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EP #11: Mark Baartse on Reimagining the Marketing Playbook in the COVID-19 Era

EP #11: Mark Baartse on Reimagining the Marketing Playbook in the COVID-19 Era

About this Podcast

We recently had an interesting chat with Mark Baartse, a leading data-driven marketing consultant from Australia.  A Top 50 CMO from Down Under, Mark shares his views on how digital brands can reorient their user growth and CX framework during and post COVID-19 – through valuable insights such as:

  • The changing consumer behaviour trends across B2C brands and the new user segments that have emerged as consumption catalysts
  • The key digital channels that will drive growth and how B2C brands need to optimize their marketing mix
  • The importance of developing a unified view of individual customers to facilitate agile decision-making
  • How B2C e-commerce brands can leverage AI to fuel personalized customer experiences and robust recommendation engines
  • How brand marketing will become more important to businesses in a post COVID-19 world

Tune in to listen to Mark’s razor-sharp insights on all things personalization, AI, and re-visiting data-driven consumer behaviour trends – to ace marketing in the COVID-19 era!

Episode Transcripts

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Hi guys, Welcome to another new brand episode of “The Martechno Beat” A Specially created podcast series powered by “Net core smart Tech” where we interact with Leading growth practitioners, Matic influencers and those individuals working at The Cutting Edge of marketing and Technology breaking new ground with experiments with the application of artificial intelligence potential marketing Etc. So we talk about all the things user growth retention personalization and so on and today it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to our guest speaker all the way from Down Under Mr. “Mark Baartse”  A leading marketing consultant and you know, it’s a pleasure to have you on this particular episode of “The Martechno Beat” “Mark”  Welcome.”

Mark Baartse: “Thanks for having me “Pradyut”

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Alright so, It was exactly one week ago when we had you as a panelist on our virtual “MarTech” mashup Summit and it feels like it was ages ago because there’s already so much that’s changed in the world of marketing I feel”.

Mark Baartse: “Yeah, no, it’s been a crazy month where I’m learning something new every day literally every day something changes. Like wow. I never, I didn’t see that coming”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Yeah, absolutely and it’s so strange and bizarre because it’s you know marketers are striving to, you know, dive deep into their customer data patterns, their consumption, trends Etc. And they’re looking for that Golden Nugget that is going to help them realign their marketing strategies, but it’s just something that they’re going to have to wait and watch on because you know trends apparently seem to be changing on a week-to-week basis”. 

Mark Baartse:  “Yeah, definitely. It’s just changing quite a lot of moments. I mean a really good example is just yesterday. I was talking to the CMO, um kind of a major online Healthcare Company”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “And we were talking about Trends and you know, what’s happening post-covid-19 that sort of stuff and as you can imagine ourselves away up in healthcare space and you know, so this will we’re on a call with a supplier and misfire us. This is like, you know has your Custom mix changed and he said no and I’m thinking well, hang on has the customer mix changed and so I went later that night and dug through the data and compared,  You know, what the last two weeks look like versus two weeks beginning of a year ”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

 Mark Baartse: “And it actually has changed quite a lot about their demographic mix has changed quite significantly that different thing breakdown at ages buying is significantly different from what it was just like what 4-6 weeks ago”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baarste: They were talking about 30% differences. 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Ok Well, yeah, that’s sizable. So I think it’s safe to say that a lot of these online B2C businesses would be witnessing similar changes in consumer Behavior trends”

Mark Baarste: A I mean of every single B2C company, I’ve looked at everyone is different. No one is the same. So the sales might be out there sales might be down every single company, I’ve seen that product mix has changed often significantly, you know best sellers are no longer bestsellers and brand new categories of best sellers and the product mixes changed.

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse: “People I’m seeing significant differences in average order volume. People are buying cheap products and more expensive products. It’s just it’s like a brand new world the brand new business”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “So I think in an environment such as this where essentially the Marketing play-book if I could call it that is being Rewritten chapter after chapter on a weekly basis, you know, we’re also seeing that spends on traditional marketing are now shifting you know, marketing budgets are being reshaped and with greater Focus moving to digital and mobile marketing, you know, what is your take on that? What do you think? There are some of the digital channels that you foresee working for these online B2C brands”.

Mark Baartse:  “Yeah, that’s interesting. I mean some people are going more digital and to some extent that makes sense because you know, you look at a traditional channel like, you know outdoor like billboards like bus ads, well people aren’t going out and talking very much for a moment”.

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Correct- Correct”

Mark Baartse: “So that they don’t seem like very good channels and that’s just a natural progression. I haven’t done any TV campaigns recently. I’m curious to know how TV’s doing I suspect it’s doing well, but I don’t actually know” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse: “So I was talking with CEO yesterday of a big Australian ad agency”

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Okay”

Mark Baartse: “And what he was saying, but he is blowing up my phone right now and what he was saying is that you know when the lockdown first happened here, everyone basically just said stop, you know, and just you know, all the business got called,  and now what we’re seeing is people getting, you know, regaining confidence and they’re coming back and a lot of companies are investing more in brand marketing”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Okay”

Mark Baartse:  “Is what I’m saying that specifically but bigger more traditional companies, you know, what they’re doing is they’re saying now is the time to connect with our customers to reassure them to do all sorts of things and so a lot of the bigger traditional companies are seeing the switch from your performance to brand, You know, it still may be digital, and  their strategy versus VEPB Channel execution kind of in the VC kind of e-com type companies, I’m not seeing the mix change radically, I think what people do the mix is different you know” 

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Right” 

Mark Baartse: “So I was just looking at you know, again things are changing. Dale’s looking at a company’s data this morning and their revenue from search is at 40% and they haven’t changed anything”. 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Okay-Okay”

Mark Baartse:  “And that’s just special. Just just what people are doing and people are suddenly searching more in their category 

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Okay”

Mark Baartse: “And we just kind of sat back saying okay. This is great and this is not even a paid search. So yeah, it’s just I mean the SEO has improved a little bit more time but not 40% Improvement. So Yeah so far these things are changing all over the place. But yeah, and it’s a bit of a question, but I so believe an answer but yeah, I’m seeing people’s strategy change but not necessarily their Channel makes mostly but that’s just my perspective other people may have a very different perspective”. 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right-Right,  and you know, you mentioned how you know your day going how the channel makes continues to be in the same boat, you know in a situation like that in this as we find ourselves in the messaging that brand focuses on right now becomes so much more critical because you want to convey empathy at one level. You want to convey and communicate value at one level and you don’t want to come across as a saltier opportunist. So, you know, what are some of the examples that you could cite of brands that you feel are doing a good job with this”

Mark Baartse: “Brands are doing a good job at that’s an interesting question. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do such an amazing job. There are few people.  There’s  a brand in Australia called them “Thank you water”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Okay” 

Mark Baartse: “I’m more I think that just called “Thank you” and they do they start off by doing bottled water maybe expand into whole range products and they have a value proposition is that they give all their profits to charity” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Okay”

Mark Baartse: “So they’re being kind of I mean technically they’re a for-profit company being practiced they are not for profit company” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Okay”

Mark Baartse: “And they talked about a range of ads saying we are not advertising”. 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Okay”

 Mark Baartse: “Which I thought was really interesting just saying. Here we’re not advertising”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

 Mark Baartse: “I’m seeing that there’s another company, like  “Music buff” for example, and so  Facebook knows I see a lot of music adds”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “And there’s a big Israeli company in the music space “Court waves” and they sell some products that really help people who are working recording music at home”

 Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Okay”

Mark Baartse: “And they’ve just extended like I think a 60 or 90 days free trial of their product”

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Okay”

Mark Baartse: “Which is quite amazing and at a time, that’s very appropriate for that and I suspect you know, post covid-19 things settle down that will pick up a lot of market share in that space by having a really clever intelligent response that kind of speaks to people where they’re at”

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Right-Right, That makes a lot of sense and again, you know, leading up to my next question. Like mentioned how trends are changing and how trends need to evolve their marketing strategy and not necessarily their Channel makes us such we’ve seen how data  continues to be the oil and soil for plants i mean customer data again this sentence could visit, you know, revisitation as such because the price of oil has plummeted over night” 

Mark Baartse: “Its true”

Pradyut Hande (Host): “So I can’t. I think it’s fair to say that the data is actually more expensive than oil currently. What is yours?

Mark Baartse: “It is, Yes it’s true”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Yes, absolutely. And so what is your advice to brands that continue to Grapple with, you know data the customer data unification related challenges, you know, those who are still not being able to get that foundation right to get their marketing strategies to the next level”

Mark Baartse: “Yeah, data unification is such a challenging subject, you know, like a year or two ago. I was a CMO of a big kind of online store in Australia and you know almost daily. I’d have some company approach me and say, you know, we’ve got this great new shiny object” 

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “And you know some great toy and yeah and like, you know, a lot of most interested in a lot of them were like, you know, really great products today” 

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “And you know My first question would be how does this integrate with my existing data and oh, no. No, it doesn’t do that. But you know, but you know that they always have wonderful stories about how to collect all your customer data. And so, you know, end up with we’ve 20 single sources of the customer is it single views of the customer which obviously is contradictory”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Correct”

Mark Baartse:  “And, so I’ve always been very passionate about trying to get as close as possible to a single view of the customer and no one ever gets. It’s almost a journey.

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “To constant work in the office, correct absolutely”

Mark Baartse: “Yeah, I mean at the end of the day, you know, “Facebook” got, you know, half the customer data which the founder never gave us. So, you know, you can never truly have a full view of your customer base, you know, you can get as close as you can”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “And so I had to make a lot of hard decisions where it’s like obvious technology is good, but it means fragmenting my data and is about what I really want to do for this business, you know”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “Putting aside the shiny Objects and taking a long-term view of it, you know, would I rather do this or would I rather invest in my existing customer data”

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “And look at ways I can leverage that better”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse: “They are the problem. I see is people’s people see this shiny object” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Correct”

Mark Baartse: “And you know, there’s this brand-new toy or whatever and look there’s some great. I mean “Martech” is amazing. There’s just such cool stuff out there. It’s fun, right”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “That you know, and then they look at their existing data and it’s like are you actually taking full advantage of your existing data” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse: “And the answer is always “No” to that question. I’ve always known that I’ve had lots of people pitching Carmen third-party data platforms to me and like that they’re wonderful things. But if my first pay data is being horribly underutilized. Why would they buy more data?

Pradyut Hande (Host): That’s true

Mark Baartse:  “It just does from you know, I’ve already got this great thing. I’m sitting on getting better equipment. There’s a time and a place where sometimes you do need to play with shiny toys and you know, but I’m not saying they’re all bad. So it’s a real challenge trying to find the Balancing Act between segmenting your data and you know trying to do the right thing by Vancouver business and I wish I had a stock onto but I don’t but it’s I think as long as you’re answering those questions and what are you even asking those questions sorry” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse: “And think now that I think you know, you probably gonna do okay” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right, I think in a situation like this vendor also comes with so much more additional responsibility because a vendor just cannot afford to be pitching a stock product or a solution they really need to get down into the nitty gritties and you know the question you on your critical pain points and then sort of go about their you know” 

Mark Baartse:  “Yeah”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “In figuring out how their solution can help you” 

Mark Baartse: “Yeah pain, even when we start from an I think you mentioned earlier you were talking about, you know, II driven kind of products and I think Now’s the Time where you know that some people are still doing, you know, classic marketing segmentation look specific time in a place here. 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse: “So I’m not at all against that great right now where your segments are completely different for they were a month ago most likely” 

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Correct”

Mark Baartse: “And as like now is a better time ever to be kind of leaning on algorithms which can adapt far quicker than any human ever can, 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse: “I had a chat with a senior person at Google last week, you know talking about, how to respond to covid-19 and how to Pivot and he was just saying look, we don’t know what’s going on. Don’t bother doing bid adjustments. Just let the algorithm adapt itself”.

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “And because you opened that things are changing daily,

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “True”

Mark Baartse:  “ You know, it’ll just come with me today is not even by the time you analyze it and act on it and then it’s already out of data that point you know”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Correct” Yeah that makes a lot of sense the interesting point that you made there, you know allow the algorithm to do its thing and you know in a lot of my conversations with marketers and product managers today they speak so highly of personalization and you know, a lot of people say that it’s a game-changer for Grants today. And we definitely at Network believe that what is your take on some of the “AI LED technology” like recommendation engines or personalized customer Journeys. How do you see this turn into an antidote or a Panacea for a lot of these PUC sectors particularly in the e-commerce sector at a time like this”?

Mark Baartse: “They’re essential for yeah, I think it’s fast becoming table Stakes first, you know companies who don’t have at least some degree of “AI” recommendation are going to become relevant and struggle to stay in business. We’ve been together for a year or two. I think”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “I don’t think you’re gonna get out of business, but I think you also need to match that. We’ve kind of known that, like, I love “ AI” and I love investing in it. I think it’s wonderful. It does great things that you also need to have that Human touch as well where you know, you kind of look from a human perspective. What is the customer experience? And how do we deploy this “AI”?

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “In a way that makes sense for a customer” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “I mean what I typically see in companies is the less mature they are in the user experience practice for more the impact “AI” has”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “So if you’ve got a very poor user experience “AI” can cover up a lot of problems”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse: “It is a Band-Aid to some extent be even in a very very mature User experience an “AI” kind of closes that last bit of Gap that’s just not impossible for humans to do now” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right,  I think the beauty of an “AI”  driven engine at least is the fact that there’s real-time reinforced learning not only do you reduce the manual intervention. Of course, you need that human connect as you mentioned, but the fact that it’s getting more intuitive and smarter with each individual user level interaction that it has I think that adds a great deal of value to any plan that’s deploying such in technology”

Mark Baartse: “Yes, I totally agree. It’s amazing. I’m a big fan and it’s a great way, you know to create that personalized customer experience at scale that we all want, It’s the only way to do it”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right, That actually brings me to my final question. We spoke about the importance of unifying customer data. We spoke about how leveraging cutting-edge technology like KLH recommendation engines or personalized customer Journeys can definitely Elevate user experiences at scale. We spoke about some of the alterings and evolving consumer Behavior Trends across various B2C online businesses “Mark” what you believe would be the three things that you know digital marketers are mobile marketers should focus on three ways, you believe that by implementing these three things would be able to position themselves for Future growth in 2020 and Beyond. 

Mark Baartse: “Yeah, it’s a good question gazing into a crystal ball and like three months ago no one has predicted that you know over half the world will be in lockdown but we get we can have a shot at me. I think if you know, I think you know 2-3-5 years ago “AI” was seen as some sort of black magic and it was oo “AI” what’s that and now it’s starting to become kind of normal”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “I think it will become not normal just Essential over the next year or two that you know, rather than that being kind of a cool novel thing. It’ll be like, you know, the CEO’s saying where’s it? ” Where’s our I/O strategy?

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “Why are we not using that? They will become just a core part of the business. I think that that’s one big thing and kind of on the other side of it, which I speaking kind of hinting at before” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baarste:  “For user experience, people need to really invest in user experience in every company. I’ve worked for you for know who have been extremely successful” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse: “Has had a User experience Focus” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Okay”

Mark Baartse: “I think the only way to really grow is just to be passionate about Every single aspect of what the user does. I bought something online the other day for my daughter. It’s like a cool pair of fashionable shoes”

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Okay”

 Mark Baartse:  “And I was really impressed because you know, when we open the shoes with her”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “ There was a packing slip in there and the packing slip was like really on brand it had the logo on it has some really cool kind of copy on a consistent with the tone of voice” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse: “And it was just like it close that customer experience at a point where  people think you know, the customer spends just for a website or just for store experience”

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “But now it’s a lot bigger than that. It’s been a shipping experience. It’s receiving the unboxing experience and I’ve actually kept that packing slip because I was so impressed by it, I plan to show it to some of my clients” 

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Nice”

Mark Baartse: “And so having that obsession with customer experience is really important. And the last thing is that the third one is I am still to see a pivot. I don’t think he’s gone mainstream yet. I think it will be over in the next year or two. Whereas a lot of companies, you know, historically marketed 10-20 years ago. It was all brand marketing” 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  Right

Mark Baartse: It’s already existed, you know performance marketing didn’t exist, 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Correct”

Mark Baartse: “You know and over the last, you know, let’s say 10 years we’ve gone very heavily dumb Performance Marketing root and you know all the data’s Dana come in now if you look at the Peter field and lesbian a research or you look at the Byron sharp research coordinators, 

Pradyut Hande (Host): “ Right”

Mark Baartse: “Are you saying that long-term brand marketing is actually far more effective in actually cheaper

Pradyut Hande (Host): “ Right”

 Mark Baartse: “Today and I think mostly e-commerce companies tend to be very very heavy on Performance Marketing and they’re slowly starting to wake up and to this, I published an article about this in Australia, but the subject just in a kind of online trade magazine. That’s just like, oh I think you know, you need to stop doing Pure Performance Marketing and do brand marketing”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse: “And I had a bunch of people reach out to me afterwards and what was interesting. It wasn’t marketing people who reached out”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Okay”

Mark Baartse:  “It was “CEO’s”  who reached out to me. 

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Okay”

Mark Baartse: “So happy CEO saying,  My marketing people aren’t talking about this what’s going on? You know what you say makes sense and I can’t invest in my brand. So people have always liked performers marketing people into had marketing roles who don’t know how to do brand marketing”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse:  “And it’s not it’s not an either/or. It’s not one or the other. It’s a balancing act”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Correct”

Mark Baartse: “And I think as an industry, we’ve got that balance a little bit out of whack and at least kind of Rectify itself and I think it will over the next year or two. I’m suddenly seeing a lot of interest in the market for that sort of trained”

 Pradyut Hande (Host):  “I think you know the final point that you  meet their on more and more companies investing in brand marketing, It’s so interesting because a lot of new age marketers don’t quite realize they’re investing in brand marketing is a you know it’s a long-term play you’re actually investing in future customer acquisition and not just focusing on pure Terry image of customer acquisition through performance.”

Mark Baartse: “Yeah. Yeah, and it’s a balancing act. I’m not against performance Marketing and I kind of that’s how I interviewed a street Performance Marketing”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Right”

Mark Baartse: “But I’ve kind of come to see a world beyond that and become a convert”

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Okay. It’s interesting. So I think just to summarize your three points and you mentioned how the “AI” LED recommendation engines or the application of “AI” and marketing is going to take Center Stage over the next 12 months. You mentioned how Brands need to be extremely Passionate and devoted to Great crafting and delivering these incredible user experiences end to end and just another point that I thought that I would add to that is, you know, how customer experience is no longer the linear Trend. It’s an actually it’s more like an infinity loop and any minor, you know, sort of sub-component of that experience goes Haywire if it can actually switch off a user completely so they could close that loop as you mentioned”

Mark Baartse:  “Yeah, absolutely”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “And of course you mentioned how the shift or the balance in brand marketing and Performance Marketing needs to come into play. So I think overall really really solid inside check “Mark” you know, I heard so much about you from my colleagues and I really want to catch up with you and eat your brains individually, We did this over a panel discussion of me to go but so glad that we could make the time and you know catch up over this insightful conversation. Thank you so much for your time up. 

Mark Baartse: “Thank you for your time as well feels great chatting with you” 

Pradyut Hande (Host): “Thanks Mark”

Mark Baartse:  “Thank you real good”

Pradyut Hande (Host):  “Yeah good”

 

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