AMA: Nada Elkady

AMA: Erin Layshock
September 1, 2017
AMA: Allyson J. Davis
November 29, 2017
The Nada Elkady AMA is happening on Wednesday 13th of December 2017 at 10:00AM PST (1:00PM EST)

Nada Elkady is the Director of Marketing at Stack Overflow overseeing all awareness and demand for its business solutions. During her 3 year tenure at the company, she’s helped scale the marketing function from a team of 3 to 20, which is distributed across two continents and seven cities. With more than 17 years of combined marketing and management experience under her belt, Nada is well-versed on what it takes to build effective demand-gen programs and manage high performing teams. She’s passionate about helping people reach their full potential and being part of organizations that create impact at scale. In her spare time, you can find her running, spending time with her 3 children, or reading a good book.

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Nada Elkady – Director of Marketing at Stack Overflow – Transcript

Nada Elkady is Director of Marketing, Business Solutions at Stack Overflow. The AMA with Nada was held on December 13th, 2017. This transcript has been edited for punctuation, grammar, etc.

Hello everyone!Happy to answer any questions.

At a high level, how do you approach marketing to an audience that is so “anti- marketing?”

Which audience are you referring to?

Devs?

I wouldn’t say the “dev” audience is so “anti marketing” as much as they’re “anti – bullsh**.”

What are the biggest data challenges you face as a marketer and how have solved those problems?

Great question – I’d say some of the biggest data challenges we’ve had particularly revolve around 2 things 1) getting accurate data 2) agreeing on what data is important.

LOVE StackOverflow (not really a question, but felt I needed to chime in).

Haha, thank you! I love Stack Overflow, too!

As the director of marketing, when a new ad platform comes out such as the newly released ‘Spotify Ads,’ how do you determine if it’s worth experimenting and at what point would you consider the campaign successful?

Our marketing framework is strategic and agile — and also based on making sure we’re clear on where we need to be and what success looks like (SMART objectives). The team here is empowered to select whatever channels/tools they want to help them achieve their goals, so if they want to test out a new channel, it’s done within the context of experimentation. We have evergreen campaigns running in the background. The campaign would essentially be successful if it helped us hit our objectives — that being said, there’s always a post-mortem where we can dig into the methodology, hypothesis, etc. to see if there are any learnings we can take and apply to another experiment or variation of it.

Thanks for the answer.Where do you suggest I go to learn more about the strategic and agile marketing framework you mentioned?

Here’s a great place to start:

 

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/agile-marketing-a-step-by-step-guide

 

I also gave a keynote at Stack Overflow that outlines our strategy and how we do things, you can check that out too:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06u2iw_cc28&t=2317s

 

What tools/products do you find critical for getting critical insights from your marketing data? (always curious!)

 

The tools we use now that we consider critical: Looker, Hubspot, SalesForce, GA, and of course, our fantastic marketing ops peeps :slightly_smiling_face: So as long as we’re cognizant of our audience, their needs and wants, and we’re authentic in our comms, we should be good.

How did you approach the “agreeing on what data is important” part?

That’s always a tough one. But essentially figuring out which data is important always goes back to re-articulating what our main goals are — if the main goal is to impact MQLs for example and drive that # (i.e. reporting KPI), then specific data points that are important will be those (operational) metrics that we know help drive that MQL# – like traffic, traffic source, “form submissions” or conversions, new contacts, etc.

 

How do you leverage video in your marketing strategy?

So, we’re still new to video marketing (yes, we’re late to the game), but it’s definitely at the top of our list of things to explore/do.

Hey Nada, is search the highest traffic driver for Stack Overflow?

Excellent question – so for Stack Overflow, for those who may not know – we’re basically in a 2-sided market: All the world’s developers who use the Stack Overflow platform (and/or Stack Exchange) day in and day out AND businesses who are trying to reach, engage, and hire those developers. So, for Stack Overflow – yes, search is the highest traffic driver. For Stack Overflow Business, search and organic social are our highest (and we had to build that from scratch a few years ago, on a separate domain).

Are there things you won’t do given your developer audience?

Things we wouldn’t do given our developer audience – yes for sure. Just as there are things we wouldn’t do given our HR or marketing audience (for our biz solutions).At the end of the day, we have to know our users and know our customers — and make sure we know how to communicate with them and deliver excellence. Our passion and dedication is with and for developers.

Do you leverage influencer marketing at all to help reach new audiences or do you primarily focus on your existing community base and retention?Also, just a follow-up to the above – what is the best approach you have to building out search/social from scratch on an entirely new product/offering?

Always start out with product marketing basics – know your audience, your competitors, your personas, value props, USPs, messaging – understand what’s important to them and figure out authentic ways you can deliver value to them/enhance their lives. Create a content marketing strategy (all types of content types, formats, forums, delivered through whatever channels make sense) and plant the seeds for SEO/organic social growth while throwing in some $ (influencer marketing, paid social, paid search, etc.) to accelerate results and learn about what works/doesn’t work so you can test and iterate. In time, you’ll build your search and social.

What do you recommend as the best way to reach developers?

The best way to reach developers is through Stack Overflow, haha…

Stack Overflow should publish a reference book for coding interviews, purely for marketing reasons. Call it “Ha haha, I’m using Stack Overflow during my coding interview,” but also make it useful.

Love it!

Are there any marketing initiatives you would like to try that you haven’t gotten to yet?

Yes, for sure! We’re always testing out and trying new initiatives and tactics – everything from using webinars/podcasts to create awareness and demand to using webinars/blogs to promote customer happiness and satisfaction.

With all the hype of ABM in the last two years or so, is this something your team implements into your marketing strategies? If so, has it worked? If not, what do you not like about the approach?

Yes, the hype is real – although we haven’t intentionally employed any ABM strategies to date, it’s something we’re exploring for next year — we have a super lean marketing team and a ton of requests/business needs that we need to prioritize!

With Stack Overflow, how much traffic did your posting of the new datacenter move/hardware generate? Any chance you calculated it?

I’m not sure, but if you tweet at Stack Overflow, someone from our community team may be able to get you the answer!

Code editor of choice?And language of choice, if any?

WishI could answer that, but I’m not a software developer! Although I did code in BASIC on my Texas Instruments computer back in ’84.

Points for not being a dev, but + double points for coding in BASIC. Ha!

Hahaha…

What’s the most impressive thing you can say about the company you work for?And be honest

Whenever I get asked this question, it’s usually the same answer and has been for the past 3+ years — it’s the people here. I’ve never in my life worked with an organization that has so many smart, talented, passionate, diligent and dedicated people.

What are some of the current challenges you’re facing as Stack Overflow keeps growing in content/users?

Internally – aligning on how we want to keep users happy and what new things we can create for them.

How big is the current marketing team?

The current global marketing team is 12 people.

What channels do you find most effective for your audience?

The most effective channels vary for our different audiences – for our developer audience, it’s our own platform: Stack Overflow, for our business audience it’s primarily social media and email (if I’m thinking online channels).

What’s the most complicated and technical solution you’ve seen to the most basic of problems? (aka, programmer emulating the protocol in a Keurig to remote-brew his coffee so it’s ready when he walks over to it…)

The problem is with the existence of too many complicated solutions to simple problems.

Redbull, Coffee, or neither?… and why? dun dundunnnn

Neither, dun dundunnnn

What are some marketing tools you’d like to see built that aren’t currently out there?

Wow, great question. I usually find myself day-dreaming about that, but nothing is coming to mind right now!

So here is one thing I try and help my clients with. I try to get them to use their marketing data to drive innovation in the product itself. Pretty hard to accomplish from my experience. Do you use marketing data to evolve the Stack Overflow platform and if so how does that play out?

Yes, for sure. We have really close relationships (and operating processes) with our sales, ops, product, and customer success teams – so the data is shared and incorporated into planning sprints (and vice versa).

What tools do you use for project management/team collaboration? Also, which ones have you tried that didn’t work out?

Trello works best for us — we toyed around with BaseCamp but it fizzled. We also LOVE Google docs.

Thanks for doing this – I love your writing. Was it hard to open up about your personal life to that extent?

It’s my pleasure – which writing/personal thing are you referring to?

I really enjoyed reading this https://medium.com/@nadaelkady/what-growing-up-with-abuse-adversity-and-14-years-of-single-parenthood-have-taught-me-7086a430e526

Ah, gotcha. Yes, it was hard to open up for sure.

As it’s something many of us including me relate to.

I think that’s part of what inspired me to write… OK, I guess that’s a wrap! I hope I was able to answer all questions and be helpful. Feel free to connect on LinkedIn or tweet/follow @nadaelkady

Thanks for taking the time out of your day todo this.

My pleasure, thanks for having me!