MarTech Interview with Steve Warren, CEO at Mapp Digital

Marketing teams today need to be more aligned than before to be able to deliver a holistic customer experience; Steve Warren, CEO at Mapp Digital talks about some proven best practices in this Q&A:

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Welcome to MarTech Series Steve, tell us more about Mapp Digital and how you’ve evolved in the company? 

Mapp Digital is one of the largest independent digital marketing technology companies in the world. Our customers are primarily mid-market and large enterprises from retail, eCommerce, and Direct to Consumer sectors. We have seven offices around the world to serve our customers.

Mapp has decades of experience in digital marketing technology with original roots in Germany.  A major milestone for the company was the acquisition of the customer intelligence platform Webtrekk two years ago. Today, we offer a unified, intuitive and easy-to-use digital marketing platform based on actionable insights to unlock the power of first-party data. We call our approach “insight-led customer experiences” and it is unmatched in the digital marketing ecosystem. As a true marketing intelligence and automation platform, we deliver added value far beyond conventional marketing clouds at a very competitive price.

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How are you seeing the role of the CRO and CEO in the tech marketplace evolve today? What are some top marketing, sales and other business technologies that you feel CEOs of today need to be more adept with?

The tech marketplace is ever-evolving, and providing true differentiated value is what sets these firms apart. The CEO and CRO must be in lock-step to ensure that the vision translates into value for prospects and customers.  Furthermore, determining what is valuable to their target market 12 months in advance is critical.

More than ever, the CEO and their organization must be focused on outcomes, not only actions. This new focus is directly related to the customer lifecycle, delivering better customer experiences and unlocking cross and up sell opportunities. It makes sense that the modern CEO does not only need sales and marketing proficiency but will need to oversee strategies to nurture customers and reduce churn. 

At the same time, the new CEO is leading in complex and tumultuous times. The working world shifted enormously in last couple of years. New and more flexible working models and a change in employee values have made this change necessary – especially in the boardroom. It is all about people management and flexibility while still driving results. At Mapp we rely on remote-first teams in different time zones. When I speak to an employee, we are always on equal footing. Every team member can contact me via email or chat at any time – there are no boundaries. 

We’d love to hear your observations on how customer experience trends are evolving across industries? What are some top CX highlights from the recent years that you feel will now dominate the B2B and B2C markets?

A significantly improved customer experience leads to faster growth and more revenue. This applies to all industries. Given the focus on digital transformation and online business models, marketing must be aligned more efficiently than in the past. Automating complex tasks with technology like AI is an example of such a transformation.  Only those companies who know their customers and understand their needs can increase marketing performance in the long run and gain an advantage over competitors. Investing in customer data to improve and enhance their experience with your brand is critical to success.  

In a recently commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting*, 89% of marketers rated a holistic customer experience strategy as important or very important. For many companies, however, there are still issues associated with the implementation and realization of such strategies. The biggest challenge for 54% of companies is a lack of customer insights, as more than half say they are not able to identify customers on their own website.

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Can you talk about some of the most innovative ways in which you’ve seen marketers around the world use their martech stack to create and power exceptional brand and customer experiences and customer journeys?

The commissioned study I just mentioned, conducted by Forrester Consulting* was a real eye-opener for me. For exceptional customer experiences and journeys, it is essential to leverage a strong first-party dataset to ensure you have a holistic view of your customer. Marketers pinpoint customer analytics, customer data management, and marketing automation as the most important areas to be addressed. In addition, companies that have implemented AI or Machine-Learning tools report an improved ability to update their strategy, greater understanding of customer intent, and better customer insights.

Surprisingly, we’re hearing less about staff and talent improvement. Only a quarter of the surveyed marketers attribute their success in recent years to continuing training and education. This proves that while hiring and developing qualified staff is important, using the right tools for insight-driven marketing offers the greatest potential for future growth. 

As martech evolves and allows marketers to preempt customer needs, how do you feel marketers of tomorrow will have to think differently to stay a step ahead?

To predict customer needs means to be customer-obsessed and should be at the heart of everything a marketer does. Everything from sales to marketing to account management and customer success, is built around this need. Successful companies are able to retain and grow their customer base over time.

To make customer obsession a reality, marketers are well advised to look for a true customer experience platform that allows consistent customer engagement based on true and actionable insights. With the help of AI and predictive analytics they can forecast the customer lifetime value as well as conversion and churn probabilities. Future sales trends can then be projected, and marketing budgets adjusted accordingly. This technology need not be intrusive, but instead supportive of the customer journey.  

A few takeaways for marketing leaders and CMOs/CEOs in 2021?

Currently, I see a massive acceleration of digital transformation and online business models in marketing. The necessity of continuous online exchanges with customers through a targeted strategy has made investment in customer data, marketing analytics, data activation, personalization, and automation absolutely indispensable. 

One thing we can predict with a degree of certainty is that 2021 will continue to see an overriding focus on marketing efficiency due to incredibly tight budgets. The best way to service this need for efficiency is with insights – ones that can be seamlessly used for digital marketing. Such insights enable a holistic understanding of the customer across all channels and help to optimize and further develop one’s own marketing strategy. At the same time, they help to avoid ineffective targeting and ensure good use of your budget. Lastly, my message is to invest in data…invest in your customers…and ensure you have the right tools in order to provide the best digital experiences.

* The commissioned study “Use Analytics And Insights To Accelerate Your Customer Experience Strategy” was conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Mapp in December 2020.

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Mapp Cloud is a proven and tested digital marketing platform for insight-led customer engagement.

Steve Warren is the Chief Executive Officer at Mapp, the international provider of insight-led customer experiences. Steve’s experience involves over 20 years of Executive Leadership, Business Development, SaaS Software, Marketing, Professional Services, Digital Marketing, and Executive Sales Management Experience. His teams have sold and delivered projects to Enterprise C-Level contacts worldwide.

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