B2B Marketing Zone

CMO Interview: An Inside Look at Marketing Trends

CMO Interview: An Inside Look at Marketing Trends

CMO Interview: An Inside Look at Marketing Trends

With the end of Q, some of the madness around here died down (temporarily). We tracked down our CMO, Kevin Bobowski, to pick his brain about current marketing trends, allocating resources for the perfect balance, and the future of marketing. Kevin’s been with Act-On since early 2015, and before that he held positions with ExactTarget, Offerpop and Webtrends. From demand generation to sales, from email to product marketing, he’s managed many functions of marketing and business operations. In short, the guy knows how things work. Let’s see what he has to say.

McKenzie Ingram: You’ve been in the marketing technology space for quite a few years now, what trends are you seeing?

Kevin Bobowski: I’ve been in the space now for about 15 years. I started in web analytics, I was in email marketing, and now I’m in the marketing automation space. And I think one of the strong trends these days is just the sheer number of marketing technology companies. Every marketer now has a whole suite of tools available to them to solve very specific problems across almost any aspect of marketing.

McKenzie: We’ve heard a lot about the “customer experience.” What does that mean to you as a CMO, and how should a marketer be thinking about that?

Kevin: Marketers, and the CMO specifically, are responsible for the brand. The brand is ultimately conveyed through a collection of touch points with the customer, and those collection of touch points ultimately drive the customer experience.

The marketer and the CMO really need to own the customer experience. They need to be thinking about all those different touch points that happen when company representatives talk and engage with the customer. Some of that may sit with marketing, some of it may sit with customer support, some of it may sit with the sales team, some of it may even sit with HR. But the entire customer experience, the collection of each of those touch points, needs to be owned by the marketing department.

McKenzie: As a CMO, how are you prioritizing all of your key initiatives? And how do you allocate resources to the different disciplines of marketing?

Kevin: I did a webinar recently with a couple of my old colleagues at ExactTarget who have all gone on to become CMOs. The really big question that we discussed is – “So you’ve got a bucket of dollars as a CMO, you’ve got resource and headcount that you can allocate, and you’ve got a lot of priorities – typically more priorities than you can do in a quarter or a year. So what do you focus on?”

So we discussed what our top three areas of focus were. And by and large it was:

  • how do you build brand awareness,
  • how do you drive demand, and
  • how do you feed sales?

I think to be a credible CMO, feeding sales has to be in your top three. I don’t think you can be a CMO today unless you’re committed to helping the sales team be successful, and also be focused around the customer experience.


McKenzie: So you’ve mentioned “Brand, Demand, Expand” a few times – would you call this a strategy, or a shift in resources? How would you define it?

Kevin: To me, it’s a good reminder to make sure as a marketer you’re thinking about a balanced approach to marketing. You’re not just focused on acquisition marketing, you’re not just focused on building the brand, you’re not focusing just on customers, you’re thinking about all three.

Marketers need to be thinking more about lifetime value than just about the acquisition side. I’ve been really talking a lot about fighting “sloppy growth” – which is valuing volume over value. The focus there needs to be not just on getting people in the door, but making sure your customers are successful, making sure they are on boarded successfully, and making sure you can measure and maximize lifetime value.

McKenzie: So what I’m hearing from you is – don’t throw out the data-driven marketing strategy, but instead apply it to the entire lifecycle of marketing. Do you think that’s correct?

Kevin: That’s a great point. I keep referring back to Don Draper from Madmen and saying, “Okay, everybody keeps making him out to be this bad guy because he was a brand marketer.” I really think all of us need to be a little bit more like Don Draper in our marketing. To your point, I don’t think it’s diminishing the results or the work of the data-driven marketer. It’s just balancing effort and focus across the marketing portfolio, making sure the data-driven marketer is doing great work, but letting those data-driven marketing skills be used to help build brand awareness, or improve and increase customer lifetime value.

McKenzie: Do you have any final thoughts you want to leave us with?

Kevin: I think it’s a great time to be a marketer. There are so many great things happening in the marketplace. My parting thought is to make sure as a marketer you’re practicing “balanced marketing”. Consider how you carve out a marketing portfolio that builds a great brand, while you’re still driving demand, and filling the pipeline so your sales team can be successful – all while making sure your customers have an amazing experience.

And if you do that, I think you’re putting yourself on an incredible career path and trajectory. Those are very different skills. If you read about CEO succession and the qualities of a CEO, oftentimes people say the CMO is the most likely person to become the CEO because they have the widest range of general manager experience. Stay focused, keep balance on how you’re thinking about marketing, and great things will come.

McKenzie: I want to close by repeating something Kevin said that I totally agree with:  It’s a great time to be a marketer.

eBook: Rethink Marketing Automation

And if you’d like to learn more about the balance that Kevin talked about check out our new eBook: Rethink Marketing [Automation], which talks about how to use your automation platform across the three disciplines: brand, demand, and expand, making it easier to scale and integrate your efforts.


Nathan is a senior content strategist. copywriter, podcaster and video guy at Act-On Software; past director of SearchFest, owner of Content Hack, and co-founder of Trailhead Beer in PDX.