rater8’s Chief Strategy Officer Mark Kopelman was the company’s first hire in 2018. Prior to joining rater8, Mark cultivated a strong leadership-based career in eclectic consultant roles.
His experiences propelled him to his current role as the head of rater8’s marketing department. A true jack of all trades, Mark enjoys diving into analytics, weighing in on design and messaging, developing strategic partnerships, and working to make rater8 the best it can be.
Mark is currently based in the greater D.C. area. His high standard of excellence has been instrumental in helping rater8 earn dozens of awards and accolades, add over 50 employees to the rater8 hive, and bring our industry-leading reputation management solution to thousands of physicians across the country.
Grab a fresh cup of coffee and settle in as Mark discusses his career path, his passion for data and tech, and his hand in rater8’s growth.
Your background is in consulting with large companies. How did you gravitate toward a small healthcare IT startup?
What was appealing to me about rater8 was the opportunity to drive decisions and make a tangible impact. Your scope and ability to enact change in a huge company is limited. I was at a point in my career where, although it was a risk, it was one I was willing to take.
I’ve always been more tech-focused and entrepreneurial. In my early career, I was lucky enough to land a great rotational program at a data analytics and business intelligence company. I was quickly given a lot of responsibility, traveling and leading client engagements at some of more strategic accounts domestically and abroad. That first job instilled a passion (and appreciation) of technology and data. I eventually gravitated toward the marketing field because it’s a great blend of the creative and analytical. That’s how I was brought into rater8 as VP of Marketing & Consulting Services.
Back then, we actually thought we were going to do website consulting at first. In the early stages, rater8 was a hungry start up. I really enjoyed it. Evan [rater8’s CEO] and I would have standing meetings on weekends. We’d be on calls until midnight because we needed to get e-blasts out the next morning.
We were hungry to win the marketplace and go up against these companies 20 times our size that had huge investments.
We were resourceful and scrappy, doing anything to grow. There’s a big difference between being a scrappy startup and the established company that we are today. As an established company, we can now scale while providing world-class customer care and support.
It was all-encompassing for the first couple years. There’s a much better balance now, especially with a more robust marketing team, and there’s a level of ownership and investment I never experienced at my previous jobs.
What prompted leadership to expand the marketing team and commit to enhancing the company’s brand?
With the COVID pandemic in the rearview mirror, we’ve really accelerated our growth. Every year, the team meets up in real life for our big “IRL” event. Comparing the IRL team photos from 2021 to 2022, we’ve more than doubled, and have aggressive plans to continue that growth.
Because you originally planned to go into healthcare, did that make the pivot into healthcare IT any easier? What steps did you take to develop your marketing skills?
I was interested in medicine from a young age—in fact, I’m the only one in my family who isn’t a doctor! But while my interest in medicine was there, so was my entrepreneurial spirit. I completed pre-med, but didn’t pursue it further. My first job allowed me to pivot from healthcare to tech. I learned a lot about data structures and storage, and how companies essentially run their organizations on mountains of data.
The difference between a successful company and an unsuccessful one lies in how they harness the power of data.
I’m a hands-on learner with marketing technology. On nights and weekends, I dive into any technical courses or online literature I can get my hands on. I say online literature because print rarely is able to keep up with the speed of marketing technology. I like to say my favorite marketing book is Google. The rate of change is so high, and the MarTech landscape is overwhelming. According to Chief Marketing Technologist, there are now more than 7,000 tools you could use in your campaigns and operations.
I enjoy vetting different tools to see what works best for the company. One of Apple’s latest operating system updates has driven the decline of paid ads, so we’ve had to find creative, innovative ways to reach our audience. Automation and analytics are key drivers to success. You’ll find that tracking and MarTech automation are always a pillar of any efficient company’s marketing strategy. How people interact with your app, website, email—it’s all trackable, and we have the ability to segment into powerful audiences for more targeted marketing. Conversion optimization and targeted marketing are the name of the game. I might be interested in e-commerce in the future because there are so many more tracking, optimization, and segmentation capabilities.
Marketers tend to wear a lot of hats. What has been your favorite marketing skill to learn and put into practice?
Marketing is a fairly large umbrella. And since joining rater8, I’ve touched almost every side of marketing. Early on, I was a one-man marketing team responsible for all design, content, website, and social media. As a company, we’ve grown fast and made tremendous strides.
I can confidently say the area of marketing I gravitate toward most is analytics and data. I’m data-driven. Through consulting, I spent years digging into data, figuring out ways to present it and make it more actionable. So the technical and more measurable sides of marketing such as SEO, Google Analytics, PPC, and Google Data Studio all really pique my interest. I have a strong attention to detail, so while I also enjoy weighing in on design, I’m happy that’s off my plate.
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Now that the marketing team has expanded, has managing the department taught you new lessons in leadership?
I realized the importance of identifying and hiring raw talent. Taking the time to identify trustworthy superstars who will be a good fit is vital. It sounds corny, but it comes down to the people.
rater8 is a virtual company and always has been. There are team-building obstacles that can come with being in a 100% remote environment, so the leadership team placed a strong emphasis on developing a great culture. Conferences provide an opportunity not only for the sales team to meet up and work together, but also for rater8 employees in the surrounding area to come together for a meal. Earlier I talked about the annual IRL meetup everyone looks forward to, and we also get to better know one another through monthly happy hours.
Building not just a company with exceptional synergy, but also developing a culture of dedication and camaraderie within my own marketing team has been a truly rewarding experience.
Building a successful SaaS company in a fully remote environment is rare, and we were unique in that sense prior to COVID. Not only have we pulled it off, we also didn’t have to scramble when COVID hit. The decision to be remote was a strategic one made early on. We wanted to be able to hire talent across the country, rather than limiting ourselves to one region.
We know you love digging into a hefty spreadsheet, but what are some of your non-work-related interests?
Tapping into sales allowed me to rediscover a competitive drive that hadn’t come through in my previous work environments. My competitive personality has always bled into my personal life. I still play in (relatively) competitive basketball and soccer leagues, but I don’t think I can be convinced to play rugby again.
Prior to COVID, I did a lot of international traveling (40+ countries) and dabbled in photography. Taking photos around the globe was one of my main creative outlets.
How does rater8 differentiate itself from its competitors?
Other vendors on the market aren’t healthcare-specific, and they typically offer reputation management as an add-on rather than as their primary service. This spreads them thin in both expertise and customer service. Rather than a mile wide, rater8 has gone a mile deep into healthcare reputation management. Our dedication has earned us a high Net Promoter Score, multiple awards, dozens upon dozens of 5-star reviews, and clients that universally love rater8.
Additionally, our pollin8 algorithm doesn’t exist anywhere else in the market. Instead of allowing patients to choose where to leave a review, pollin8 redirects them, in real-time, to where a practice most needs a review. Without having to lift a finger, practices are able to build a balanced online image across all the top healthcare review sites. Our clients say pollin8 seems like magic—in reality, our developers are just that good.
We’ve collected valuable data on best practices, allowing us to go deeper into benchmarking capabilities. When we assess new rater8 products to determine whether they fit into the current suite, we ensure they aren’t operating like siloed environments. Communication is key across all our products.
We aren’t just a marketing company—we’ve become a data company. We work with some of the best medical practices in the country and know what their pain points are, and we also understand what makes patients happy.