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E-Commerce Marketing Needs to Change, and Here’s Why — An Interview with the CINO

Holly Pels
Holly Pels , Senior Content Marketing Manager

With the launch of our new tool, Benchmarketing.io, we wanted to give you a closer look into the vision behind the tool. So we sat down with our CINO and founder, Hagai Hartman, to take a deeper look into why Benchmarketing and the new Emarsys E-Commerce Marketing Platform will be game changers for marketers.

Can you tell us a little about your position — the Chief Innovation Officer (CINO)?

As a founder of Emarsys, I’ve worked in all facets of the company. CEO, CMO, CPO, I’ve stepped into all of these roles to help align the company vision with the work we’re doing day to day. In doing that, I discovered that my biggest passion within this company was developing and driving innovation. I always want this company to innovate and be better than before, and by creating and stepping into this role, I can ensure we’re doing that.

What is Benchmarketing.io?

Benchmarketing.io is the next generation of benchmarking tools. It’s a new kind of benchmarking tool meant for strategic marketers, NOT just channel managers. Unlike other benchmarking tools that only give you access to operational and channel-specific KPIs, our tool gives you access to the strategic KPIs that make an immediate impact on your business. Not only open rates or click-through rates, but customer growth, profitability, and revenue.

Who can use Benchmarketing.io?

At the moment, Benchmarketing.io is only available for the e-commerce vertical at this time, so e-commerce CMOs, Marketing Directors, and Marketing Managers will find this tool most helpful. But we do have plans to release versions of this tool for other industries including retail and travel.

What was the vision behind Benchmarketing.io?

In my work as CINO, I’m always having conversations with our customers. And over the last two years, I’ve spoken with at least a hundred different marketers. And in all of our conversations, we kept coming back to the same pain point — they couldn’t convey their value to the organization.

With Benchmarketing, I wanted to give marketers the opportunity to show their value. I wanted to give them a new methodology for benchmarking in general. Benchmarking doesn’t have to only be about numbers, it can also be about generating ideas around things you could be doing.

So we not only help them identify KPIs that matter most to their e-commerce business, but we also help them identify ideas around what they should be doing on a strategic level. Being able to see what other e-commerce businesses are doing and how they measure the success of those strategies gives you a much more complete vision of a successful marketing strategy that can actually help them map their day-to-day marketing activities to business objectives.

Why do you think benchmarking is so important for e-commerce retailers?

When you think about being an asset as an employee, or your value, it often comes down to one thing — the success you’re having. And for marketing departments — in their current state — success looks a lot different to them than most of their counterparts. Success focuses on channel-specific KPIs, things like open rates and click-through rates, but the problem with these flat metrics is they give you no indication of how the business is performing or how marketing is impacting business performance. They’re not strategic KPIs; they’re operational.

A marketer could send an email that had a great open rate and performed really well from that perspective, but the email did nothing to help increase revenue from the business. And if that’s the case, was that email really a big win for the team? The answer should be no. This is a problem in the market and a big reason marketers can’t show their value.

Marketers should be pushing themselves to be better and they can do that by looking and comparing their results to the results of other successful marketers in their space. Not only that, but they should be looking at how those businesses are finding success — what strategies are helping them get there? This can be incredibly important for identifying areas of opportunity for success.

You mentioned strategic KPIs. What are the most important strategic KPIs for e-commerce retailers to be tracking right now?

As a marketer, you should be reporting on the metrics that support the CEO’s main objectives. These usually consist of revenue growth, customer growth, and profitability in the e-commerce space.

Using revenue growth as an example, marketers should be focused on delivering results and reporting on the strategic KPIs that support that metric like Lead to First-Time Buyers, Average Order Value, and Purchase Frequency. These are the KPIs that marketers can have the most effect on and should be of high priority to them.

Uncover the most strategic e-commerce KPIs:

How can marketers start using this new methodology for benchmarking and become a strategic asset to their organization?

First, they need to understand what strategies and KPIs their successful peers are using. If a company like yours is finding success with a certain strategy, you should stop to think about how it might affect your goals if you implemented it. That’s the glory of benchmarking — it shows you how other businesses like yours are doing, but can also give you ideas about strategies you can steal and implement yourself.

Second, you have to stop thinking only about tactics. Most marketers are so deep into tactics, they don’t realize how these tactics are even impacting their marketing strategies or objectives. They hear “we need an abandoned cart email,” and they don’t think twice about asking why. Why do we need this tactic? What is the goal? How does it fit into our overall strategy?

We need to reverse our thinking here. We should be thinking about the objectives we need to support and the strategies that can best impact those objectives. Again, if you know the CEO is super focused on showing revenue growth, start looking at the strategies that can best impact that. For example, we know Lead to First-Time Buyer is a strategy that when implemented correctly can have a positive effect on revenue. By focusing on increasing the number of leads converted to first-time buyers, you’ve identified a strategy and strategic KPI that actually aligns with business goals. From there, you can start to think about what tactics can play a part in improving the KPI of this strategy. This is where the execution of an abandoned cart email comes in, not before.

It should be less about tactics and more about the goals or objectives we’re trying to reach. Once we start to identify the objectives we want to affect, then we can focus on the strategy that best impacts each objective and, in turn, the tactics that can improve those results.

Finally, you have to have access to the right data. Without that, you’ll never be able to connect the work you’re doing to the important strategic KPIs of the business.

How can technology help solve these problems and give us access to the right data?

Benchmarketing.io is just the start of what the right data and the right tools can do for marketers. Our goal with Benchmarketing.io is to give marketers access to the strategic KPIs that really matter and let them see how they compare to other successful businesses in their industry. I’m not talking about open and click-through rates — these are important, but they’re not enough. Marketers also need access to see how other successful companies are performing with strategies like Lead to First-Time Buyers, Average Order Value, and Customer Lifetime Value. Using this data, they can start to identify opportunities, areas that need improvement and strategies they’re not implementing.

But we didn’t think that was enough. We want marketers to understand how they can easily connect these strategic KPIs to their everyday activities. That’s why we built the Advisor tab inside Benchmarketing.io. This shows marketers how they can connect high-level business objectives like revenue growth with the strategies that impact those metrics. Not only that, they can identify ready-to-implement tactics they can deploy.

Use the Advisor Tool in Benchmarketing free today

Can you tell us more about the Advisor tab within Benchmarketing.io?

As I’ve mentioned, Benchmarketing.io is more than just an index of metrics, it provides a methodology. It gives marketers a framework for defining what strategies you should be working on and allows you to see how other strategic marketers are performing with those strategies.

The Advisor tab allows marketers to see this methodology in action. After picking an objective, you can identify the strategies that most impact that objective and see how other businesses are doing executing that strategy. From there you can uncover the tactics that best support that strategy and begin to see how these metrics can be connected in your business.

In the tool, you’re able to select a high-level objective, like revenue growth, and then identify different strategies that directly impact that KPI. If you select revenue growth, it will show you different strategies, like optimizing Average Order Value or raising Customer Lifetime Value. After you select a strategy, you will then see the tactics that can help you improve your metrics around those strategies and ultimately improve your revenue goal.

This sounds a lot like the Strategic Dashboard in the new Emarsys e-commerce platform. Is it similar?

Yes, they are similar. The vision behind our new platform was to give marketers access to these strategic KPIs and make their lives easier by connecting the dots (and proving their worth) with ready-to-activate reports and tactics.

In doing the research for this, we realized how big of a market problem this was. Not just in technology, but in the tools marketers are using to assess themselves, like benchmarking reports and tools. We want to give marketers access to the data they need to start making those connections so they could identify the opportunities that best drive results for their business.

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