Kristin Casillas of MindBody- Lead Prioritization, Competing Against Paper, and Mobile First

As Senior Marketing Operations Manager at MindBody, Kristin is responsible for designing, developing and optimizing end-to-end marketing data management and operational processes that support a top-notch demand gen engine and customer engagement programs.

Kristin collaborates with the cross-functional marketing teams on a daily basis to solve complex challenges, and is the key technology resource and knowledge center that helps to lead the efforts, both in internal infrastructure and external outreach programs. Additionally, Kristin acts as a mentor to operations and automation specialists, and is an essential driver of combining analytical thinking and creative design to reach our audiences in a meaningful way.

Listen to the Podcast

In this episode Kristin talks about:

  • The challenge of competing against low tech solutions
  • Data hygiene strategies
  • Leading with mobile
  • The evolving state of lead prioritization

Read the Transcript

Sales and Marketing Automation Tools mentioned in this episode of Stack and Flow:

MindBody, Salesforce, Eloqua, Tableau, Infer, GoToWebinar, Kahuna


John J. Wall: Hello and welcome to Stack & Flow. I’m John Wall.

Sean Zinsmeister: And I’m Sean Zinsmeister.

John: Today’s guest is Kristin Casillas. She’s the marketing operations manager at MindBody. She’s going to tell us about what they’ve got going on and the tool stack that they’re using. To kick off today, Sean, you’ve got an article from VentureBeat talking about machine learning and categorizing what the options are. What’s the VC community got to say about this?

Sean: Yeah, this is pretty interesting. It’s always nice to see where the financial, sort of the investor community, is actually looking at this space. I actually thought that this particular article did a nice job of zooming out and sort of looking at the three main value points that a lot of these sort of AI big data startups should be looking at. It does give a nice way to sort of evaluate their value prop. I think they really boiled it down to three things. One, something we talked about ad nauseam on the Chris Penn’s AI power hour show that we had a few weeks back. Number one is that can you eliminate and reduce the human labor that was otherwise hard to believe that you could automate before? How are you automating redundant task? What are the templated tasks that you can increase the speed quality and efficiency on that part?

Number two, this idea of white space. In the sales and marketing realm, I like to think about white space as conversion optimization. What are you missing? How can you boost those percentage points from either lead to opportunity conversion or lead to close one opportunity conversion, but really that’s what that’s looking at is like where’s the white space that has emerged, that some sort of new capabilities that were really not very cost effective to sort of exploit before?

Number three is like how do you actually make traditional applications more effective. Right? It’s all about this flow of how you can add intelligence into these things, whether it’s your advertising. Even what’s really exciting is, we kind of talked about on previous episodes about what they’re starting to do with recruitment where can you use AI to find the best employees that are going to stick with your company longer and set up those notifications to empower your HR department.

One thing I wanted to loop Kristin into this conversation where, as a marketing ops manager, I have to imagine that you get bombarded with pitches quite a bit with all these new technologies. What are you sort of thinking about as you get approached by some of these new AI players? What lens are you looking at these things through?

Kristin Casillas: Yeah, you’re right. My inbox is full of emails from vendors and from calls, voicemails. I don’t pick up my phone anymore *laughing*. I don’t and I think it’s really easy to get sidetracked and you get a pitch, you get a demo, you watch a video and, of course, they brought a great marketing team so it looks great and you get really excited, but it’s easy to lose track of the problem that we’re trying to solve and what really, we’re looking for. There’s a lot of shiny objects everywhere and so we really try to, and as a marketing ops manager, it’s a unique role. Right? It’s a mix between the technology and the strategy, so that’s something that I try to remind our team a lot of us is what are you trying to solve with this tool? It looks good, but what are you trying to solve?

A lot of times they come back and say, “Oh, I don’t know. It just looked really cool.” Well, yeah, it’s cool, it’s definitely cool. We always try to go back to what the problem is that we’re trying to solve and really, is that problem priority one right now because if it’s not, then we need to focus on really what our biggest challenges are or our biggest opportunities first. That can be so hard to stay focused.

Sean: It’s really true and actually it’s amazing that the definition of the problem, understanding what the problem is before you dive into the tool set.

Kristin: Oh, yeah.

Sean: It’s still the number one issue that a lot of people are facing today, which is, you’re right, that’s the only way for you to understand is this a priority or is this like a nice to have thing that maybe there’s other things that are falling down that we should be applying this to. I think it also is a great filter to understand what vendors are actually listening to your business problems. Who actually hears you and how are they actually translating that and using their expertise to translate your domain expertise into an actual problem that machine learning can solve or analytics or whatever they’re selling? Before we go too far down the road, Kristin, tell us a little bit about what MindBody does and what’s the pitch there?

Kristin: Yeah, so MindBody, we started as a B2B company, really focused on providing an all-in-one solution for businesses in the health, beauty, and wellness industry. You think about your yoga studios, your salons, personal training, acupuncture, a lot of these businesses is really where we started. The product does scheduling, point of sale. We have our own payments processor so, you know, accept credit cards, reports, staff management, there’s a ton of really great features in there.

More recently, in the last few years, we’ve been focusing on the B2C side as well, so we have a app that’s free to consumers where they can really manage their wellness and book their classes, their appointments, and see it all-in-one. We’re finding that a lot of consumers go to multiple businesses that are our clients so we wanted to provide them one area so they don’t have a log in to every single studio and they can really manage it all from one place. We also see the benefit in creating that really healthy ecosystem between the consumer and business, which is a win/win for them and a win/win for us because if we don’t have businesses to serve, we don’t have a product and if the businesses don’t have consumers, they don’t have a product either. Really, just helping that entire ecosystem.

Sean: It’s interesting. I find this sort of market vertical is really interesting in terms of the fact that you guys are sort of selling, you started out selling to SMBs and then you’ve got the user experience on the B2C side. What’s the competition like because John will not believe this, but I’ve actually interacted with the MindBody app in scheduling some of my own yoga classes and things like that.

Kristin: Zumba! *laughing*

Sean: Yeah. *laughing* … huge Zumba guy.

Kristin: I knew it.

Sean: You wouldn’t think of it to look at me, but it’s all happening. Is there fierce competition for a lot of these shops because, I mean, I have to imagine that, you know, and you and I have had this conversation before, you guys are definitely looking for the folks who are opening up new studios and centers like that so you have to act fast. You guys are definitely very prevalent in the market, but what does the competition look like to go after those kind of buyers?

Kristin: It’s interesting because our biggest competitor is pen and paper, though there’s a lot of … Oh, and the small business, right? We do have a focus on enterprise as well so we serve some bigger clients like Orange Theory, but the small businesses, there’s still a lot that are on pen and paper. It’s kind of interesting to think of them as a competitor. The space that we’re in is really unique because although they’re business owners, they’re really yogis first or fitness enthusiasts first so they may not always have that business side or that tech side nailed down and they’re really passionate about what they do and their practice.

Sometimes they start their business on pen and paper because they didn’t go, you know, they don’t have MBA’s. Some of them do. I’m generalizing, right? Our biggest competitor is pen and paper and then we do have a lot of competitors in each individual space so if you take yoga, apart from itself, there’s some yoga specific competitors. If you take CrossFit, there’s some CrossFit specific competitors, but as you can imagine, because they’re so narrow focused, they are much smaller and then there’s, on the other side, some companies that do everything so they’re a little more general. Like Google Docs, you know, some companies are running their business on Google Docs …

Sean: Sure.

Kristin: … so that could be a competitor, but it’s definitely a different industry and it’s interesting.

Sean: With that wide range of sort of technical and non-technical buyer, how are people finding out about MindBody? How do people sort of find their way into your funnel? What’s sort of the main drivers?

Kristin: Yeah, as we’ve grown, word of mouth is becoming more and more popular. Especially since I’m really focusing on both the B2C and the B2B side. It’s kind of creating this ecosystem where the consumer may be telling the business owner, the business owner there’s a lot of crossover between business owners. One business owner of a yoga studio could be a client of a salon. Right? There’s a lot of networking amongst our clients and as far as our direct marketing, SEO’s a big push for us, PPC, a lot of Google and Bing ads. We have a really great webinar program and more at the top of the funnel, really providing that education for the business owners, and events. We do tons of events because we’re in so many micro industries. We go to a lot of trade shows. Those are fun.

John: That’s a lot of the classic kind of block and tackle marketing stuff. What do you have to support all of those programs then as far as CRM system and email? What’s your stack look like?

Kristin: What do we not have? Yeah, it’s the tech world and marketing has really exploded so some of our big ones that we really depend on is Salesforce and we use Eloqua for automation, Tableau for reporting, we have Infer for lead scoring, GoToWebinar really for supporting our webinar and content program. Those are kind of the big ones, and then we have tons that really integrate in to either our Salesforce instance, which is one hub or our website, which is another hub, so lots of tools in between.

Sean: One question I have is like with so many different pieces of technology, I had to ask about the team setup, which is in terms of your stack, is there part that the sales team and kind of demand gen folks own and then part that owned by marketing operations or is it all sort of centralized that you’re the main owner and operator there? How do you divide things up?

Kristin: Yeah, we’re really lucky to have a team in marketing that’s really focused more on the tech side, so we’re kind of the liaison between our IT team, our marketing strategists and we oversee really the marketing stack and making sure that everything’s working efficiently. We do work very closely with our sales team and we’re really blessed to have a great relationship because I know sales and marketing can butt heads. They’re on, a couple of our vendors, whether they sit in marketing or sales, we have a representative from both teams that are on the weekly calls and really making sure that whatever tools we’re using that kind of sit in the middle, we have both stakeholders there because it’s only, you know, if marketing’s providing insight and then it stops at that division line, if there’s no action taken, then it’s really not worth it. We hold each other accountable and make sure that both needs are being met.

John: How about for your inbound then as the stuff just comes in? I mean, you’re obviously doing webinars and your website is a lead generation tool. Do you funnel those as they come in? Separate them out? Do they get dished directly to reps? What’s the flow there?

Kristin: Yeah, it’s interesting, we’ve done a lot. We used to distribute all of them, then we had a marketing qualify team, then we’ve done 50/50. Right now, we have pretty good insight into which channels perform best and convert quicker. Those go straight to reps. Those are usually like an SEO lead that’s requesting a demo that’s going to go straight to a rep and we have a pretty short sales cycle compared to most tech companies, but a lot of our leads that come in more top of the funnel, we do have a qualifying team that qualifies them before they set that demo up with the sales rep. Then, our sales team actually does a lot of outbound as well.

Sean: On the data front, Kristin, because you guys sell to such a wide range of buyers, you know, you have a bunch of different tools in there between predictive and your CRM, are there particular data points that you guys look for or that your sales team look for to qualify? Are you using any sort of enrichment strategies to help fill in the holes? What are the key signals that you guys look for?

Kristin: Yeah, we look for really both the industry and the channel and the call to action that they’re responding to as far as their intent is a big one. Then, we do use Infer to help organize and prioritize all of the signals because there’s, I mean, I’m sure you know how much data we have. It’s just crazy so we do use that to help prioritize because when we were trying before, we had some key signals, but really adding that additional layer to automate that has been really helpful.

Sean: What about data storage? This is actually something I always neglect to ask folks. Are you putting everything into Eloqua? Are you dumping it all into CRM or what about the stuff that’s just totally rotten? Do you have a place to put it or are there purges that you guys do? What are some of the storage use cases that you guys have with so much coming in?

Kristin: Yeah, we’re currently working on building a … Well, we’ve built out a data warehouse and just working on integrating it all. I think that’s a big challenge with most marketing teams is, you know, you have data, not only just coming in from the lead and the prospect, but we have data coming from our product usage, we have data from our website, all the web visits, all the, you know. We’re looking at … We already have our warehouse that aggregates it, but we’re looking at adding more and then really understand what information do we then want to pull out and act on in Salesforce or in Eloqua in any of our systems. Yeah, it’s a great question.

Sean: The data warehouse stuff is pretty fascinating because I’m actually seeing more and more businesses want to build their own. Like you said, they want to sort of bring all of these disparate data sources together in a place. Is the main sort of goal or what you guys had to be thinking about, like the cost effectiveness of just sort of building your own data warehouse? The other was, was it just to get your hands on the stuff so you could run Tableau reports and things like that, was this sort of a BI use case driving that?

Kristin: I think BI definitely had a role in it, but I think it’s more about just getting it in one place so then we can then plug into one source instead of having a spaghetti noodle of all of these applications connected. We can really have one source and plug into and out of so that as we change vendors or our tech stack adjusts, we don’t have to untangle all the noodles and figure out what that impact is and just tying it all together makes it a little bit easier in one place.

Sean: Yeah, centralization is actually a key strategy when it comes to things like data hygiene and making sure that things are sort of clean coming in. Are you guys doing anything? What is your data hygiene strategy look like because I have to imagine that the data for some of the inputs have to be all over the place with serving so many different verticals? Do you guys have particular strategies or other technologies that you count on for that?

Kristin: Yeah, I think it’s really about defining, again, back to kind of the beginning, defining what data is most important to standardize and keep clean first because you’re right. There’s data points that might not match or there’s the formatting. There’s just so much that goes into data and that’s where we really started is identifying those KPI’s that we really need to make sure are correct and formatted and standardized so that they are actionable and then kind of working our way out.

Sean: What about from the global side, Kristin, like have you guys, are you doing a lot of the international expansion? Have you guys seen growth sort of overseas or beyond the North America market? I’m curious about what kind of strategies are you guys using on that front?

Kristin: Yeah, our international growth happened pretty organically to begin, years ago. I think part of that was because we were and we still are kind of that leader in the space so there aren’t as many competitors and that happened naturally. We do have a local office in London as well as in Sydney so that has really helped integrate those markets, having that local presence and that understanding. Being able to speak English in those two countries helps, but we do have, I mean, we have clients in 130 countries and regions though, so it’s pretty widespread.

Sean: Something that I’m sure we can commiserate on is some of the difficulties when it comes to localization and then managing your marketing operations. With Eloqua and the campaigns that you’re running, what are the type of techniques because you guys obviously, if you have the London office, you’re looking at sort of the EMEA, Go-to-Market, and then APAC and things like that. How do you guys manage the localization process? Are you translating all of the campaigns and programs into the local languages? What are you guys thinking about on that front?

Kristin: Yeah, that’s part of the reasons why we open offices in the countries themselves to help with localization because as you know, translating is not the same as localizing.

Sean: No.

Kristin: We’ve learned.

Sean: It could be a total disaster.

Kristin: Yeah, but we do use some tools to help automate the translation and then we also do like a proof over to make sure that the translation was localized as well. Some of our marketing material is translated depending on the market, but really by focusing on those English-speaking countries in Australia, in London, where our bigger markets are, we’ve been lucky to not have to cross that bridge too much.

Sean: Yeah, because that’s, like you said, that’s a huge thing. You can’t just run these things through a Google translate and then the machine comes out with what’s going to end up being a bunch of caveman speak, really, to the foreigner …

Kristin: Yeah.

Sean: … which is always, it can be very disastrous. We’ve had that happen. I definitely have a few stories of bumps and bruises on that front. In terms of how you guys are managing Eloqua today, does everything sort of role through you in terms of the centralized demand center or do the field offices in your global, do they have their own seats, running their own programs, or do they work with you guys as a central demand center?

Kristin: Right now, they work with us as a central demand center in marketing through myself and then we have a program manager that does our email marketing and our webinar program. It’s really just working together, but right now, it’s still centralized.

John: How about for reviewing the stacking when stuff comes up for renewal or do you have some auto process where you just kind of look at things and say, okay, wait. These tools are doing what they’re supposed to be doing or maybe we’re having a lot of benefit coming out of this one and we want to see if we can upgrade and roll it out further? How does that all work?

Kristin: Yeah, we’re lucky to have a really great relationship with our IT team and our procurement team as well and they are really great at holding us accountable, but also holding our vendors accountable. We have quarterly reviews with some of our bigger vendors, Salesforce, you know, Eloqua, all the big ones and really defining what those goals and KPI’s are before the contract. Then, checking in quarterly to make sure we’re hitting them has been really beneficial, so that when those renewals come up, it just makes making the decision so much easier. Are we hitting the goal, are we doing what we thought we were going to be doing, or is it just a cool product that we’re trying to still figure out, has been really helpful.

Sean: What about sort of looking ahead? What kind of projects and challenges are you looking at in the next couple months? Curious about what you guys are sort of looking … What the next progress looks like.

Kristin: I think it’s still just connecting all of the data points and software programs and tools that we do use. I think that’s going to be ongoing for maybe … It might take a few more months than just two months, but really connecting all the pieces and there’s really, when I think about it, I think when I look at our vendors, there’s two levels. There’s the business process. Making sure that we have the tools to support our business from beginning to end, so from legion, to purchasing, to supporting, all the way through that life cycle. That’s one depth and then the width I would say is making sure those tools also provide visibility and support to our teams cross functionally so that everyone in the company has insight into what’s happening at any one of those stages. It’s really just like three-dimensional challenge and that’s what we’re working on now, so some tools are great for creating efficiencies in our end-to-end process, but they’re not as great at maybe providing that insight for our cross functional teams. We’re looking at both sides and filling in gaps.

Sean: One thing that I’m always interested to talk to or at least ask, especially marketing ops people, so the people who are really just like in deep with the technologies like you are, Kristin. I don’t know if you know this, but there’s a lot of hype in sales and marketing technology today and it’s growing. It’s a big secret that’s not …

Kristin: I’ve seen the infographic.

Sean: *Laughing* Well, they’ll be a webinar soon and then they’ll turn that into a white paper. It’s all coming ahead and maybe they’ll make a podcast, too. *All laughing* All right? No, I’m just kidding. I’m curious, with all of the new stuff coming out, obviously, there is some good stuff in there, but is there stuff that makes you excited as a marketing ops person to see that sort of rising or things that even might be early on that you’re looking at, that you’re hoping has legs? Anything peaking your interest on that front, the new and emerging?

Kristin: There’s probably two different sides because we are B2B and B2C, but one is the mobile space. Right? Being able to message our consumers through the app and push notifications and text messaging and all of that. I mean, that’s been happening for a while, but I think it’s really exciting to look at that whole picture and the consumer as a whole. There’s a lot of new marketing technologies that are coming out that are mobile specific so I’m really interested to see them develop more and see where they go. Then, I think the other side, as we were talking about earlier, is really what the future is of AI in marketing and right now, I think some of the early adopters are using it so there’s still some kinks to be worked out, but seeing where that goes and how different companies are going to use it to act on because the possibilities are endless. Once the technology is there, it’s really up to us, the marketers, to decide how do we want to use this, and that’s really exciting.

Sean: I have to ask, the mobile part was something I completely eluded me that I was going to ask you guys about because, obviously, this has to be one of the, at least if not, the top one of the growing interaction channels that you guys have, especially on the user side. Are you gathering that data? Is that sort of all living in the product right now or does marketing get their hands on that and are able to utilize that at all today or is it being piped into the warehouse? I’m curious what steps you guys are taking there.

Kristin: Yeah, so it is in the product and it is in our backend data and then we also have a tool called Kahuna so similar to, you know, I think of it as Eloqua on the mobile side or whatever so it has an SDK set up with app so that marketing is able to get that data and create campaigns based on user attributes and behavior and really target them. Some analytic tools plugged in as well.

John: That’s great. Kristin, we really appreciate you taking time to talk with us here. If people want to learn more about what you’ve got going on or, more specifically, about MindBody, what’s the best way to get in touch?

Kristin: I think LinkedIn is the best now. I am heading on maternity leave tomorrow, so I won’t be checking my email and I don’t answer my phone, so …

John: Oh, congratulations, that’s huge news. Is this your first?

Kristin: My second.

John: Oh, okay, so you know what you’re getting into then.

Kristin: Kind of.

John: Yes, my big joke is we thought we were great parents until we had our second child and got a rude awakening.

Kristin: Great.

John: Sean, how about for you? What’s going on? Anything published recently or other stuff you want to point to?

Sean: I have a couple things coming out. There was an article that I penned with Adrian Chang who is from Oracle, who actually has been on this program in the past. It should be coming out in mid-April. Depending on when we launch this episode, you can go back and grab that. It will be on CMSWire. It’s talking about actually how B2C companies are leveraging B2B tech. Some pretty interesting conversation and arguments that he and I had over the written word, but yeah. Otherwise, you can find all my stuff on Twitter @szinsmeister, Google Sean Zinsmeister. Of course, you can always head over to We just launched the new blog so we’ll have lots of good stuff populating over there as well.

John: Oh, that’s great. One of these days we should get the three of us and Adrian Chang and we can do a behind the scenes’ episode that never gets released because he’s definitely more than happy to let loose. That’s great. That will do it for this week. You can find more from over at But thanks for listening, and we’ll see you in the stacks.

John Wall

John Wall

John J. Wall speaks, writes and practices at the intersection of marketing, sales, and technology. He is the producer of Marketing Over Coffee, a weekly audio program that discusses marketing and technology with his co-host Christopher S. Penn, and has been featured on iTunes.

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