Achieved high engagement with emails with extremely low unsubscribe rate
Beat ambitious revenue targets with year-over-year increase from 2018 to 2019
Created a virtual event series, capturing 6,000 participants in five weeks
Neo4j grows its open source platform into a commercial success.
- Engage and connect with a global community of over 200,000 data practitioners
- Encourage companies to become paid enterprise customers to support further development
- Reach the Neo4j community through virtual events during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Contribute to society by encouraging users to leverage graph databases to solve real-world problems
- Achieved high engagement with marketing emails with extremely low unsubscribe rate
- Beat ambitious revenue targets with year-over-year increase from 2018 to 2019
- Created a virtual event series, capturing 6,000 participants in first event in just five weeks
- Launched the Graphs4Good initiative, engaging the community in causes ranging from sustainable salmon farming to preventing disease
Ask Rod Allen and Lauren McCormack to describe the most rewarding parts of their jobs, and they might tell you about the thrill they get from working for a company that has contributed to Pulitzer Prize-winning work on the Panama Papers, researching cures for cancer and other diseases, making inroads in the fight against human trafficking, or helping NASA get to Mars—an unexpected response from two marketers working at a database company.
That’s exactly what makes Neo4j so unique and inspires passion in its employees and customers. It’s the world’s leading graph database platform with hundreds of major corporate customers, including Comcast, NASA, UBS, and Volvo. But it’s also an open source platform with an active global community of more than 200,000 data practitioners.
“We’re very aware of our community, and we love to see graph databases used in unique ways,” explains McCormack. “It comes from our roots as an open source platform. For instance, our Graphs4Good program connects organizations trying to solve big issues and shines a light on the good they’re contributing to the world.”
“With the help of Marketo Engage, we’ve been able to reach—and even exceed—ambitious year-over-year growth targets."
Rod Allen, Senior Manager, Marketing Operations, Neo4j
Building a strong commercial business
While Neo4j plans to always support its open source roots with its community edition platform, the company also relies upon paid customers of its enterprise version to continue development and provide ongoing support for all customers. As senior managers for marketing operations and digital and marketing automation respectively, Allen and McCormack play central roles in helping Neo4j grow its enterprise user base. Because Neo4j is an innovator in an emerging field, many customers need strong education through a variety of engagement programs, including emails, webinars, training, and events, to understand the potential use cases and value of graph databases.
“Like most things at Neo4j, sales and marketing are focused on relationships,” says Allen. “We look to build relationships with developers and create a community of engaged brand and technology advocates. At the same time, we need to identify prospective customers who might be interested in the enterprise version and send them the right messaging at the right time to connect them with our sales team.”
To reach the company’s lofty sales and marketing goals, Neo4j standardized on Marketo Engage to help the company’s small marketing team effectively reach tens of thousands of people worldwide to nurture potential enterprise customers.
“Pretty much everything we build goes through Marketo Engage,” says Allen. “Through our engagement programs, Marketo Engage scoring, and lead lifecycle, we can dial in and find audiences for our enterprise version.”
“We consistently see very high open rates coupled with extremely low unsubscribe rates. We are welcome guests in our recipients' inboxes, and this helps us to really leverage the full power of Marketo Engage.”
Lauren McCormack, Senior Manager, Digital and Marketing Automation, Neo4j
Creating relationships with developers around the world
When McCormack first joined Neo4j, she was surprised to find that Allen was essentially handling marketing operations single-handedly. Even though the team has grown slightly since then, Marketo Engage has been critical in helping the small team keep on top of its work. Nearly every team at Neo4j works with marketing operations to deliver emails, from targeted customer outreach and field marketing to partner communications and internal newsletters delivered in multiple languages. Marketo Engage manages not just emails, but all programs that touch the developer community, including webinars, online community events, and educational programs.
All of the customer data is pushed through the company’s CRM, providing developer relations and enterprise sales teams with a central interface to view customer interactions. Integrations with tools such as JETO and Momentum allow more teams to get directly involved in reviews and edits for initiatives enabled by Marketo Engage.
“With all of our campaigns tracked in one place, Marketo Engage can quickly show us what’s working and what isn’t,” says Allen. “This allows us to understand the best messages to send to engage the prospects and uncover enterprise sales opportunities.”
The targeted messaging and deep understanding of what customers want results in more relevant communications for an incredibly engaged audience.
“It's very fulfilling to see how successful we are at connecting with our customers and prospects,” says McCormack. “We consistently see very high open rates coupled with extremely low unsubscribe rates. We are welcome guests in our recipients' inboxes, and this helps us to really leverage the full power of Marketo Engage.”
Moreover, this engagement had had big impacts on the bottom line. Allen and McCormack knew that the revenue targets were ambitious. But with Marketo Engage helping them understand how and when to engage which customers, the company easily beat lead targets to drive continued strong growth.
“It comes back our commitment to being an open source platform. We feel compelled to contribute to society, and we strongly believe that by building and understanding relationships, we can make a difference."
Lauren McCormack, Senior Manager, Digital and Marketing Automation, Neo4j
Turning a disappointing cancellation into a virtual success
For McCormack, one of the most exciting events of the year is Neo4j’s annual GraphConnect event. Around 2,000 participants from around the world gather in New York City to hear about exciting achievements made possible with graph databases. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Neo4j to cancel the event, McCormack said that many employees and customers were heartbroken. Like other organizations, Neo4j looked to turn this disappointment into an opportunity to reimagine their popular event.
In response, they created a new virtual series, Neo4j Connections, to bring together thousands of developers every month to talk about how graphs are used in different fields, from supply chains to healthcare to financial services.
“We organized the first Neo4j Connections event in just five weeks and it attracted 6,000 registrants,” says McCormack. “There are a lot of variables in doing a live event, but when we surveyed participants, we didn’t see a single satisfaction score below 4.5 out of 5 stars. Part of that success was Marketo Engage. It automates everything, whether it’s invitations, registration forms, or reminders. It removes risk and allows us to focus more on event execution.”
Neo4j has also dramatically increased other types of virtual events, going from a handful of webinars in 2019 to nearly 100 in the first half of 2020. This shift towards virtual events helps the company stay connected with the community, build relationships, and increase revenue even during a time of economic uncertainty.
McCormack says, “It’s incredible to think that we were so disappointed not to see everyone in New York, but now we’re reaching many times more people every month. When you look at the chat and people are saying hello from Taiwan or Pakistan, the sense of global community is powerful.”
Helping communities affected by COVID-19
Neo4j is also finding other ways to make a difference during the pandemic. Through its Graphs4Good program, the company aims to help organizations big and small make sense of data. The company hopes that its graph databases can enable organizations to understand how to make workplaces safer, smooth over disruptions in critical supply chains, streamline contact tracing in communities, and understand potential treatments.
“We even put together a hack-a-thon where we invited developers to come in, grab a data set, and see if they could contribute any understanding of COVID-19 or its impacts,” says McCormack. “It comes back to our commitment to being an open source platform. We feel compelled to help our community contribute to society, and we strongly believe that by building and understanding relationships, we can make a difference.”