Podcast S2E4: GDPR and Evolution of the Data Marketer

Podcast S2E4: GDPR and Evolution of the Data Marketer


Today’s conversation is a bit more of a strategic outlook on what this major tectonic change in privacy laws might mean for marketing overall, and our guest is Peter Bell, Senior Director of Marketing at Marketo EMEA.

Peter Bell is an experienced executive with deep knowledge of the software industry and online media and over 25 years in marketing contributing to the success of some of the most recognizable global product brands. His specialty is understanding key market trends and developments and identifying the strategic implications to current products and services. An early pioneer in the PC & Internet sector, Peter’s early roles were in technology, a passion and skillset that are more relevant to marketing than ever. Currently, Peter leads Marketo‘s marketing in EMEA.

Topics covered:
– Privacy laws and direct impact on marketing
– How to engage with your customers and create lasting trust
– Using data to be relevant
– From compliance to better marketing
– Using data to be relevant

Download Marketo Marketing Post-GDPR: Two Tribes of Marketers report here: www.marketo.com/analyst-and-other-reports/the-two-tribes-of-marketing-marketing-post-gdpr-research-report/

For more information and details on GDPR regulation, go to www.eugdpr.org.


In our previous GDPR-related podcasts, we focused more on the regulation itself and some of the specific implications to marketers in our field. Today’s conversation is a bit more of a strategic outlook on what this major tectonic change in privacy laws might mean for marketing overall, and our guest is Peter Bell, Senior Director of Marketing at Marketo EMEA.

Peter Bell is an experienced executive with deep knowledge of the software industry and online media and over 25 years in marketing contributing to the success of some of the most recognizable global product brands. His specialty is understanding key market trends and developments and identifying the strategic implications to current products and services. An early pioneer in the PC & Internet sector, Peter’s early roles were in technology, a passion, and skillset that are more relevant to marketing than ever. Currently, Peter leads Marketo‘s marketing in EMEA.

Tectonic Changes in Privacy Laws Have a Direct Impact on Marketing and What It Means to Be a Marketer

Inga:           Welcome Peter.

Peter:         Thank you.

Inga:           It’s good to have you; I was actually really looking forward to speaking with you. And I know we started the conversation because I read your ‘‘Two Tribes of Marketing’ white paper, which I will ask you about of course I think it would make sense to open with it. But also it’s interesting that as soon as I asked you about it, one of the first things that came up in the conversation was ‘permission marketing’.

Peter:         Occasionally, you pick up a book which just stays with you throughout your career, and it wasn’t actually the ‘Permission Marketing’ book of Seth’s that first caught my eye for him as an author, it was ‘All Marketers Are Liars’. And I actually occasionally use that book as a prop because it’s quite provocative, it’s a great device for getting people to put the phones down and wonder hey what is this guy going to say next, he’s just called all marketers liars.

But there was a lot of truth in that original book, and permission-based marketing it’s perhaps more current and more relevant now than it was in 1999. 1999 if you’re old enough to think back, was all about TV, out of home, cinema and radio advertising, and broadcast. There was no two-way dialogue, there was no Facebook, there was no Twitter, no Instagram, and the Internet as we think of it just barely existed. So I think it has more relevance now, and I think it’s a fabulous narrative for marketers today.

Inga:           And when you said this is the moment in time, there is something very important changing, happening right now it is a huge opportunity for every marketer out there.. can you talk a little bit about the two tribes of marketing and why now, what happened, why is there that divide and why permission marketing is alive again?

Peter:         Yes, so the two tribes report came out of, it was some original research we conducted in April just before the GDPR went into force in Europe. And I’d done quite a little bit of content production, content creation for our customers, how to use our product line at Marketo in the context of GDPR. So it’s a subject I knew well and have a background in privacy and data escrow and handling sensitive data, so it’s a topic close to my heart. And as the deadline loomed, we started asking ourselves questions around the office, you know, I wonder what consumer perceptions are, I wonder what business perception really is, because all of the discussion and narrative around GDPR was frankly just on the mechanics of the law, you need to do this and this you need to opt in or do you need to double opt-in and there’s a very dry technical discussion.

So we decided to do some primary research and we surveyed 3,000 consumers across Europe and three hundred businesses, to understand not their understanding of the technicalities of the law but their attitudes towards it. And the big reveal for us was the clear split which GDPR had created within marketers in Europe and it’s a cultural split, it was split almost down the middle 45-55 and 55% are what we came to term as marketing-first. Marketing-firsts as in they viewed this as an opportunity to do better marketing, but the other half of the audience that were surveyed just came out, they came back with a legal-first mentality so it was all about being compliant.

Okay, what’s the minimum I have to do to be compliant and stay out of trouble, they hadn’t taken the opportunity say what can I do to take this opportunity, to raise the bar on my marketing and engage with my customers. And in thinking of a title for the report we came to two tribes because we do literally have two tribes within marketing, those seizing the opportunity to be better marketers and those simply seeking to be compliant.

Inga:           This is the time when for the first time marketers have a choice, I think you said ‘hey every marketer was told to buy a list and send an email’, which doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Silicon Valley, your experience you work with the US companies, with the UK companies, you work with companies across the globe, it just doesn’t work. And, perhaps, some countries were a bit ahead and had to make the changes early on, but now we’re making changes globally.

GDPR sort of created this wave of now you have to make a choice which tribe you want to belong to and how you are going to do that. So what are the main things that you think those from the culture of marketing first companies, what do you think was different about those marketers and why did they take that approach, is their belief, inspiration, were they forced to do that, or is it desire to be a better marketer?

The 50/50 Split of The Two Tribes of Marketers: Marketing-First vs Legal-First

Peter:         It’s probably a combination of all of those things, we know that from the research that those marketers were more likely to have invested in technology, in the marketing first tribe, they were much more likely to have sat down with sales and redefined processes, and generally they were much more optimistic about their ability to deliver against their key metrics So they’d viewed it as a turning point if you will, and of course this is not just Europe we see similar legislation coming in well, already in place in fact if you take CASL in Canada or the Anti-Spam act in Australia and ironically the California Consumer Privacy Act. So in the very back yard of Silicon Valley we’re seeing a response to consumer and legislature frustration with poor marketing practices.

So it was interesting to see that half of us are saying okay this is our time, we will make the investments, we will make the business case, and we’ll use this opportunity of legal compliance and to get the investment perhaps we’ve been asking for for some time. Whereas sadly for about half a market it was like let’s just get through this, let’s minimize it and move on and just hopefully do things as we did, which again, in the data of the report it shows candidly that they are much less likely to be successful.


Turning Strangers Into Friends

Inga:           Interesting. And I wanted to tell you that when we were preparing for GDPR, we had a package that we’ve installed for several clients and I predicted, geographically perhaps there would be more interest industry wise, vertical wise that would be more interest. And actually no, in my experience the packages that we have installed (we started with CASL some time ago) but it actually was sought after and installed by the marketers from the marketing first tribe, they wanted to either become a third leader in fact a few companies created their own GDPR Center and Resource Packs for their customers and they wanted to make sure that they knew it in and out.

It was real pleasure to work with those because I felt that those were the marketers that look to turn strangers into friends, to use Seth’s terminology and really dug into every detail of our package to understand what and how it works from technology perspective, but what does that mean for their customers and it’s funny that if we generated additional leads from our customers who installed GDPR and then told about it to their customers. And I’m still kind of trying to compare, there were a lot of conferences I went to and asked marketers what are you doing for GDPR, and the answer often was (probably from the other tribe), ‘my Legal took care of it’. And if you work with marketing automation you definitely know that’s not enough and it’s not enough probably from a couple of perspectives, here we’re talking about GDPR and something specific but you and I agree that this conversation is going to be not how-to but more so strategic, and I think it poses a question what should we do differently and how.

And it goes back to your point about consumers being skeptical, in today’s world they feel that they get too many emails, too many calls that they don’t want or they’re not relevant or they’re not at the right time, and they feel that… there’s a really good book another good book ‘In Your Face Marketing’ in the US about how loud marketing can be annoying. So I think from a strategic point of view, this is such an opportunity to not only to stop emailing or stop marketing to certain people, but also start doing things differently, thoughtfully, to leverage data in a better way, to really create personalized messages to what I call create a conversation. Like you and I we’re talking about something that’s relevant to us and I’m really looking forward to your opinion, much like if you create marketing that is welcomed, subscribe to, anticipated, the Prospect or Customer will complain if they don’t receive it as opposed to us bombarding them with messages that hopefully will get through and hopefully they’ll buy one day, I honestly believe it no longer works regardless which country you’re in.

Peter:         Yes I agree, and let’s get some quick statistics and I promised you I wouldn’t overload us with statistics but these ones are worth sharing, and this is from the consumer side of the research. Look the headline is simple consumers are very skeptical, 67% of respondents and so this is 3,000 consumers said that they get too many unsolicited marketing calls and contacts from companies they know. So this is companies they’re willing to hold a relationship with maybe transact with, but in 67% cases they’re just seeing too much email or too much retargeting because this is not just about email. A similar statistic 72% get too many unsolicited marketing calls and contacts from companies they don’t know, so it creeps up. But this is the killer statistic for me, which is 83% percent of respondents felt that ‘companies would find a way to work around the new data regulation to continue marketing to me’.

And this phrase marketing to me I think captures a lot of what’s wrong and what we need to do differently, no one wants to be marketed to, if you give me a checkbox on a form and you said ‘do you want to be marketed to?’ I wouldn’t check that box, whereas if it said would you like us to ‘engage’ you on things you’re interested in? Yes, everyone wants to be engaged in things that are interesting to them. And it’s this mindset and it starts with this for me which is stop marketing to people and start engaging people, and you will see a lift in responses. But if you just want a practical thing, a really practical thing if 675 of people are saying you’re over communicating to them, then take a look at your email unsubscribes and frankly if it’s anything above half of a percent then you need to look at frequency and lower your frequency, if we just get practical for a moment, because whilst this is a higher level conversation this translates directly in the day-to-day marketing operational tactics.

Inga:           I think you mentioned if your unsubscribe is over half a percent you’re sending too much, right? That’s very clear.

Peter:         Yes.

How to Engage with Your Customers and Create Lasting Trust

Inga:           And it could be kind of back to our conversation, it could be that it’s in the wrong channel, it could be also the wrong thing going to this person, it’s not only the cadence it’s a combination of all of the above.

Peter:         Yes agreed, I mean the message you could communicate with perfect cadence to me, but if it’s a product for which I have no need or it’s a product which I’m simply not in market for, it amazes me. We all have these consumer examples and I’m going to use a consumer example here, but it applies to B2B just as much as it applies to B2C. But if I’ve just bought a white good of some type a refrigerator or a cooker or something like that, and I pretty much buy everything online. I was one of the earliest adopters of internet shopping probably, so I’m a through and through internet shopper, I know every size and measurement for clothing, I can buy with confidence, I will buy anything to save me going to the High Street.

If I buy a new refrigerator or anytime someone did, I can almost guarantee I’ll get an email within a month offering me the same product, and this is a product I had hoped will last ten years, and it just illustrates this point which you touch on, which is look, it has to be the right message, and the cadence needs to be right but it has to be the right message. And you mentioned earlier we have to use the data we have to much greater effect, and the companies who do that and we all have our examples, and unfortunately they tend to be the same small number of companies because today they are the exception, but for me three companies really engage me, there’s the ubiquitous Amazon, the simple truth is I’m buying there for convenience they’re not always the cheapest, but they have the best delivery options, they have great reverse logistics if I need to return something. I just really trust them in terms of they’re creating great convenience for me I value. Netflix you know Netflix use the channels of communication really well, they don’t really use email to nudge me into using their product more a new TV series, whether it relates to something else I’ve watched. And perhaps one a little more local to Europe that I think have broken into the U.S. is Nespresso, they have very light touch marketing and I continue to be a customer, I’m on my third machine and what saddens me is this shouldn’t be the exception, we shouldn’t be here talking about this because this is how we should all work with B2C or B2B, but most people cite similar examples because they are the exception. But it can be done.

Inga:           I’m actually drinking Nespresso as we speak.

Peter:         There we go.

Using Data to Be Relevant

Inga:           I really like that you used the phrase I trust them, and it’s a great convenience to me. And of course pardon me I come from the world of marketing automation and CRM that has great data and we know how to use it, but I think if I may say so there is no excuse for marketers today to not to be personal, to not to be relevant and to not to ask their prospects and customers about how often they would like to receive communications. We have great technologies at hand that allow for us to understand, let me call it digital body language, we’re really we can even infer with a greater intelligence rather than just beating on, let’s call them leads, that’s what they are in a system, beating on leads hoping that they would buy.

I think that coming back to your inspiring message that you can say no to bad marketing and to bad practice, and you can leverage things available to you, learn about capabilities that are in front of your fingertips to be more intelligent about how you communicate, it’s almost like creating that conversation and the word I trust them is of great convenience to me. Don’t come because they asked you to trust them, but it came from a particular practice that you found worked for you, you didn’t find it annoying and you found it useful, of great service to you and convenience.

Peter:         As the English would say I have a dog in this race. The thing I would add is we need to apply intelligently, with the technology we all have to hand and I’d hope it would be Marketo technology, but whatever technology you’re using, we have an infinite ability to communicate with customers, there’s an abundance of display media we’re talking about advertising, we’re not restrained in the way that TV is in terms of fixed amount of inventory, we can send as much email as we want. If I had a time machine, I would go back and I would charge a penny to send an email, imagine the change that would have had over our culture over the last 20 years or so, if it just cost a penny or a fraction of a penny to send an email.

But I don’t have a time machine so looking forward, what we’ve got to understand is we all have as consumers, whether that’s as a consumer as a true consumer or as a consumer in business in our professional lives, we only have a finite attention span it’s quite famously falling and we all know that narrative, but once we pass that attention span then it’s just white noise and you’re just alienating yourself. So it’s a question of using the data to power the technology intelligently, and you earn that trust and it is earned its easily lost, it’s hard fought to earn it but once you have it, you have quite a special relationship with your customer.

Inga:           I think you mentioned also data quality, why do you think the quality of the data is important, it’s not just having the data but having the right data? I guess they say there’s data, bad data, and then there’s statistics.

Peter:         Yes, hold on there’s another one lies, damn lies and statistics, and we’re not talking statistics here, and this is a long-standing problem, it would be a probably maybe ten years ago when I was working on the publisher side and digital advertising, we benchmarked third-party cookie pools just on what was the quality bar for male-female and age, so age and gender if we found in less than half of the cases it was 42-43% were these two variables correct. So I could be misidentified and more often than not as an under 21 year old female, which you’ve met me, but for everyone else you could probably tell by the voice that’s not me.

And that’s a pretty terrible state of affairs and the reasons for one of my skepticism towards sort of third-party cookie pools, and taking DMPs and then filling them with third party cookie pools because they’re highly perishable, and the quality is quite questionable. So I place a lot of value from that experience on first party data, it is for me whatever company I’m working in or running I would regard first party data that I collect and hold on behalf of my customers and prospects, as probably one of the key strategic assets of the company. And it’s the antithesis of sales being behind the number at the end of a quarter and marketing being told to hey go buy a list and send some email because the list is always terrible, and the message is not relevant and all the things that we were talking about sort of kick in and nothing happens as a consequence.

And frankly you do this with enough time then your data becomes terrible and yet you just simply not in a great place, as opposed to investing over time strategically in the data you’re holding, building that data. Only holding the data you need and for the purposes intended etc. as GDPR and CASL and other things would set out, and obviously treating with great care ensuring it’s secure.

Telling Great Stories and Regaining Trust of the Consumer

Inga:           Yes, I have CEO in my title and therefore I get about five or more emails a day offering to set up a call for today, imagine how relevant, timely or interesting it is to me. Most certainly myself or my executive assistant takes the time to report spam and there you go, so they don’t work. I want to ask you, I really like that conversation and in preparation for this and I want to ask you about kind of regaining the trust of the consumer B2B or B2C buyer it doesn’t matter, as well as you talk about telling great stories, can you share a little bit insight into what does that mean to tell great stories as a marketer, and what can we do differently to regain that trust?

Peter:         The first step is the hardest and not to sound too clichéd, now I’m going to go back to Amazon because I speak about it personally and it applies to me personally. If you go back and look at Amazon, the simple truth in their story is one of great convenience and almost everything from friends who work there and my experience as a customer of theirs, it comes back to this simple truth that they are creating convenience for me, yes the price competitive and other things but almost every aspect of their business when you step back and look at it critically talks to yes customer first but customer first in the sense of great inconvenience.

And too many companies especially in B2B actually don’t really understand they’re under owned underlying purpose, and let me bring it to Marketo marketing automation provider and that’s all we do, our purpose is simple we are here to serve marketers and that informs every choice large or small, but as I travel around the world and speak to various companies and various industries and geographies, people really struggle with this simple first-hand question what’s the purpose of your company? What’s that underlying truth? Because all stories start with that and all storytelling starts with that and if you don’t know what it is it’s difficult to sustain this overtime or even do it in the first instance.

And things like authenticity fall away, they become short term, employees don’t necessarily embrace it and believe in it because it doesn’t have a truth, so for me it starts with that truth if you can find your truth then things are much easier. Take Microsoft mild employer, a PC on every desk and on every home and in 1975 that sounded ridiculous and audacious in equal measure, but it informed everything pretty much that Microsoft did over the following years and again it’s just a great example where it it’s clarifying and for a better way of putting it keeps you honest.

Inga:           So these authentic stories are required, you have to find sort of the truth of the brand and speak from that place not from a made-up story?

Peter:         Correct, otherwise people see through it and it’s simply not authentic, and then you lose your way and before you know it you’re producing irrelevant content. And by the way in a 2017 survey that we did which is global with I think about 6,000 respondents, irrelevant content was the number one reason customers said they would not engage with a brand, and to your personal example of your inbox they’re not taking a moment to understand you, your role and leading with that, instead they’re asking you for your time without first establishing what they’re going to use that time for.

Now that’s a different problem which could be more easily solved in terms of start the conversation at the right point, not halfway through but I suspect some of those people you were referring to are skipping it because they haven’t answered these fundamental questions.

From Compliance to Better Marketing

Inga:           Precisely, I wanted to mention, of course compliance we started with compliance and GDPR, CASL has been around for a while we’ve installed quite a few CASL packages but it was a very interesting conversation onsite with a client post implementation, so we’re talking about what all needs to be done and CASL is like GDPR has its own very specific requirements, CASL has its own and one of the comments we got was this is really complicated, we thought we were in good shape but this is a lot more than we imagined. And I said yes of course but we made it easy for you, we automated it because we have Marketo we can do that, we thought through every single thing we could possibly make easier for clients but this is interesting I had the people in the room, so we had about 20 people in the room marketers from different teams and I had them change their hat.

First, the comment came in and said ‘okay this is really complicated, this is annoying we have to do all this’, but then I said and we implemented it a few months after CASL went live, and I said but don’t you think this will make your marketing work better now that you don’t email or don’t market to those who are not interested in your marketing, your actual engagement rates and I’m not using open I’m using your terminology engagement rates, your engagement rates should be much higher, wouldn’t you be excited to see that? And of course I got the answer ‘yes, we would be excited to see that’, and I said but what about you as consumers, tell me what has been your experience in the last few months in terms of receiving spam email?

So they immediately switched their roles from marketers who have to do their job to consumers who are on the receiving end of this, and they said ‘actually it’s been very nice because we have considerably less spam in our email’. Considerably less spam. ‘And the things we receive are interesting’. I hope that GDPR is going to impact the same way, I actually have an ambition for GDPR to change the way we think about marketing not just regionally in the UK and EU, but really kind of create that wave and inspire marketers to be in their marketing first clan, not in their legal first tribe.

Peter:         Yeah, look and just a quick comment to interject there, if you take all of the legislation we’ve passed reference to where GDPR really is really the granddaddy of them all, it’s by far away the larger piece of legislation. This is a terrific mandate to do better marketing, it gives us the ultimate retort to buy a list which is just if you haven’t figured my just be the worst thing that can happen to me in any given day which is being asked to buy a list, and it has happened recently. But it’s a terrific mandate and I don’t know we’ll get this mandate again and it’s our choice whether we take it, and compliance is necessary but it’s not sufficient to help your business grow and let me explain what I mean by that, if you want a seed to germinate water is necessary but you also need nutrients, you need light, you may need other things as well as water.

And compliance in its own right which is what concerns me about the legal first tribe are missing this important point, whereas the marketing first tribe have understood this, yes it’s necessary and it’s perhaps complex but we’ll find a way through it and having found a way through it gives them a mandate and then they get to bring in the other things which enable them to grow their businesses and be a part of that success. Like it really is a wonderful mandate and a real opportunity for us but we do have to take it.

Inga:           I agree with you and it’s actually exciting. With that sort of inspiration message as we conclude the strategy conversation today, what are the three-five things that you recommend this marketer is listening to the conversation they go back, what should they do? What should they look at? In whatever level executive, marketer who is executing marketing operations person, what can we go back to work tomorrow, what can we do differently?

Peter:         I’d summarize along two lines, the first is, review of your content is it relevant, your channel are using the right channels to communicate, I may prefer email, you may prefer social media vice-versa. Is it the right channel, and then we touched on cadence. So just from a straight delivery standpoint it would be those three things, but then in terms of the content itself it’s simple: keep it personal, keep it interesting, keep it relevant, and be authentic otherwise as we’re talking earlier about following your company’s truth, you have to find that in order to be authentic and everything else gets much easier. But I would close by saying one thing which is, this idea of permission marketing has been around for 20 years, let’s make it happen now.

Inga:           Like you I look forward to this next iteration of marketing to the opportunities open to us, even if they come with challenges. And thank you so much for sharing your opinion Peter.

Peter:         Thank you and thank you for the time today.
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Download Marketo Marketing Post-GDPR: Two Tribes of Marketers report here: www.marketo.com/analyst-and-other-reports/the-two-tribes-of-marketing-marketing-post-gdpr-research-report/

For more information and details on GDPR regulation, go to www.eugdpr.org.


Read more on GDPR at romanoffconsultants.com/gdpr