Kristin Hambelton is CMO at measurement and optimization specialist Marketing Evolution.
In this interview, she tells us about the skills marketers needed in B2B, why being a CMO feels like detective work, and about the campaigns that have inspired her lately.
Hambelton also shares some valuable advice for new marketers.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
I am the chief marketing officer at Marketing Evolution. We provide brands with powerful marketing measurement and optimization solutions that increase campaign performance, sales and engagement. With our breakthrough person-centric approach, Marketing Evolution uniquely measures and improves brand metrics by linking media exposure to creative performance — optimizing the right message to the right person through the right channel.
As CMO, I’m responsible for leading a team of marketers who are charged with delivering on every aspect of marketing including brand development, go-to-market, integrated campaigns, demand generation, customer marketing, product marketing, and everything in-between — from strategy to operations to execution.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
I’m a member of the executive leadership team, and I report to the CEO.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
In my experience, marketing is often the fabric of an organization’s success — the glue that brings disparate departments together and aligns the company to strategically achieve their overarching objectives. It’s important for CMOs to have a strong combination of strategic and tactical skills, both a creative and analytical mind. I have found that a hybrid skillset is foundational for marketing leaders — and can separate the good from the great.
Throughout my career, I’ve always considered myself a data-driven marketer and CMO — and now more than ever these credentials seem to be table stakes; it’s expected (and necessary) that CMOs today are skilled with data and analytics. Today’s marketers are inundated with inordinate volumes of data and it’s the CMO’s job to set a strategy for taking advantage of that data. While CMOs aren’t personally mining the data, we are the ones who often define how to leverage data from and across all departments and uncover opportunities in trends or themes that are derived from the data analysis.
Finally, and this can’t be overstated, a marketing team can only be effective if it’s customer-centric — how you treat your customers is how a brand differentiates itself. For B2C brands, this is the norm. But for B2B brands, this often gets deprioritized behind customer acquisition initiatives. As a B2B brand, I truly believe that the marketing team itself can have a huge impact if they embrace the idea of customer-first.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Every day is different but I tend to get an early start in the morning, arriving to the office while it’s still quiet — that’s when I can do my best thinking. I travel every week so I try to plan in advance as much as possible to maximize my time. In a typical day, I’ll have meetings with my team and our agencies and partners from all functions of the business, where we’ll spend time brainstorming, whiteboarding and sharing ideas. Other days include presentations to Marketing Evolution’s board and talking to customers and prospects. Like I said — every day is different!
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
I love the challenge. Being a CMO sometimes feels like detective work — I’m always trying to figure things out, identify the problem or areas to improve, find solutions and execute. The best part of my job is collaborating with my team — I truly believe that when we work together, our work is better and we accomplish more. Having a strong team you can trust and rely on is essential, regardless of size. Especially when things are challenging, being in the trenches together in tough times keeps the light on at the end of the tunnel and helps you find your way out.
What are the less enjoyable aspects of being a CMO? With marketing on the frontline, we have a lot of pressure and eyes on us. It’s a fast-paced and high-pressure environment — and time-management can make or break you. As is the nature of the job, I’m often racing against the clock to meet a deadline. I remember having a conversation with a former colleague of mine as he was departing his role as chief revenue officer, and he said to me that for the first time in his career, he truly appreciated that when Marketing says they have a deadline, probably more than any other function, it’s really true. He said he had a newfound respect for the pressure we face in meeting our deadlines knowing that we often have to rely on so many others to help us meet them.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
There are strategic goals for the year that I set for the marketing team that are directly tied to our company goals, and then I have operational metrics that we look at nearly every day that are used as leading indicators to ensure success in meeting the bigger picture strategic goals.
Specifically, the strategic goals I have are intended to monitor and measure the financial success of the business including new customer acquisition dollars, customer retention rate, customer lifetime value (CLTV), net recurring revenue (NRR), and net promoter score (NPS). For operational KPIs and metrics on the acquisition side, I look at both account-based marketing metrics for engagement and coverage, as well as funnel-based metrics including volume, velocity, and conversion rate. On the awareness/brand side, I look at competitive share of voice, as well as press and analysts mentions, placement, and engagement.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
I actually remember life before tools like Salesforce and marketing automation platforms — and it was harder! I’m grateful for solutions including Domo to visualize our mountains of data, Slack, which facilitates greater collaboration and remote communication, video conferencing tools like Zoom have changed the way we connect with coworkers and clients, and of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Adobe’s Document Cloud and Creative Cloud products as go-to-tools (disclaimer: I used to work there). I’d also like to thank Waze for helping me stay on schedule, get to important meetings and catch flights on time.
How did you end up at Marketing Evolution, and where might you go from here?
I joined Marketing Evolution as the company’s first chief marketing officer almost two years ago. My career spans roles at some of the best-known SaaS marketing technology companies, including Adobe, Neolane, Kronos, and Evariant.
Which campaigns/brands have impressed you lately?
To name a few: I think Peloton has done an amazing job — I have a friend who only stays at hotels that offer it. Casper is proving that it’s possible to transform an old category (the mattress sector has been around for decades). Nespresso broke down borders by successfully bringing its European brand to the United States.
But I’ve really been impressed by Ulta Beauty’s “The Possibilities Are Beautiful” ad campaign spanning across television, digital and social media, that shows there’s beauty in all people, highlighting inclusivity and featuring a diverse group of ages, body types, ethnicities, and gender identities. How can you not love that creative?
Do you have any advice for new marketers?
I would start with encouraging folks to take risks in their marketing initiatives — even though by nature, they won’t all work out. But doing the same thing as everyone else won’t get you anywhere. This is truer now that it’s ever been given the constant change in the marketing industry.
I would also remind new marketers that careers span many years, so it’s important to treat people decently along the way. Being successful and being kind don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Continuously paying it forward to other marketers makes us all better at our trade and uplifts the entire marketing profession.