Commersations Resource Center

Talking With Simone Barratt

Simone BarrattLast week, the company announced the appointment of Simone Barratt to president of GSI Global Marketing Services International. Simone was visiting the U.S. last week and was kind enough to entertain my questions. Having worked internationally, I was really curious about her take on digital marketing across all the regions and countries she oversees.

What is the biggest challenge to operating in a digital marketing service internationally?
Being based in the U.K. is both a personal challenge and an asset; having built the e-Dialog business in the U.K. and throughout Europe means that I know the market very well. This will be very helpful as we begin our efforts with GMS. Being located in the U.K. also means managing the distance between multiple time zones. But it’s not so much the time zones as it is the many cultures and languages of the markets within those time zones. That is the challenge. To do this at a world-class level, you have to intimately understand all of the consumer norms and behaviours of these markets. It’s not enough to translate into the 20 languages Skype operates in through Europe, we need to understand how their consumers behave around the communications we put in front of them.

What regions and business are you over seeing?
I will be responsible for developing an international presence and providing strategic leadership and direction to drive growth across Europe and Asia for the GMS product portfolio. What’s great is that I’m maintaining my position as managing director of e-Dialog International. I’m happy about that because I’ve become very close with our teams and clients over the years.

Are there consumer trends in Europe and Asia that are drastically different from in the U.S.?  If so, how is that impacting the strategies and tactics you deliver?
The trends are largely the same across different regions of the globe. The overarching problem is the same. Consumers move from one channel to another and use multiple ones to get information – mobile, online, email and mass media. More than ever – whether it’s Europe or Asia -- people want their experiences with brands to be more personal, relevant, timely and engaging. And with advantages such as behavior tracking and analysis, attribution, segmentation, persona modeling and one-to-one targeted messaging, marketers have the ability to go beyond traditional service and exceed the expectations of even the most demanding consumers.

Do you think retailers understand all that GMS is?
Probably not. But you have to remember, our portfolio of companies have been assembled relatively recently. Individually, I think our companies are pretty well known in the industry. Our challenge is to create awareness of the GMS offering to the market and help them understand how we can help more holistically.

What retailers want to understand most is what levers they should be pulling. They want to know how to maximize their marketing budgets and what touch points are crucial when engaging consumers. In my experience, the best way to do this is based on the aggregate knowledge of the customer engagement data. No matter what international market we are addressing, one thing is the same:

Everyone is interested in achieving the most efficient and effective budget spends as possible. With our wide span of offerings, I think we’re in a great position to answer that question.

With social media growing in importance, how do you think that will impact how email and more traditional marketing levers are used by merchandisers and brands? 
While social has had an enormous impact on traditional marketing, it’s still nascent. Marketers are figuring out how to monetise social and have to factor it in at every stage of the shopper’s purchase path. Social means consumer. The social lever can be pulled to close the gap between the marketer’s reality and the consumer ideal. Giving customers more control will allow marketers to embrace the power of consumer advocacy and apply that to their campaigns. We are finding that consumers are treating email content differently because of social. Email used to be a channel that mostly delivered information to an end consumer. Now, with the advent of social media as a key component of campaigns, email has become a medium that helps people share content through other social tools like Facebook and Twitter.

Email campaigns exploit social media to allow content to be shared with others who may not be an actual subscriber, thereby increasing the reach of the marketing message.

Are you saying that social media are amplifying traditional email campaigns?
Email campaigns can amplify the role social media plays in marketing strategy. An existing email database creates a tremendous opportunity to promote social campaigns via email subscribers.

A connected marketing strategy that uses email as a social media driver to initially launch a campaign can amplify the power social media can have due to its viral nature; acquisition campaigns benefit hugely from this. Consumers use different outlets to communicate with brands in different ways and brands need to match customers expectations. The addition of social media within an email campaign is one such avenue brands can use to communicate with consumers.

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