Q: You've had a diverse and successful career in marketing, especially digital and online marketing. Is there a common theme of your work--something that is a constant, no matter where you are?
A constant in marketing--through all the changes in platforms, devices or campaign formats--is the consumer. What does she want? What does he need? What's their alternative? I'm obsessed.
The other constant theme is that all "my" work reflects the work of a larger talented team. Marketing is a broad field requiring a diverse team, and if you're lucky you have a few people who possess unusual combinations of skill sets - consumer empathy, compelling storytelling, data forensics, strategic goal setting, resourceful creative, and the list goes on.
Just about everything else is a moving target!
Q: You've been in the digital marketing space for long enough to have seen trends come and go. What's one big innovation that you've seen in marketing that surprised you?
There seems to be tectonic shifts with marketing formats that have taken an interesting shape. We used to categorize these efforts as either "above the line" or "below the line." The scenario, Sally told Jane, we called word of mouth marketing. Then, consumers didn't want to be sold to, so we called it content. Now, Sally makes a YouTube video, Jane tweets it and Buzzfeed picks it up. What's that supposed to be called? The consumer conversation is a living beast in building any brand, the marketing lanes aren't that clear, and the outcomes are harder to predict and measure. This kind of development makes marketing a really innovative field right now, which is neat.
Q: Have we reached a point yet where advertisers and marketers think digital first and traditional platforms second? If not, why not?
Yes - digital should be a marketer's dream since it's a lot more transparent, and cheaper and easier to execute than a lot of traditional platforms. Plus, that is where consumers are now, so it's a no brainer. But for companies oriented toward traditional platforms with their infrastructure and staff, it does require a transformation.
Q: My company works primarily in the post-click, customer engagement area of marketing, so you know we think it's a very important part of the marketing and sales chain. We also know companies tend to overlook the real value of post-click. Are there other areas of online engagement and marketing that you think get overlooked?
I think anything that is hard to measure suffers from either being overlooked or overvalued. And no wonder for online, since online engagement is a complex story to piece together, especially across a long period of time, across devices, and weaving on/offline together. It's not just about tracking how customers are engaged with your marketing efforts, but also indications of what they are thinking. We focus a lot on this, so much so that it's easy to overlook what consumers are doing when they are not with you. What are they doing or choosing instead?
Q: What's something most brand managers or digital marketers get wrong?
Building and managing a brand takes balancing a lot of various streams of work, and an easy mistake is letting the complexity of execution seep into your brand message and experience. It's actually very difficult to plan, execute and measure a simple and clear brand experience.
Q: What big projects are you working on now?
One big focus area right now is improving the user experience on Wayfair.com. There is great activity happening to make shopping easier, faster and more helpful than before.
Q: What has been your favorite marketing initiative at your company?
My favorite marketing initiative is always the new one. Bad habit, I know!