SAP Hybris CMO Jamie Anderson on justifying marketing budgets and preparing for digital transformation

Technology will help marketing justify budgets, but could also turn things on its head

Data is the lifeblood of any company, and as modern marketers bury themselves in spreadsheets rather than Mad Men style cocktails, the reliance on data to glean insights is here to stay.

Leveraging data thus allows SAP Hybris chief marketing officer, Jamie Anderson, to drill down into the little details for every campaign, bringing into the light previously unknown areas.

“We use the intelligence from that [data] to make adjustment to campaigns all the time. I can see every campaign that we run globally, then I can click down and see the impact of every campaign and see if it is meeting requirements. I can also ask my team about the variances that arise,” said Anderson.

“The great thing about the level of insight we do, it forces you to think at a rigour and frequency you wouldn’t normally. If you think about it how’d we used to get reports, it’ll be monthly rollouts and it’ll be meaningless, because if you look at things like click through rates and open rates, who cares? Where’s the action at the end of it?” he added.

These sentiments were also echoed at a panel discussion on programmatic.

Now Anderson tracks the marketing cycle from demand to revenue, how much was spent on a campaign, the demand captured, converted into a lead or opportunity and how long it took to convert it. This ability to measure everything is helping the marketing team justify decisions and costs to the other departments

“We measure everything so it’s important to show our executives and our peers that the money we’re spending has an impact. The value of intelligence we are getting means we can adjust and move faster,” said Anderson.

While B2B technology brands might get the schtick for not being as “sexy” as B2C brands, Anderson believes that there’s a bigger consolation in how B2B brands leverage technology to track returns.

“I still hear real horror stories in the B2C world, I was with a customer, who explained to me that globally they had 60 digital agencies they work with and they spend over €100m on digital advertising, they don’t know what their return is on it,” said Anderson.

“I’ve got a significantly smaller budget than that, but I know the return on practically every dollar I spend. Marketers are going to be pushed more and more on why they are doing that,” he added.

Illustrating with the example of a Google search, Anderson noted that people searching for American Express will just click on the first paid search result by American Express rather than scroll down to the first organic ad, essentially paying Google to visit a website they were going to anyway.

“There’s a craziness to that, that people are obsessed with being at the top of search and paying for that. People don’t want to be bombarded with ads, people will ignore, which is the biggest challenge for marketers in the digital era,” said Anderson.

“They really need to make sure that the money that they spend resonates, can be measured and they can prove that there is value in what they do,” he added.

Prepare for upturned conventions

While brands might harp on the digital transformation being the key to survival in the digital world, Anderson warns that CMOs need to be technologically savvy to navigate this digital world.

“You have to prioritise what is important to the business, I think this is an overwhelming time for marketers in terms of technology, to the extent that I now think it is impossible to be a CMO and not be tech-savvy,” said Anderson.

“If you don’t understand technology, you should not be a CMO, because I think it is so easy to get sucked down and sold to the shiny new toy you need to play with. You need to have enough tech savvy to understand that if you deploy anything there is an element of disruption, element of ramp up and change,” he added.

This is change not just about the technology but “the people and processes,” as well according to Anderson.

“Is the business ready for the process change that this technology, this intelligence, this discovery might need you to take?” said Anderson.

“Because getting the insights is one thing, but acting on them and what it means to act on them, when you change from quarterly reports to monthly, to weekly to daily reports,” he added.

This might even raise the need for marketers to work across the organisation in its entirety.

“What if you deploy a new piece of technology and discover something significant about the business that you don’t have the business processes or people to fix? What do you do then? You just become aware of something you can’t act upon,” said Anderson.

“You have to get people in your organisation the right skillset and the organisation to adopt the right mindset as well,” he added.

This might even include having your relationships upturned as well, cautioned Anderson.

“Once you start going that route, you’ll start to change and you have to be prepared to change, it means the people you work with have to be prepared to change, it means your partners have to be prepared to change their engagement models you have with them as well,” said Anderson.

“Imagine you have a huge media buy partner, and you start applying attribution technology to measure the impact. Then you go back and say, ’by the way guys, based on the return I feel I’m getting, I’m reducing my spend by 40% next year, because this ad spend is making absolutely zero impact.’ You need to be prepared for that change and what it means,” he added.

Marketers have to also be prepared for the added scrutiny that technology brings as well.

“As a CMO or marketer are you also prepared for the scrutiny? Because maybe something you thought worked so well for so long actually doesn’t and now you’ll look really foolish. So be prepared for that,” said Anderson.

“I think we intuitively know what to do in our market to move the needle, now we can prove it,” he added.

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