Niki Hall is the CMO at Selligent Marketing Cloud, a B2C marketing automation platform.
She spoke to Econsultancy about what it takes to be an effective marketing leader, the tools and metrics she uses in her role, and how marketers can tread the line between delivering great personalisation and respecting consumers’ privacy.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Niki Hall: I am CMO at Selligent Marketing Cloud – an intelligent omnichannel platform that enables digital marketers around the world to maximize their engagement with consumers. I oversee our talented team of global marketers and we’re responsible for brand awareness, influencer (analyst and press) relations, sales enablement, demand gen and client marketing.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Niki Hall: I am in the Leadership team but work cross-functionally across all teams – sales, engineering, services, product, HR. I report to our CEO, John Hernandez.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Niki Hall: To be an effective marketing leader requires both hard and soft skills, especially as we interface with many different facets of the organization. The five key attributes that are important to my role:
- Analytical skills – strong understanding of the business to align marketing initiatives to our business goals
- Empathy – ability to walk in clients’ or other teams’ shoes
- Be a good listener
- Be motivational
- Have the ability to influence without authority across different parts of the organization.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Niki Hall: There really is no typical working day for me — as I’m sure everyone who works in tech knows! That’s both a challenge and a perk as it keeps things exciting.
I start most days very early as most of my team are on the East Coast in the US and in Europe — so that’s three, eight or nine hours ahead of me in California. If I don’t have scheduled early morning calls, I squeeze in an early workout at around 5 or 6am to set my day up for success.
A given work day consists of many different things. If I am working remotely, it means I am on Zoom or Slack to catch up with my teams around the world, or speak with analysts, prospects or clients to learn how they are using our solutions and how we can help them achieve their goals. Video conferencing is really a game-changer as it keeps all of us connected.
On days that I head into the office, I try to spend face-to-face time with our local team in Silicon Valley, including our CEO. I also meet and speak with go-to-market partners to brainstorm ways that we can tackle and reach a broader market with our joint solutions.
Ultimately, my role is to build the brand, drive growth, enable the field and my team.. motivate, align priorities and help steer the ship.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Niki Hall: The best part of my job is the people. I love learning from and also motivating the team around me. One of the most rewarding aspects of being a leader is seeing people grow, helping my team become the best they can be and create strategies that have the most business impact.
Another favorite part of my job is the ability to disrupt an established industry. Selligent’s solution has helped digital marketers for a long time. Today expanding our “martech” reach to affect the entire customer experience – not just for marketing but also for sales and service – is really exciting.
For marketing, what’s most challenging is the amount of stakeholders that we have. From engineering, HR, sales, product, shareholders, etcetera. Marketing really sits in the middle of all these functions. Prioritizing and ensuring that we drive the most impact for the business while navigating many different leaders, personalities and priorities can be very challenging.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Niki Hall: KPIs and metrics vary for different companies and teams. At Selligent, my goal is to drive preference and growth by shaping market perception, innovating with different martech to drive demand, and raise our profile with analysts, press, partners and the overall industry. That’s definitely a long game and sometimes difficult to quantify but a key measure for sales success. Seeing our clients, partners and employees become our biggest brand ambassadors would be a huge accomplishment – and we are making great strides there every day.
I am a big fan of using VSEM (Vision, Strategy, Execution, Measurement), which I learned at Cisco many years ago with John Chambers at the helm. I think it’s a great tool for alignment and measurement against team and corporate goals.
As a company, we also have the usual business metrics related to revenue, growth and EBITDA.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Niki Hall: For business I use many different communications tools like Slack, Zoom and WhatsApp to keep in touch with my team. It really makes a huge difference when you have communications tools and are able to see each other across the globe – even if it’s not in-person everyday.
How did you end up at Selligent, and where might you go from here?
Niki Hall: I heard about the opportunity at Selligent through an industry mentor whom I have known for many years. There were gaps within their programs that aligned to my strengths. I met with the team and realized this was a great opportunity. It was a financially viable company, truly smart and talented team and clients who love the platform and are seeing incredible results from using the solution. I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
What instances of personalisation in marketing, or the customer experience, have impressed you lately?
Niki Hall: Amazon is probably one of the most well-known brands for their strategic approach to personalized marketing and tailored experiences. It’s always great to take a page from Amazon’s book in terms of recommendations.
Another recent example I could think of is actually from one of our clients: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. Through careful segmentation, they were able to execute a win-back campaign across inactive members, “nearly qualified” and lapsed members – tailoring offers and providing tier-specific aspirational goals (like “you’re so close to Gold Member Status!”) to drive bookings. It drove the highest revenue of any campaign in Kimpton’s history.
How can marketers tread the line between respecting consumer privacy and delivering great personalisation?
Niki Hall: Interesting question, as we just published the second edition of the Selligent Connected Consumer Index and one of the key findings was that many consumers find social ads annoying, and voice ads based on unprompted cues to be “creepy.” That said, 51% of the 5,000 global consumers we surveyed are willing to share personal data in exchange for a more personalized experience.
As marketers, we need to be attuned to these trends. The takeaway here is that we need to show the value we provide and deliver relevance to consumers. Our study found that if it’s a follow-up to a purchase or a specific item that consumers are searching, they are more receptive to being targeted. It’s about finding that balance and delivering true relevance – and via the right channel.