Wulfric Light-Wilkinson is General Manager EMEA at performance marketing engine Wunderkind.
We chatted with Wulfric about how Wunderkind has managed to grow through the pandemic, how performance marketers can adapt to the phasing out of third-party cookies, and the biggest upcoming opportunities for the company.
Tell us about your role – what does a typical day look like?
A typical day for me is really varied, though a common theme is having a fairly stuffed diary! On any given day I’ll have meetings with the department heads across our Sales, Marketing, Client Success and Talent teams – acting as an escalation point for strategic decisions and providing coaching and guidance to help them meet their objectives.
I also act as an executive sponsor for all our clients, joining for milestone review meetings and helping to nurture those stakeholder relationships. As much as possible, I also dedicate a few hours per week to deep work, thinking about our EMEA go-to-market strategy, as well as product innovation and partnership and acquisition opportunities.
In between all of this, I carve out time around work commitments to dedicate to my wife and my one-year-old son Rafe – as well as squeezing in the gym and runs four times a week.
You have a background in working for fast-growth businesses including Quill and ForwardPMX – what lessons have you taken into your role at Wunderkind?
Both Quill and Forward gave me a really valuable grounding in how to bring exciting propositions to market – and then effectively grow market share and scale high-performing teams. I’d say the biggest learnings I’ve brought with me are:
When it comes to motivating teams, having clear KPIs – and accountability for those metrics – is absolutely essential. Everyone needs to feel ownership, and to be clear on how their individual targets contribute towards the overall business goals. At the same time, it’s so important to make sure people feel genuinely valued and celebrated – which is why we’ve launched eNPS at Wunderkind, and a range of people-led initiatives to help make us a top 100 place to work in the UK.
It’s vital to have a compelling narrative around any proposition, to inform the go-to-market strategy. At Quill (now Jellyfish), for example, we developed a proprietary auditing framework (the ‘Quill Quality Score’) to help us demonstrate the potential impact of content optimisation to prospects – building that narrative can really help to strengthen a business case.
Nine times out of ten, trying to convince a new client to buy a ‘full suite’ of products – especially when the contract value is high, and it’s a considered purchase – is a wasted effort. I swear by the ‘Land and Expand’ model, which is based on the idea of establishing a relationship with a client with one product or service initially, demonstrating the value, and then expanding that relationship out with complementary products that add value over time.
Lastly, a big learning for me has been on hiring. Even if it takes a bit longer to find the right person, compromising on talent should never be on the table. At Wunderkind, we also place a huge emphasis on diversity in hiring, with 50/50 representation across both gender and white vs. BAME employees in the EMEA region. The digital sector has a long way to go in improving its diversity and inclusion record – so I’m proud to be part of a company that’s leading that charge.
Wunderkind has seen impressive growth in the past year, despite Covid challenges. What has been key to this?
While Covid has been hugely challenging for the retail sector, it’s also accelerated ecommerce growth – and made a lot of businesses put a renewed focus on their digital channels. This has definitely contributed towards our increased traction in the market this past year.
The value proposition we bring to the market is bang-on for the next normal. We help our clients to grow their owned, first-party, marketable audiences, so that they can send high-converting, personalised email and text messages at an unprecedented level of scale. As a performance channel, Wunderkind achieves an average of 7-14% uplift in sales for online retailers and brands, which typically puts us among their top three digital revenue channels, alongside Facebook and Google.
On top of the market alignment point, another growth driver for us has been increased recognition and buzz – we’ve got some fantastic clients in the EMEA region now, including Clarks, Ralph Lauren, Harvey Nichols, Clarins, Deckers and Barbour, and we’ve been able to generate lots of organic growth through client and partner recommendations.
What are the biggest opportunities and challenges for Wunderkind this year?
As the impact of the phasing out of third-party cookies starts to be fully felt, solutions like Wunderkind – which enables retailers to identify new and returning visitors, provide best-in-class first party data acquisition strategy and execution, and scale owned channel marketing – will become all the more business-critical as consumer preference and legislation shift.
The opportunities for Wunderkind in Europe are significant, especially given the rapid digital transformation of companies post-Covid, many of them focusing on digital as their primary channel for the first time. There’s huge scope for us to move into new markets, verticals and further into the enterprise sector – and also to potentially make strategic acquisitions to bolster our technology and product roadmap and help us accelerate our penetration into the EMEA region.
We also have so many exciting new products to bring to market this year, including our Text capability (enabling our clients to send personalised, triggered text messages at scale) and our Contact Match technology, which leverages Wunderkind’s Identity Network to send emails to website visitors that are identified in our ID Network that are then matched against clients’ CRM.
With regard to challenges, we need to be adaptive when it comes to selling into different regions with different cultures and different languages – making sure our proposition is communicated effectively and bringing on board in-market talent where needed to help build local relationships. But I’m confident the Wunderkind team and our technology will help them grow revenue and maximise their ROI beyond their more traditional channels.
What should today’s performance marketers be focusing on in order to drive success?
I think there are a couple of things that performance marketers really need to be keeping their eye on in the next year or so. One that bears repeating is this need to develop a robust strategy to adapt to the phasing out of third-party cookies from browsers, as well as Apple’s launch of IOS 14.5 and the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) network.
So many retailers and marketers have become looped into a cycle of acquiring and re-acquiring the same customers through cookie-reliant paid advertising – and these recent changes have created an opportunity for brands to refocus on fundamentals like CRM, owned channel optimisation and delivering brilliant customer experiences.
That’s essentially the foundation of how we’re supporting our clients at Wunderkind: through our Identity Network technology, we help them recognise a greater proportion of their web traffic – without cookies. And once you can recognise your visitors and identify which are new or returning customers, you can then capture opt-ins at greater scale, optimise their on-site journey for greater relevance, and then personalise email and text message comms to boost conversion rates.
What advice would you give a marketer starting out in your industry?
My main bit of advice for marketers starting out would be to try to cut out as much of the ‘noise’ as possible and focus on what drives the most value. There are so many marketing platforms, agencies, and solutions out there, all promising the earth – it can be dizzying.
The key thing is to have a clearly identified proposition and alignment on the business objectives – and then to figure out what the most effective deployment is for the client, to meet those objectives. Always have ROAS in mind – and ensure that any performance partners are able to prove impact, in your own Google Analytics, with a clear and credible attribution model.