How Atlassian became a beacon for B2B brands
What is behind Atlassian’s continued growth and what can other B2B brands learn from its example?
In a year of remote working, project-management tools such as Jira, Confluence and Trello became indispensable to many organisations.
Efficient, collaborative and user friendly, these products are developed by software company Atlassian, a business widely recognised as a B2B enterprise success story.
Founded in Australia by co-CEOs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar in 2002 (and financed by a $10,000 credit card debt), Atlassian is today valued at more than $US61 billion. The company employs about 5,000 people and services more than 194,000 customers worldwide — including 83 percent of Fortune 500 organisations.
So what is behind Atlassian’s continued growth and what can other B2B brands learn from its example?
I sat down with Atlassian CMO Robert Chatwani at the 2020 B2B Marketing Leaders Forum to uncover how the company has become a beacon for other B2B brands.
Here are four key takeaways from our conversation.
Think Like a B2C Brand
Applying consumer marketing principles to B2B enterprises has been a guiding force for Chatwani and one he has brought with him to Atlassian.
He told me most B2B and enterprise brands “are five years behind great consumer brands in terms of their marketing capabilities, infrastructure, tech stack and ability to drive scale.”
Fortunately, the gap is rapidly closing and it won’t take that long for B2B brands to catch-up. Robert says, “the pace of change happening in B2B and enterprise marketing today is faster than I’ve ever seen before.”
For Atlassian, gathering a richer understanding of its customers and their journeys has been a central focus in closing this gap. Having a clear picture of the hierarchy of end-users within a company or organisation has helped the business deliver on specific customer needs and improve the overall brand experience.
“We have customers using many different products in our portfolio and we have a combination of domains and companies using our products,” Chatwani explained.
“Our GTM organization is deeply partnered with our technology and IT teams to centralise our data warehouse, build a scalable infrastructure and develop a single view of our customers.”
Create Community Advocacy
For most brands, customer advocacy is seen as somewhat of a holy grail. At Atlassian, channeling advocacy around its products into online communities has been a key growth driver.
When Chatwani joined the company in 2017, Atlassian already had tens of thousands of passionate community members who had effectively built their careers on its platform and using its products.
“We started thinking about how we could take that energy of our Atlassian champions and find them a way to connect online,” he explained.
The company established the Atlassian Community, a rich online platform where members can ask questions, find answers, and get support and inspiration from other Atlassian users. Today, the community has millions of visitors and engaged members.
“Our community is the heart and soul of Atlassian. And I’m proud to say that we generate more traffic and activity in the community than we do on atlassian.com — which is just remarkable, and is a result of user-generated content and a passionate, engaged user base,” Chatwani said.
Empathise with Customers
For many businesses, particularly SMEs, the shift to remote working in 2020 has not been easy. For the team at Adobe, for example, 2020 brought to bear how much empathising with customers, particularly during challenging periods, is a powerful source of growth for businesses.
I asked Chatwani about how he had seen this unfold at Atlassian.
“This year we saw first hand that companies throughout the world were rapidly working through how to move from working in the office to working from home, so we accelerated our decision to make our products available for free,” he said.
“We wanted to remove the friction of getting started with our collaboration products — particularly for smaller companies. This decision to offer products for free has not only served as a powerful source of user growth for our business — it’s also reaching new customers throughout the world.”
We have also seen businesses exercise empathy and build trust with customers by tapping into their needs and addressing concerns head on. Chatwani pointed to a philosophy to illustrate this point.
“If a customer isn’t buying a product because they don’t need it, we don’t want to sell it to them. However, assuming they do need it but they’re not buying it, what we do want is the feedback so that we can understand how to make our products better and meet their needs.”
Drive Experiences with Data
All Atlassian’s product development and sales efforts are imbued with the company’s core values, which include ‘build with heart and balance’, ‘be the change you seek’ and ‘play, as a team.’
Chatwani explained that we are at the very beginning of this evolution of higher expectations from enterprise customers and the people who use Atlassian products.
“We work hard to listen, to make our products better, to make them easy to buy and easy to try,” he said.
To meet this objective, Atlassian relies on a network of nearly 600 third-party solution partners to consult and implement customer solutions into its products.
“We have thousands of individuals who are out there selling Atlassian products each and every day, and collectively that makes up about a third of our revenue,” Chatwani explained.
“We get really excited about driving accelerated growth — including enterprise growth — the Atlassian way. That is, with data-driven insights, great customer experiences, and continued efficiency and scale in our business model.”