MarTech Series Interview with Justin Sharaf, Vice President, Marketing at Jahia Solutions

Justin Sharaf, Vice President, Marketing at Jahia Solutions talks about the growing importance of first-party data in today’s marketing environment while sharing a few martech adoption best practices in this chat:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Justin, tell us more about Jahia Solutions and your role as VP Marketing? Take us through some of your top martech and marketing learnings from over the years…?

Jahia is a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) company with customers in over 20 countries. Its roots were in the CMS space originally, but with its current product line including a CDP and a Personalization Engine, it’s really become a true DXP.

As VP of Marketing, I lead the global marketing organization which consists of Demand Generation, Customer Marketing, PR, Marketing Operations, and Creative/Design – basically everything in Marketing except Product Marketing, which I don’t own, but certainly influence quite a bit.

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How are you seeing the importance of first-party data grow in today’s digital marketplace and a few predictions for marketers here?

First-party data has become extremely important in today’s marketing landscape. Knowing exactly who your customers are and what they are doing on your own digital properties is the absolute best way (besides talking to them directly) to learn about your customers in order to create experiences that will meet and exceed their expectations. There is obviously a need for second- and third-party data in your marketing strategy, but going to the direct source is critical for success.

In terms of predictions, I believe that people have less and less patience, and so it’s extremely important to get them the information they are looking for as quickly and easily as possible. It’s not enough to have the information on your website; you must spoon feed it to people if you expect them to consume it and understand it.

What are some essential customer data points that marketers and advertisers of today need to be paying more attention to in your view?

Marketers must pay attention to how customers are engaging with their product and how customers are engaging with the content on their website. If you have a good understanding of the behavioral tendencies and patterns of your customers, you will be in a much better position to provide customers with incremental value to their lives and their business.

What are some top flaws and challenges you see in marketing teams when it comes to the way they collect and use first-party data?

I think many companies that are collecting first party data don’t really know what to do with it and don’t realize the value they can get from integrating their first-party data with second- and third-party data to create a robust view of their customers. This allows them to develop a stronger relationship with their customers and create experiences that are truly desired by the customer, rather than forced upon them because of the agenda of the marketers.

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How can marketers of today simplify their collection of customer data?

Having a strong Marketing Operations and Customer Analytics team is vital. To me, it’s not about simplifying the collection of data; it’s about having people who are capable of organizing and analyzing data and then turning it into actionable insights that are simple for the marketers to understand and leverage in their programs. It doesn’t matter whether you are collecting small amounts of data or massive amounts of data if there isn’t a data expert on your team who can do something with it. Hire smart people who are great with data, and you will be in a position to collect and use as much data as you’d like.

A few last thoughts and takeaways for Marketing leaders and CMOs in 2021?

Don’t underinvest in Marketing Operations resources, specifically Analytics and people to manage your MarTech stack. Marketers are relying more and more on their Operations teams to run successful campaigns and without those data and technology experts, you will likely be missing out on opportunities and wasting money on ineffective and inefficient programs.

Your website requires a lot of TLC. Focus on the pages with the most traffic and the pages that customers benefit most from visiting, not the pages you want people to visit. Optimize the website journey to funnel people to high-value pages even if those pages don’t have a Form. If your content is good, people will find the form.

Focus on your people. Show them appreciation. Check on their mental health. Get a pulse on how they are feeling about their role, about your leadership, about the state of the department and the company.

A list of martech tools that you feel tech startups need to have as part of their first list of marketing technologies. 

Marketing Automation, CRM, social media, and CMS/DXP for your website. Pay for those and use free tools elsewhere. Add-on as you grow, but don’t overinvest in technology too early, especially if you don’t have people to utilize it.

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Jahia brings content and customer data together so you can deliver engaging, personalized experiences faster.

Justin Sharaf is the Vice President of Marketing at Jahia Solutions

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