Adele Sweetwood is head of global marketing at SAS, and the author of The Analytical Marketer: How to Transform your Marketing Organization. The book provides critical insight into the changing marketing organization—digital, agile, and analytical—and the tools for reinventing it. This book is based on the author’s firsthand experience of transforming a marketing organization from “art” to “art and science.” Challenged and inspired by their company’s own analytics products, the SAS marketing team was forced to rethink itself in order to take advantage of the new capabilities that those tools offer the modern marketer. Key marketers and managers at SAS tell their stories alongside the author’s candid lessons learned as she led the marketing organization’s transformation. With additional examples from other leading companies, this book is a practical guide and set of best practices for creating a new marketing culture that thrives on and adds value through data and analytics.
Let me start by thanking you for this book. I suspect it will be on the shelves of many CMOs around the world. What inspired you to write this book?
Thank you for taking the time to read it! There were two big reasons to write this book. First, it was about giving a voice to all types of marketers that had worked diligently to change the way we did marketing. It was about an organization that came together and as change agents, made a positive impact on strategy, execution, and the customer experience. Second, I couldn’t find a book like this that existed. As a marketing leader, I often needed guidance on the ‘how’—not just the ‘why.’ As a marketer, we all needed examples, realistic objectives, and inspiration. I was inspired to tell the story of some pretty fantastic marketers at SAS and I am privileged to learn from them every day.
So how does marketing transform itself?
Just four easy steps—Ha!
The transformation effort is continuous and volatile. Mind-set, Structure, Talent, and Leadership became the four component areas that we defined our strategy against.
Let me give you a simple example of how these four areas might translate into actions over a given time frame:
- Build and maintain an analytical culture
- Define and empower analytics for every marketer
- Orchestrate the marketing & customer experience across the full customer journey (acquisition and retention).
- Integration of strategies for optimum outcomes
- Design and fund competency centers for ongoing skill development, innovation, and growth.
- Individual contributor owned and driven.
- Define multiple types of objectives that drive the right types of behaviors
- Targeted Metrics, Tracked Metrics, Quality Indicators, Predictive Methods
Today, the transformation continues to set a pace, create change, and modernize marketing. Always an eye on the customer experience and on the revenue impact.
What must be done organizationally to drive customer focus?
Establish clear and measurable objectives that will put the customer focus at the center of the impact and outcome. Then, align the structure to those objectives cohesively. Joint ownership and accountability to the objectives that enables joint design of strategy and execution.
Do not create silos of marketing functions or channels all competing for the same customer or outcome.
How do you effectively manage multichannel marketing in a digital world?
Some guiding principles:
- Alignment of objectives (not separate targets and metrics)
- Convergence of functions and an interdependent model of accountability.
- Data knowledge is critical—all marketers must respect and value the data!
- Define channel based quality measurements and deploy constant monitoring.
- Balance basic metrics with analytical design and testing (you need both).
- Test, learn, change, test… quickly.
- Say ‘no’ to some channels!
- Reward collaboration.
Can you tell us a bit about the SAS customer journey?
Like most companies, SAS has several customer-facing components. Each area of the business will have their own interpretation of the customer journey. So, our first step was to agree on a high-level journey interpretation that could be used consistently.
Each stage may have a level of differentiation depending on the function, but the model allowed us to collaborate on a common language and descriptor, while maintaining the right amount of granularity to improve or respond to that phase of the journey. Ultimately the customer journey is defined by the data that our customers are willing to share or that we can track effectively. The intent is to understand preferences and behaviors in order to communicate and service our customers effectively. The journey isn’t stagnant and we are constantly learning. Testing various approaches, incorporating additional data, establishing new models, and creating attribution strategies.
In the book you describe a new Go-to-Market framework. Can you describe it and how it works?
The Go-To-Market framework provides a marketing strategy that clarifies how to reach the target audience, enhance the customer experience through the customer journey and drive global collaboration and sharing. The framework becomes the foundation for go-to-market plans by topic or category with the intent to create a consistent set of assets, content, messaging, and activities to optimize a global voice. It becomes a point of focus and alignment.
A key role that we implemented along with this framework was to establish someone as the ‘orchestrator’ for each go-to-market plan. Establishing accountability and consistency for execution. The key orchestrator was the connection point that brought in specialists or expertise across channels or domains to design the plans; including digital marketers, content marketers, etc.
In the redesign of structure, the go-to-market framework and the orchestrator role played a significant part to eliminate silos and leverage talent.
In the book, we defined a ‘modern marketer’ as:
- Customer facing experiences—sales, service, etc.
- Strong social media experiences
- Storytelling capability
- Process design skills
- Data & analytics background
- Collaboration and leadership
- Creativity and innovation
There are also new disciplines that are critical:
- Marketing Sciences
- Data Visualization
- Content Marketers
Look for those that can demonstrate an analytical IQ or share examples from a marketing analytics portfolio.
So much opportunity for growth!!
How does a marketing leader demonstrate value to the rest of the organization? What are the metrics of success?
As a leader (marketing or not), be authentic. The success of your organization and you will be dependent on the relationships you build and maintain across functional areas internally and externally. You will bring value when you collaborate, engage, and jointly design.
Marketing metrics have been in place for decades. The shift from metrics to analytics is the direction needed. That doesn’t mean metrics go away—we still need to measure outcomes. When you can use data and analytics to define strategy, make decisions, and anticipate or predict what is next, a new set of success metrics is born. Today we measure pipeline and revenue impact, satisfaction levels, quality rates, etc.. We also do sentiment analysis to spot trends, scoring models for nurturing, segmentation analysis, attribution modeling, behavior modeling, etc.
The customer is in control. Marketers have the opportunity to embrace that fact and turn the customer relationship into a wonderful customer experience. Data and analytics are the foundation. Technology is the enabler. The people are the crucial element. Be authentic leaders.
INTERVIEW by Christian Sarkar