My guest today is Morgan Molnar, who leads marketing for SurveyMonkey Audience. Established in 1999, SurveyMonkey is a DIY global survey software and panel company. The company is headquartered in San Mateo, California, and has over 17 million active users.
Prior to joining SurveyMonkey, Morgan was a client manager at Nielsen working in the marketing effectiveness practice supporting Procter and Gamble. She also worked with P&G’s Consumer and Market Knowledge center of excellence, developing new predictive modeling techniques to determine macro drivers of marketing ROI across their global brands.
Find Morgan Online:
Find Jamin Online:
Find Us Online:
This Episode’s Sponsor:
This episode is brought to you by HubUx. HubUx reduces project management costs by 90%. Think of HubUx as your personal AI project manager, taking care of all your recruitment and interview coordination needs in the background. The platform connects you with the right providers and sample based on your research and project needs. For more information, please visit HubUx.com.
On Episode 235 I’m interviewing Morgan Molnar, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at SurveyMonkey Audience. But first a word from our sponsor.
This episode is brought to you by HubUx. HubUx is a productivity tool for qualitative research. It creates a seamless workflow across your tools and team. Originally, came up with the idea as I was listening to research professionals in both the quant and qual space complain about and articulate the pain, I guess more succinctly, around managing qualitative research. The one big problem with qualitative is it’s synchronous in nature, and it requires 100% of the attention of the respondent. This creates a big barrier, and, I believe, a tremendous opportunity inside of the marketplace. So what we do is we take the tools that you use; we integrate them into a work flow so that, ultimately, you enter in your project details, that is, who it is that you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, whether it’s a focus group, in-person, or virtual or IDI’s or ethnos; and we connect you to those right people in the times that you want to have those conversations or connections – Push-Button Qualitative Insights, HubUx. If you have any questions, reach out to me directly. I would appreciate it. Jamin@HubUx.com
We are at Happy Market Research today. Thanks very much for joining us. I am live at SurveyMonkey. Morgan, thank you very much for hosting me.
Thank you. Thank you for coming and thank you for having me on the show.
Morgan Molnar—I believe I got the name right—responsible for leading marketing for SurveyMonkey Audience. SurveyMonkey was established in 1999. They are a global leading survey and consumer platform (a sampling platform, excuse me) for marketing research based in San Mateo, California with over 17 million active users, which puts you in first place from an active user perspective in the space?
I would assume so. I don’t know. I haven’t fact checked that. But yeah, it’s a lot of users.
It’s absolutely a massive amount of users. So, prior to joining SurveyMonkey, you maintained leadership roles at both Nielsen and Proctor & Gamble in marketing.
Yeah, I was at Nielsen focusing with my main client being Proctor & Gamble.
Got it. There you go. So, you can fact check that then. Before we dive in talking about SurveyMonkey, I’d really like to set some context for the audience. Maybe you can tell us, Morgan, a little bit about your background, your parents, what they did and how that’s informed what you’re doing today.
Sure. So, I was born in Maryland, grew up in Avon, Connecticut, outside of Hartford. It’s so fun to talk about because it was not the typical upbringing. My mother was the breadwinner. She was a career-long business woman in sales and marketing. So the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. So she led sales and marketing for various companies, mostly in marketing services and technology, and even had a CEO post for over five years. So she was definitely an inspiration from a career standpoint. And then my father was pharmaceutical sales by day but actor by night. So yeah, for a lot of my childhood where my mom was focusing on her career, he was a stay-at-home dad and pursuing his passion for acting, which was really fun too.
Yeah, sounds like a hand in glove for your parents.
Yeah, and I did a lot of acting with my father as a child too, so have a little bit of a knack for performing in me as well, which is probably why I love the conference circuit and going on shows like this.
Have you done much like improv or is it just theater or…?
Oh, my gosh, no, but I would love to. And it’s funny you say that. I was actually at a barbecue for Labor Day just a couple of weekends ago and was asking friends about improv because there was someone there who was doing it and I was like, I got to get into that. It is so for me, but no, just more acting here and there. Mostly, when I was younger, I did a little in grad school. When I was thinking about what I wanted to do when I grew up, I didn’t really think about marketing or business. I was actually, I’m much more interested in science. And so, I actually applied to colleges as a physics major and very quickly decided that wasn’t for me. But, at the time, I was thinking I would be a professor or just really fascinated with the way that the world around us works. And I think that’s what drew me to market research. It’s a little bit more of a… I guess it’s a less technical application of science, like physics. But it’s still how do you figure out the psychology of consumers? How do you figure out the way that people think or feel or react or behave and then marketing is then that extension of how do you actually make decisions off of that knowledge.
And coming from more of a quant background, marketing measured has better ROI just because you’re continually improving both the velocity and the subsequent return. The problem though, the tension, I think, that exists there is we start losing the traction or the justification for the creative part of marketing, right? So you’ve got that. How do you guys manage that kind of, “OK, I’m measuring this; I get it; my cost per acquisition is X, yada, yada, yada.” But then kind of like going all in on big bets relative to ad creative campaigns.
Yeah, so my function technically is product marketing, but I work really closely with our growth marketing partners, and part of it is around goaling and part of it is around really setting aside budget and resources for those big creative campaigns. So, for example, you mentioned we were founded in 1999. We are this month celebrating our 20th anniversary.
Thank you. I have not been at SurveyMonkey for 20 years, about a quarter of that. So what we are doing is a big splash campaign around that, which isn’t really to drive any specific business goal but more awareness and getting people involved in the brand. And so, you set aside for things like that and where I focus my time on audience, which is our market research panel. When we think about marketing, we definitely segment, “OK, this is a bucket of money that’s meant for awareness, and the goaling there is more around impressions and in the right target.” And then if we have more direct response marketing, then you’re looking at conversions and click-throughs and all of that.
When you think about the relative spend and, like you said, you have a growth team. It’s been interesting… Airbnb is a good example of a company that started lean and then started getting traction. And I don’t even know how many… It’s got to be well over a hundred people now in their growth team. I really curious about this. Does the growth team sit like this group of ninjas and just kind of analyzes every aspect of the business or are they more compartmentalized relative to the business lines?
A little bit of both. So we have two growth teams at SurveyMonkey. There’s a product growth team and a marketing growth team, and they work very closely together. But even the marketing side, we’ve got folks who are focusing more on engagement versus working on digital advertising and acquisition. And so, even with that distinction, you’ve got people working on different parts of the customer journey and funnel. And then, once marketing hands it off to product, then we were working really closely with those partners as well. I’d say we run lean as well, but there is definitely a big focus on growth here at SurveyMonkey.
And when you think about the other part of it that’s interesting is this attention that companies are now paying towards different social good, and even beyond that, even more sometimes polarizing subjects—Nike being one of the quintessential brands, but then SurveyMonkey, of course, changing your logo during a gay pride.
Yeah, we definitely have a big focus on corporate social responsibility. We launched an entire division called SurveyMonkey for Good, which focuses on a lot of different initiatives, either local in the community or national. And part of that is also our SurveyMonkey Contribute program. So that’s actually one of our main panel sources. And then United States is SurveyMonkey Contribute. And that’s our unique proprietary panel source from the 2 million folks taking surveys on SurveyMonkey every day. And what we do is a pretty unique model where it’s all charitable incentives. And so, what’s really great and I’m really proud of that program for is we’ve donated over $15 million to charitable organizations in the U.S. since opening that. So, yeah, I think we definitely have a strong focus there. One of our core business values and company values is prioritize health. But that’s not just personal health; it’s also community health. So we definitely focus there.
So by community health you mean at a global level or…?
Part of it is just how are we giving back to the communities and we have global offices.
The community where you guys are located.
Where we’re located. Even coming up in early October, we’re doing a week of service where there’s opportunities in all of the communities around all of our global offices to participate in some charitable work or volunteering activity.
The tension has always been like this… So, you have maximum shareholder for value or maximized shareholder value has been historically the mantra of especially publicly traded companies but, I think, most companies. This altruistic perspective lends almost this unmeasurable ROI, right? And that’s getting to the point of you have these investment dollars that are being made at the corporate level now that are funding things that aren’t necessarily attributable to a revenue line, but they’re doing other things. Maybe it’s a retention of staff or…
Sure. Part of it is getting SurveyMonkey out there in the community. It’s giving back to organizations by offering usage of our platform. It’s getting our employees engaged in the community. Yeah, and I think that there’s a lot of benefits that are maybe not monetary.
Yeah, for sure. I’m just curious. So, when growing up, your father was the primary caregiver, it sounds like. Did you guys do things like rescue mission or anything like that service-related or did that develop later in life?
It’s developed later for me. We were active in the community from a theater standpoint, giving art to the community.
I would’ve argued that it could be it.
Yeah. So for me it was a little bit later in life, but definitely heavily involved with SurveyMonkey and outside in other organizations in the area too.
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. It’s kind of like following our normal roadmap, which allowed me to get to know guests in a different way. I call it the over-a-beer kind of a way, even though it’s a little too earlier this morning for that. Tell me about one of the biggest challenges and how you overcame that.
Yeah. For me what comes to mind is… Well, actually right before I started my role here at SurveyMonkey, I was living in New York, working at Nielsen. I was doing the New York to Connecticut headquarters commute, which was fine at the time. But my husband wasn’t (gosh, he was my boyfriend at the time) wasn’t thrilled with his job, was looking around and got an amazing opportunity here in the Bay area. So born and raised East Coast, never had been to California.
It’s a big cultural shift.
Yeah. And so that was a crazy couple of months in early 2014. No, we got engaged in January. He got the job in February. We moved out to California in March.
That was 14.
Yeah, 2014. So, Nielsen was great; they let me work from home. It was a very flexible role. My client was in Cincinnati, so I was already remote for them. So that was great. But you know, I moved across the country where I had really little support network, didn’t really know anyone, was in a job that I was working from home. So I wasn’t going into an office meeting coworkers. And I just realized that it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t in a great place. I was like I need to get out there more. And actually, what pulled me out of it…
‘Cause you were working from home too. So it’s like this whole isolation.
Right. It’s a completely new place. Didn’t know anyone and was kind of stuck in an apartment all day. Yeah, there are worse things, right. I was in Southern California. But yeah, for me, spending my eight-hour workday without anyone, it was challenging. So, what actually pulled me out of it was finding SurveyMonkey. So, I was part of our Contribute panel, actually. And I got a survey invitation email and saw the Palo Alto address in the footer and was like, “Oh, I should check those guys out.” And the rest is history. But for me, I realized I need an office; I need a fast-paced environment. I need coworkers to stimulate me throughout the day. And I definitely found that here.
Yeah, I’m the same way. I’ve had a couple of things in my life that it didn’t go great. But the darkest point for me was at after I exited FocusVision because I had a team of people, right. And I was around all this kind of enthusiasm and driving and taking the hill. It has challenges and it’s difficult, but there’s people. And then all of a sudden like in my little home office for days on end, I just started losing the will to live, not in the literal sense, but yeah, it was just really tiring.
I understand that. Like my husband would come home and be like tired from a day of work, wanting to put his feet up on the couch. And I’m like, “I want to go out; I want to go.” I mean it was bad. I would go days without showering.
I had this robe. My wife threatened—I won’t let her do it—but she’s threatened to burn it ‘cause I would do that where I would just like put my robe on, and then I would go to bed at night and take it off, and I put it back onto the day.
I would do the same thing, but it was my blanket cape. And so, it’d be my blanket cape. This was before virtual conferencing was really…
So you could pull it off.
So, it was mostly phone calls and maybe sharing your screen, but it wasn’t like people were seeing my messy bun and my…
Have you seen the Dilbert cartoon where it’s like the evolution of working at home? So for video conference. Oh, it’s classic. There’s three frames. It’s basically him in a suit and tie and then him in a suit and tie without pants. And then it degrades. Ultimately, it’s a puppet of him on the other side.
What are the kids saying? It’s too me in real life for me in real life, right. Oh, that hits too close to home.
So you broke out by getting a job. Did you try meetups?
I did a little bit of that. I didn’t find my people though. So I think it was I just needed that.
Have you looked into marketing research or user-experience-type meetups locally? I’m just curious.
You know, I haven’t. I’ve been doing more women in leadership or women in tech type things than I have been more on the functional side but…
Yeah, the women… There was a thread I responded to in LinkedIn recently, and it was a concern that a leader has (I won’t say who it is, but it’s public) inside of the market research industry. He needs to staff salespeople, and he’s frustrated with the lack of female talent that has been coming in. That’s where I think you really have to be… We have to be, as organizations, intentional with how we manage our pipeline, and we can’t just look about, “Oh, I’ve got a need right now.” You’ve got to start that networking farther, more upstream if you’re going to be able to staff and help support, whether it’s gender or some other type of inequality.
Sure. And I have gone to a couple of the WIRe Women in Research events too. And I think that’s a great organization, especially for finding women talent in this space.
Yeah, for sure. Kristin Luck did a great… Michelle Andre is helping support that. But that’s, I think, the premier women.
It’s the only one I know about. So they’re doing great job. Yes, yes. Yeah, yeah.
But they are quite literally everywhere. Gosh, yeah, and that’s like 10 years old or more now. It’s amazing. So, you’ve done a lot of research, been involved in research anyway, right?
Yes. Analytics research. Yep, yep.
Yep, for sure. So what is the project that you’re most proud of?
Yeah, so the research that I did at Nielsen was really fascinating. Started my career in marketing mix modeling. So that was almost like the precursor to attribution modeling in a way. And really great for especially big brands who are doing more traditional advertising like TV, print, radio, email, coupons, et cetera.
And that is identifying the optimal sort of channel spend?
It is. So it’s identifying the independent contributions or impact of all of your media to sales volume, and then, therefore, calculating a marketing ROI on all of your campaigns. So you would have a total brand ROI for… I was working for Proctor & Gamble: so Tide or Crest or Pampers, etcetera.
Very B to C consumer products.
But you would then go down to the campaign level and say, “OK, this specific commercial that ran during this time had an ROI of X.” And so, that was really great work. It established the foundation that I would need to go on to more research to work with CPG firms to then be a marketer myself. But the research that I did in my last couple of years there was developing predictive modeling techniques. I’m going to get a little technical too, predictive modeling techniques to assess macro- and micro-drivers of ROI across all of P&G’s brands and markets. So it was essentially taking the output of all of their marketing mix modeling and combining that with other data sources around things like how long had the brand been around, what country were they in, how fragmented was the category, all of that: so the macro level things with then the micro level things; so things that the brand had a little bit more control of; and things that we could measure; so like their copy scores or their spend levels and all of that. And so, what essentially came out of that was a mindset shift where if you’re doing marketing on a brand like Tide in the United States, you have a different expectation on the return on that investment than you would a small beauty brand in France or fragrance brand in France. So they’re up against different market factors. And so, doing a lot of that work was able to…
help set expectations so you’re not anchored to this false…
Exactly. And working with the data that we had at Nielsen and the brands in just spread that they had at P&G, we were able to do that kind of research, which was really cool. It was a finalist in their CMK Insights Rewards back in the day. I’m definitely proud of that because it was new; it was innovative. I’m a little bit more removed from the client research here at SurveyMonkey although, as I mentioned before, super proud of the work that we do, especially with our Contribute panel on giving back and all of that. And then, now in my role in product marketing, I get to do my own research for SurveyMonkey brands and products. So, I just finished up a name test for a new line of products that we’re going to be rolling out.
Well, we are moving into the realm of more automated research for specific market research use cases. So that it’s been a really fun…
It’s an interesting space. Yeah, for sure. Do you think there’s like…? There’s been this, I call it the three-legged stool: So you’ve got like brands and you got agencies and then you got technologies inside of market research. And the technologies have really been kind of feeding both agencies and brands directly, which definitionally has been like competing with agencies to some degree because of the fact that an agency, all of a sudden. can do certain types of projects as opposed to spending $2,000 with an agency to do that same sort of thing.
We find that to be true. When we were doing some research earlier this year and we find a lot more insights brought in-house at brands and so…
And I’ve seen that with both… I’m not suggesting where we are on the global economic cycle. Granted, I’m not that smart, but historically what I’ve seen back in 89 and 90 and in 2000, because brands had so much money, they were bringing that function in-house and then once there was a major correction, then they moved to a different framework where it’s better off kind of like getting the expense structure off the P & L and then moving more towards the ad hoc. Even though it’s more expensive, they weren’t penalized as much. So it’s going to be interesting, coming into another election cycle. There’s just a million different things that are taking place right now for us. It’s nice, I think, as a technologist, to be able to sit there and as long as you are providing value for everybody, then you’re poised to win.
I like to think so. We’re definitely in a good spot right now, especially with the trend of more insights moving in-house, the need for expertise that becomes much more real. And if you’re not getting that from an expensive agency, then how are we as technology providers embedding more of that methodology and expertise into the products?
Do you think there’s a room for services or you to come along other services-related organizations to help?
Certainly, and actually I, having lived through a couple of business model changes here at SurveyMonkey, it’s definitely a need. So, we had a big sales and services team one point we then tried to focus much more on the self-serve and DIY model for market research, which has been great. What we’re realizing is, especially when we want to break into larger enterprises and we’re not just working with the scrappier, mid-market marketing or insights teams, the folks who are used to working with services vendors or full service research firms need a little bit of extra help to get their DIY or their self-service ad hoc research going. And so, SurveyMonkey audience being our market research panel, we’ve launched SurveyMonkey Audience Premium, which bundles in a little bit of extra premium support and services. So you’ve got product experts, research experts that can help onboard you and get you going when you are trying to make that transition from doing everything outside with vendors and services to more in-house.
So really what I’m trying to say is surveys, in general but not just surveys, research is becoming more and more democratized and used throughout organizations and is the use case ‘cause not everybody is a researcher. So just ‘cause you have a scalpel doesn’t make you a surgeon. In fact, there’s a couple of companies that are… I was just at a, as I mentioned as we’re setting up this morning, I was at Google, their San Francisco campus, moderating a panel, and I had some of the panelists, Head of Insights for ServiceNow and also LinkedIn, and both of them during our conversation we’re talking about how there’s a problem with everybody doing research because you wind up with conflicting or best-case-scenario is redundant, but worst-case-scenario is conflicting kind of insights. Now what’s interesting about automation is by creating a tool that asks a question in the right way and connecting it to an audience that is vetted, you actually can start solving a lot of the problems that are innate with just kind of the ad hoc, “Oh, I’m going to go do a copy test.” Right?
Sure. I think that’s true. It starts to normalize or centralize the methodology because everyone’s using consistent questions and things like that. And, also, if you go beyond just piecemeal use cases and to more of a platform, then you’re starting to bring research together. And one thing that we’re trying to do more and more is enable teams and larger departments and organizations to work together and collaborate. And so, what you’ll see more and more from SurveyMonkey are features that make even your individual account with your surveys, etc. not so siloed, but have those insights shareable across the organization.
And I do pay for my professional license, by the way.
We thank you for your being a customer, but there’s something else that you mentioned that I thought was interesting, which was just that trend of teams outside of insights doing more and more research. And I find that to be another big trend that we’re seeing and actually for SurveyMonkey Audience especially, insights professionals only make up about 10% to 15% of our customers. It’s people in marketing, Ux, product strategy, startup founders, etc., who are using our product. So where I see insights being needed more and more is that center of excellence where you’re enabling other departments in your organization to do the kind of research that maybe you’re too strapped to handle for everyone. Especially I think about, I’m doing a session with Julia Levine who’s runs insights at Cuisinart. She’s got a two-person insights team, supporting their entire line of business. And so, when you think about something like a creative test or a message test or something that really a marketer should be able to handle, then the insights team can be that center of excellence, get them off and running, train them a little bit, and then other departments can go off and do that.
Yeah, I definitely think that it’s the right point. It’s the right question. How can we enable access to consumer insights across the organization? One of the things that, talking about going back to the project you’re most proud of, just consolidating the data and getting it formatted in such a way where it can be combined, that’s not a trivial… That’s like a big part. What percentage of the work was that?
Oh, well, gosh, across marketing mix modeling and this work, you think about say an eight- or nine-month project timeline. Almost six months of that is data collection and cleansing. So that’s huge. And that brings up another initiative that I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot more is creating what folks are calling data lakes, but essentially bringing out all of their data sources together in-house, accessible to people who need to pull whatever combination or filter of data that they need.
Data accessibility and visibility across a corporation is absolutely vital; otherwise, you just run so many… I worked on a small task force for the previous CMO of Visa, and that was the whole data best practices around data handling at a global level. It’s really, really hard because—while you have the sages, which I call it the market researchers—you got the mass populous, which needs the insight in like a week ‘cause they got to make it or a day ‘cause they got to make a decision.
Right. And you run that same risk of conflicting stories coming out of that data if people are interpreting it the wrong way.
Or ask the wrong question. It’s just terrifying.
Yes, yes. But you know part of what is fun about working at a technology company is that these are the kinds of problems that we get to think about and try to solve.
Especially in market research. I keep going back to Estrella Lopez Brea; she was one of my favorite guests on the Happy Market Research. She’s the Head of Insights for a joint partnership with Nestlé and General Mills. It’s a cereal partnership, 136 countries. Anyway, it’s a really big deal. Anyway, so, she says the most exciting time for market research, and she’s been in the industry as long as I have. We’ve had some great times. Like it is trending right now in a very exciting way, and you guys are sitting in the right spot. So it’s kind of fun. So I want to talk a little bit about SurveyMonkey Audience. I am unaware of what that is.
What it is. So, SurveyMonkey Audience is SurveyMonkey is market research solution.
So, is it a combined…? Is it a…? Oh sorry, go ahead. I was jumping ahead. I’m like…
Oh yeah, it’s good you’re excited. I love that. So, it’s essentially our global panel for market research products. So it’s embedded right into the SurveyMonkey platform. So no matter your plan type you can access and tap into your survey takers.
Got it. And how many countries are you guys in?
Over 100 and really, so I mentioned Contribute a few times, we have our own proprietary panels in SurveyMonkey Contribute and are relatively new. We launched last year, mobile app SurveyMonkey Rewards. And so, those are our two sources that we cultivate and grow and manage. And then we also integrate with a lot of the panel companies out there and panel marketplaces out there. And so, it’s one cohesive user experience within the SurveyMonkey platform just to reach whoever and target whoever you need.
So you’ve built functionally a router that enables you access to your own proprietary sample. But then in addition to that, whether it’s connected to existing like a center Lucid or what have you and then versus the other, like even Dynata, major players out there. Is that right?
OK, got it. Building that is really hard.
Yes, we started in 2011. Even now, we’ve been over the last couple of years really focused on that routing infrastructure, which you don’t really, as a user, all you’re doing is selecting all of your criteria. You’re looking… Right.
I’ve actually used it, by the way. So, you get 100 free people.
So, yeah. So, as a SurveyMonkey user, the free plan allows you to collect up to 100 responses.
Oh yeah, you’re right.
But then the panel is extra.
But, gosh, I want to say maybe it was a short-term thing, but I know I… This was on the paid plan, and I got I think it was 100. I might be misremembering. I got a certain number of people free from the panel.
So that we were doing some credits, giveaways. So, yeah, credits are… It’s essentially a wallet or gift card scenario where you can load it up and use it to purchase.
Totally. Yeah, right, exactly. So what was impressive is the integration. Well, there’s two things. One was the speed. So it was really fast. And the second thing it was really, really easy. I think there’s a big opportunity, and I’m wondering how you guys are addressing this, especially with your mixed modal recruiting approach. We’re still asking gender and screening questions, right? We haven’t standardized the whole meta framework from a respondent profile perspective so that if I only want to talk to females and, unless I can go in and separate them out prescreen in the database, going out to all the different panels, a lot of cases we’re still asking that information from respondents.
So, the way at least it works with our panel and the partners that we have, there are over a hundred maybe pre-profiled attributes. And so when folks are joining a panel, they’re being asked a series of profiling surveys and then we do then allow that option to have your own custom screening questions. Or especially we sometimes still recommend this for lower incidence groups, but to double check the profiling with your screening questions, especially for things that might change for a person pretty frequently. So, there’s definitely the two options there, but it’s different than other sources out there like mobile apps or publisher networks where maybe you’re either blind to that or are inferring it in some way. At least with this type of methodology, it’s very explicit and you know exactly who you’re talking to.
Do you think we’ll get to the spot where you can pipe in those hundred variables into the self-reported data?
So we do, in the backend or with your results, give five metrics. Especially as we partner with more data providers and more panel companies, we’ll probably get to a point where you’re getting much richer profiling information coming with your results, which would be great.
Yeah, I think know what I really like that Google launched is this whole concept of a microsurvey where it’s one to two questions, but you get a million people to take it and you have a full profile, right? The problem with that is it’s a million people with that many data points. So I think the better scenario is just building an ongoing record at the respondent level so that you’re able to understand who that person is and then pipe that data back as it makes sense in the context of the projects.
Right. And then making sure that it’s regularly refreshed, especially for those kinds of things. I mean it’s unlikely that your gender will change too drastically, very frequently.
But like marital status, etc., but all that can be systematized so that, to your point, they may not have to get asked that every single time.
Which is how it works currently with SurveyMonkey. Depending on the attribute, it’s refreshed anywhere from every three months to years. So…
So, you guys are publicly traded?
We are, yeah. Last September, so we’re going on a year.
Yeah, I was going to say it’s coming up. You know, Nielsen, of course, publicly traded. So you had experience in both the agency side and on the technology side now, I guess. So I say that because I’m going to ask some question about the crystal ball. All the disclaimers like this is not on behalf of SurveyMonkey. This is just your point of view. Right? So what is the role of insights inside of the organization and how is that going to evolve over the next three to five years?
Yeah. We’ve talked about some of the trends that we’ve been seeing: things like insights getting brought in-house. That to me signals you’re not just a team that requires business acumen, the ability to tell stories like managed vendors, but also a lot more of that analytics chops is being brought in-house. I think the role of insights, especially as more companies are converging on technology… You see this even with the larger full-service players with their acquisitions and how they’re restructuring, the role of insights will be a little bit more centered around building out that market research technology stack within the company. And so, part of it is doing the research and enabling others to do the research but also being that tech-forward, tech-minded person to bring all of the sources together and build the technology in the company that will basically be housing all of your data and research.
So, Nielsen had this for years where it was your brand performance. The CMOs subscribed to it and you’d get it on Monday morning. I never actually have seen the tool by the way. But on my last board of directors, my chairman, Dennis Malamatinas, previous CEO of Burger King Global, and before that he was the CMO. He said, “Every Monday morning I would walk in and the first thing I would do is check out my Nielsen scores to see how we had performed.” Do you think that you know in role of insights moves more up chain? So…
Sure, and especially at SurveyMonkey, our CMO is very involved in our brand studies and things like that. And, even if it’s the insights team carrying them out, that the way of getting those results out into the rest of the organization, how you share those results, how you present them, I think, is much wider than it used to be. So maybe you would do a PowerPoint presentation to a few key stakeholders. Now it’s public on Tableau where executives are going in and checking it. So I think that’s very much the case, and then we’re seeing that too.
This is where I think podcasting has a really big opportunity because you can create a five- or 30-minute podcast that’s distributed (Maybe it’s monthly, hypothetically), and then produced and managed by the internal insights division of an organization like pick on LinkedIn, for example. And then, all of a sudden, not just the C-level executives, but the whole organization could get access to hear about what they’re seeing in consumer trends. And so, I had this organization called Watermark. They’re a small consultancy. Have you heard of them? It would surprise me if you had. So, they do analytics on the S&P 500 over-performers and under-performers. This point by the way aligns with Gartner and Forrester reports that have similar outcomes, and that is that companies that are customer-experience-centric, they outperformed by 45 points over a 10-year period. And companies that aren’t (and this is a really remarkable part) are underperforming by 75 points. Yeah. So now, all of a sudden, the question becomes, “Are we customer-centric?” In other words, “Are we using customer insight to drive decisions?” And the answer is “no,” that’s a big problem. But it isn’t just necessarily binary, right? So, again, looking forward and where you guys are sitting is really interesting for me because the frequency and quality of the insights becomes a KPI or key performance indicator for the organization. So, in other words, if they’re not using insights or using it less frequently, then that should be a warning at least so that people are starting to ask “Why?” So, all of a sudden, the meta becomes a little bit different from my ad hoc or brand tracker to overall frequency and type of research that’s being done in the organization just to make sure that it’s part of the DNA and we’re not losing traction on leveraging consumers.
Yeah, and I see that a lot too, especially if folks are looking at their sales data on a weekly basis. Why are they not looking at their brand metrics on a weekly basis? And so that moved to always on is also really important in it. And it’s interesting you bring up customer experience because I’d say two of the largest pillars at SurveyMonkey, one being market research, the other being customer experience. And you see our focus in that given the two recent acquisitions that we just had. We find the same thing. Companies need to be tapping into that customer voice continuously. And so, all of the solutions that we’re offering have a frequency element built into them.
Oh, smart. I love that. And that’s something I think we’re going to see companies like SurveyMonkey talk a lot more about: just the frequency by which. Then, when you think about like the newsworthiness of this article that I haven’t seen written yet—but you’d be great to write it [Morgan laughs]. Because you guys have fingers in every organization… So the frequency by which top performers are actually leveraging insights or conducting projects or whatever that (I don’t know what the exact thing is), but is it increasing or decreasing relative to the overall performance of the organization? I think that kind of thing would be really interesting. If I’m (1) an investor, but (2) if I’m at the C-level or board level inside of an organization, I care a lot about that or shareholder.
Sure. Yeah. That’s a really great point. I love the meta research on research. Yeah.
You’ve been at two big organizations. What are three characteristics of an All-Star employee?
Well, first off you can’t knock just the true grit and benefit of hard, hard work. Really, If you’re putting in hard work, you will get performance out of that ‘cause a lot of things can be trained or taught, but that drive is something that is pretty innate or it comes with. And then outside of hard work, really this is similar, but we talk a lot about growth mindset at SurveyMonkey. In fact, we had Carol Dweck come and speak recently. And it’s just something that I love the whole idea of taking every project or opportunity, whether it’s even an interaction with someone or something that you might deem as a failure, but seeing that as a learning opportunity and how you can grow from that or how you can better yourself. So someone who works really hard and then sees everything as a learning opportunity I think is really important, especially when you are more of an entry-level employee where you’re needing to soak in everything about an industry or a function. When you get into marketing, I’d say what’s interesting especially is you need this balance of left brain, right brain balance. So you need that creativity. You can’t lose that spark of creativity and injecting new ideas and innovating and testing. But you also need to have an analytical mindset: so that measurement side of you. So, that balance I always look for, especially when I’m hiring on the marketing side.
So just so I understand the last point: It’s like qualitative and quantitative?
Yeah. you could call it that, especially put in research terms, but, yeah, it’s the balance of creativity and analytics. So you need to have both. I mean, obviously, there are functions like design that would err more towards creativity or growth that would err more towards analytics. But really having that balance, I think, makes a really great marketer.
Yeah, for sure. Are there tools that you’ve seen companies use that help pre-screen employees to that end? Because you’re right, different job functions are going to require different proportion of those skills.
You know, I haven’t, but if folks have, I would love to hear about them. We move a great recruiting team here at SurveyMonkey that take a lot of that work off of hiring managers’ plates. But I’m curious. I’m not even sure what they’re using, I’m sure there’s something out there.
All right, last question. You ready?
Sure. Yeah, let’s go for it.
What is your personal motto?
Oh gosh. I would say my personal motto is all about spreading positivity, and you can do that in a lot of ways. I don’t even know who said this, but there is a quote out there about leaving the world a better place than you found it. But I love leaving interactions or situations in a happier place than I found it. So that positivity and making sure that you’re always bringing that to everything you do. Back to your first question around making a great employee: it’s always someone that you want to work with, you want to spend time with, being at meetings all day with. And so, if that person is a Negative Nancy, it’s not going to be fun. So spread positivity, smile, laugh. We’re all human at work. So that would be my motto.
My guest today has been Morgan Molnar, leading marketing here at SurveyMonkey’s Audience, right? Morgan, thanks for much for being on the show.
Thank you so much for having me.
Everybody else, if you please do me a kindness. If you found value in this, she’s taken a lot of time out of her day and preparation. Obviously, the amount of hours that go against this are pretty substantial. Be great if you took the time: screenshot, share it, tag us. We will retweet our reposts on LinkedIn. Have a great rest of your day.
This episode is brought to you by HubUx. HubUx is a productivity tool for qualitative research. It creates a seamless workflow across your tools and team. Originally, came up with the idea as I was listening to research professionals in both the quant and qual space complain about and articulate the pain, I guess more succinctly, around managing qualitative research. The one big problem with qualitative is it’s synchronous in nature, and it requires 100% of the attention of the respondent. This creates a big barrier, and, I believe, a tremendous opportunity inside of the marketplace. So what we do is we take the tools that you use; we integrate them into a work flow so that, ultimately, you enter in your project details, that is, who it is that you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, whether it’s a focus group, in-person, or virtual or IDI’s or ethnos; and we connect you to those right people in the times that you want to have those conversations or connections – Push-Button Qualitative Insights, HubUx. If you have any questions, reach out to me directly. I would appreciate it. Jamin@HubUx.com Have a great rest of your day.