How one CMO is leading a data-driven marketing transformation

Marketing leader for Australian B2B software firm details how he's used technology, agility and executive sway to transform the marketing function

It’s one thing to want to be a data-driven marketing team, and quite another to make it a reality. But that’s what Kevin Ryder, VP of global marketing for Australian B2B software firm, IR, set out to accomplish when he joined the organisation in November 2013.

In announcing his appointment, the company tasked Ryder with the biggest marketing shake-up in IR’s 25-year history. These ambitions are part of a four-pillar, five-year strategic plan launched by IR CEO, Darc Rasmussen, aimed at driving growth.

To achieve this, Ryder has led a raft of transformative initiatives within and outside the marketing function, including a brand refresh, customer engagement programs, organisational and structural change, technology overhaul and wider collaborations with sales teams.

The glue binding these efforts together is data. According to Ryder, he’s employed a four-step process to transform the marketing function into a data-led one, a decision triggered by the need to better measure the impact of marketing activity in terms that are meaningful to the rest of the business, such as increased revenue and customer satisfaction.

“When I joined IR, I found it difficult to determine the success of our marketing programs as the data was not reliable, so a transformation was needed to address everything from the technology that we used through to the way that marketing engaged with the sales teams,” he told CMO.

As a first step, Ryder set himself the goal of having the right people in place and the data and technology-led foundations set before launching the new company brand, which took place 12 months later.

A key skillset needed was a detailed understanding of the way different marketing technology applications interact with each other, he said. For example, given the software business IR is in, the marketing automation system needed to communicate with the company’s CRM and licensing databases for a holistic customer view.

“Errors can be very costly, so I felt it was important to have these skills in-house,” Ryder explained.

As a result, IR recruited a marketing operations manager to manage marketing’s core and specialist applications, as well as be the liaison point with the IT department. New digital skillsets have also been brought into the team.

“The cloud has enabled us to be more agile and quickly try out new technology with minimal capital investment or impact on our internal IT,” Ryder continued. “Business unit ownership of technology is increasing but it is important we communicate with the central IT team and involve them in our decisions.”

Other technologies brought in to assist marketing have included social tracking software, analytics tools and personalisation capabilities. IR also invested in data cleansing initiatives and tools integration.

Sales alignment is another important component from an operational perspective, and the integration of customer management platforms has provided the foundation needed to bring marketing and sales even closer together, Ryder said.

As a result, IR could then deliver new and engaging content aligned to the buyer’s journey – a shift from technical specifications and stock library photos to storytelling using creative animation, he said.

In addition, it’s important to have a team that is “genuinely curious and eager to try out new and innovative ideas”, Ryder said. To foster this test-and-learn culture, IR has introduced agile methods to change how IR explores new marketing ideas.

“The team understands that if they don’t fail, they are not trying hard enough,” he added.

Helping Ryder obtain executive buy-in for the marketing overhaul, as well as investment into the platforms, analytics tools and personalisation technologies required to achieve this, has been a wider company culture driven by data.

“IR’s products are used to monitor and analyse millions of financial transactions and voice and video calls globally every day, so data-driven decision marking is a part of the DNA of the company and this applies to the way we run our own business as well,” he said.

“I have been able to get the investment required by linking it back to tangible outcomes. It also helps to have a CEO and board of directors that understands the value of marketing.”

Thanks to efforts to date, IR’s marketing function is operating using data in real-time with more informed decisions for greater customer engagement and increased ROI, Ryder claimed. Results include a significant increase in customer satisfaction, a 127 per cent increase in marketing generated revenue, and a 110 per cent increase in marketing generated pipeline.

“Customers now feel that IR is engaging with them as a trusted advisor and they value the information that is shared,” he said.

More widely, the company’s strategic transformation has seen both revenue and profit targets exceeded.

While Ryder is confident he has a great team and culture in place, he noted the transformation process isn’t something that can be undergone and then forgotten.

“While we have made enormous strides forward, the digital landscape is constantly changing so we continue to learn and evolve,” he added. “This is what makes marketing such an exciting place to be at the moment.”

Kevin Ryder was selected as one of CMO’s inaugural CMO50 for 2015. You can read his full profile, including further details on his marketing transformation efforts, in our CMO50 portal.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook:, or check us out on Google+:

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

People in vegan houses shouldn't throw bacon

Picture this. You’re at a Gourmerican burger joint chomping a cheeseburger, when an outspoken vegan friend starts preaching that you’re killing the planet. Last week, that same vegan downed a pricey glass of pinot before their flight to a far-flung destination, armed with their strongest mossie repellant and first aid kit. Anything amiss?

Abbie Love

Strategist, Ikon Communications

The role of the CMO is evolving: Are you keeping up?

My (amazing) vacation in the Galapagos Islands earlier in the year got me thinking about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. What does this have to do with the role of today’s CMO, you ask? Plenty.

Sheryl Pattek

Vice-president, executive partner

Getting your business ready for the Entrepreneurial Consumer

We all know the digital revolution has completely transformed the way consumers are interacting with brands, and that a lot of businesses are finding it hard to catch up. One way to closing this brand gap is to understand consumer behaviour and build a brand experience that meets these new needs.

Pip Stocks

CEO and founder, BrandHook


Kerry Edwards

Open Colleges taps into social for better student interaction

Read more

Or just go to sites like www.shopsthatshiptoaustralia.c... and others and be sure that the stores will send to where you live :-)


Why online shopping is like dating – RedBalloon CEO

Read more

Personalisation is the key. Customers demand a very relatable and well defined CX where the sincerity and understanding of their disposit...

Hitesh Parekh

In pictures: Improving cutomer experiences through smart personalisation

Read more

Thanks for this. The key for me is the effective of governance where it dictates and sets the proactive policy when it comes to CX. Tech ...

Hitesh Parekh

6 lessons in modern marketing from a customer experience chief

Read more

Very well said “With today’s consumers more demanding of the brands and merchants they shop, it’s imperative for merchants to not just co...


CMO's top 10 martech stories for this week - 29 September

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in