(This is our full set of day 2 session recaps for the MarTech East 2019 event. Read on for more insights on MarTech orchestration, career development, procurement best practices, and CX insights.)
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Day 2’s keynote began with a brief session from Lola.com CEO Mike Volpe, who provided insights on the best way to transition from a marketing leadership position into a CEO position. According to Volpe, while CMOs do have transferable skills, being the world’s best CMO might not get you a CEO interview. According to Volpe, there are CMO skills that are directly transferable to a modern CEO role, including:
Volpe went on to list a set of crucial CEO skills that CMOs often lack:
Volpe closed his session by recommending Ben Horowitz’s book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” which speaks honestly to the challenges of running a business.
The next session, presented by Bain & Company partner Cesar Brea, covered the rise of data science and the shortcomings of AI in modern marketing. Brea suggested that marketers have “reached peak AI in terms of hype cycle,” and that the real work will come down to smart use of data and a focus on results, not buzzwords. Brea suggested that modern marketing comes down to five primary stages:
Brea suggested that marketers consider using a ”‘marketing performance grid” that overlays specific, snapshot performance metrics on top of every marketing channel and major initiative. By mapping out up-to-the-minute performance on top of channels such as email, online ads, website performance, and direct mail, marketers can easily identify bottlenecks at a glance. For example, if email metrics and website traffic and conversions are in line with current expectations, but paid ads are underperforming, marketers can instantly identify what they need to fix next.
Brea listed several case studies that called attention to the importance of contextually understanding these five factors and strategically using them to resolve pain points. One example was that of a nationwide retailer expecting increased foot traffic during shopping season. The retailer blithely queued up its marketing spend to deploy during the middle of the shopping season, but realized post facto that shopping activity varied greatly in different regions, such that it greatly overspent for some locations and greatly underspent for others. Brea also covered other examples, such as a company that heavily relied on direct mail marketing and used a somewhat inaccurate model to predict churn. In its first run, it was able to accurately predict about 50% of customers that churned, while still sending out costly mailers to the other 50%. By improving its model, it was able to identify about 75% of its customers at churn risk and conserved considerably more of its spend by oversending only about 25% of its next deploy to churning customers, rather than half.
Brea offered a few predictions about how marketing operations is currently changing and will evolve in the years to come:
Featuring Kimi Corrigan of @cisco
This session featured Head of Marketing Operations at Cisco Duo Security, Kimi Corrigan. Korrigan began by describing the structure of her own, highly mature marketing operations team, which contained four different functions:
In addition to these functions, Corrigan strongly recommended hiring a project manager as soon as possible. Project managers can handle operational requests as well as bureaucratic tasks (such as managing contracts for new MarTech applications the team is evaluating). They can filter and prioritize the dreaded ad-hoc requests that otherwise take marketing operations professionals sideways. Corrigan suggested that marketing operations professionals largely understand they won’t be frontline heroes who are the subject of many celebrations. Some marketing ops managers actively avoid the spotlight and may shy away from feedback. However, Corrigan suggested that marketing operations is a role that benefits from coaching and cross-training to build confidence and rapport. The executive suggested the following approaches:
This session featured advertising and marketing analyst Shaunna Conway of Deloitte Consulting and VP of MarTech and Analytics Patrick McQuaid of TD Bank Canada. The presenters discussed the importance of creating a unified MarTech ecosystem for an extremely large, risk-averse, and cost-averse financial institution.
The presenters opened with a roadmap for TD Bank Canada, which consisted of:
To define its vision, the presenters identified TD Bank Canada’s key objectives: to drive personalization at scale, create a connected user experience, create brand loyalty, democratize tool usage, and prioritize its investments. The presenters saw key gaps in the bank’s ability to responsively deliver customized messaging to keep prospective customers and existing customers engaged. Its challenges included multiple customer views, legacy technology, and a lack of reusable content. From this initial assessment, the presenters set out to take a customer-focused approach to solving its challenges with better customer segmentation, customized content to be produced and utilized at scale, optimized CX, and a dedication to continuous learning-based improvements based on captured metrics.
For this task, the presenters structured its MarTech organization to include a “steering committee” to align stakeholders on overall goals versus current progress; a marketing ecosystem leadership to define the team’s future strategy; a transformation leadership team consisting of line-of-business (LOB) users and technologists to provide on-the-ground feedback for direction; and a capability leadership team to ensure the project was properly provisioned with budget to cover procuring technology with the necessary capabilities.
While the presenters are still in the final implementation process, they’ve learned valuable lessons from working on such a huge MarTech design and implementation project. For instance, small proof-of-concept (PoC) projects can be useful to showcase value to stakeholders before significantly investing in a larger rollout. It can also be valuable to formulate a set of overarching “guiding principles” to stick to, rather than an overly prescriptive and highly detailed list of a thousand tactical steps. It’s also important to manage change by involving stakeholders as early in any process or technology change as possible.
Featuring Stacy Falkman, Steve Petersen, John Jagelsky
This rapid-fire panel session featured three marketing operations practitioners working at several different organizations in education, finance, and software. It largely focused on group answers to specific panel questions.
The first question for the panel was about how many products each panelist evaluates and implements annually, which ranged from anywhere from 2-3 products to 4-5 - including bringing on new solutions or sunsetting existing ones. All marketing operations professionals, including the panelists, face realistic limitations on acquiring new apps for their MarTech stack, including budget, timing, and administrative approvals, among others. The panelists agreed that there isn’t a single “right answer” to exactly how many new solutions an operations team should evaluate at any given time.
When asked about the importance of free trials and PoC engagements, the panel admitted that it can be difficult to secure free trials for more-involved solutions, particularly those that require deep software integrations (which take time and incur security concerns). The panel also pointed out that it’s possible to sabotage yourself by setting too tight of a timeframe on a trial or PoC, as many solutions have a learning curve that requires some time to master. It’s possible to restrict yourself to too short of a window for a solution that might otherwise have been very valuable and short-change yourself. In cases in which trials or PoC are unimportant, the panel recommended requesting that vendors demo use cases that are directly relevant to your own, ideally for companies within your own industry. When all else fails, operations professionals may have to rely on referrals, reviews, and word of mouth.
The panelists shared that they try to look for a variety of second-hand intel before making purchases, such as customer references, review websites such as G2Crowd and TrustRadius, as well as reports from analysts such as Gartner and Forrester. One approach is to create a vendor spreadsheet that not only compares solutions by features, but also by feedback, even down to intel gleaned from review websites, though the panelists advised against putting too much stock into reviews that were overly positive or negative. This process may sound time-consuming but can be helpful to inform tough choices.
When asked how to define stakeholders for new processes and tech acquisitions, the panelists unanimously agreed on the value of forming strong relationships with cross-functional teams. Every panelist asserted the importance of marketing operations having healthy relationships with IT procurement and finance groups to facilitate purchases and approvals. It’s also important to have strong relationships with legal and data security teams to ensure that any new solutions you acquire will pass through approvals as expediently as possible while ensuring compliance with important regulations such as GDPR. One of the most important new changes in recent years has been the need to bring information security (infosec) teams into procurement conversations as early as possible to identify and address security concerns as soon as possible.
(That’s the end of our coverage for MarTech East 2019’s day 2 sessions. For more in-depth coverage of the marketing operations sessions featured at the event, please see our previous days’ blogs.)