I consider myself lucky. My first professional role was with a startup right out of college, where I was entrusted to manage customer support for a graphical software product. Including the support, it was a cross-functional role which entailed testing, shipping new software versions to customers, demoing for analysts, upsell and cross-selling and much much more! I soon advanced in my career to technology strategy, then business development, on to product management, and to now: marketing. Throughout my professional life, the world of business, and technology as a conduit for business as we know it, has been changing. Hardware has become a commodity, and software evolved from large scale system software to PCs & macs, and eventually to mobile OS’s and apps. Databases went open source. And the cloud has come clearly into focus.
When I entered the realm of professional marketing, cloud had already become a factor in what we as marketers do. I say I lucked out because by leapfrogging traditional marketing, I jumped straight to digital, social and cloud-based marketing. And never looked back.
I’ve asked an expert, and the former CMO of my early career startup – a lifelong marketer, herself, Colleen Terry-Greene VP Business Development of PDFFiller, Inc. how she’s seen marketing change in the direction of cloud, digital, social over the span of her career.
Heiligman: How has digital changed the role of the marketer?
Greene: It has certainly expanded the career paths within marketing. Inbound marketing, digital marketing, online marketing, customer success, customer engagement, blogging etc... these terms were not used in marketing 20 years ago. Marketers are increasingly becoming more specialized in these areas. The cloud has provided Marketers with faster and better visibility into product usage, as well as the effectiveness of messaging.
Heiligman: How does cloud marketing differ by industry?
Greene: Certainly some industries are taking advantage of it more than others, but it seems to have leveled the playing field to some extent for small businesses competing with enterprise. Anyone offering a cloud product knows the importance of renewals and the opportunities Marketing has to positively impact this.
Heiligman: Do you see new opportunities as a result of digitalization of marketing?
Greene: Many more opportunities to engage with your customers to ensure customer success exist today. Dashboards and analytics give marketers visibility into how customers are using their respective services. Having a better understanding of what features are most valuable and if that changes by industry, enables marketers to better present value in their communications materials. Insights are immediately available to marketers to assist with the onboarding as well as the renewal of customers.
Heiligman: How can you insure success as a digital – social – cloud – based marketer?
Greene: The beauty of digital and cloud is that information is very accessible, which means training materials of various types are available. You need to sift through and find the right information, but there is really no excuse for not updating your marketing skills! Best practices are highly visible and the bar is constantly being raised.
In addition, many universities are teaming up with online marketing management companies to offer certificate programs in social media, customer success, digital communications. Marketers can find which area is of most interest and can seek out that specific content/certification.
Heiligman: What skills do you need to have to be successful as a cloud marketer?
Greene: Strong writing skills has always been important, but now - more than ever - content and channels are critical. Knowing how to effectively write for different mediums / channels not only drives traffic, it drives sales. Analytical skills are no longer required by market researchers only; campaign managers need to understand the data, analyze it properly and draw conclusions to make recommendations and decisions.
In closing, digital marketing provides for better tracking and understanding of online marketing efforts. A/B testing provides very quick feedback and allows for faster, more flexible testing of messages, offers, services. This wouldn’t have been possible to do in the traditional marketing of yesterday – but today it isn’t possible to “not” do – if you want to be effective as a marketer.