Colleen Scollans started her career in financial services marketing in product marketing. Since then she has worked at a large professional association and two publishing houses, John Wiley & Sons and Oxford University Press (OUP).
Most recently, as the CMO of OUP’s Academic Division, where she managed a team of over 250 marketers, she led Marketing, Digital Strategy, and Data/Analytics.
Colleen recently moved on from OUP to focus on consulting. In her practice, she helps companies improve marketing performance, successfully leverage marketing technology (martech), derive value from data, and pivot to customer centricity.
ClickZ caught up with Scollans to learn more about her approach to martech and get her thoughts on the challenges, trends, and predictions that marketing teams and martech vendors face in an ever-changing environment.
“When I came to Oxford, I started in Sales,” says Scollans. “In my experience, it is incredibly beneficial for marketing leaders to have real word experience in sales and product. Successful Marketing leaders occupy that “sweet spot” between product and sales, driving their organization to be more customer focused. My sales experience made my acutely aware of the importance of Sales & Marketing alignment.”
Scollans noted that one of the biggest changes in marketing over the past 15-years is the abundance of data available. The availability of such rich data has shifted the focus from traditional marketing communications to an increased focus on campaign attribution, performance marketing, and customer intelligence
“Marketing is being held accountable for its activity,” explains Scollans. “Marketing drives many of the most important organizational KPIs. CMOs need to be focused on more than just reach, engagement and brand metrics. The modern CMO mandate includes demonstrating marketing ROI and how marketing positively contributes to an organization’s growth.”
Scollans indicated that another big change is due to the explosion of martech solutions. These technology solutions provide new ways for marketers to reach, attract, and engage with customers and audiences. They also help marketers make sense of all this new valuable data.
She believes the real promise of martech is to enable marketing teams to focus on both the “art and science” of marketing.
“If you think of the evolution of marketing and go back to the Mad Men era, marketing was all about creativity. Then as channels exploded, marketing became complicated and there was a high volume of manual work. This complexity did not leave as much time for creativity nor did it allow adequate time to test and refine approaches. Today marketing technology has automated many marketing tasks and processes. This increase in bandwidth, coupled with new digital channels and delivery technologies, has resulted in an exciting new creative renaissance in marketing. Today CMOs need to be both brand and performance marketers.”
Scollans continues, “As a result of all this change, there are numerous new marketing roles emerging, Data Scientists, Demand Generation Specialists, Marketing Operations Managers, Marketing Technologists, Digital Experience Managers, Content Strategist, etc. Organizational design is critical. Brands are tasked with deciding where to build talent, where to acquire talent, and when to utilize external expertise.”
According to Scollans, the technology that most transformed marketing program—are core foundational choices around customer data, marketing analytics and marketing management.
Customer Data: It all starts with understanding customers. Forming a single view of customers relationship and experience with an organization’s brand and products is the backbone of all marketing activity.
“In my experience, the rest of your marketing technology stack will operate holistically and more effectively with a solid customer data foundation. Too many organizations focus on activation and engagement technologies, wooed by the promises of automation and improved performance, before developing a data strategy,” says Scollans.
Marketing & Customer Analytics: Analytics not only help Marketing optimize campaigns, resources, and activity; they also benefit the whole organization.
“I have first-hand seen how marketing and customer analytics can be useful to teams outside of marketing (Sales, Product, Publishing, Finance, etc.). A solid analytical foundation helps drive an evidence-based decision-making culture,” comments Scollans.
Marketing Resource Management (MRM): Marketing can be complex and tools that facilitate transparency, collaboration, and planning across teams are becoming more and more important. Today’s MRM tools are getting more sophisticated with content marketing asset integration, campaign analytics, and budget optimization.
MRM tools, such as Percolate, enable companies to plan marketing campaigns, coordinate marketing workflows, and manage content marketing assets. Choosing the tool that will be the nucleus of the marketing operation is an essential foundational choice.
When considering how to build a tech stack, Scollans recommends brands assess their individual needs since there is no one-size-fits-all tool or technology.
“Your technology investment depends on what your goals are,” explains Scollans. “To help define goals, I always recommend a capability approach. CMOs should focus on defining the capabilities that will help their organization: Meet Customer Use Cases; Achieve Competitive Advantage; Deliver on Strategy; Innovate & Differentiate.”
In a capability planning process, it is critical to focus on the what you need to achieve and why it is important before focusing on how the capabilities can be delivered. The ‘how decisions’ (build versus buy, type of tool, etc.) are easier to focus on once there is clarity around priority capabilities.
In her practice, Colleen has built a proprietary capability model that takes the confusing and overlapping space of marketing technology and atomizes it down to core capabilities organized in a multi-level hierarchy.
Once the basic capabilities that an organization needs are identified, more granularity can be added over time. The goal is to build a capability map that works for each individual organization.
“If a brand wants to innovate and differentiate,” says Scollans, “and they want a marketing tech stack that meets their organization’s unique needs, it needs to be custom. There is no “one solution” that will work.”
Scollans encourages her clients to evaluate large platforms as well as best in breed vendors that have open API tools which can facilitate integration. She also emphasized that marketing and technology teams need to approach the implementation of a tech stack together, taking a unified approach.
“When I first began implementing marketing technology, a lot of the onus fell to the marketing team,” says Scollans. “There were some advantages because we knew what we wanted, and it forced a deep immersion in the marketing technology landscape. However, over time I have seen the great value of having a strong technology partnership. The trend towards more custom stacks requires a strong technology team focused on integration strategies that leverage common data structures. Technologists are critical to successful technology choice, integration planning, and project execution.”
Another challenge in martech implementations is the adoption rate of the new technology within the company.
“In the early days of martech implementations, I underestimated the level of change that martech brings to a marketing team. A focus on pre-planning, change management, and post project support is just as important as the marketing technology selection and implementation,” Scollans explains.
Based on her experience, Scollans developed a 12-step process for implementing marketing technology (12 Ps of Marketing Technology ©) which she uses with her consulting clients.
Steps 1-6 focus on what marketing leaders need to do before they initiate a project with IT. These include defining an overarching strategy and vision, defining and prioritizing capabilities, and assessing what talent and skills are required for implementation.
Martech often requires changes to strategy, team structure, and processes. All of which, need be fully thought through early in the process. It can be helpful for marketing organizations to have outside perspectives to help them think about how they will need to adapt to fully leverage marketing technology.
Steps 7-10 focus on project and IT partnership. They expand the capabilities review process to IT and focus on the development of a project team including what requirements are needed to implement and integrate the new technology.
The IT Partnership phase also considers tech selection, approvals, implementation, training, and change management to ensure the new solution is thoroughly adopted into the organization’s marketing and sales ecosystem.
Steps 11 & 12 focus on persistence and performance which involves ongoing change management, tweaks and customization, and measuring performance.
“Marketing Technology requires continual iteration of the technology, processes, and strategy,” explains Scollans. “It is critical to measure performance and to assess if the benefits promised in the business case are being realized. If your implementation is not meeting its performance goals, organizations need to ask if they should we be tweaking a tool or replacing it completely? Or perhaps it is a training, strategy, or process issue? Once the technology is in place, you are not done with it. Organizations needs robust strategies to measure impact and adoption.”
If vendors want to appeal to brands who might otherwise build their marketing technology stack internally or win in the highly competitive “martech wars”, Scollans has a few key recommendations.
The 2019 Gartner CMO survey shows a year on year decrease in martech spend. Scollans believes this is because a lot of brands are under-utilizing their current tech stack. In the long run, it will benefit vendors to focus on adoption as much as they focus on attracting new clients.
Scollans has several interesting predictions for the future of martech:
Says Scollans, “We’re going to see many organizations adding more tools into their tech stack as these tools become easier and easier to integrate. Stack design will become even more important in the future.”
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