Adobe experience marketing chief: Creative people power is what will save modern marketing

Enterprise martech and creative cloud vendor talks through the people capability, driven by data and creativity, behind its transformation

Alex Amado at Adobe Symposium Sydney 2019
Alex Amado at Adobe Symposium Sydney 2019


No technology is going to save marketers who don’t build up a human workforce that’s skilled, diverse, creative or aligned enough to support their customer outcomes, Adobe’s experience marketing lead says.

During today’s Adobe Symposium in Sydney, Adobe VP experience marketing, Alexa Amado, took attendees through the journey the enterprise martech vendor has been on to build personalised experiences at scale, and the technology, data, processes and people behind it.

One of the key mechanisms for delivering this is what Adobe calls its ‘data-driven operating model’, or DDOM. This is a centralised dashboard providing the company with a single source of insight into customers and brings alignment to teams through KPIs and metrics aligned to every stage of the customer journey, he said.

Adobe has 19 key metrics, fed real-time or near real-time into the dashboard, supporting a raft of different views such as route to market, which stage customers are in the journey, mapped out against targets.

“This single source for the organisation changes the game as marketers,” Amado said. “We spend less time arguing about your data versus mine, and more time on fixing things that aren’t working, and the opportunities.

“I recommend you find a minimum number of metrics that will help you understand every stage of the customer journey without duplication or redundancy.”   

Complementing this is alignment of people to every stage of this customer journey. Amado said each customer stage has an owner “who obsesses about these stages of execution and focuses on evolving that metric”.

“They’re all personally accountable for making journeys better,” he said.  “This drives new plans, actions and drives cross-functional alignment. It’s the heartbeat of the Creative Cloud business as we run it.”

Supporting this is the more recent decision to launch ‘growth squads’, or small cross-functional teams focused on solving particular customer pain points and optimising stages of the journey.

“We take a small cross-functional team with just enough of the right skills, such as engineers, designers and strategists, and they’re given a single-minded mission, which is to improve small set of metrics along the customer journey,” Amado continued. “They look at every aspect of what impacts that stage.”

For example, one task could be improving customer success rates in the first seven days of using the Adobe Lightroom product. To do this, a squad looks at install and launch rates, seven-day returns, by customer cohort, then tweaks communications across different touchpoints.

“They create tests and drive changes, optimise what we do and how we are able to deliver,” Amado said. “This single-minded focus with people broadly empowered to drive change has delivered hundreds, if not thousands of customer improvements, making us better and more customer centric. It’s a flywheel keeping driving CX improvements.”

People power

And it’s this people power Amado was keen to stress as the core ingredient of how brands be customer experience management (CXM) champions.

“Technology is only really the enabler. If you don’t have humans skilled enough or aligned enough to drive these outcomes, you won’t be as successful as you could be,” Amado said.  

Amado broke the people capability into four pots. The first is data talent. “Exceptional CXM companies need exceptional data talent,” he said. “Our data analysts and scientists are in demand. They’re driving the majority of customer insights we have. Beyond the adhoc analysis, they’re mostly focused on building tools that scale – they’re building propensity models to understand the health of cohorts, our econometric models… A CXM company is driven by data, not by gut.”

The second people element is diligent champions of diversity and inclusion. “We still have a long way to go, but we see tangible benefits from this,” Amado continued.

“Creativity is fuelled by diverse viewpoints. We seek out different perspectives into conversation, because people of different backgrounds bring points of view that expands the solutions brought to any problem we try to solve.  

“We need to deliver on every moment of customer empathy and that’s more easily achieved when you have an internal team as diverse as your customer base.”  

Thirdly, it’s about making it relevant. Again, Amado stressed the people underpinning such efforts. “People need to understand the market and customers and what makes them move. Attention is the currency of modern marketing and relevance at scale is the only way we can break through,” he said.  

Finally, it’s about people with creative focus, Amado said. “You need innovative, creative people. And to encourage experimentation inside your organisation,” he said.

“I have graphic designers, cinematographers, but I’m also talking about our media planners, event producers and more. Creativity doesn’t mean art, it means problem solving in new ways, plus executing at great speed and working around constraints.

“Every one in my organisation has the opportunity to be creative.”  

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