Jessica Dannemann of Episerver is an experienced marketing leader who describes her two most important skills as “bullshit detection and time management.”
This is a ‘day in the life’ you don’t want to miss…
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Jessica Dannemann: As SVP and chief marketing officer at Episerver my job includes leading all marketing initiatives as well as the teams that carry out marketing strategy on a daily basis. We run quite a robust marketing organisation with every team equally critical to delivering on our growth goals and our customer promises.
There are seven different teams (new business, web & inbound, brand communications, partner communications, customer marketing, regional marketing, and business development) under our marketing umbrella, which allows these workgroups to be small and nimble with no silos between them and their peers. Everyone knows who is responsible for what, how to work with them collaboratively, and what projects are currently underway or will be – almost like a well-oiled agency approach.
As marketers know, no marketing campaign can be successful in isolation. It’s my job to ensure communication never stops both internally and externally.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Jessica Dannemann: I report to the CEO, our owners (Insight Partners) and our board of directors.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Jessica Dannemann: Two big things: Bullshit detection and time management.
You need to be able to ask the right questions (even if they are tough) and go deep to understand what value the initiative is really going to deliver. I’m sure we all have folks within or outside the company who would come to you with ideas. Some are super exciting at first sight, but just won’t work when you start digging deeper. It’s my job to help empower the team to focus on those right ideas and call bullshit on those we should scrap.
As you advance in your career, there’s nothing more important than how you manage your time. I imagine most marketers would agree there is never enough time or budget but even a large budget can be wasted without proper time management to see it through. The challenge is, everyone has different priorities. When you succumb to being on everyone else’s timeline, you lose sight of your own. Time management is not just about carving out time in your day to perform certain tasks but also the ability to set boundaries on your time while still being dependable and flexible. It’s a constant give and take but no CMO is successful without prioritisation of their time.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Jessica Dannemann: One thing to know about Episerver is we have offices in 15 countries, which is a lot of time zones to juggle and means lots of travel. I work out of our Stockholm office, so a typical working day could include early morning or late evening calls to ensure time zones never get in the way of everyone having the information from me or access they need to me.
Meetings make up a lot of my days, but they always have clear agendas and action items. It’s never time wasted. I hold one-on-one meetings with my direct reports, group meetings for specific projects, and carve out plenty of time for marketing and business analysis.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Jessica Dannemann: It’s corny to say, of course, but my colleagues are what I love most about my job. When they are energized by a customer, campaign or company win, it’s contagious. We have such a culture of camaraderie that friendships are easy and common. With more frequent travel, it’s also wonderful to visit our different offices and spend more in-person time with the teams that make Episerver so valuable for all our stakeholders. I love being exposed to the different cultures and to speak with 10 different nationalities in a week.
The part of my job that sucks is never feeling like I have enough time to do everything I want to. This isn’t unique to the CMO role though, and I’m thankful to have such a capable team of people who can help bring our ideas to life for being easy to work with and providing quick value.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Jessica Dannemann: We are a very goal-oriented company, which allows everyone to focus on high-impact initiatives. Everyone works in concert to reach their individual OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), these are linked to the group OKRs and ultimately linked to the company OKRs.
In terms of metrics, I track the following every week: Marketing contribution to bookings (new and base) and revenue (retention), CAC (customer acquisition cost), ASP (average selling price), marketing attribution to pipeline, new leads by stage and conversions through the funnel, Marketing effectiveness by channel/ initiative, number of days MQL (marketing qualified lead) to SQL (sales qualified lead) to close, Key Account Engagement: % of engagement and number of opportunities.
We have aggressive brand-awareness growth goals this year. It’s our 25th year in business and while we are very well-known in our native Sweden, some regions still don’t quite have the same level of brand recognition.
That said, we saw an 87% uptick in net-new customers in North America last year. The U.S. is our fastest-growing market and with household name customers like Mazda, Buffalo Wild Wings and Yama, we’re well on our way to being the first web management solution that mid-market companies think of. What is so rewarding to see though is that Sweden continues to grow (183 percent in new customer sales last year) as do all of our other principle markets/
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Jessica Dannemann: I love tools, and just like many marketers, I feel like there is always something new I can use. The tool I use the most is definitely Microsoft Teams, for collaborations within different groups, individual conversations and hosting meetings.
What I’m currently most excited about is a new tool to further improve our Business Development program. Exciting as I’m sure we will see immediate return.
How did you end up at Episerver?
Jessica Dannemann: My mentor and predecessor James Norwood brought me in after working with him for several years at another company. Where I initially thought leads, leads, leads, James helped build my strategy chops. I’m thankful to have worked alongside him for so many years and to be brought into this amazing experience of growing Episerver into what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.
Which marketing campaigns / experiences have impressed you lately?
Jessica Dannemann: From a B2C perspective, I like KFC’s new campaign that I came across this summer. It’s an interesting and original branding strategy. KFC, it turns out, has had a lot of shout-outs in hip-hop tracks over the years. Now, KFC is taking advantage of rappers’ love by creating a Spotify playlist that collates all those tracks. It’s fun, interesting and different!
From a B2B perspective, and with the risk of sounding bias, we have an excellent calculator at Episerver.com. Companies calculate how much they could save by using Episerver to reduce the time spent on website content and product updates, using AI to deliver more relevant personalised content and using cloud-hosted services versus on premise. As a no-fluff marketer myself, however, I’d want to know where those figures are coming from. This is where the campaign differentiates itself from others. The calculator uses a third-party report from Forrester Consulting to make that independently proven data interactive. We’re quite proud of the results from the unbiased research and how we help website visitors visualize how they can get similar results through the calculator.
What advice would you give to a greenhorn marketer in 2019?
Jessica Dannemann: Be yourself and take credit for your work. As a female in a male-dominated industry, it took me a long time to realize how critical both these things were. Regardless of gender, being yourself will never be wrong. If you are more analytical than creative, don’t be afraid to lean into those analytical skills. If you are more creative than analytical, be creative. While it’s good to learn both sides (and others) to be more well-rounded, chances are you have a colleague who is stronger in the capacity you are not. Don’t be afraid to learn from each other, but that only happens when you understand what you’re really good at and are humble enough to learn.