Adobe insights chief: What it takes to build a world-class marketing insights function

CMO chats with Adobe VP of marketing and customer insights to find out what make him tick, how insights are being deployed by the martech giant, and where impact is most being felt


The clear message from Adobe Summit is if you’re going to improve customer experiences, you need to look at every type of data across the enterprise. How is this being reflected by your team internally?

Unlocking the millions of pieces of data we have on how people are using our products is really helpful, particularly as it relates to retention. On the Digital Experience side, we have product adoption scores, which look at how widely deployed things like Adobe Analytics in a customer organisation, as well as what percentage of seats are actually being used and how often. It’s another leading predictor of retention.

Then there’s the sophistication of usage. We’d expect customers over time to get increasingly sophisticated in how they use such products. When we’re getting information back and it looks like someone has stalled somewhere, that gets pushed to the customer success team to act on. This is about ensuring end customers are getting value from the investment. It’s usually received very openly so as a result, we’re trying to scale that more.

It’s a similar story on the B2C side, where we’re doing things like our customer engagement index. Usually there are two issues here – either the customer finds the product too hard, or they have run out of ideas. With the latter, we’re building out a number of marketing campaigns for Creative Cloud connecting our products to people’s personal passions.

How much of a challenge has it been getting people to accept the insights you’re generating?

A lot has to do with the culture. Adobe is generally very collaborative, so if someone is reaching out with information that might be helpful to you, it’s welcomed.

What I do tell my team is don’t just go to a stakeholder with a problem. It’s beneficial to provide potential solutions, too. If we know our NPS [Net Promoter Score] is down, or this particular group of customers isn’t happy, it’s a good idea to have 2-3 ways the business owner might solve it. Usually, the business is appreciative and if anything, they tend to pull us in closer and want to work with us on an ongoing basis.

Having Adobe’s data-driven operating model in place is also very helpful. That by definition gives us an aligned set of KPIs, single source of truth and we know who is responsible.

In your exposure to Adobe’s client base, how would you rate their ability to utilise insights? Where do things still commonly fall over?

From a marketer’s perspective, the data can sometimes look and feel constraining. If the marketer begins to feel data constraining creativity, that can be a problem. It’s also about taking that holistic view.

From the insight’s team’s perspective, we still see a lot of what we’d call the ‘so’ versus the ‘so what’. Insights teams will bring data to the table, but they won’t necessarily go to the next step and say therefore, here’s what I think you should be doing. Sometimes it’s because they haven’t had training; sometimes they don’t feel it’s their place.

With my team, I try to always have that ‘so what’. Put yourself in your stakeholder’s shoes: What would you do if you saw those insights? They may not be accurate at first, but over time, insights people will zero in on what’s important to stakeholders and the scope.

Insights, like many skillsets, comes by apprenticeship and is built through repetition. The opportunity to practice not just on what we see, but also what we think you should do with it, is the real responsibility for world-class insights teams today.  

  • Nadia Cameron travelled to Adobe Summit as a guest of Adobe.

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