Interview With Brandon Warburton, SVP – Digital, Pluralsight

Brandon Warburton
SVP – Digital
Plural Sight

1. What is the major challenge that you see today for digital marketing?

I think the biggest challenge is getting to a true ROI, ideally Long Term Value – Customer Acquisition Cost, at an actionable grain of detail.  There has been a lot of innovation and progress on key components like multi-touch attribution models, cost allocation, and predictive analytics around LTV, but there are still some assumptions being made when optimizing ROI at a sub-channel or keyword level.  Additionally, executing on truly personalized communication and experiences at scale is a challenge.  We can target creative to broader personas on the website and send targeted recommendations via email, but doing that in a truly personalized, 1:1 basis with amazing, on-brand creative is a challenge.  However, we know this is an area we need to continue to invest in at Pluralsight as we see meaningful improvements in conversion where we do get it right.

2. Do you think organizations today look at digital marketing as an important element when planning their marketing mix?

It’s a big problem if they aren’t.  As eyeballs shift from traditional media like TV and Print to online, marketers need to adjust their marketing mix accordingly.  In addition to audience shift, digital is much more trackable in terms of engagement and performance and it allows for a more targeted approach- all of this drives efficiency. That said, there are areas where you need to leverage a mix of digital and traditional marketing.  With our ABM campaigns, we’ve found that a digital-only strategy is not as effective as if you tie in elements of direct mail and field events.  All of this is still tracked digitally via the CRM, so our reps know exactly when a direct mail piece is delivered so they can follow up with the contact, invite them to a field event, etc.

3. As for Digital Marketers, would you say they are equipped to handle the challenges of a new age organization?

With innovation in the MarTech space, comes more complexity.  Tools are becoming more sophisticated and therefore take longer to learn, resulting in a skills gap.  Digital Marketers need to stay on top of new technologies and make sure they are trained on the most current platforms.  They change/evolve every 2-3 years, so it’s an ongoing process.  It used to be that marketers could get by with just knowing some of the basic tools for their area of expertise- Photoshop for creatives, Google AdWords for demand gen.  Now the tools are much more sophisticated and are getting more so every day.  Creatives need to not only understand the Adobe Creative Suite, but analytics tools, A/B testing tools, etc.  Demand Gen folks now need to be experts in a wide range of tools across the MarTech stack- most of our team has some level of expertise in Marketo, Salesforce, DemandBase, and Adobe Experience Manger/Analytics/Target.

4. There is increased focus on continuous skill development, how can digital as a medium be leveraged by organizations to upskill their resources.

Ongoing training is critical, as is understanding your team’s strengths and weaknesses.  This is where Pluralsight comes in as we not only use it to train our team on the latest technology needed to be successful in their jobs, but we can get an understanding of how our individual team members index vs. the broader Pluralsight community.  This enables us to hire the right people and make sure they are receiving training in the on the specific skills they need to be successful.

5. What is the difference between being digital in India vis-a-vis some of the developed countries of the world?

Honestly, I don’t notice a difference.  I’ve worked with teams in India for the past 20 years- when I was in Silicon Valley, 80% of my team was in India.  The time difference is the only difference I’ve observed. I am excited as we all are at Pluralsight to see the Digi100 list from India and to recognize India’s top digital marketers.

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