Interview with Carolyn Corda, CMO, ADARA

Interview with Carolyn Corda, CMO at ADARA
Carolyn Corda, CMO at ADARA

“I like to identify a common goal and focus on that to unify people around outcomes that will advance the organization.”

Tell us about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to be part of ADARA?

In my career, I’ve been fortunate to be at the very early stages of many innovations in marketing, data and travel. I’m a growth-driver by nature and typically drawn to projects that will really move the needle — helping companies tap undiscovered segments, capture a larger share of wallet, and create more meaningful brand engagement that drives ROI. ADARA fit these criteria very well. The company has brought insights together from the greatest travel brands in the industry, empowering companies to understand their consumers and focus their business at a time when consumers’ growing expectations for relevant treatment have put a lot of pressure on companies to raise the bar.

As a woman in a tech-heavy ecosystem, what message would you give to other women, especially in the Marketing and Sales functions?

I like to identify a common goal and focus on that to unify people around outcomes that will advance the organization. Maybe you need to dramatically accelerate product launch, or you need to create more profitability with a key group of clients. Once you focus in on an issue that will unify people, you will attract allies who share your goal, and differences are no longer the focus.

When groups of people each have a parochial view, many potential contributors to a solution are excluded. If you cut through that, you’re going to add value and increase diversity at the same time. There’s good research demonstrating that companies with a diverse workforce create more value, be a part of that shift!

How is your role at ADARA different from the one you had at Accenture and Epsilon?

My level of career satisfaction is closely linked to how well my unique skills and experience are being utilized. Both Accenture and Epsilon were great fits for me, but my role at ADARA requires all 100% of my capabilities enabling me to increase my impact and influence. ADARA has a very particular mission, providing traveler insights for companies. We’re right at the intersection of data tech/analytics, marketing and travel — one of the fastest-growing segments of the market.

Further, in the CMO role, I can do what I do best, which is to communicate ADARA’s value, work with clients and shape our future.

What lessons from your past role do you take to stay on top your current CMO role at ADARA?

Marketing is selling. And, clients buy from people that understand their problems. Marketing has an important responsibility to provide the “voice of the client”. It’s easy for those not involved in the day-to-day efforts of operating a travel brand to underestimate the challenges — franchisees that don’t follow status-recognition procedures, or the change in aircraft that jeopardizes the ancillaries that have already been sold. Being empathetic and recognizing the constraints our clients deal with is one-half of the formula. The other half is to encourage our clients’ aspirations. We work with brilliant, motivated and accomplished marketing professionals. It’s our obligation to earn their trust and a privilege to share their journey.

How do you see the evolution of MarTech impacting the way Marketing teams leverage data, analytics and intelligence?

Improvements in data management are significantly changing the ways marketing can use customer insights for strategy, product improvements, campaign improvements, loyalty, the list goes on. While CRM, email, and website used to each live in different worlds, now every marketing channel — including social, mobile, addressable TV — needs to be knitted together to create a seamless experience. Data and insights need to be at the core of that system.

For almost all companies this is a work in progress. And they are starting to realize that even if they could centralize all of their customer data, it will still fall short of their needs. Travel brands turn to ADARA’s technology and robust data to complete the portrait allowing them to activate personalization and relevance throughout the customer journey.

Which leaders in the industry do you closely work with? How do they help you stay close to the business actions?

I stay in close touch with key executives at travel suppliers and intermediaries that are pioneering new approaches for digital, loyalty and customer experience. By acting as their sounding board, I can keep sharp and ensure ADARA is aligning with their high priority opportunities or addressing the most pressing pain points. Also, we work closely with other players in MarTech and consulting. Our discussions revolve around finding new and better ways to help travel brands, so those long-standing connections also keep me tuned in to emerging business issues.

What start-ups in the MarTech and SalesTech ecosystem are you watching/keen on right now?

There are two areas that I’m optimistic about for their impact on travel. First, technologies that are designed to make email more enticing and dynamic. Given the sheer size of loyalty databases that most travel brands have, finding a way to engage via email can have a big impact on engagement and consumer lifetime value. I’m keeping my eye on companies such as Movable Ink, that are elevating dynamic content for that channel. The other area is in the integration of big data. There’s still a long way to go in the industry’s ability to weave together disparate data sets. Achieving that goal will unlock tremendous value in the travel industry as IOT data, web behavior, social media could all contribute to a richer understanding of the individual.

What GDPR-related disruptions do you foresee in the future for the Marketing teams? How do you prepare for those disruptions?

First, I think that GDPR itself isn’t necessarily over yet. We still have e-privacy coming at some point, which could restrict how marketers use cookies online. And many states in the US and countries around the globe will likely create their own versions of GDPR. Luckily, many companies are taking this seriously, and are investing to align with these regulations.

I can also imagine a time when consumers themselves become more active in managing their data. There are also going to be more changes on the mobile side, and with internet-enabled devices in people’s lives, like their car. Devices continue to advance the data picture of consumer’s everyday lives. This provides a lot of great information, but we obviously want to do this one right to ensure consumers are protected and informed.

What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2018?

We’re in the process of upgrading our demand generation and nurturing efforts. Salesforce, Pardot, and Google Analytics are our core tools for lead scoring, audience segmentation, personalization, and measurement. Account-based marketing and inbound marketing are going to be a large focus for us in 2019 as we look for ways to improve our performance. We feel a duty to model the principles we encourage our clients’ to embrace such as tight matching of relevant content to key audiences and disciplined tracking and attribution.

ADARA is proud that we offer a product suite for other marketers that covers all three pillars of the customer growth engine — Learn, Act, Measure and Modify. Under “Learn,” we have tools for accelerating the ingestion of data, organizing and for sharing data with trusted partners. For “Act,” we turbo-charge consumer engagement ensuring that interactions are relevant and meaningful. And ADARA provides the means to track and interpret the results. We go beyond traditional metrics to ensure you gauge the type of performance our clients care about. The second half of that pillar, “Modify” is where you’ll find our capabilities to provide recommendations and next-best-offer solutions.

Would you tell us about your standout digital campaign?

Earlier this year, we helped a large hotel chain increase direct bookings. ADARA’s Traveler Value Score and custom propensities were instrumental in enabling the hotel brand to activate personalized offers that induced individuals who would otherwise drop out of the booking process to book direct. The results impressed the client. Our approach yielded a 15%-25% conversion rate lift across loyalty and non-loyalty segments along with a 10% increase in loyalty program acquisition.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

I think of AI as an enhancement, not a replacement for a lot of activity. For example, AI-driven algorithms to help add predictions to insights, to help improve campaign messaging at scale. These things simply increase our ability to offer effective products to marketers and to be effective marketers ourselves.

One word that best describes how you work.

Focused or Innocollabofocused (innovation, collaboration and focused all rolled into one).

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

My Ipad + Apple pencil go with me everywhere. If it’s just a couple of us meeting, we use it as a whiteboard, which has the advantage of easily expanded space to work out problems. It’s also my preferred method for note taking. I can still feel engaged with the person I’m talking to which doesn’t happen if I pull out a laptop.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

I’ve committed to limiting my multi-tasking by devoting my full attention to whatever I’m doing at that moment. For example, when I’m on a conference call, I strive to stay 100% present rather than skim through my email. It’s a good discipline that’s paying off in better and faster group decisions. The practice also forces me to be ruthless about which meetings I participate in.

What are you currently reading?

I’m re-reading (it’s my third lap) Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow.  It’s influenced how I approach marketing — striving to make the messaging simple and easy to digest. Given the busy lives people lead, it’s a good bet that they don’t have the bandwidth for overly-complicated frameworks and product information. I also keep the principles Kahneman outlines in mind for my own decision-making to avoid common traps such as thinking that what you see is all there is to a situation.

For industry news, I rely on the standards — Skift, Tnooz, PCW. One of the newer sources is Next Travel Stream. Scott Alvis launched it earlier this year and its video format makes for very compelling content.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Early in my career, my uncle encouraged me switch to travel so that I could be involved in an industry with a level of complexity that fascinated me. Since then, the industry has grown significantly and been transformed by e-commerce providing ongoing challenges to conquer. I am forever grateful for being put on a path that has been filled with opportunity.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Tim Prunk, President of Full Contact, and a leader in the marketing space.

Thank you, Carolyn! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

ADARA Logo

ADARA empowers the world’s leading travel brands to grow the industry together. Built on the world’s richest travel data co-op, ADARA offers people-based insights for travel companies. Clients get a value-based understanding of their relationship with their customers, with travel patterns, trends and behavior from more than 750 million monthly unique traveler profiles across more than 190 of the world’s top travel brands. ADARA delivers unifying, enterprise-wide impact with Customer Yield Intelligence based on 3 core pillars – Learn, Act, Measure – that integrate the entire ADARA product suite to drive measurable outcomes at the customer level.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

Previous ArticleNext Article

1 Comment

  1. Hi Carolyn, on behalf of the Movable Ink team, we’re flattered! There is such an opportunity to take great travel data from Adara and activate it into visual experiences. I’m delighted we’re both working with some of the travel leaders to help them elevate their marketing programs. Happy holidays!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *