Digital Marketing Is Now Just Marketing: 7 Takeaways from Calvin Klein’s CMO on Google Marketing Live

Digital Marketing Is Now Just Marketing: 7 Takeaways from Calvin Klein’s CMO on Google Marketing Live

Marie Gulin-Merle, Calvin Klein’s chief marketing officer and PVH’s chief digital officer, talked with Google Marketing Live on the topic: “Welcome to the end of digital marketing.”

She believes we’re now in an era where digital marketing is just marketing.

The way people choose or prefer a brand has changed dramatically over the past 5-10 years. Every industry is going through massive change. There is no exception. Brands have to adapt.

Below are my seven takeaways that I believe small business owners and marketers should take note of from a big brand in the trenches.

1. It’s misleading to talk about traditional marketing and digital marketing. It’s just marketing now.

Digital marketing is traditional marketing now because of the evolving habits of consumers. Consumers don’t differentiate between traditional forms of marketing and digital ones. You research online, buy online and offline, but you have your mobile with you throughout the journey.

Calling it digital marketing creates silos within companies instead of infusing tech, digital and data at the core of everything you do.

2. The consumer journey has three pivotal traction points.

  • Discovery & Research The first traction point is the discovery/research phase. Gulin-Merle says one stat to keep front of mind is that 50 percent of ALL online purchases (across industries) start with online research, like reading reviews. This behavior is known as ROPO (research online, purchase offline).  

  • Peer-to-Peer Advocacy The second traction point is peer-to-peer advocacy. This isn’t new, but it’s become increasingly important. The fact is you are going to trust brands when the recommendation comes from other consumer or influencer or advocate.

  • Anywhere, Everywhere, Whenever, WhereverThe third traction point is that consumers want to buy anywhere, everywhere, whenever, wherever. And you have to be there. Gulin-Merle says 50 percent of sales are now digitally influenced across industries. Forrester reports to Retail Dive that 58 percent of U.S. retail sales will be digitally impacted by 2023.

3. Focus on four ways to keep customers engaged:

  • First, keep acquiring. Make your focus on creating new leads constantly.

  • Second, focus on getting the second purchase, not just the first.

  • Third, focus on cross selling or deep selling.

  • Lastly, go deeper into loyalty. Focus on preventing churn and increasing retention of existing customers.

Gulin-Merle says if your job is marketing, your job is to marry and combine the above four use cases all the time.

4. You need constant content optimization.

Digital content optimization allows you to know what works best. Gulin-Merle says consumers “connect with a brand but at the end of the day, they buy a product.” To that end, there are two types of content to focus on:

  • Hero Content (her term) – This content is how consumers connect to the bigger brand values.

  • Flow Content (my term) – Gulin-Merle says the second kind is an “always on flow of content.” This is high volume, high velocity with a high degree of personalization and differentiation.

The pace for developing a story is no longer the same, she says. Legacy brands used to take a few months to develop a few images. They now have to come up with stories on a daily basis. The lead time has forced marketers to know what the brand stands for and create optimized content every day on the fly.

Based it all on the same DNA but with more volume. And keep in mind: consumer behavior keeps evolving, so it’s important you get real time information.

5. Measure the ROR: the “return on relevance.”

With so many consumer touch points, the importance of being relevant cannot be overstated. There’s so much competition how to use personalization that this is a gapping measurement.

“We measure brand lift or sales lift; we rarely measure the return on relevance,” she says.

The ROR is a combination of metrics: engagement, past behaviors, conversion.

She said we have to be able to measure if we actually provided the right content to the right consumer at the right time, calling it the “north star in everything we do.”

6. Tech is essential, but so is our humanity.

Marketers remain very much human, she says. We have a lot of intuition. Tech, automation and AI helps us identify patterns of what works what doesn’t work. But ultimately you need human beings to make sense of the data.

Intuition is augmented by data and tech. Great marketers will know how to use tech the best, adding “creative teams cannot be afraid of tech.”

“At the end of the day marketing is about ideas,” she affirms.

7. You have to have an ecosystem of partners. You can’t do this alone.

Big brands aren’t the only ones expanding who they’re working with to create effective marketing campaigns.

Gulin-Merle says you have to have teams with areas speciality and experience all working on common metrics and common goals.

She describes it as building the plane as you’re flying it. Her job is to make sure her team doesn’t get too dizzy or overwhelmed while doing it.

She also outlined the importance of short-term and long-term goals.

She designs three-month wins as well as six-month achievements and 12-month achievements. She says teams need to envision what the promised land is going to be like but also what tomorrow is going to be like–and doing it at the same time.

Finally, she offered a personal mantra that’s kept her innovative over her 20 years in the business.

Her first mentor at work advised her:

“Come to work like it’s your first day.”

Don’t ever get comfortable or think you know everything, Gulin-Merle says. The more you grow, the more you have to listen to new generation and really practice the muscles of curiosity and humility.

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