CMO Chats with Niki Hall, Chief Marketing Officer of Contentsquare

Ortus Chats

NIKI HALL

Chief Marketing Officer | Contentsquare

Niki Hall, Chief Marketing Officer of Contentsquare talks to mClub‘s Lorna Davidson about how consumer behaviors evolve, the necessity for marketers to understand these shifts and respond appropriately, and leaning into data to understand what their customers needed and refining strategies.

To watch Niki’s interview, you can subscribe to our CMO Chats interview series on YouTube. You can also listen to the interview on Spotify or pour yourself a cup of coffee and read the full interview below. Subscribe to the CMO Chats Newsletter on LinkedIn to keep up-to-date on our conversations with today’s Marketing leaders.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Evolution of consumer behaviors evolve
  • The role of marketers in understand and adapting to consumer shifts
  • Having a vision for your business to understand what success looks like
  • Having the right content to engage the interest of your audiences

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What does your company do and what is your role there?

Contentsquare is a digital experience analytics platform founded in 2012 in Europe. It’s an amazing solution for companies that digitally conduct business and need a digital experience analytics solution. I am the Chief Marketing Officer of the company.

What motivated you the most about working for Contentsquare? And what was your biggest marketing challenge when you first started?

What motivated me the most was the product. When I met with the CEO, he was amazing; he has so much energy and passion, which I love. He demoed the product that was discussed in our very first meeting, and I said, “Wow, I have to work for this company.” I want to learn more about the company because I want to make sure I’m not being sold. It truly is what they say it is.

As I was interviewed by the CRO, the CEO, and the Chief Product Officer, there was a common theme and trend: solutions that truly solve the customer pain points of today and enable businesses to truly understand their customers. I’ve always been driven by a customer-first mindset, which started in my Cisco system days with John Chambers. John was always about putting customers first, so it’s been ingrained in me. When I saw the solution, when it was all in action, I said, “Wow. I want to join this company and help let the world know all about it.”

How did your company organise events during the pandemic?

During the pandemic, it’s online. We were thinking about going back to in-person events during that time, like a lot of companies. What we did was immediately look at the data to inform what our customers needed, and we started pulling together thought leadership roundtables with the customer voice. Now, we’re incredibly lucky to have so many wonderful customers from Sephora, Walmart, Disney North Face, and you name it.

As I mentioned, any company that has been digitally transformed needs a solution like ours. So, what we tried to do was pull them together for ideation, roundtable topics, and to share ideas for best practices, tips, and tricks—and it seems to work. It’s very likely that if you help them succeed, they will become more loyal to your brand. They each share the art of the possible and how they’re using this solution. That event was in-person, and because of the pandemic, like every other company, we had to pivot online, and it worked well. In fact, one of our events is called the Customer Experience Circle, or CX Circle. That first event was about two weeks after I joined, and we had 2000 people on it, and this was just in North America. Then, of course, we have it and Europe, etc. Everyone wants to learn more, so they’re still attending our virtual events.

How have you seen consumer behaviors change during the pandemic and how have marketers responded?

We have a benchmark report, and we measure consumer behavior. The way our solution works is that it looks at every mouse move, engagement, hover, you name it. We have trillions of data points about how people behave. We did this benchmark study, and what we found is that year over year, there has been a 16% increase in engagement via smartphones. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have learned that myself. I would have thought, “Oh, people are home, they have their laptop, they’re going to work like this.” But no, 16% of people are engaging via their smartphone. The interesting thing is that when they engage, the average time on the page across all industries is only 54 seconds. So, you need to have the right content to engage audiences at the right time, and you also need to understand your customers because they won’t engage if you don’t have the right content for them. It’s all about the understanding of the customer. That’s what we’ve seen. It’s interesting; I wouldn’t have thought that it would be mobile first during the pandemic, but it really has been.

Even with the pandemic, we saw that the luxury beauty and apparel industries seem to be spending heavily on user acquisition. We saw 32% of the luxury industry’s traffic come from paid ads, while beauty and apparel brought in 26%. We also saw that 20% of traffic is driven through ads, less than the 35% we measured the previous year. So, that’s an interesting stat as well.

“You need to have the right content to engage them at the right time, and you also need to understand your customer because they won’t engage if you don’t have the right content for them. It’s all about the understanding of the customer.”

Who inspires you?

From a personal perspective, probably my daughter. She’s 15 years old, and I want to be a great role model for her, especially in this crazy world we’re living in. Then, from a business perspective, I formed a CMO advisory board to help advise myself and Contentsquare. Some of the folks that I asked to be on the board, and I’m super grateful, include: Denise Persson, the CMO of Snowflake, which I’m sure people know Snowflake as one of the most successful IPOs in history; Kara Wilson, who I worked with at Cisco for many years, and she went on to be the CMO for numerous successful companies like FireEye, Okta, and Rubrik—she has the Midas touch; then, Laura Graves is also on the advisory board. She is very good about speaking through a kind of equity analyst lens, so side by side analysts lenses to convey that messaging and what resonates; And finally, the fourth person on our advisory board who really inspires me and whom I asked to join was Ben Gibson. Ben Gibson is the CMO of Nutanix, Aruba Networks, and F5. From a professional perspective, I try to surround myself with that kind of mix, like early-stage startups, big high-growth companies, and investors.

What’s one piece of career advice you have received that’s been particularly valuable to you as a marketing leader?

I would say my biggest piece of advice for marketers of today and tomorrow is to always start with the vision, make sure you have a strategy to achieve it, and then how are you going to execute it over time and measure it.

Always start with a vision. Vision is super critical. What that means is understanding what success looks like two to three years from now. If you start with that and align it with your business priorities, you will never go wrong. Then, make sure you have a marketing strategy to achieve your vision, like a three- to five-pronged approach that is super measurable. With that, measure over time. I don’t plan for a year because I’m big on a rolling four-quarter plan. This way, I always have headlights on what is coming down the road.

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