“I’m passionate about this, as you can tell,” said Christine Nurnberger towards the end of our recent telephone conversation. She has strong opinions too, on everything from the marketing stack to the roles of sales and creative. Currently CMO of Bottomline Technologies, formerly a marketing executive at SunGard and Infor, Nurnberger is deeply invested in leveraging data, analytics, and the supporting tech solutions, to confront marketing challenges.
Here’s what she says about the importance of analytics: “It takes people’s opinions and creativity off the table, so that we can have a scientific, data-driven discussion.” And on creative generally: “I hate creative for creative’s sake. I’m tired of seeing photographs of a man looking over a woman’s shoulder as she sits at a screen. If creative isn’t advancing the objective, just take it out.” (She does acknowledge that good creative can “break through the noise”–like the Zombie Apocalypse campaign for Sungard’s disaster recovery service.)
Not so much just a breath of fresh air, as a brisk wind of data-driven efficiency blowing through the marketing corridors. But fear not: Nurnberger recognizes the importance of the human touch, within a scientific context. It’s necessary, she says, to look at data through the lens of business objectives. “That’s where the role of marketing operations and analytics is really important,” she told me. “When I look at the data, I’m looking at specific trends–metrics for each campaign and for each tactic. You do need to understand business objectives. But you also need to have the right skill-sets on your team.”
Charged at Bottomline with building out a centralized marketing engine, and shifting marketing from a cost to a profit center, what kind of team is she developing? Data scientists? “You know, I haven’t had to look for folks with a data science background,” she said, “but people who are expert at their craft. It’s rare to find someone who knows the business or the technology side, but it’s becoming less difficult.” Vendors like Eloqua, Marketo, and the Pedowitz Group are playing an educational role in the field.
As for Nurnberger herself: “I had a fantastic mentor when I was just 23 or 24 years old at IMLogic, which became part of Symantec. We were early adopters of Salesforce.com, and customized it to the nth degree to get the marketing performance statistics we needed.”
Salesforce remains, for Nurnberger, the backbone to managing customer lifecycle, but she also regards marketing automation software from Marketo as “absolutely key” to her marketing stack. She signed a contract to bring Marketo to Bottomline almost as soon as she joined. Choice of tools, she told me, depends partly on the maturity of the organization, and partly on the internal IT eco-system: “Marketo is little dependent on IT.” There are businesses out there which acquire lots of new technologies, but don’t use them effectively, she said, although: “I love looking at all the latest technologies.”
Among those which have recently caught her eye are Engagio, an account-based marketing platform; Lattice Engines, which brings a predictive component to lead scoring; and Hubspot for inbound marketing and social media. Her approach is to be “nimble” in the evaluation of new tools, keeping testing “very contained and very measurable.” She might run a pilot, for example, against a very small test group–something like the top fifty prospects.
At an organizational level, Nurnberger is working to better align marketing with sales through shared quotas. The aligned objective is a direct contribution to pipeline and revenue: “It takes a lot of the typical friction off the table,” she said, “if you own the numbers with them.”
Bottomline Technologies has many customers in the banking industry (15 of the top 25 global banks, and 400 commercial and business banks, according to current website statistics); and banks, Nurnberger says, can be laggards when it comes to digital marketing. She’s not only building the marketing engine for Bottomline, but also helping clients develop platforms to become better digital marketers. In a world where traditional industries can be disrupted by entrants like Uber, Nurneberger says, established businesses “have to become more digitally competitive.”
In Nurnberger, data-driven marketing has a robust advocate.