Cloudwords CMO: Marketing is returning to the human element

Localisation and translation technology vendor's chief marketing officer talks art versus science and how personalisation and localisation are bringing things back full circle

Cloudwords CMO, Heidi Lorenzen
Cloudwords CMO, Heidi Lorenzen

Marketing is coming full circle and back to the human element even as technology adds new data insight, cross-channel and globalisation capabilities to a CMO’s arsenal.

That’s the view of Cloudwords chief marketing officer, Heidi Lorenzen, who caught up with CMO following the release of the company’s new localisation and translation management solution for marketers.

She claims one of the first things the marketing technology revolution did is bring marketing out of the “art” and into the “science”.

“For CMOs, it made things measurable, and meant marketers had to do less tap dancing in the quarterly business review meetings because you could point to real numbers,” she says. “It got to the point marketers were measuring just because we could without yield necessarily.

“Today, you hear a lot of dialogue about building relationships with people, personalisation and those things. It’s come full circle back to the human element and the art. But having technology facilitating those efforts allows marketers to keep their eye on the bigger picture of what they’re trying to do.”

Lorenzen agrees, however, that the marketing technology landscape today is a bewildering array of platforms, cloud apps and software promises. “There will be consolidation – you see a lot of little companies entering this space,” she adds.

Language bent

Lorenzen has a wealth of insight on the role technology plays in being a CMO, particularly on a global stage. After studying East Asian culture and international management at college, she commenced her professional career working for a PR agency in Taiwan, then spent nearly eight years with Business Week magazine in the strategic marketing group.

Lorenzen’s first foray into the tech space was with Polycom in Singapore, a role that led her back to her home town, California. From there, she joined Interwoven and was on the team when the enterprise technology vendor was acquired by Autonomy, now a part of HP.

Cloudwords is her first “real startup”, Lorenzen says.

“Working for a startup is a different experience, as you are forced to look holistically at what you’re trying to accomplish as a marketer, and what will have the biggest impact, and where putting your resources will move the needle,” Lorenzen continues.

“You can see where you’re getting to but sometimes there are moments when you just want to have done that. You just have to be patient.”

As Lorenzen explains it, Cloudwords is a marketing globalisation platform that takes a brand’s content assets and campaigns and translates those into the local languages needed in order to reach global markets.

The outsourced language services and translation technology market is expected to be worth US$37.19 billion this year, according to Common Sense Advisory research, and is growing at an annual rate of just over 6 per cent. As proof of the industry’s ongoing expansion, one of Cloudwords’ competitors, Smartling, recently raised US$25 million in capital funding to accelerate its growth.

But unlike other content translation industry products, Cloudwords also aims to tackle the process management challenges marketers face in delivering campaigns and activities on a world stage. The company was founded in 2010 by one of the original architects at, Scott Yancey, and is both marketing and translation vendor agnostic.

“One of our co-founders [Michael Meinhardt] was from the globalisation industry, and noted that clients were asking for a cheaper rate per word, but were also struggling with the scale, disorganisation and lack of visibility across all their activities,” Lorenzen says.

Cloudwords fits into the marketing technology stack in two ways. One is as the content globalisation tool that integrates directly with Web content management systems as well as marketing automation platforms such as Marketo and Eloqua. It extracts the content, sends it out to translation and puts it back into whatever format the marketer wants it in.

But translation is just a “last mile” problem, Lorenzen says. The second job Cloudwords sets out to do is treat global marketing as a business process and workflow to be optimised and automated, she says. As an example, she pointed to customer, PowerIntegrations, which has stated that it reduced localisation cycle times by a third to even a half by using the platform.

“Part of the problem is companies and marketers have thought about globalisation relating to content as the translation piece, as opposed to stepping back and thinking about it as a business process,” Lorenzen claims. “Business hasn’t kept up with the opportunity.”

Cloudwords’ latest offering, Campaign Manager, provides marketers with that single pane of glass to view all elements of multi-channel, multi-system, multilingual campaigns, programs and initiatives.

“Say for example you’re working on a global product launch,” Lorenzen says. “In order to do that, Web pages need to be made ready in all languages, as well as collateral, email campaigns need to be teed up to go and whatever else as part of the campaign. It’s not even digital specific.

“Most marketers default to a decentralised approach because there’s so much to manage. The disadvantage of having it too decentralised is not getting the efficiencies or consistencies of brand message.

“The flip side of that when you’re in the field, is that you need to do whatever you need to do to get the job done and you’ll go rogue against corporate if you need to. This platform gives a local marketer the flexibility to do what they need to do yet still have that corporate view.”

Being a CMO

Given her background, it’s not surprising Lorenzen rates a global perspective as an important skill for CMOs to have today. “I have been surprised by how many strong marketers in very senior positions don’t think globally. That holds a company back,” she claims.

The second key skill on her list for modern marketing leaders is being adaptive and flexible.

“You can’t be someone who is comfortable with the status quo,” she says. “To be able to thrive on change, whether it’s technology change or cultural change, it’s about being very adaptable. Learning is so critical for marketers.”

Lorenzen’s third essential attribute is having the “perfect balance of leftbrain and right brain”.

“Yes, we are very technology enabled now and we have a lot of ability to measure and track what we are doing, but there is a reason you want to do that and it’s humans and people,” she says. “What motivates human beings are the emotional things, and things that hit the heart, not the mind. You have to have very creative tendencies as well as logical ones.

“I’ve seen that with executives where if they don’t have the data, you can’t do everything.”

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