The new data-driven B2B marketing executive: how Dell tells the analytics narrative (Sponsored)

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This article is part of B2BNN’s CMO Series

In complex global marketing organizations, nothing is done the way it used to be. The addition of “data-driven” to all aspects of marketing is increasing the demand not only for data scientists who can make sense of the numbers, but those who can uncover the narrative behind the numbers, and push change based on data. Not an easy task, especially with hundreds of colleagues running campaigns, numbers, and trying to create data structure for both individual marketers, executives, and the organization as a whole.

Dell has four global business segments – large enterprise, SMB, public and consumer – and more than 100,000 team members across the world. One of those team members is  Brian Melinat who works within the broader Global Digital Marketing and Innovation Team on making the numbers make sense for business.

Melinat has been with Dell for more than eight years and assumed his current position, Director of Modern Marketing Analytics, in October 2014. “I originally started in operations and have always done analytics-focused roles,” said Melinat. Those roles include Manager of Media Mix Modeling and Senior Manager of Social Media Analytics and Listening.

When asked what the “modern” in Modern Marketing Analytics entails, Melinat said that “in some ways ‘modern marketing’ is the latest catch-phrase around digital marketing.” He added how the work streams that modern marketing covers include things such as email nurture campaigns, programmatic, re-targeting and online display which now encompasses rich media and embedded video. Modern marketing covers three areas – content, mobile, and social media – and what strategies and activities in the digital space firms can do to promote their content and amplify social media to make it available cross-device, via both desktop and mobile.

Melinat indicated that he looks at “what data, what information, around customers and customer interaction is available to understand what marketing activity is working, what are customers engaging with, and what their interests are so, ideally,we can deliver the next right piece of information that helps them along their journey. That is where my role fits in the cross-marketing landscape.”

According to Melinat, what motivates him as a marketing professional has been a common theme is his “career and background.” As an undergrad he studied mechanical engineering and economics at the University of Colorado and specialized in operations while sprinkling in marketing courses at University of Texas for his MBA. “Analytic assessment of data, and uncovering insights within that hard information has always fascinated me,” he says.

In his current role, and in his previous role in social media analytics, Melinat’s connection to an ever-increasing data array is what fascinates him. “The thing that intrigues me about the data and analytics is the opportunity to use it in evolving spaces. It reaches beyond reporting to how can we make sense of this data in new ways to give us insights into how our activities are impacting our customers, how our customers are interacting with us, and being able to tune our marketing activity based on the data we collect. It is, in fact, putting together the story that the data forms about what is going on that I find most intriguing and data investigation of what it is able to tell us about what is going on.”

Analytics at Dell

In terms of bringing analytics to the table at Dell, Melinat’s role is one of “recognizing that the customers’ interaction with companies, which is the modern marketing theme, is evolving.” Because of the omnipresent nature of information digital information, customers now conduct online research before they ever contact a company. The measurable activity associated with that research offers pre-purchase customer insight difficult to access previously, rich territory for metrics-driven marketers.

Melinat highlights the importance of connecting the traditional marketing funnel with this new data, per findings from a Corporate Executive Board survey. “Given that change in how customers are making their purchase decisions, it is increasingly important that companies be able to provide the information, the content, that is both relevant and available when and where our customers are looking for it when they are in that awareness and consideration phase,” he said.

Teams at Dell are looking at activities that help support that evolving customer-buyer journey. Melinat acknowledged that Dell and other companies have tended to look down toward the action side of the funnel associated with purchase decisions. “Since we’ve historically been focused on that area, we have good systems around collecting that data.” Now, according to Melinat, there is a need to “socialize, identify, and engrain in the business processes what metrics, what data, what analytics are going to be able to support activities that are further upstream in the customer journey.”

When asked what other B2B marketing professionals need to know about data, Melinat replied, “I think that it is recognizing how there are many things that we can do and measure that happen before that customer is engaged directly with the company. So, again, talking about that evolution we see in customers’ consumption of information, I think one of the concerns or fears in business is that customers are making 60 percent of their purchase decisions before they contact us and that it is something we have no influence over. That is certainly not the case.”

He goes on to say strategic marketing professionals will work to get analytic, quantified feedback relating to activities that attract the customer while they’re doing their self-serve consumption. He suggested thinking about three key factors:

  • What can be done around search so that when customers are searching for content “they will find what our company has to offer on the topic” when they are going through their consideration phase
  • Utilizing cookie and other digital identifiers “so that we can serve targeted digital advertising information or messaging that covers topics most likely to resonate with the customers
  • “How can we continue learning about what our customers want based on how they’re interacting with our content to iteratively provide them relevant information to the point they are ready to connect with us via a sales rep and/or make a purchase.”

Regarding the “next big thing” for marketing executives, Melinat drops a term any NBA dunk-competition fan would appreciate. “I think it’s been said before, but our ability to fill out the 360 view of the customer,” Melinat says. “It’s a catch-phrase that’s been around for a long time, but I think now it covers multiple touchpoints the customer has made with you… and not just connecting multiple touchpoints with the same customer, but also seeing a customer across devices, across channels. Are they contacting us at our website? Are they coming to us through a channel partner? Are they contacting us on their pc? Are they contacting us on a mobile device? But that ability to paint a full 360 view of the customer becomes increasingly more viable with the digital technologies that are coming up and the cross-device piece of that is one that is still very challenging, but it offers more and more opportunities.”

This article is part of the SAP CMO Series. To view a summary of the SAP/CMO Council Adaptive Customer Experiences research report, click here. To download the full report (registration required) click here.

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