Survey Says! Utilizing Survey Data to Support Cybersecurity Marketing Programs


In this episode of Cybersecurity (Marketing) Unplugged, Kristine also discusses:

  • How research and survey reports guide B2B cybersecurity marketing by identifying market needs and shaping narratives.
  • Designing surveys to balance valuable data with marketing narratives.
  • How utilizing customized research findings enhances targeted marketing and drives sales pipeline revenue.
  • Measuring success through key performance indicators (KPIs) and leveraging generative AI in research processes and marketing strategies.

One of the go-to tools for cybersecurity marketers to portray the need for a product or service is survey data.  If all your peers are saying that there is an issue to be solved, then said issue must exist and be addressed.  Survey data provides factual evidence that there is a problem that needs to be solved. Yet, all research and survey programs are not created equal.

Some fall way short of creating a need, or even if the results imply a need, marketers may not have the time, resources, or understanding to utilize the results to their best advantage.  How can research and survey data be used most effectively to create a need, and at the same time contribute to thought leadership and ultimately lead and pipeline revenue generation?

Tune in to this timely interview as we delve into how cybersecurity vendors can use data-driven research and survey results to not just inform their marketing strategies but also to establish themselves as thought leaders, generate awareness, and ultimately drive lead-generation. We’ll explore the nuances of translating complex data into compelling marketing narratives that resonate with both technical and decision-maker audiences in the cybersecurity sector.

To help us unpack this is Kristine DePippo, Head of B2B Product Marketing: Security, Verizon. An accomplished Product Marketing visionary, Kristine is at the helm of orchestrating Verizon Security’s B2B strategy and pioneering its data report advancements.

"The security reports we publish at Verizon are critical assets for our marketing team. They also allow us to create a market awareness, so these reports really showcase and create a need for our customers, enabling sales to begin client conversations with hard quantitative data, and it helps validate and position our solutions," says Kristine.

Full Transcript

This episode has been automatically transcribed by AI, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors. 

Mike D’Agostino: [00:27]

Welcome everyone to another episode of Cybersecurity Marketing Unplugged. I’m your host and general manager with CyberTheory Mike D’Agostino. I’m extra excited about this episode as we continue the discussion from our last episode with Wade Baker of Cyentia Institute, where we discuss generative AI’s role in data research. And for this episode, we’re focused more on surveys and survey data and research and their applicability for marketing purposes. So one of the go-to-tools for cybersecurity marketers to portray the need for a product or service is survey data. If all your peers are saying that there is an issue to be solved, then said issue must exist and must be addressed. So survey data provides factual evidence that there is a problem that needs to be solved. They create a need, which is crucial during the awareness phase of the B2B buyers journey. Yet all research and survey programs are not created equal; some fall way short of creating a need, or even if the results imply a need, marketers may not have the time, resources or understanding to utilize the results to their best advantage. So how can research and survey data be used most effectively to create a need, and at the same time contribute to thought leadership, and ultimately lead and pipeline revenue generation? To help us unpack it all, we’ve invited Kristine DePippo to join us. Kristine is currently the head of B2B product marketing for security and advanced communications at Verizon, where she has an enviable 10-plus year tenure. Kristine, great to have you with us. And welcome to the show.

Kristine DePippo: [02:12]

Thank you so much for having me today. I’m really excited to dive into this. A big part of my day-to-day responsibility is ensuring that the business community is connected to Verizon security expertise, products, services, and is aware of the deep insights that we have into security and our network traffic.

Mike D’Agostino: [02:34]

Awesome. Well, that’s no small task. So kudos to you for putting it all together. And very eager to hear your thoughts on some of our discussion points today. So let’s dive in and start at the very top. I kind of hinted at it in the lead-up to this. But from your point of view, what is the strategic importance of utilizing research and survey reports and data when it comes to B2B cybersecurity marketing, like what is the purpose of these reports from a marketing standpoint?

Kristine DePippo: [03:09]

The security reports we publish at Verizon, we have the DBIR, our mobile security index, or MSI, and our payments security report, the PSR, are critical assets for our marketing team and they are the bread and butter behind our whole security offering. First, they share with the business community our position as a thought leader. We have decades of cybersecurity experience behind these reports, and we want to showcase that to customers and prospects alike. They also allow us to create a market awareness that is in tune with what the market is saying and that you stay at the forefront of industry trends. And we have the security expertise in an expansive portfolio to work with customers to help address growing security concerns. So these reports really showcase and create a need for our customers. They’re able to easily identify rising trends and risks, which can shorten marketing and sales cycles, because they have engagement from early on in the sales process and the sales funnel. It enables sales to begin client conversations with hard quantitative data that reflects specific industry trends and pain points. Not be so product- and service-focused right up front at the beginning of the conversation. And it helps validate and position our solutions, like I mentioned earlier, as qualified choices for current customers and to help solve their problems.

Mike D’Agostino: [04:54]

Yeah, that’s great. And you touched on a few different points there, and at CyberTheory, we have this sort of matrix that shows it’s a bit simplified across the buyers journey, but the different stages and how different types of assets can play into the different stages with different title levels. And again, we try to keep it simple. We have an executive level, a VP, a manager level, and then sort of a practitioner level. And that top-left hand corner, which is the intersection of executive and awareness, that’s where we see these surveys, they can fit in many different areas, but right upfront in creating a need at an executive level, they’re instrumental. And usually what we see from many of our clients and prospects is there’s a lot of focus buy stage assets targeting, let’s say, a CISO. So many vendors try to position very product-centric or product-oriented assets during the buy phase, targeting, let’s say, a CISO, in this case, and they haven’t yet created a need. So usually what ends up happening is the lower level titles, the practitioners, are the ones that get involved with that buy stage asset. And they have to make the case from the bottom up to their executive team, that there’s a need for a particular product or service. Well, isn’t it much better if you create that need at an executive level way before so that the executive realizes that there’s an issue, and then he or she turns to their team and says, “Go investigate this and look into it?” You’ve already got that buy-in from the awareness stage.

Kristine DePippo: [06:48]

Absolutely, you have to start with the business outcomes. And that’s what these reports do. They open up new gaps and business outcomes that we can solve for. It’s so important. Absolutely.

Mike D’Agostino: [07:00]

And now, how, though research and the actual design of the survey and the survey instrument, and I want to preface it by saying that not that we aren’t seeking the truth we are. But given many of these reports are used for marketing purposes, what do you see as the overall strategy and crafting the questions, so that they balance providing enough useful data for the readers and practitioners versus the narrative of what you’re trying to convey?

Kristine DePippo: [07:34]

So the reports themselves, they’re completely neutral, and they convey the trends we see. But where I come in from a marketing perspective is, to your point, crafting what those reports are telling me to promote: a product service and to achieve a business outcome. And I do that by creating additional assets using that research to highlight the various services we offer. So for example, our 2023 DBIR report shows that 74% of all breaches involve the human element. This was critical as we were developing a social engineering defense plan. And this was an angle that I played heavily into. So as I am trying to connect the dots between various reports and research to our financial objectives – because at the end of the day, we want to sell our services – that’s how I can use the data to set to “create the need”. And then position finally our recommendation which is a Verizon product or service. But our reports themselves, the team is very tough, and they are sticklers on keeping them neutral and as factual middle of the road as possible. We are Switzerland.

Mike D’Agostino: [09:01]

Yes. Very good. I could imagine. And I think people see through it. I’ve seen reports where it’s obvious that there’s a setup that the authors are trying to convey something that maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, when you look at some of the responses and even how the questions are set up and the responses that they allow people to choose. They’re very strongly going into a certain direction. But I totally agree with you taking the middle of the road, letting the data speak for itself, and then creating narratives and stories around that impartial data. That’s how you can apply that marketing lens after the fact.

Kristine DePippo: [09:46]

Absolutely, and then automatically it gives the assets I’m creating more clout because everybody knows in the industry the integrity and value of the report, see that we produce. So if I’m starting out by saying 74% have a human element in breaches, that is a fact. And I trust now whatever you’re going to tell me after that, to your point, so it’s really important.

Mike D’Agostino: [10:17]

Absolutely. And now you started to touch on the additional assets that can come out of these studies. So let’s take a deeper dive there. I want to say that if you’re going through the process of running such a research or survey program, that if you are marketing solely the results document, that you’re missing out, and a lot of companies, like I said, upfront, they may not have the time, wherewithal or resources to take a deep dive and having just that one main results document is good, it’s adequate. But what are some of the best practices you can point to for utilizing the reports to create more of a series of related content, and how can those assets be utilized and marketed properly?

Kristine DePippo: [11:04]

It is important to create additional ways for different customers and sizes of businesses to consume the information. My goal also is not only to drive bottom-line results, which I love doing, but it’s also to share the knowledge with people. I am sick, just like everyone else, of getting fake tax from all these delivery companies. And so the more knowledge we can share the better. So, for example, with our DBIR, you will see industry and segments-specific reports. So I will do a double-click on a small business, they don’t have time or the security background to read a full report and is probably not top-of-mind for them. So I will create a simple infographic, understanding what they need to know and how they can address these rising concerns. We simplify the language, we’ll put it in front of small businesses, proactively make the content easy to digest and comprehend. For more upmarket, sometimes you don’t have time to sit down and read a 60-70-80-page report. So we create webinar series. And again, that will go into specific industries, we always focus heavily on financial and healthcare, for example. And then we’ll have a smaller snackable presentations as well, that our sales organizations can share to their specific industries, also. So just launching a report and saying, “This is going to drive funnel B, this is going to drive awareness.” Just from one report? Forget it! It has to be a whole synchronized, orchestrated, end-to-end motion, to get the eyes on it, and to deliver the message to your customers in the way they want to receive it.

Mike D’Agostino: [13:05]

Yeah, that’s great input there. It sounds like you need the strategy from the get go, and mapping out what are those important – whether it’s industry focuses on certain types of businesses or even certain title levels or job functions within your target markets – what’s going to be important for them that you can pull out of these results, and you have to have that in mind ahead of time. I’m sure some of this might come up organically as the results start to come in, and they convey a certain picture and you can go off on certain tangents. But the better you have it planned upfront in terms of who are the audiences that you’re looking to target, that can definitely guide you in the supplemental asset creation. And as a follow up, even before we started this interview, and we were talking about the talking points ahead of time, you mentioned an interesting twist on how you are conveying the results of research. Can you elaborate a bit more on this process and what you’re hoping to achieve by doing so?

Kristine DePippo: [14:21]

Absolutely. So far, larger businesses, Verizon conducts private readouts to our customers. We’ll highlight trends and more industry-specific data that will resonate with their customer. Because we have a relationship with them, we’ll be able to understand where we need to highlight a ransomware, for example, and trends that relate to that. It allows us in real time, whether virtual, or in a room, to showcase what the experts who actually wrote the report think about our customers’ security posture and ecosystem. We can bring in the specific data that resonates with them. And then because you’re already face to face, that flows directly into a sales conversation. So with that, it’s a two-way conversation around the data that our customer is consuming. And that is, to your point, very rare. Most of the time, when we see thought leadership, it’s just shouted from the rooftops and go, go, go. But we’re actually in real time allowing it to progress down the funnel, and get us actual sales from that two-way conversation.

Mike D’Agostino: [15:43]

What a great strategy, it reminds me of almost like a managed service or providing research content or something, hands-on process. And I’m sure that the people that you’re presenting appreciate your team doing the work to vet out what you think would be most important to them, really cutting through the noise and customizing those conversations based on the target audience that you’re speaking to. So great strategy there. And you mentioned in our lead-up to this that as most modern day marketers are, you’re absolutely obsessive about KPIs. When it comes to gauging the success of these reports, like for these types of survey data and research type programs, can you give us a hint as to what are the main or most important KPIs that you measure?

Kristine DePippo: [16:41]

It is not easy, let me tell you, and I know I’m going to be missing people who are now considering Verizon, whereas before, they haven’t, so you do what you can. But I use the data first off in these reports throughout the year to support various product launches, and other marketing campaigns and even other thought leadership pieces. We take and tie to these research reports in our surveys throughout the year. And so, like I said, to be able to measure the awareness that these are creating would be almost impossible. So what I look at with a piece like MSI, or PSR, and look at downloads, website visits, social engagement. And since we have such robust webinar series around these launches, webinar views and engagement. Each of these metrics give me MQLs, and SQLs that I can track all the way down to bookings to see how our marketing efforts of the report lead to actual dollars. It’s very easy to see that after we launched the PSR, a national clothing store is now starting to talk to us about a PCI assessment, I would tie that then back to our PSR campaign. And again, because it’s such a robust and orchestrated campaign, we know that our efforts is gaining the attention of new customers. Another critical KPI is sales engagement. My team arms the sales organization with not only the reports, but those bite-sized presentations and the infographics, videos if we’re doing a video. And so we need sales to use these tools to proactively go to the customers that they have relationship with, and start a new conversation. So we also look at the various tools within our sales organization. How many times are they sharing it? What activity are we seeing in our sales tracking tool to see that they are talking about the data we’re putting out? And how customers are responding as well.

Mike D’Agostino: [19:06]

That takes a lot of orchestration, it sounds like a lot of planning on your end. So kudos to having it all together. I know, these are probably significant investments in time and resources and money. So you’re not treating it like any other whitepaper where you just say, “Here’s the whitepaper, go syndicate this out, and track downloads on it,” but you’re like stewards of the actual research and marketing assets that are being developed and it sounds like taking ownership to a certain degree of making sure that they get into market properly and that your sales teams are taking advantage of the work that’s been put into these.

Kristine DePippo: [19:49]

Absolutely. I treat these reports and the launching of these reports, like a full-blown product launch. It’s going, if not more, in some cases, it gets full attention not only from my team, but from all of the marketing teams and sales organizations here at Verizon. Because like I said earlier, it’s also very important to us to share this information broadly, so that we can curb the attacks that we’re seeing against businesses.

Mike D’Agostino: [20:23]

Great. And I know we’re starting to run out of time here, just two more questions for you. And this next one, I want to preface it by saying, I’m not looking for any trade secrets or anything. But can you talk about any successful campaigns or parts of campaigns that resulted in just stellar results and hint that what those results might have been?

Kristine DePippo: [20:50]

Nice try trying to get my secret sauce. Like I said, our most successful campaigns are ones that are fully orchestrated. Here, we are so tightly aligned across all the marketing teams at Verizon, and focused that we can have a cohesive messaging strategy and a complete end-to-end plan around these reports. Specifically, a marketing launch we had last year around our payments security report demonstrated how a well-oiled marketing machine can drive results. One thing I personally love about working at Verizon is the collaboration. And that proved true in this campaign, we saw an influx of funnel activity around our PCI assessment. And that’s all hard revenue that we can tie back to the report and the campaign.

Mike D’Agostino: [21:43]

Well, without any trade secrets there, it sounds like orchestration and having a good strategy around these and not just treating them as simple marketing assets is the path to success. And now, last question for you. And only because it’s part of just about every marketing discussion I have these days and inserted into just about all the interviews we’ve been conducting. It’s around AI. Is generative AI playing a role in any of your research programs at this point? Either implementing – the creation and administration of the surveys themselves, or as part of the marketing aftermath?

Kristine DePippo: [22:28]

Right now, it’s all just elbow grease and grunt work. But we are starting to play with what we’ll do with AI in the future. So I think we’re just touching the surface on how AI can help us create our reports, and then the marketing to follow. And I see huge opportunities in the future to help us get more efficient in our data collection, analysis distribution of their report, and streamline some efficiencies, but we still have a lot of learning like everybody else, to make sure that it doesn’t compromise the integrity and value of the reports themselves.

Mike D’Agostino: [23:04]

Well, I can’t wait to see more when you start to implement more generative AI into these studies and you know, sort of jokes aside, kudos to you and the team. We know Verizon, you have some of the most highly regarded reports and research in the industry and cybersecurity in general. And it’s obvious that you take a ton of care in putting these reports together, and you have a defined strategy for making the most use of them that you can from a marketing and sales perspective. And kudos to you. You’ve been a big part of that for Verizon. So well, Kristine, this has been absolutely great. I hope that our marketer listeners can pick up on a few tidbits and if anything, just reinforced the value behind investing in research and survey type programs. And hopefully, they walked away with a couple of wisdom nuggets from our conversation. So thanks again for joining us.

Kristine DePippo: [24:10]

Thanks for having me. Take care.

Mike D’Agostino: [24:13]

This is Mike D’Agostino, again with CyberTheory. You’ve been listening to another episode of Cybersecurity Marketing Unplugged. Thanks for joining us and hope to catch you next time. Thank you.