ShoreTel’s CMO Talks about Data, Team-Building and Marketing’s Big Picture

    Nowadays marketing departments seem to be all about data. They gather data to determine how prospects began their journey from initial interest to sales conversation, track which Web pages they viewed and for how long, use metrics from a variety of sources to develop personas that will guide them in developing marketing strategies, and in general look at data as the kind of hard information that, sometimes too often, they believe provides them with a clear view of the customer’s reality.

    But as important as it is, data is not everything, says Mark Roberts, ShoreTel’s Chief Marketing Officer. In a recent podcast with Crimson Marketing’s Glenn Gow, Roberts explains how analytics can contribute to a company’s outreach efforts, but are especially effective when they’re viewed as part of a wider whole, a picture that includes harder-to-track strategies like thought-leadership content and even signage.

    Keep Perspective

    “There is no inbound without outbound stimulation,” Roberts told Gow. “And you’ve got to look at it from a holistic perspective rather than focusing on one aspect.” Indeed, he observes that marketers often succumb to emphasizing strategies and tactics that can be easily measured, discounting other approaches that might be effective but harder to track.

    For example, he tells the story of one customer who began their buyer’s journey by talking about ShoreTel signs they’d seen at a San Francisco Giants game. (The San Francisco Giants are a ShoreTel customer.) “Talking about signage in today’s digital world, it just seems bizarre,” he said. “It seems out of place, yet that’s where that particular opportunity started its journey.”

    None of which is meant to imply that data isn’t a critical component of today’s marketing activities. But it’s important, Roberts says, to recognize that data is only valuable when it’s the right data being used correctly.

    Organizing for Success

    That’s why one of the first things Roberts did when joining ShoreTel was lead an effort to reorganize its data-gathering and analysis efforts to create a set of metrics his team could depend on as it developed messages that would “really resonate” with their target audiences.

    In one instance, the team learned that people interested in unified communication have a high interest in travel, business, computers and television. That knowledge drove decisions on how to write and where to place content to engage that audience and bring them to the start of the buyer’s journey.

    Roberts also shares his experiences in getting his team’s buy-in to new approaches, new solutions and retooling Marketing’s operations. Because “everybody doesn’t necessarily process things at the same speed, more importantly in the same way,” he took a careful approach to change management, emphasizing collaboration and a willingness to engage with others’ ideas in order to build a strongly aligned organization.

    During the conversation, Roberts also explores how to set up an effective demand-generation team, the importance of working closely with Sales, and how to make sure you’re always speaking your customer’s language.

    You can listen to the podcast here.

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