. And then, I don't know, that's a whole different thing too, you're home and you got to figure it out. How the schedule works for you.

Laura Dolan (05:26):

You do, you have to establish a routine. I've had to establish structure in my day. I work the same hours every day. I take lunch at the same time, whether that's productive or not. That's what works for me. I know how to format my day, how to schedule in my meetings. If I have a meeting at lunch, that's fine. I'll move my lunch around. I'm flexible. Obviously, when you work from home, you have that freedom, yesterday I had to go pick on my husband from the airport and it, it was fine. Because I came home. I still had the rest of the afternoon to work. And it's actually very freeing. You're not limited to a commute that takes up two hours of your day. So, for me, I love it.

Michelle King (06:05):

I absolutely agree. It's been so much better for, so in a lot of the work that I do, some of it, I can't do database work in our operations. It's always I'm analyzing something or some analytical work. I do that best between hours of 9:00 PM and 2:00 AM.

Laura Dolan (06:27):

Oh my gosh. Interesting.

Michelle King (06:29):

I swear. I mean, it's not often. It's maybe once a quarter, you really get dive in and whatever, but there, well maybe more than once a quarter, but it, I don't know, the fact that I can frame however, I best work, it's been, I think that's been just something great for my career. Having the option to work when you want to.

Laura Dolan (06:50):

Yes. There's definitely something to be said about that because.

Michelle King (06:53):

Yeah. Especially if you have a creative job.

Laura Dolan (06:55):

Yes. And it just so happens if, if you're more creative in the evening than you are on the mornings. It's just a matter of communication. Just let your team know, "Hey, I'm going to log on at 3 today and work till 10. If you need me, that's when I'll be available." And it's just a matter of keeping the line of communication open and just basically informing everyone on when you're available.

Michelle King (07:19):

Another thing I think that's led companies into doing, even what we do here at Optimizely is really getting clear goals for the quarter. And that even helps for your quarterly goals, your monthly goals, your weekly goals. And then you don't feel that guilt of, like you said, having to go pick up your husband from the airport. You're like, well, I have everything done for the week. Or I know I have this to do next week. Just so kind of getting in that framework of having clear indicators of performance, KPIs. I think that has helped too, being virtual.

Laura Dolan (07:52):

Absolutely. It shouldn't be any different. The goal should be the same. So, we're also working toward a common goal. We're all still working together, but the distance isn't an issue anymore. I mean, years ago I worked at a company where I had to communicate with Australia and my hours shifted from Sunday to Thursday, 2 to 11:00 PM.

Michelle King (08:15):

That's crazy.

Laura Dolan (08:17):

But I had to go into the office and work those crazy hours.

Michelle King (08:20):

You had to go to the office to do that?

Laura Dolan (08:21):

I did. Yep. This is back in 2013, this is way pre-pandemic. And so, I'm thinking, wow, how that would've worked now, it just wouldn't have mattered. I would just be like, "Okay, then I'll just work Sunday through Thursday and I'll log onto my computer at 2 and work till 11. And it's fine." But it's amazing what an inconvenience it was when you had to drive somewhere.

Michelle King (08:45):

Right. I can definitely tell you times in my life that a 2 to 11 shift, would've been really helpful. When I had my kids, when they were babies, okay, I'll be there during the day, your husband gets home, and he takes care at night. And again, that flexibility. So, it might be now that like, let's say you 10 years ago were offered that job. That might be the perfect job for somebody looking that you can do from home now. And everybody can work.

Laura Dolan (09:12):

Absolutely. I mean, what it afforded and me was I was able to go to doctor's appointments in the morning and go to the dentist. I didn't have to take time off work. It was great. And now, and especially when we were all quarantined and everyone was home, kids were home and parents were having to, I don't have young kids. I have four step kids who were all grown, but I can't imagine what would've been like for someone who has young kids who are getting homeschooled, making sure they're sitting in front of their Zoom call, paying attention to their class. I just can't imagine the stress that came out of that. Meanwhile, you're having to go back to your desk and focus on your projects and your meetings and yeah. Showing your boss, hey, I'm still online. I'm here.

Michelle King (09:55):

Exactly. And I do think that first beginning part was so much more difficult because now we're, like I said, almost two years into this new way of working remote. But in the beginning, it was really hard. It's like, am I always green on teams? I'm here. But yeah. I'm actually feeding the kids again for the 85th time.

Laura Dolan (10:15):

Am I always green on Teams? I have that issue, too. And one thing Teams does that I cannot stand is that if you don't touch your keyboard for five minutes, it turns yellow. And a lot of times, if I'm watching a webinar or I'm looking at a demo video, because I'm trying to learn our products, I look down and I'm yellow. I'm like, no, no, no, I'm here. I'm here. I promise! I don't like that Teams does that, this is why Slack people. Turn to Slack!

Michelle King (10:45):

Oh, it is funny, man. Yeah. It is completely changed.

Laura Dolan (10:51):

It really has. I look back on it. The last time I was in an office was March 12th of 2020.

Michelle King (10:58):

Oh my gosh.

Laura Dolan (10:58):

It was a Thursday. And I remember that was the day we found out Disneyland shut down and the NBA shut down and Broadway shut down. And I'm sitting there in my office and it's 3:30 in the afternoon and my director's sitting to my left and I just got his attention. Like, "Hey, I think I'm going to take off. I just don't feel safe in this office." I was in an office of 400 people. And nobody was working. Everybody's looking at their phones. Everybody's talking about the news and what's going on. And he's like, "Yeah, you can go." And then I never went back. Because the office closed on Monday. Because the next day we worked from home every Friday. So, the next day I was working from home anyway. And then that was it.

Michelle King (11:42):

Oh my gosh. It's crazy. Isn't it?

Laura Dolan (11:44):


Michelle King (11:45):

So that week I was visiting my family in Connecticut with my whole family. So, I had two kids and my husband. And then I remember seeing my email because it's like New York was really the first, it was like, I guess like New York and LA. The first two that were really hit hard and everything. And I'm like, we're right there. And I'm like, "Okay, what is going on? Should I be worried right now?" And then we almost booked our flight early, but we didn't, we ended up leaving Sunday and then Monday 15th, I think it was? Done. It was like, the kids were home for the next year, and it was just like, what is going on?

Laura Dolan (12:22):

And when we shut down, I did not anticipate it lasting that long. Everybody's like, "Oh, we'll be back in the office. Maybe in June or July." We did a weekly morning, five minute, we called it like a coffee meeting or something like that, where we all got on for five minutes, checked in with each other, how are we doing? Okay, great. And then we went about our day. And so that was a way to, because that was the other challenge, was trying to not feel so isolated being at home. And getting to still connect with your colleagues and your coworkers and your superiors. And so, I think for us, the way we've navigated through that, between then and now and how different it feels at first, it was so foreign.

Michelle King (13:06):

Don't you feel though that coming into a new company after having gone through whatever, you have a new way to express yourself virtually. So, you've gotten better at it. So, I felt like coming into Optimizely, I was able to just, I wanted to really present myself virtually as I would be in person because I knew it wasn't going to happen for a while.

Laura Dolan (13:32):


Michelle King (13:33):

Yeah. Again, going back to the camera, having your camera on and again, showing up, you're there, I'm talking. I saw a tweet the other day that was really funny and so relevant. And it was congratulating the head nodders for making people feel included. I think you do that on a weekly meeting.

Laura Dolan (13:55):

I do. I do the thumbs up or I clap. I clap softly, even though I'm muted, they see my reaction like yay. Or I give a thumbs up in Teams or I send a heart, however you engage with someone, show them support.

Image: Goodbye send-off for a team member's last day with Optimizely via Microsoft Teams. 

Michelle King (14:10):

It is really all about the engagement. It became such a buzzword, but it's true.

Laura Dolan (14:14):

No it's so true.

Michelle King (14:15):

Yeah. We started talking, we're just like, "Hey, you create content. I want to make, do blogs or something." You just really have to outwardly reach out to people. You have to be really proactive.

Laura Dolan (14:26):

You do have to be more proactive. Exactly.

Michelle King (14:29):

Because I'm not going to pass you in the cafeteria. That's never going to happen.

Laura Dolan (14:32):

We're not going to talk to each other in the hallway or see each other. Yeah, in a break room or yeah. We have to actually go out of our way. And I love that some companies and Optimizely definitely encourages this, is to have a weekly meeting with your coworkers and not talk about work. And I love that. I love that mentality. Still stay connected and sorry-

Michelle King (14:55):

Happy hours are great. Another thing I love about Optimizely, especially when I first joined, there were so many groups or things to get involved in where you could meet people. They had that, the orientation call where we all split off into groups. Remember? I thought that was so really helpful because then you're like, okay, these people all joined the same time I did. You get a feel with what the new people are doing. I thought that was really helpful too.

Laura Dolan (15:24):

That's another thing companies have had to learn to do is how to virtually onboard new employees.

Michelle King (15:31):

That is a whole, oh my gosh. You should have Laura Thiele do a spot about that.

Laura Dolan (15:36):

I should. I should have Laura, Laura, if you're listening, reach out to me. But yeah, I actually, I started with Zaius back in January because unfortunately I was laid off from my other company at the end of 2020 as a lot of people were, I wasn't surprised, but it still sucked.

Michelle King (15:54):


Laura Dolan (15:54):

But luckily Zaius found me and that was a great match. And I started with them in January and then I got acquired by Optimizely in March. So, I got to onboard twice virtually and both companies just nailed it. They just knew exactly which forms to send and the orientation calls and getting me my equipment. That was a whole other thing.

Michelle King (16:16):

Oh my God. I had it three days before I started. I'm like [crosstalk 00:16:19] how efficient is that?

Laura Dolan (16:20):

Me too. I had my laptop, my monitors. And I was able to log on. And IT was like, "I know you're not technically you haven't had your first day yet, but feel free to log on. We'll talk you through trying to get logged into all your platforms." And it was just a lot easier than I thought it would be.

Michelle King (16:40):

Yeah. Another thing too, that we're starting to think about in operations is because of the fact that we have companies that have merged and just our recent acquisition of Welcome. But you have, again, all these softwares. So if we're getting a new marketing automation software, or plugin or something like that, people have to know how to use them. And it's so much. So create office hours, our IT department does that, but we can do that in operations too. Hey, here's how you use the new software. We'll walk you through it, blah, blah, blah.

Image: Welcome's acquisition with Optimizely. 

Laura Dolan (17:17):

Now, how do you do that? Do you record a video ahead of time or do you do a live demo?

Michelle King (17:23):

So right now, I've been doing live. So, I haven't done much for the software yet, but when I, so I run the campaign desk as well, and we're starting to do quarterly trainings that are then recorded. We always have new people in marketing.

Laura Dolan (17:57):


Michelle King (17:58):

Or people outside of marketing that might have to run a campaign or, there's just always, there's always learning to be done because things are always changing.

Laura Dolan (18:06):

Absolutely. I love it.

Michelle King (18:09):

And getting better because, if you look at Optimizely how many people we've hired over the past year, every single person has come from some different type of background. My last job was more general operations. Whereas my new job is more focused on tech. So, it's like, well, what can I learn from you that you did at your previous company when I did so many ideas.

Laura Dolan (18:43):

Yeah. It's amazing how much I apply from other previous jobs that I've had. So, my previous job, I worked with a CRM for small businesses, and I actually take a lot of that knowledge and apply it to our DXP. How can that benefit businesses and B2B and B2C who are a little more established, a little more on the enterprise level. And you'd be surprised how much it all ties together.

Michelle King (19:09):

The focus areas definitely have changed. There's more specialty areas now I feel in marketing than there were before the pandemic.

Laura Dolan (19:50):

I think so too. I think that's the same story for a lot of departments of how-

Michelle King (19:57):

That could be true.

Laura Dolan (19:57):

Just going digital has affected virtually everything we do and how we operate. Well, Michelle, it's been such a pleasure having you on one last question for 2022. I mean, do you foresee us staying on this wavelength as far as digital goes? Where do you think we're going to go from here?

Michelle King (20:16):

I think if it's digital now it's going to be even more digital later. We're digital world now and it's exciting, but there's new things to learn all the time.

Laura Dolan (20:32):

Always be learning.

Michelle King (20:33):

New ways to improve.

Laura Dolan (20:34):

Yes. I love it. I love learning. If you're not learning, you're not contributing. If you're not contributing, then what's the point? It's like, you can't teach someone who doesn't want to learn anymore. So-

Michelle King (20:46):


Laura Dolan (20:47):

As long as we all have that mindset, I think we're all going to be fine.

Michelle King (20:51):

It's the Optimizely mindset, right?

Laura Dolan (20:52):


Michelle King (20:54):

It is. Always stay bold. Stay humble.

Laura Dolan (20:57):

Yep. Yep.

Michelle King (20:59):

Always experimenting. Oh my God. Look at this. This is an experiment. We'll see how this podcast does.

Laura Dolan (21:04):


Michelle King (21:05):

When is she going to ask me to come back or not? We'll see about that.

Laura Dolan (21:08):

Oh, of course. You know, I will, Michelle. This has been awesome. Thank you so much for being a part of this one. And thank you to our audience for listening in. If you'd like to learn more about how you can take your business to the next level, by leveraging our content, commerce or optimization tools, please visit our website at optimizely.com or contact us directly using the link at the bottom of this podcast blog, to hear more about our products that will help you unlock your digital potential. Michelle, thank you so much again. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week.

Michelle King (21:37):

Thank you, Laura.

Laura Dolan (21:39):

This has been Content Intel. I will see you next time.