TechBytes with Amanda Mountain, VP of Marketing Communications at SAP Digital Commerce
Hi Amanda, please tell us about your role and team / technology you handle at SAP.
I serve as the Global Vice President of Marketing for Digital Commerce at SAP, where I lead a team of diverse and distributed professionals from across the marketing mix. In the most basic terms – our job is to make it simple to do business, online, with SAP. My team and I focus on internal and external communications, digital marketing, and branding for the SAP Digital Commerce line of business, social media and live events (which are now virtual due to the pandemic).
How much has your role changed in the last 6 months due to the pandemic?
My team and I are busier than ever before, and connecting with customers and employees through empathetic marketing and communications has become even more needed and relevant. When the whole world had gone virtual, the need to remain human became even more important.
As someone who has worked from home for many years, I’ve been fortunate during this time to continue working with my team to drive meaningful work in a remote capacity.
Technology has been a great tool for enabling a successful work-at-home environment.
However, as a manager I’ve remained acutely focused on my people. Our work and personal lives were meshed into one space, and for many that’s something that needs an adjustment period – and greater understanding from me and our wider team.
Could you tell us more about your “Employee Engagement” initiatives and how it helped boost your department’s productivity?
Employee engagement has been a core focus for our entire SAP Digital Commerce team, well before the pandemic.
For example, Sharon Ruddock, Head of SAP Digital Commerce, put together a team offsite in January designed to connect everyone in a fun environment, which included work during the day and evening field trips and even a team-building scavenger hunt through San Francisco.
We spent our days working together on strategy as well as a range of corporate social responsibility projects — from building bikes together for at-risk youth to packing food for a local food bank in the San Francisco area.
Most exciting from the offsite was our day of Design Thinking sessions. We used these sessions to brainstorm new ideas – one of which was our recently announced sustainability initiative to plant a tree for every online order made via the SAP Store or SAP App Center. As we ramp up this initiative, we are continuously looking for ways to keep our employees engaged. We’ve recently been looking into catchafire.org, a site that connects volunteers virtually with those needing assistance and are looking into a project our team can be a part of through this service. And we’re anxious to see what SAP rolls out virtually for SAP’s Month of Service in October.
Tell us more about your Plant a Tree campaign (a great CSR initiative) — how is this playing out in the middle of the pandemic?
Our code name for this is “Digital Roots.”
The initiative came out of our Design Thinking sessions during our team offsite in January, before the effects of the pandemic really took hold.
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Now that so many are continuing to work remotely, and businesses are looking more and more to digital marketplaces as a way to purchase the solutions they need, this initiative is something we feel uniquely proud to support and offer. On top of this, sustainability has an established history at SAP, and corporate social responsibility was a focal point coming out of our team offsite back in January. The “Digital Roots” campaign is core to our values and authentically represents our ethos – making it more personal and motivating for our team to succeed. It has been a wonderful unifying initiative for the whole SAP Digital Commerce team, from customer support and operations through to new business, not just my marketing group.
Marketing budgets across industries are needing to be cut down— , which tools and solutions would continue to be part of a CMO’s martech stack and why?
Fortunately, this isn’t something we’re experiencing, but I do know it has become an increasing concern – and challenge – for marketers and marketing teams from companies of all sizes. My honest advice here is that now is not the time to pull back on engagement and investment in your customer relationships. They need you to listen and they need valuable content more than ever. Any tools or solutions that will help create more meaningful connections with customers should be at the forefront of any MarTech stack. It’s vital to listen to your customers and truly understand what it is they need – especially now. Being able to create one-to-one touchpoints via digital channels rather than simply blasting an overarching marketing message to the masses is how businesses will stay empathetic and valuable to their customers.
Live events are flooding the digital marketing space. Which formats are you keenly utilizing to promote your ideas and marketing voice?
With so many events having to go virtual this year, the key is to understand how the format needs to change to accommodate a variety of living and working situations.
You can’t simply take a live event and put it online.
You need a digital platform that allows you the opportunity to strike up a conversation with a customer over time, rather than having them go into overdrive on 8+ hours straight of virtual programming.
And, any virtual event platform needs to have interactivity built in.
For example, with our Global Partner Summit and SAPPHIRE Now 2020 both going virtual this year, we looked to incorporate alternate formats. Shorter sessions or sessions broken up by entertainment breaks kept things interesting and supplied the mental pauses and resets between sessions people often give themselves at in-person events. Our sessions aired at regionally relevant times based on specific time zones and we further localized content by region to help personalize the experience for each attendee tuning in. Even more importantly, much of the event content lives beyond the initial event day, allowing customers, partners and prospects the chance to engage at their convenience.
Tell us about the Digital Transformation goals in the current context of “Tone Deaf tactics”. How can marketing teams avoid these mistakes?
As a marketing professional that leads a global team, I am constantly reminding myself and my team to “keep listening” during this time – the pandemic is not an isolated issue, and it’s affecting customers from all over the world in various ways – both large and small. While our normal day to day from before has been deeply affected and possibly forever changed, it’s critical to utilize tactics that show you’re aware of and tuned into current workplace struggles – such as working from home, budget cuts, restructuring of various lines of business, and team consolidation. But you also have to leave room for real differences in individual experiences.
Marketing teams need to be there for customers. They need to continue to find new and unique ways to solve problems and deliver positive customer experiences even in times of crisis. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and you can’t just change the opening line of every email to “In today’s new normal…”
You will quickly become irrelevant.
Thank you, Amanda, for answering all our questions!
Amanda Mountain serves as Vice President of Marketing Communications for SAP Digital Commerce, leading a global team from across the marketing mix. Since April 2015 she has managed SAP marketing events, social media, internal and external communications and branding and positioning for SAP Digital.
The SAP Commerce Cloud portfolio enables personalization through context-driven services, a cloud-native add-on that delivers insights through the capture and analysis of data.