What it's like being a company's CMO second time around

Lynne Capozzi shares what it's like being Acquia's CMO second time around and how data is key to showcasing marketing's value

Lynne Capozzi
Lynne Capozzi

HG Wells’ 1910 novel The Sleeper Awakes tells the story of a man who falls asleep for 203 years and awakens to a strange and unfamiliar world.

While the experience for Lynne Capozzi has not been quite so extreme, stepping back into the chief marketing role at Boston-based technology company, Acquia, after an eight-year absence has thrown up some notable changes.

When she originally left the company in 2011 to run a non-profit organisation Acquia had been a startup, focused on providing enterprise products, services, and technical support for the open-source web content management platform Drupal. When she re-joined in 2016 as chief marketing officer the company’s mission remained the same, but it had grown to become a global organisation that now employs more than 800 people.

“It still feels startup-ish,” Capozzi says. “It is over 10 years old, we are well funded, and we have a lot of process in place. So it is still the great feeling of a startup where the market is moving quickly and we are moving really fast, but it feels like a bigger company.”

But it is not just Acquia that changed in her absence – her profession changed too.

“We are so much more data-driven,” Capozzi says. “It is so much less on gut instinct and seeing what works. And all these tools we have now in the stack help us in looking at what’s working and not working by being more data driven. It allows us to move faster and allows us to stop what’s not working and double down on what is working.”

The trade off has been that other aspects of marketing no longer command the same level of attention they once might have.

“I still spend time on the creative, but much more time on the data,” Capozzi says. “It’s an interesting situation for me and I like that. My whole organisation now is much more data-driven.”

The other major change she has noted is the pressure that now falls upon marketers to deliver a return on investment. Data might have provided insight into customer behaviour and intention, but it has also opened a window into the performance of marketing.

“It is more heightened than ever before, and that pressure and visibility and making sure we are proving ROI is really important, and the data is helping us to do that,” she says.

Like many of Acquia’s clients, Capozzi is using data to make a more personal offer to both potential and existing customers, using tools such as Acquia’s own personalisation engine, Lift, to fine-tune how the company presents itself digitally.

“We are doing a lot right now around combining personalisation and account-based marketing,” Capozzi says. “Not only can we feed them information that is specific to their industry, but we are even to the point now where we can feed them information that is specific to their company.”

While Capozzi and her team are working hard to raise the experience of Acquia’s customers, it seems many other marketers are lagging. Speaking ahead of her presentation at Acquia’s Engage conference in Melbourne in early March, Capozzi described some of the results of her company’s inaugural Closing the CX Gap survey, which polled 5000 consumers and 500 marketers and nearly half of consumers say brands don’t meet their expectations.

“We found there is a huge difference in perception between how the marketers think they are doing for a great customer experience versus how the consumers are feeling,” Capozzi says. “So just like very every other marketer, I am dealing with ‘what is the customer experience like’ and how do we make that customer experience better, and how do we make it more personalised.”

As a supplier in the marketing technology sector, Capozzi says she is frequently in contact with her peers within Acquia’s clients, who are seeking advice regarding return on investment, and how to tie the various tools in the mar-tech stack together.

“I talk a lot about personalisation and customer journeys right now, and a lot of folk are asking about ‘how do I personalise’ and ‘how do I do it the right way’, and ‘how do I make sure it’s not creepy’,” she says. “Everyone wants to get to this nirvana of personalisation, and people are at all different stages.

“As marketers we can be driving the future opportunities for our companies - working with sales to figure out that strategy moving forward, and where we think our products are best suited. Because as marketers we have the best data, so we should be able to drive that strategy to determine where the business sis going and what other areas we should be going after.”

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