Ask an Expert: Sageflo’s Bernice Fung

In the latest edition of “Ask an Expert,” MessageGears’ Nick Ziech-Lopez and India Waters sat down with Sageflo’s Bernice Fung in order to really understand the world of distributed marketing. As the head of growth at Sageflo, Bernice has been in marketing technology for 15 years and explains in-depth how distributed marketing and Sageflo’s newest product, Radiate, can be beneficial to not only local but corporate marketers.

As a reminder, you can listen to the pre-recorded podcast HERE, and while you’re at it check out our previous webinar together, Winning at Brand-to-Local Marketing.

At a high level, how did you get to Sageflo? What’s your journey been like, what brought you here?

I worked at Adobe before this and also worked at several email service providers, as well as a deliverability company. When I was looking at where I wanted to go next, I wanted to find a place where I felt like I could use my experience in a role to be successful and valuable. What really drew me to Sageflo was the technology they were building — Radiate. In my 15-20 years of working in this industry, I haven’t found a solution as great as Radiate on the market.

What is Sageflo Radiate?

Radiate is Sageflo’s premier distributed marketing solution for marketing teams that have distributed or local teams that want to work with their corporate marketing teams to improve communication to their own customers. Radiate runs across various types of use cases, and any team that has a large team and wants to enable their marketers to message better can benefit from using Radiate.

Why is Radiate a thing people want? What is the distributed marketing part of it?

Radiate enables corporate marketing teams to help their local teams within the organization send messages — even if they are not professional marketers, these local teams still want to interact with their audience and grow the business. This is really because local teams know their customers in different ways, have more information, and know how to communicate with their customers better than marketers at the corporate marketing level.

The way these local marketers communicate with their customers and message them is different from the messaging and branding used at the corporate level. As a corporate marketer, you want to enable local marketers to get their message out while simultaneously having oversight into some of those messages and being able to approve messaging and images before they’re sent out. Radiate allows for both of those — the flexibility for the corporate marketing team, as well as the flexibility for the local marketers.

How is the message that local marketers are sending a little bit different than a corporate marketer?

Depending on the market you’re in, you may have customers that have different likes or dislikes — not everyone has the same type of atmosphere or market. Your message is going to be different depending on your situation and where the business is based. Corporate marketing allows you to speak to your brand and the larger audience as a whole, while local marketing focuses on the specific audience in that specific market. Utilizing local marketing allows marketers to attract certain customers more effectively and can be the difference between doing just average revenue to really excellent revenue in a given quarter or year.  

Who named this distributed marketing, and where did the term distributed marketing come from? If you could rename it, what would you rename it?

Really, what we’re doing with distributed marketing is creating a totally new segment in the industry. Distributed marketing is a way to connect multiple teams with a platform that has multiple uses that don’t really exist today. If I were to rename it, I would name it … Radiate.

We were very intentional when we picked the name and wanted to reflect how a marketer would use the platform. Naming the solution Radiate is a reflection of distributed marketing, marketing that is coming from a central location but radiating out to multiple teams.

What percent of the industry would you say is using distributed marketing, and why is it difficult? Why is it not 100% if the results are there — better interaction rate, better engagement rate?

If I were to take a quick estimate, I would say probably less than 20% of marketers right now are using distributed marketing. There are many reasons why, but the most common is that they haven’t been able to find the right solution, as well as a lack of awareness in the market right now that there’s a solution like this. Hopefully, this conversation gets marketers thinking that this isn’t something that you have to spend months building internally; rather, it’s something that’s out there in the market today. It’s something that’s platform-agnostic, so no matter what you’re using, this is something that you can plug quickly into your marketing strategy.

At a high level, why is this hard to do? Why couldn’t you just add more users to your marketing platform? 

Not every customer or brand has a good grasp on their data or a flexible data environment. If you don’t have your data in order, then it’s really difficult to even start thinking about how to build a solution around it. With Radiate, we really wanted to build something that anyone could use and have created this platform where you could drag and drop and enter in text, and make it easy for any local marketer to use. Radiate is a platform that’s perfect for a non-marketer but is still accepted by a corporate marketer, which is very different from how most martech solutions are built.

What do you think the future is for distributed marketing and martech?

I think that we have just chipped the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve been in martech for 15+ years and haven’t in my time come across a solution as complete as what I’ve seen in Radiate, and it’s taken the market a long time to realize that. This is something that truly can be impactful for businesses, and marketers should look into to improve their marketing and customer experience. As more and more brands realize that this is something that can not only make their lives easier, but also make their customer experience better and help them increase retention and customer lifetime value, this will be something that they’ll absolutely be looking to invest in.

What time of day does Radiate or Sageflo see the most action by users? When are people sending messages?

Honestly, there’s no one answer — It depends on their business, and our users are constantly testing when it makes the most sense to send the message to that specific person.

What’s your favorite quality of Sageflo Radiate?

Simplicity. The casual local marketer and the dedicated professional marketer can both have an easy time accomplishing what they need in the platform.

Where would you like Sageflo Radiate to live, like an industry that you don’t think is taking advantage of distributed marketing that you think would be perfect for it?

I would love to see us living in a universe where anyone that had a distributed marketing need could plug in, I see a lot of potential … so somewhere on a Forrester and Gartner report.

Where do you see distributed marketing growing to next? What’s the next step?

The next step is looking beyond some of the industries you mentioned and to simplify the day-to-day for a marketer. There are so many additional use cases for businesses that might not even be in the franchise industry.

By percentage, how many more or less emails would you say a brand sends once they start using Sageflo Radiate?

I would say in the hundreds of thousands is the real difference, depending on the size of the business. Empowering other users outside of the core corporate marketing team to use a platform like Radiate can exponentially increase the number of messages that go out that are also much more engaging.