Fred Isbell, Research Director at Dresner Advisory Services, High Technology Veteran, and former Senior Director at SAP Global Marketing
As I discussed earlier this year in my BLOG “Executive Insights: World-Class Demand Generation and Corporate Social Responsibility Converge at Televerde”, I was very fortunate to work with some tremendous partners during my nearly 19-year tenure with SAP Global Marketing. One I enjoyed working with was Televerde, a company headquartered in Phoenix AZ that combines lead generation and corporate social responsibility with an outstanding business model with proven results.
As the Blues Brothers said nearly 40 years ago, “we’re getting the band back together” is one of the greatest things in the world of business. I worked with Deanna Ransom, Televerde’s Global Head of Marketing and Marketing Services and Chairperson of Diversity and Inclusion for many years in SAP North American Field Marketing. We have caught up several times since at industry and marketing events, and it was my great pleasure to be a recent guest on the Televerde Morning Marketing Mug webinar series she hosts.
Since Deanna interviewed me, I am taking a break this time asking the questions. She took the lead on a great discussion on Modern Marketing, the impact of Analytics, Data and Marketing Technology (MarTech), and the importance of Data Literacy for all marketers.
Q: Fred, why is marketing analytics so important as we move into planning our 2021 strategies. What is your view on the modern marketer, and how do data and analytics play into this?
A: Well, it feels like forever since I first took Modern Marketing to the webinar and event speaking circuit, and it has certainly evolved since! Modern Marketing is now a mainstream concept embraced by marketers across industries, functions and geographies, to ensure that the marketing function is more strategic, embraces data-driven decision-making, riven by data and insights, aligned with Sales and agile. It requires a mix of capabilities and combines both “left- and right brain skills” and leverages Marketing Technology (MarTech) including Marketing Automation, and a new generation of Marketing Analytics tools and solutions. The latter requires proficiency in Business Intelligence (BI), data, and analytics. We have seen the rise of a new type of marketer – the Marketing Technologist – to help support and drive its execution. Although I think that has always been me in some capacity in my 30+ year marketing career, dating back to post-MBA analytics services and consulting, and it has been a thread and core capability ever since.
Q: We have been focusing on exactly everything you have mentioned, not just for our internal marketing, but with what we are advising our clients to do. In fact, we focused upon sales and marketing alignment and the importance of data for marketing in a recent webinar. Why do you feel these qualities are at the core of modern marketing?
A: The explosion of Marketing Technology (MarTech) is a great example of both marketing transformation and what is at the core of modern marketing. Looking at Scott Brinker’s latest Martech landscape there are now over 8,000 MarTech solutions. The MarTech Landscape is still growing, despite long-standing expectations of consolidation, 13.6% YoY growth in 2020 net any “churn “and 1,500+ new MarTech solutions from 2019: and from 2011-2020 a stunning CAGR of 5,233%. Data and insights give you a competitive edge – as Scott Brinker and I touched upon last spring in my BLOG “Executive Insights: A Marketing Technology (MarTech) Conversation with Scott Brinker”, it’s all about data- and Insights-driven marketing. Check out this BLOG – I joked to Scott that we should call it the “Father of MarTech Manifesto” as he does a brilliant job of laying out the market, key trends, and much more.
Q: With data driven insights being at the core of modern marketing, Marketing Analytics projects are at the forefront of 2021 strategies. Fred, what are your thoughts on this?
A: Well, having been in many functions at SAP Marketing, including the Business Management Office (BMO) in Global Marketing, it is great to see that we are in planning season in what has been a most unusual year! One of the reasons I joined my long-time friend and colleague Howard Dresner at Dresner Advisory Services was to help launch a new Marketing Analytics practice area. It shows up in the second tier of overall Business Intelligence (BI) priorities in our flagship BI study, The Wisdom of Crowds. We surveyed respondents this year in a special survey and asked them about their Marketing Analytics priorities. There were really no surprises:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or the ability to track and report the success of digital content/programs was the top-rated priority. Hardly surprising especially given the recent COVID19 global pandemic forcing a rapid shift to “digital first”, driven by a need to maximize the reach of digital marketing and related budgets to efficiently find prospects is especially critical in these challenging times.
- Marketing Dashboards, consistently ranking highly for BI technology priorities, critical for both successful data-driven decision making and measuring and reporting the success of marketing programs against KPIs and metrics.
- Lead Management for Marketing Leads, the lifeblood of marketing and a key for successful alignment with sales, always sitting at or near the top of any list of marketing priorities.
- Customer Renewal and Retention and Customer Insights, and the rise of Customer Experience (CX) showcases the need for customer insights and measuring the renewal/retention of customers, and the corresponding “churn”; this is especially critical in vertical markets with lots of competition and where switching costs are relatively low.
- Budget Tracking is even more critical in a time of a pandemic crisis, as budgets are often flat and many are being cut.
- Marketing ROI (ROMI) is directly related to marketing budgets, and tracking how our marketing investments are translating into business success. I like to call this BI and Analytics meets Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) another area we track in our flagship marketing studies.
- Marketing Data Visualization is key to developing data-driven insights for decision-making; Advanced Visualization is near the top of the BI technology priorities in our flagship BI market study and is a key enabler to bring this to fruition.
- Marketing Contribution/Attribution is key to measuring the success of marketing overall and its alignment with sales, and how content, campaigns, and events help marketing’s bottom-line contribution to the organization – the sales of products and/or services.
- Content Personalization has become even more critical as marketers seek to cut through the clutter; long gone the days of “spray and pray” and “one size fits all” marketing, replaced by content linked to specific customer persona and their unique needs. And we need to track how well we do beyond just web hits and downloads.
Q: Data literacy is extremely important – you cannot have a data-driven strategy if you are not fully comfortable with data. Can you talk to us a little more about how to get to that point of comfort and share some tactics marketers can deploy to up their data literacy?
A: Well Deanna, again you are spot-on! This is a critical concept and one that all marketers and their organizations need to embrace in one form or another. Data Literacy programs are not widespread in most organizations, and organizations with higher Data Literacy have more Data Literacy programs, which fuels greater success. Plus, organizations with higher Data Literacy have better Data-Driven Decision-Making which you pointed out earlier is key to the success of all marketing. Ultimately organizations with higher Data Literacy have more successful Business Intelligence (BI) initiatives – organizations with high Data Literacy are significantly more likely to be successful in their BI initiatives. Marketers must support this by addressing skills gaps (their own and their team’s) be a champion within their organizations and encourage the CMO and the C-Level team to hire a Chief Data Officer (CDO) or a Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) – or both! And once they are on board make sure that your marketing efforts are aligned with their data leadership and supported by proper governance. And yes, this plays into agile marketing especially with sprint teams and regular reviews and governance.
Q: Something that you and I have talked about is embracing the role of the Marketing Technologist. Can you talk a little bit about why this role is so important, and how organizations can leverage a Marketing Technologist?
A: Early in my career, as a marketing research analyst and analytical services consultant, I joked I had two jobs – SAS, SPSS, and IRI EXPRESS analyst and number cruncher by day, and marketing consultant at night and weekends. We have come an exceptionally long way in 35+ years! Although this is a concept that has emerged over roughly the past decade, I submit it has been around longer in various capacities and forms. Deanna, I was always one of these “hybrid marketers” when we worked at SAP. The Marketing Technologist as described by Scott Brinker is a Marketer who has technical skills, a higher level of data literacy, and has capabilities working with MarTech tools and the MarTech stack organizations employ. Brinker defines a broad spectrum of people — they may have a unique skill or specialization, be “tech-savvy” marketers, have roles as marketing operations leaders, be an analytics architect, or serve as a developer and “market maker”. Increasing ALL Marketers require some level of this proficiency — while not everyone needs to become a data scientist, they need some level of proficiency as a modern marketer.
Q: Let us look toward 2021 and with that in mind, what guidance would you offer to marketers looking to build a strategy on data insights?
A: Well some of my advice is new, and some is the same I have offered for years, often to the MBAs I speak to at business schools including my alma mater the Duke Fuqua School of Business. First, be a life-long learner and invest in skills related to what we discussed today, either formally through training and education or informally on your own. Find an area you are passionate about and make a personal investment in it – including “midnight projects” done on your own time (and dime) and find a way to integrate them into and extend your job with them. Be a champion for data literacy within your team and organization, and work tirelessly to ensure that reporting and analytics are a priority across your team and organization. Support this with adequate governance across your teams and make that process cross-functional, cutting across the organizational siloes – and break down the data siloes that can hamper effective collaboration. Most importantly – enjoy the ride – the only constant is and will be continuous change!
Deanna, thank you very much for hosting this edition of Executive Insights and for having me on your Televerde Morning Marketing Mug. Be sure to view the on-demand replay of our session “Imperative Marketing Analytics for the Modern Marketer”. Deanna, I look forward to collaborating soon with you on a webinar on this critical and timely topic!
For additional insights on Marketing Analytics, Business Intelligence, Data, and Analytics, Data Literacy, and Data Governance, please visit Dresner Advisory Services.
Deanna Ransom is Deanna Ransom, Televerde’s Global Head of Marketing and Marketing Services and Chairperson of Diversity and is a veteran marketing leader passionate about people with unique skills and experience.
Fred Isbell is a Research Director at Dresner Advisory Services, a high technology industry marketing veteran and former Senior Marketing Director for SAP Global Marketing, and was the IAOTP Marketer of the Year for 2019.