The Engager, Veronica Lazarovici, scales revenue growth without the hustle

The Experience Maker Veronica Lazarovici.

Our winner of the 2022 Adobe Experience Maker Award in The Engager category, Veronica Lazarovici, lives up to the mission of her company, Alma, which makes it easier to find quality mental healthcare.

“I’m going against the hustle wave,” she told me. “I like to think that my productivity hack is just taking regular time off. After a recharge, I work better, have more patience, more creative ideas, and more problem-solving abilities.”

Veronica sat down with me from her holiday in Romania to share more about what it takes to be an award-winning marketing operations leader.

Congratulations on your win. Tell me about Alma.

I’m very excited to work at Alma. We’re a US-based mental healthcare company connecting therapists to consumers. Our mission is to simplify access to quality care, and I’m excited to be part of a company that gives me meaning.

When I joined, we operated in three states, and we’ve now grown to all 50. I’m proud to say that our marketing operations team has been at the forefront of this expansion. In fact, our member base has tripled in the past year.

That expansion is impressive. Tell me about the team that helped make that growth possible.

I am part of our demand gen team. We’re five people across four time zones. We’re a small and mighty team, but we do drive a considerable amount of revenue for the business. We’re responsible for technology and processes that enable marketing, sales, and customer experience (CX).

You’re no stranger to the power of marketing ops.

Previously, I was running marketing ops at a large global organization in the travel industry. One of my tasks was to train a global team of Adobe Marketo Engage users. After I learned Marketo Engage at a software company about six years ago, I haven’t looked back.

I like to joke that I didn’t choose a career in marketing ops — it chose me.

You’re a superstar in this world. Tell me what you like about the marketing ops discipline.

It’s an exciting time to be in marketing ops today. We’re driving digital transformation. I truly love the work and the problem-solving it requires. Even in my personal life, I’m always solving problems and putting together new processes. It can be applied everywhere. Raising a child, cooking — there’s never a dull moment.

I truly love the Adobe Marketo Engage community too. I learn best practices, share solutions, coping mechanisms, and jokes. The community is the greatest support I could ask for, and I’m loving seeing how we are growing as an industry.

The Engager award looks at how you’ve used this powerful software to drive growth. Tell me what you’re most proud of.

When I was hired at Alma, the company’s sales funnel was fragmented, making it difficult to track how the marketing team was driving revenue. At the same time, we had inconsistent data that was creating a disjointed customer journey.

The leadership team decided to build a strong marketing ops foundation that supports the growth we’re witnessing today in compliance with the space we’re in. Today, we have a Marketo Engage and customer relationship management tools integrated into our core, and that helps to run the demand generation and lifecycle marketing engine with Marketo Engage forms, ad platforms, and email marketing.

And the power of those sales insights was a key part of your nomination.

With Marketo Engage, we’re able to track multiple touchpoints, even down to which ad someone engages with or where they are in their lifecycle journey. The level of insights we’re able to provide our sales team with Marketo Engage Sales Insights is worth its weight in gold. For example, if someone reengages, our sales team can tailor the conversation based on their most recent engagement.

The Sales Insights honestly was the cherry on the top after implementing Marketo Engage. We were sitting on all this good data, but how could we show it in a meaningful way? We had great champions in the sales organization to help us ensure our sales team knew how to use it and to push for adoption.

Other departments like customer experience are also interested in the data that marketing ops can provide, which puts us at the forefront.

Tell me about how you approach CX in your role.

When it comes to CX, Alma is doing really well — it’s another reason I love working here.

We are respectful of our members’ time, attention, and energy. We think a lot about what and when we communicate. Not every message or notification is urgent. We have the lowest unsubscribe rate I have ever seen — close to zero for our member base.

In a world of compliance, it’s so important to establish and maintain trust. We take great care to ensure our members feel their information is safe, only collecting the data we absolutely need, and providing transparency on how this data is being used.

We’re of course subject to regulations in the healthcare space as well, so we keep our web forms to a minimum and are mindful about when we ask for information across the customer journey.

We don’t assume everyone follows the same journey and we allow for flexibility.

What else is on your radar?

Our leadership team invested a lot of time in marketing ops early on so we could build a foundation of clean data going into our systems. Now we can do a lot of cool projects based on that initial work.

We recently launched a new referral program that I’m excited about. Marketing ops is leading the charge here and implementing Marketo Engage is at the heart of that effort. We have five tools integrated that feed data across in less than two minutes. It allows our members to refer other members via different channels and display information on the progress of their referrals.

Any advice for those setting up referral programs?

Start early. It’ll take time to put requirements together and find the right tool that plays nicely with your tech stack. Bring your technical minds together because these are the people who will build your referral program. Marketing ops, sales ops, engineering, and data all need to be at the table early on.

What are you most proud of when it comes to winning this award?

I was sitting in my living room at 2:00 a.m. because of the time zone difference, and finding out we won was such an incredible feeling. By 3:00 a.m. I was on a call with my team in the US to celebrate the win.

It’s a testament to the power of our small but mighty team at Alma. We certainly didn’t have a massive budget or tech stack. But what we do have is good leadership. We have freedom to experiment and tools that enable us to make the most of our data. Without Marketo Engage, we wouldn’t have been able to create such granular and insightful processes.

And the numbers don’t lie.

We learned that reengaged prospects convert at a 26 percent higher rate than the rest of the funnel, reducing customer acquisition costs because we’re working with our existing database.

We increased our contribution to revenue from advertising by 533 percent year-over-year (YoY), our overall marketing contribution to revenue by 21 percent YoY, and measured an additional $4M in revenue for the business through our reengagement and nurture processes.

Overall, we reduced our cost-per-lead by 30 percent, all while working fully remotely across four time zones.

Incredible. What’s your advice for others?

When it comes to these industry awards, the most important thing is participating. All of us in marketing ops do exceptional work every day. Take the time to tell others about it and submit for an award like this to be part of the greater community. I learn a ton from other award-winning projects.

Don’t hesitate to be involved. I could wait until my English is perfect, which will probably never happen, or wait until I’m confident in all the martech tools out there, which is never going to happen. When I started sharing what I knew, I found others who could use that information. It was incredible how much feedback I got when I first started out.

Do you have a mantra that guides you every day?

There is a sticker on my laptop that says, “Be afraid and show up anyway.” I started to embrace this more and more. It takes a lot of bravery to work in marketing ops.

What a pleasure to talk to you today. Thank you for giving us insight into what it took to be this year’s Adobe Experience Maker award winner in the Engager category. We’re excited to see what you do next!