Innovator Interviews: McAfee’s VP of Growth Marketing Sachin Puri

Sachin Puri, Vice President of Growth Marketing at McAfee, talks about his approach to growth marketing, digital marketing, and 2021 predictions.

When Sachin Puri joined cybersecurity software firm McAfee as the Vice President of Growth Marketing in 2019, the prospect of a global pandemic was not on anyone’s radar.

At the time, he was focused on developing stronger content and creating a growth marketing acquisition strategy that ensured smooth experiences across customer touch points and lifecycle.

“Within my team, we focus on almost every customer touch point to drive awareness of McAfee for potential customers,” says Puri. “I believe that this is a unique full-stack marketing accountability approach different from other performance marketing approaches, which generally tend to be more channel-focused.”

Content has been playing an even bigger role in McAfee’s communications this year. When developing new content strategies, this is the first question Puri asks: How do we show up and be helpful as a brand?”

“The increase in cyber threats across devices and platforms has transformed our strategy towards a series of educational content, and new ways to engage with customers in a deeper and more meaningful way,” says Puri. “Our content strategy, as well as our website strategy, have evolved towards more customer engagement and education.”

In response to the pandemic, McAfee has focused on generating “educational and insightful content that met our customers in their real moments in time – working from home, learning from home, life at home.”

“We connected with our researchers on the threats that they were seeing and offered solutions for consumers on how to stay safe,” continues Puri. “We completely shifted gears from our previous 2020 plans to the reality that we all lived in during 2020, and I think that our customers related to what we were publishing.”

Before joining McAfee in September 2019, Puri held senior marketing roles at StubHub and Hewlett-Packard. Brand Innovators caught up with Puri from his home in Fremont, CA to talk about his approach to growth marketing, digital marketing, and 2021 predictions. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

What are your business goals and how is your approach to growth marketing helping you meet these goals?

Our goal is to grow our business from a subscriber growth and customer lifetime value perspective, while staying true to our brand value. This we take very seriously because we know our customers trust us with their security online, and we focus our efforts towards delivering this brand promise.

McAfee has been on this transformation journey, from a purely B2B2C to Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brand, of building direct relationships with consumers. Over the last year or so, I have been focused on accelerating this transformation towards a solid D2C model, wherein we are engaging with consumers on a much deeper and richer level vs. a purely transactional event. We have revamped our entire website to keep it fresh and relevant to the customer and current times. We moved from a transactional focus to an engagement focus, making for a better experience across the board.

What new trends have you seen in the marketplace this year?

This year especially, we have seen an increase in online scams and new tactics that hackers are using. According to Statista, it is projected that there will be more than 75 billion IoT devices by 2025. That is a lot of entry points for hackers. McAfee’s Advanced Threat Research team recently found evidence that online cybercrime continues to increase, with McAfee Labs observing 419 threats per minute in Q2 2020, an increase of almost 12% over the previous quarter. With activity set to rise from both consumers and criminals, there is an added concern of whether consumers are taking security threats as seriously as they should.

From a consumer standpoint, the need for cybersecurity has evolved from pure antivirus protection to a more holistic protection of how to keep yourself and your family safe and secure. We believe that this trend has been instrumental in cybersecurity, and we continue to help educate and empower consumers to protect themselves and their loved ones with helpful resources for personal protection. We are meeting our customers – and consumers in general – in real time moments to help them navigate their online security concerns and offer solutions on how to stay safe.

What role is digital marketing playing in your messaging?

With the shift since the pandemic, we have seen data suggesting increased online activity. Gen Z and millennials are spending way more time online than they are in-stores, outside, or watching TV. The mode of communication for them, in terms of content consumption, is online – more OTT, more digital video, social. With this move away from more traditional mass media to more omni-channel digital media, the world is more focused on digital.

The marketing investments in digital are ever growing, and the challenges are there. Consumer attention spans are low, so you have to tell your story and make it impactful in less than 6 seconds (if you are lucky). You aren’t just competing against your usual suspects – you are against any and all brands who are trying to engage with consumers.

What role does loyalty play in your connections to consumers?

We enjoy long term loyalty with our customers and it’s something we take very seriously. In our business, the lifetime value of the customer plays an important role in the kind of customer engagement, wherein we aim to engage in a meaningful way to help and protect our customers.  

What will 2021 look like for McAfee?

In my opinion, the global need for cybersecurity is evolving and growing daily. It comes back to a simple truth – more people are interacting online from virtual doctors appointments to homeschool to working from home. These trends are evolving and internet traffic is growing. The more traffic, the more activity, the higher likelihood of cybercrime – that’s just the nature of it. For us, we believe in staying ahead of these trends and investing heavily in driving holistic customer education and total protection. 2021 is a continuation of our strategy, and we will continue to grow and evolve along with our customers. We will continue to protect consumers during their journeys.

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