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December 24, 2018 Issue



Q&A with Ryan Vong, President and CEO of Digital Pi a Marketing Automation Consultancy specializing in Operationalizing Marketing through the Marketo Engagement Platform



Ryan Vong

President and Chief Executive Officer


Digital Pi


Ryan Vong, President & CEO

844.887.2669 x 700


Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – December 24, 2018


CEOCFO: Mr. Vong, what is Digital Pi?

Mr. Vong: Digital Pi is a marketing automation consultancy. We specialize in operationalizing marketing through the Marketo engagement platform.

CEOCFO: Why do you like Marketo?

Mr. Vong: So far, out of all of the choices out there, we see Marketo as having the biggest impact with the best flexibility for the many use cases when companies are making investments in marketing automation.


CEOCFO: Do you find many of your clients come to you when they are first implementing Marketo or is it as they realize like most solutions, you need more?

Mr. Vong: It would be the latter.


CEOCFO: How do you build on Marketo?

Mr. Vong: Marketo is the engagement platform or the operating system for marketing. It typically sits between web analytics and CRM systems. We build the processes necessary to deliver a holistic system to execute marketing strategy by connecting both front-end and backend systems to Marketo to engage and measure buyer journeys.


CEOCFO: Would you give us an example of what that means day to day?

Mr. Vong: It could be any number of businesses, but for this example say you own a car dealership where the average vehicle on the lot is worth $50,000 and your goal for next month is $5,000,000. You start doing the math on the pipeline volume that is necessary to get to your number. That would be about 100 vehicles at that price point that must be sold to make the revenue target. Most businesses close typically around 20-25% of the deals they have in pipeline, meaning you need four or five times the goal amount in viable pipeline to close for that time period. Now the math is done, you go back even further to see how you get there and look at it as a funnel.


You think about how many people you need to convince to get into the car lot.

How many of those people can you get to test drive?

How many of the people that went on a test drive can you get to sit at the table and talk numbers?


If you reverse the math all the way back and start from the beginning you think about how many promotions you have to do to get people on the lot, people in a car for a test drive, and people at the table to talk numbers… and how you track all those different tactics you used to see what’s working. Knowing that level of information and insight is incredibly useful because now we are not thinking about what we need to close TODAY but we can think about trends, which tactics lead to deals closed, and what the volume and velocity of deals moving through actually needs to be to hit that $5M mark. In every scenario, in any company, that is the level of information that you need.


CEOCFO: The Digital Pi site indicates you customize for each client. Would you explain what might be different from one to another and how you work with a client to determine what they need?

Mr. Vong: We have a standard framework or methodology we use. The software itself, the reason why we chose Marketo, is because it had some inherent strengths, one of those being the ability to adapt and customize for a business. For example, we have a client that manufactures textiles selling to suppliers. There is a whole set of process there that is very different than a technology company that might be doing business on the web, where you sign up, try the product, and buy the product all through credit card transactions.


Those are very different types of businesses. They have different velocities to them and they can still use the same platform because fundamentally, it is still the same idea of a buyer journey but the level of information you are gathering is very different. A fast type business tends to have a lot of transactional engagement metrics. What did they do when they signed up? Did they look at these things? How often did they log on? In manufacturing, not so much. How many suppliers went to these shows that they are targeting and how did those suppliers receive the messages? Are they responding to marketing? Did we get the right people from the right departments to go to the show or something we are driving them to? That cycle tends to be longer.


Marketing automation tactics and processes depend on the type of business, the environment, and data of what’s worked/ not worked previously. You need a system that doesn’t automatically assume everybody operates the same way – any solution that guarantees it will work “out of the box” just doesn’t work… there will always require some level of customization.


CEOCFO: Who is turning to you for services? How do they find you?

Mr. Vong: At this point, a majority of our business comes through referrals. Our customers are happy and refer us or they move to other companies and bring us in, so our footprint grows from that. Recently, as we grow, we are taking a more proactive approach and doing some marketing or, in a sense, eating our own dog food. We are running our own systems, activating our Gold Standard methodology that we are out there teaching folks how to do. A fundamental reason why we succeed is because the advice we provide has to be from real-world experience. It is not theoretical, it is not research based; it is working and we can measure it. We take a very practical approach to solving and using our own marketing to test it out and see if it works.


CEOCFO: Looking at your website, I see it is easier to troubleshoot root causes. How so?

Mr. Vong: Troubleshooting root causes is very specific to the platform. When you think about any technology, it is collecting data, massive amounts of it and there is always something in the system that nobody knows about. Like tuning an engine, you can buy the car but after that you have to keep it up. When we say troubleshooting, we mean it as a tool we created to help us stay in tune within the Martech space as it’s doubling every year.


There are probably 5,500 Martech tools out there now and that is the world we live in. If you imagine the automation platform as the middleware, the middle fabric, all of these marketing technology tools you’re plugging into it will start to create their own level of information that is being gathered. In simpler terms- if you had a router at your house and all the devices connecting to it, you are going to want to know which device is sucking up the most bandwidth because you might turn it off. At certain peak times like when the kids come home and they are all on their devices, all of a sudden your internet is slow and you know exactly what they cause is. More and more tools require a level of information to look inside all the data that is being sent back and forth.


When we say “troubleshooting root causes” it’s about looking into the technology itself. We created an actual product called Omega to analyze the information, so you can, going back to the analogy, see what is making your router slow. As consultants we need understand this level of information and we had the right people to actually create a product like this.


CEOCFO: How do you ease the trepidation over transitioning to or incorporating a new system?

Mr. Vong: The only reason why people are concerned or there is some nervousness around migrations is risk. Will it work afterwards? Will all the things we currently running work differently afterwards? Will we break anything in the process? A lot of that has to do with really looking through the migration path, the platform, the technologies, the way fields are mapped, and trying to get as much detail as possible before doing the work.


Many times, we will build functional specs to see and explain all of these things so we can provide minimum viable product. You do not always need to make a “big” migration, you make a migration that is added on piece by piece so that you can ensure things are working properly. This approach is not a new concept. Any kind of IT has had its sandbox environment in production with a series of protocols in place.


When you are moving from one automation platform to another, it is very helpful to get IT involved from their side and ensure that there are proper steps for testing the traditional IT migration path. Will I guarantee that it will work 100%? No, often it does not but I think a lot of times you are about 98% there when we really sit down and work to discover all the things that could be causing problems.


CEOCFO: What has changed in your approach over time? What have you learned?

Mr. Vong: What I learned was that what we are doing works. In terms of the approach, taking a practical view and always trying to simplify things worked, continues to work and for that we may not change our formula too much.


CEOCFO: We came upon Digital Pi through the Inc 5000 list. Would you tell us about the recognition and how you continue the trajectory?

Mr. Vong: We are incredibly humbled. It took us time to get on this list. The Inc 5000 takes a longer view by looking back on performance for 3 years. We have consistently proven that our hard work and everything we have tried, learned, and failed at has led us to this trajectory. Now, we were recognized for it.


A lot of that learning that was painful but we look back and are glad we did it. It’s a great feeling all around and we want to continue that growth. It is always a challenge. We were at 323% growth from the years they measured and ask ourselves, how do we continue that? We have many things in place and I think the market that we are in is still early with a lot more room to expand.


CEOCFO: Why choose Digital Pi?

Mr. Vong: When it comes to Marketo and marketing automation, we have a significant advantage in expertise and experience. All of our folks have real world marketing experience. They were VPs, directors and spent time in the roles where they were in charge of the very things that we are consulting on. That is a very important aspect of our culture, that we are in the hot seat alongside our clients versus sitting on the sidelines in research.


Our approach, what we package and call the Gold Standard from Marketo, is a proven set of processes that get small to large enterprises up in a very short period of time. One of the things that we recognize is you cannot tell marketing to stop marketing for two to three quarters until “this” thing is done, whatever “the” thing is. We know ahead of time that we have to make sure that our customers are successful and that their returns are measured. Those were the two main things. If you have experts and a solid process, you are always going to win. That is why Digital Pi.



“When it comes to Marketo and marketing automation, we have a significant advantage in expertise and experience.”- Digital Pi


Digital Pi


Ryan Vong, President & CEO

844.887.2669 x 700







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