For eMarketer's CMO One-to-One series, Andy Sackmann, CMO of Crocs, speaks about optimizing the company’s digital efforts and cultivating deeper relationships with country-specific consumers.
eMarketer: There appears to be a trend lately that companies are blending the role of a CTO and a CMO. Is that something that Crocs is doing, considering your marketing and programming background? Are you leading the trend?
Andy Sackmann: It is an interesting trend. I am not looking to move into a CTO position any time soon. We do have a CIO in-house. He and I have obviously become best buddies, since there is a lot of technology overlap with what we’re doing in the marketing area. It is an interesting background because it’s part technology development, part digital marketing and part traditional marketing all mixed into one.
eMarketer: What are the benefits of having a significant technology background for marketing departments?
Sackmann: As we go forward, technology plays a huge component. It’s everything from the data and analytics to targeting and personalization, and of course, putting your customer relationship management loyalty programs in place. In addition, mobile, and how it ties into your website, other digital channels and on down the list you go.
There is a growing dependence on marketing in tandem with the IT organization. Ideally, it’s one of partnership, but there is also becoming more of a dependence on the things that marketing wants to accomplish. It would be the ability of the IT organization to put the systems in place.
eMarketer: What is the Crocs marketing team hoping to accomplish in the digital space this year?
Sackmann: We have such a wide global footprint with many efforts and campaigns that work differently in different countries and regions. Digital, in particular, gives us a great chance to make sure we’re always focused on our customers and putting them on the center rack of our activities.
Through digital, we want to communicate and build relationships with consumers, which includes spreading the message of our expanding pride diversity and building that relevance around our key benefits—comfort, fun and uniqueness.
Beyond the mass media channels of advertising, we want to look at digital in a couple of ways. One, holistically across our global organization with the key guidelines we want to adhere to as we put activities into market. And second, to put out efforts that work best in a particular marketplace.
eMarketer: What are some digital efforts that you’ve done outside of the US?
Sackmann: In Asia, we’ve rolled out a great social media campaign around a contest with both in-store and online activation across all the social networks. So, for example, people in China picked that up even though they’re not big Facebook users, because we also placed it on Weibo, the country’s leading microblogging site. Within that channel, we used local bloggers—our opinion leaders.
It’s a different strategy than activating an effort in the US on social and through that blogger network, taking real-life moms who have created product videos and content and then syndicating that across other regions and channels. Instead, we leverage global capabilities into a local activation. We understand and relate to our consumers better at that local level.
eMarketer: How does ecommerce fall into your global plan?
Sackmann: We have approximately 22 global ecommerce sites. We don’t have one site that’s in 22 languages. Instead, we have unique sites in 21 countries on one global platform, which gives us a lot of flexibility. It does make doing a global redesign a bit more complicated because you’re literally touching 22 individual sites, not just one with a bunch of different languages.
We wanted to do a couple of things with the redesign, which rolled out in early 2013. We focused for a long time on speed to market and getting new sites into new countries. Then, we stepped back and said, “OK, we reached a mass penetration level here. Now let’s look at our user experience and how we need to improve that to really drive an increase in conversion.”
We wanted to continue to retain our loyalists through an improved user experience, as well as have the ability to support an evolving brand and product messaging.
eMarketer: Are you seeing a lot of ecommerce driven by mobile outside of the US?
Sackmann: Absolutely. We’re seeing pretty significant growth in our mobile numbers year over year and in some cases, even month over month. The US has been on a growth curve for probably the past year and a half. The EU is starting to really make some significant increases in mobile usage, as well. And in Asia, Japan has been an early adopter of smartphones and mobile technology for quite some time. Within our own data, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of people browsing and purchasing through the site on mobile devices.
eMarketer: Where does the tablet fit in?
Sackmann: Currently, it’s wrapped up in our mobile strategy. When we redesigned the site, we did it with tablets in mind. It’s not fully responsive, but it has the base framework for a responsive design and is very tablet-friendly. We are seeing a comparable tablet conversion rate to our desktop site—and higher than mobile in general.
We’re really focused now on going after smartphone and mcommerce—getting that throughout all of our global platforms and then looping back. Once we have that and have rolled out more of our omnichannel initiatives, we will look at tablet and integrating tablets cross-channel.
eMarketer: Do you use social simply for brand building? Is there a future in monetization for it?
Sackmann: That’s the hot topic in the industry right now—everyone is running around trying to figure out how they can monetize social. For me, personally, it’s not a huge priority. I don’t view our social channel as a large revenue driver. For Crocs, it’s about being able to interact and build relationships with our consumers, because we have such a wide ecommerce footprint.
When we put our campaigns together and roll out our content strategies, it’s more about providing information, engagement and consistent content. It’s not necessarily, “Here is a tweet, now go buy a shoe.” It’s about getting in front of our consumer to help build the brand message.
eMarketer: What was your experience like working at Crispin Porter + Bogusky?
Sackmann: Crispin was a fantastic place. It was a tough decision to leave, because I had been there for more than three years. It was a really fun, challenging and engaging place to go to work to every day.
There are two big things that anybody who leaves Crispin takes with them. One is that a good idea, nine times out of 10, surpasses any type of activation you can do. Without a good idea at the root of what you’re doing, no matter how you build a website or how you build an advertising campaign, it doesn’t matter. Alex Bogusky, co-chairman of CP+B, had a saying, “A good idea doesn’t care where it comes from.” Everyone was expected to contribute to the creative process and to help come up with the best idea possible and then, run that through a relentless demand for excellence.
Also, “OK” was not tolerated. CP+B demanded the best from everybody every day, and that really drove you to do incredible work. Now coming into the Crocs’ environment, it really carries over to the innovation and creativity and making sure that as a marketing organization, we’re not just working in the silo. We’re collaborating and partnering with other groups in the organization to generate as much innovation and ideas as possible.
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