Heidi Andersen is Nextdoor’s Head of Revenue and Marketing, overseeing the global revenue team, revenue streams, and marketing. She joined Nextdoor after serving at LinkedIn and Google. Prior to joining Nextdoor, Heidi served as LinkedIn’s Vice President of Global Sales, where she built the Global Online Sales Organization under LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions division. She founded the business unit and grew it to $1B+. Prior to LinkedIn, Heidi worked in Google’s AdWords Sales group and helped build Google’s Display Ads Business to $5B+.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, Heidi shared her career trajectory, her roles and responsibilities as CMO and CRO at Nextdoor, the steps required to change the status quo of women in tech, future plans, words of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
Heidi, what inspired you to a career in marketing? How did you get your start in this industry?
I have always been drawn to storytelling and leveraging technology to connect people and organizations in meaningful ways. Born and raised in Denmark, I got my start in the industry at Google where I was a founding member of the Display Ads team. Crafting messages and building solutions to bridge the gap between brands and customers became a passion, and learning how to translate business goals into consumer narratives set the stage for subsequent roles at LinkedIn and now Nextdoor. Connecting a brand’s story with the right audience through value creating experiences inspires me every day.
Nextdoor is the neighborhood app and we empower people to strengthen their local communities. Nextdoor is where you can connect authentically with real people locally – both online and IRL (in real life!), so expanding my role to CMO at Nextdoor was a natural fit for me.
How do you approach the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing and emerging technologies such as AI?
The digital landscape is inherently dynamic, and our industry is at an exciting inflection point, so having a customer-first mindset is critical to staying ahead of the curve. AI has been an integral part of product experiences at Nextdoor for a long time, improving core experiences such as Newsfeed and Notifications for neighbors on the platform, and we’re always looking for new opportunities to be innovative & impactful.
At Nextdoor, keeping neighbors, businesses and public agencies at the forefront of everything we do creates thriving neighborhoods around the world. We’re delivering this by leveraging generative AI with our new “Assistant” feature, which promotes a more positive and engaging experience for everyone in the neighborhood. Similarly, Nextdoor’s GenAI updates also help businesses create engaging content to better connect with their communities, while providing neighbors with suggestions to find a local service.
What metrics do you measure to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing investments?
We look closely at a combination of factors, both quantitative and qualitative indicators to evaluate performance. When running marketing campaigns, different campaigns will have different goals. At the highest level, we focus on making sure we’re contributing to moving the overall business forward. This includes understanding attribution towards engagement on the platform, new neighbor signups, revenue, and brand health.
For advertisers on Nextdoor, our goal is to maximize Ad performance, both online and offline. Measurement is a big theme, and we recently launched a new Conversion API that delivers higher visibility on ROI, connecting online activity to offline impact for advertisers on Nextdoor.
We’d love to learn a bit about Nextdoor. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?
At its core, Nextdoor addresses the universal need for authentic, local connection and community.
Nextdoor is the neighborhood app, and we empower people to strengthen their local communities. We’re particularly helpful to neighbors all over the world who are looking to get things done locally and looking for a way to connect with people who live in their area, both online and in real life.
For advertisers, from SMBs to large brands, Nextdoor helps connect to customers where they live – and reach them in their local communities. We’re a trusted platform with a user base that is logged in, verified, and linked directly to place.
Tell us about your roles and responsibilities as CMO and CRO at Nextdoor.
Over the past three years as CRO, I’ve seen firsthand the progress of Nextdoor’s platform delivering incredible value for neighbors and advertisers. In my new hybrid position, my responsibilities revolve around aligning marketing and revenue strategies, with the overarching goal to drive value for everyone on Nextdoor – neighbors, businesses and public agencies. We want to create thriving neighborhoods, and the balance of these roles means I’m constantly thinking about how to create value.
What, in your view, should CMOs in B2B be doing more to drive core business value through marketing efforts?
Adopt a truly customer-first mindset, with a clear understanding of the objectives of your customers and an emphasis on relevance and authenticity. This means talking to your customers, regularly. Ask for feedback and understand your customer’s business really well – their goals, growth opportunities, as well as their challenges – will ensure your objectives are clearly aligned and can deliver impactful results.
Most importantly, building and maintaining trust with your audience will be the driving force for your collective success.
Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in tech? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?
While progress has been made, the number of females in leadership positions, technical roles, and representation across events and panels still lags. As of 2023, women hold slightly over a quarter of the jobs in tech, so there’s still much work to be done. To help bridge this gap, companies should actively focus on mentorship programs, creating an inclusive work culture, and ensuring unbiased hiring practices. Additionally, more scholarships and programs targeting young girls interested in STEM will build a strong foundation for the future.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?
The lack of representation can lead to feelings of isolation, and my suggestion is for more companies to support mentorship and sponsorship opportunities in the workplace. It’s also crucial to have a feedback mechanism where women can voice their concerns without fear of repercussions. It’s also very important to consider the women’s roles outside of work and women’s health when developing benefits strategies.
Diverse businesses perform better – that’s a fact.
Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?
So many! I can truly say that I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with some incredible mentors during my career. At LinkedIn I was very fortunate to have male managers who are strong allies to women leaders. My current manager, Sarah Friar (Nextdoor’s CEO), has supported me in my professional development over the past three years. Our complementary skill sets have offered me unique new learning opportunities and she’s both a strong cheerleader and someone I can count on for candid feedback.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I have never set time bound career goals but in five years I will still be committing my time and skills to making a positive difference. I’m passionate about the opportunity to help Nextdoor push boundaries and expand our reach to even more neighborhoods worldwide (we’re currently in 310,000 neighborhoods around the world). Nextdoor’s mission to connect neighbors and businesses in their communities and cultivate a kinder world is a great example of how tech can be used to help better people’s lives.
What advice would you give to somebody who is considering entering the field of marketing or has just entered the field and maybe, one day, they would like to become a CMO?
Marketing is a rapidly evolving field. Stay curious and never stop learning. Build strong relationships both within and outside your industry, as these connections often lead to invaluable insights and opportunities. Focus on results and always measure the real time impact of your strategies. And remember, being a CMO isn’t just about marketing; it’s about understanding the broader business landscape. So, cultivate a holistic business mindset and never lose sight of the customer’s perspective.