It’s not every day that marketers are able to connect with so many of their industry peers in one location. Fortunately, IDG ENGAGE Menlo Park opened the door for tech marketing execs to network with one another and hear our expert marketing panelists speak candidly about their marketing strategy in the digital age. Needless to say, our panelists did not disappoint! In fact, our speakers had so much to say about their approach to data-driven marketing that it’s nearly impossible to encapsulate all their expert insights. So, for those of you who missed the panel first-hand, let’s sum up the key takeaways from each of our CMOs.

Drive Data, Drive Culture

It should come as no surprise that among this panel of top marketing talent, there was a strong consensus on the importance of unleashing data to drive marketing strategy, complimented by different perspectives on implementing that strategy within their organizations. While there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to data-driven marketing, our panelists give quality and actionable insights on how to use data to drive business.

Aimee Catalano, Head of Global Partner Marketing at Google Cloud, spoke about the importance of promoting strong teams. In an organization the size of Google, there are a lot of teams that each have a different lens for measuring success. And, she said, they all feel as though they have cracked the code. Getting the right people is key to fostering a data-driven approach, because there can never be enough people to support you as you begin to wield the power of data. Catalano said to inspect data very closely for what it’s for and what outcome you are going to drive as a result. “Force your team to really determine what they will do with the data to prove if you need it. Without a purpose, more data can just be more data.”

Along the same subject as driving an analytical approach to marketing via strong support, Catalano shared her advice on creating a data-driven culture with one word: prioritize. Culture starts at the top, so start by determining whether your top-line outcome aligns with that of your CEO. From there, prioritize and have laser focus on your goal. If all teams are working towards that goal with data as a framework, the culture will begin to form.

Success Starts at the Top

Melissa Leachman, Senior Director of Marketing at LogMeIn, echoed Catalano’s notion that success comes from the top. In other words, “leadership must be aligned with data from the top down. Educating and prioritizing a top down approach is the most important aspect to be a data-focused organization.”

Speaking of successful changes coming from the top, Leachman shared her perspective on how data-driven methods can add value back to the customer, specifically in retaining existing customers. As a product-driven organization, she said found that “retention value equals use.” However, it can prove difficult to retain customers in such a competitive marketplace. To combat this, LogMeIn implemented a data-driven method to identify key features and functionality that are popular among users. She and her marketing team then review the buying process and use that behavioral data to map buyer intent, therefore enabling their data to deliver value to existing customers.

Data Defends Marketing Initiatives

Quality data speaks for itself; it gives marketers hard proof to justify their efforts. As June Manley, CMO at Data Intensity explained, “data is a way to show that marketing isn’t just a cost center, especially when I can report the revenue we are driving to the dime.” Data has vast potential, but only when the collection of data is valuable. Manley said that marketers must establish a system of record to build and collect data as data only provides insights when it serves a purpose.

Similar to Aimee Catalano, Manley said that marketing teams must be analytic about asking whether data points will help their bottom line. That’s why marketers should be leveraging data to find success. In doing so, there has been a paradigm shift for marketing. Manley explained that marketers should use their data to validate department goals with the C-suite and then use their data “to become prescriptive and analytic to target the right people at the right place at the right time.” This data-driven approach, which translates everything in the life cycle from first visit to last touch, is why Manley believes marketing leads convert faster.

Center-Brained Marketers for the Win

The current data-driven market has also encouraged marketers to expand their comfort zones. Jonathan Martin, CMO at Hitachi Vantara, explained that in the past, marketers described themselves as ‘left’ or ‘right’ brained: ‘analytical’ or ‘creative’. Martin said that in today’s environment, “marketers need to be center-brained. They need to be able to dive into data with a combination of analytical and creative skills.” This balance of art & science enables marketers to play dual roles and ultimately leverage each data point to its full potential. Building your marketing team with individuals who possess these skills will make it easier to build a data-driven infrastructure. For example, Martin brought up a strategy of “identifying KPIs and using machine learning to reverse engineer the situation to see what tactics or sequences drive decisions.” Doing so within an organization of hands-on, data-smart employees will promote success.

However, while data and technological advances are critical to driving marketing strategy, never forget the importance of human input. On that note, Martin left the marketing panel with perhaps the most poignant advice at IDG ENGAGE: “There is so much data in tech from machine learning to artificial intelligence to bots. But don’t forget the humanity in what you’re doing; People buy from humans, not bots.”


A special thank you to our esteemed #IDGENGAGE panelists for their time and strategic insights. To learn more about marketing tools and strategy, visit our Tools for Marketers.