- Martine Williamson, CMO of Revlon, says the right talent is crucial for today’s marketing success.
- Consumer behavior warrants seamless shopping experiences supported by e-commerce and social content.
- Marketers need to focus on technology innovation in an age where content is always “on.”
- This article is part of the “Innovation C-Suite” series about business growth and technology shifts.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, global beauty leader Revlon had been all-in on digital transformation. In a 2018 earnings call, CEO Debra Perelman highlighted the company’s focus on e-commerce through retail partners, direct-to-consumer brand sites, backend technology capabilities, and social channel efficacy.
But when Martine Williamson joined Revlon as the chief marketing officer in December 2020, the organization was seeking to accelerate its technology innovation to drive customer journeys while moving its culture toward a nimble, startup mentality. Consumer behavior had shifted during the pandemic as social distancing and shutdowns led to a surge in online sales.
“It’s no longer linear – shoppers can go directly from viewing an Instagram in-stream ad to reading a product’s comments and purchasing online, so we really had to accelerate our efforts and adapt our plans,” Williamson told Insider.
Revlon worked quickly to build out its seamless shopping experience and to move into creating new types of social and digital content and focusing on quality influencers. “We want to ensure that we reach her at all points of the day,” Williamson said. “Beauty is a fun category that is all about fantasy and storytelling, so we’re really focused on going beyond a traditional ecommerce experience.”
Williamson offered four tips for CMOs in any industry who want to drive the customer journey with the support of technology innovation:
1. Choose the right talent.
For marketers to boost technology innovation, it’s not just about finding technology talent, says Williamson, but the right talent. “I am such a firm believer in building the right teams,” she said. “I am never going to be a technology expert, I can ensure that I build the right digital team and that we are all educated in how to best connect with our consumers in a digital-first world.” That includes people who are data-driven in their decision-making, she added, and are comfortable with testing and learning. “You need an agile mindset,” she said.
2. Get input from younger employees.
“I’m not hierarchical, I’m like a sponge with the younger folks in the organization, which to me is all about being adaptive,” said Williamson, who added that she brings in interns every summer to take on projects such as running social channels. “Those junior folks that have been brought up in the digital world, that live and breathe it, they are the best people outside of our external consumers that we tap into, the most important test cases to run things by.”
3. Test and learn based on real-time data.
Williamson explained that nearly a dozen tools feed into a Revlon dashboard pulled from backend analytics across the company’s businesses, offering snapshots of all key KPIs. “We make all of our decisions based off of this dashboard, it’s one common metric that we’re all able to look at,” she said, pointing out that it is essential to test and learn within an environment where it’s okay to fail. “There needs to be a culture of courage, where you can be nimble and move quickly,” she said.
4. Work with tech partners in the organization.
The key to meeting customer expectations is working across functions, driven by data, to make sure technology teams understand consumers and how to reach them, said Williamson. “We are very locked in with our digital team, our ecommerce team, our CIO, to ensure that they are fully briefed on every aspect of the target customer,” she added. “As long as we’re all kind of holding hands, knowing this is for the greater good of the business, then we can shift as needed – that constant adaptation is a big part of the success in tech innovation.”
At its core, marketing is all about a focus on customer experience, Williamson said, “so it’s critical to tell stories and create journeys across the myriad of online and offline channels, and for customer strategies up and down all levels of the funnel.” Revlon, she added, has to delineate dynamic journeys customized for a wide variety of user experiences. “A Walmart consumer is very different from a Target consumer or a CVS consumer,” she said.
But for any brand, today’s marketers need to focus on technology innovation in an age where content is always “on.” “All CMOs need to be educated about digital-first tools and stay up to speed on shifting consumer insights and behavior,” Williamson said. “That’s what really drives how as businesses we need to evolve.”