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Predictions Series 2022: AiThority Interview with Courtney Austermehle, Chief Marketing Officer at Constructor

Courtney Austermehle, Chief Marketing Officer at Constructor

Hi, Courtney. Welcome to our Interview Series. Please tell us a little bit about your journey and what inspired you to start with Constructor.

Throughout my career I’ve had a series of roles that were to ideally, lead me to a C-Suite path either in marketing, revenue or operations. My professional life began as a business development representative (working for a sales person in thought leadership) to which I was promoted into sales, sales leadership, onto product development and was recruited into marketing. This wide array of roles allowed me to carry my own revenue goal, develop operational models and financial models, understand the revenue funnel end to end, understand supply chain/manufacturing, cross-functional collaboration and more. That said, after being a marketer in ecommerce for some time, when I met the Constructor team, saw the product, understood how much it helps customers – it became a no-brainer to join. Constructor has lightning in a bottle and I am here to help tell that story with my incredible colleagues and peers.

You have diverse experiences in different marketing fields. Please tell us how you see AI and Machine Learning influencing CMO’s decision-making processes?

AI and Machine Learning can be a beautiful thing. The unfortunate thing about AI and Machine Learning is that the term is saturated in a noisy market and typically it is an underwhelming product for most. This is why being able to test out tools around AI and Machine Learning prior to purchase is so critical. It is actually a key piece as to why I was attracted to Constructor.

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Please tell us about the Ideal Customer Profile of Constructor. Which industries and markets are you targeting with your AI merchandising and e-commerce tools?

While we do have an ICP, we don’t want to necessarily box anyone in or anyone out in terms of people at organizations that can benefit from Constructor. Most of our customers and prospects are within retail, brand retail and direct-to-consumer and anyone that has a KPI tied to revenue, merchandising or customer experience. We like to think of these folks to have profiles versus just titles when targeting or hoping to partner with people within a key organization. It gives us more breadth and depth to our conversations and discovery with people. It allows us to listen to their needs and be more consultative in our initial discussions too. That said, these titles typically look like CTO, CDO, CMO, Heads of Ecomm, Marketers, Omnichannel Innovation and so on. Additionally, we would love to see the manufacturing and distribution vertical drive further digital maturity within their organizations.

Marketing teams are spending a lot more on their marketing automation tools and platforms. Please share your experience in working with Marketing Automation tools and how they have changed the way you derive outcomes from these?

Marketing Automation tools allow us to communicate with others, but it is only one tool in the toolbox. I don’t look at Marketing Automation as the central core to marketing. As we evolve as marketers, multi-channel tools, understanding how to drive human behavior, utilizing revenue ops tools, and meeting people where they are in their purchasing journey – whether it be digitally or physically – are critical for success.

Marketing heads have a lot more say in deciding their Martech stacks today. Could you please highlight your CMO roadmap that brings marketing closer to IT?

We are very tight knit without the IT and RevOps groups in the decision making process around our MarTech. It’s important that we have a critical business need, we understand the short and long term gain of using that tech and that it has someone who can own it. Once we have that information tied to our revenue goals – it helps us make a stronger decision in terms of purchasing.

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What according to you are the most time-consuming tasks that a CMO undertakes in an organization? How do modern digital tools ease the pains for CMOs?

People come first. Professional development of others takes up time but it’s worth it. Then, developing operational and financial models can be very time consuming, but when you have a CEO, COO and Head of Sales like I do, it actually makes life pretty easy. Tools like Clari, CPQ and building out Salesforce help immensely when modeling. For a company our size, I’d say we are ahead of the curve in terms of our tech stack and willingness to truly plan our future GTM strategy and revenue strategy. The last thing that takes time is guessing and testing. Any tool that can give us visibility into the dark funnel is wildly helpful.

The last two years have accelerated digital transformation for businesses of all sizes and stature. What has been the biggest lesson for you that helped you stay on top of your marketing game-plan? Would you like to share your pandemic experience on how you managed to continue your market research during the uncertain times?

Your marketing will only be as good as your people, so spend time with your team and provide them the space for mental health and awareness. Second, always be willing to learn. The strongest people are those with hunger and those that utilize every resource internally and externally around them.

Your take on the future of data science and AI in the content marketing and lead generation businesses.

AI is hard to predict as it’s always learning so I will use that as an out here to say that it’s hard to predict! In all seriousness, it’s going to be a necessary evil across all industries, not just marketing. There’s too much data out there for us to track.

An advice to every data science / AI professional looking to start in this space.

Lean in and use your data to form hypotheses (I am a data nerd and this is my own advice to myself) but do not forget about the anecdotal and human elements when developing decisions. It’s all critical.

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An event/ conference or podcast that you have subscribed to consume information about B2B technology industry: If invited, would you like to be part of a podcast episode on IT/ Cloud / AI research?

CMO talk and yes!

Thank you, Courtney! That was fun and we hope to see you back on soon.

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Courtney Austermehle joins Constructor as the company’s first CMO, joining from Salsify, a commerce experience management platform. At Salsify, Courtney  was the VP of Marketing Revenue and Business Development Representatives. Courtney was instrumental in scaling the company’s marketing team from five to forty employees over three years while increasing revenue to $100M+ and reaching a valuation above $2B. At Constructor, Austermehle will further develop and expand the marketing team while helping drive the company’s EMEA expansion and go-to-market strategy as Constructor prepares to support the increasing demand for tailor-made ecommerce merchandising solutions for online shopping experiences. Prior to these roles Courtney has focused her efforts across all of GTM in brand management, product development, operations and sales. Logo

​​Constructor is the only AI product discovery platform designed explicitly for ecommerce retailers. Unlike other product search and discovery platforms, machine learning is in Constructor’s DNA, bringing dynamic personalization to the customer experience.

Constructor’s cloud-based solutions use natural language processing, machine learning, and collaborative personalization to deliver powerful user experiences across all facets of product discovery—from search to browse, recommendations, collections, and autosuggest. We optimize revenue before relevance. This has allowed us to generate consistent $10M+ lifts for our customers, which include some of the biggest brands in retail like Sephora, Backcountry, Bonobos, Serena & Lily, Target Australia, Birkenstock, and more.

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