Anna Barcelos, Director of Marketing at Vector Software, is the latest marketer to have been interviewed for our marketing expert series. As a marketer who has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, we were looking forward to getting to know Anna a bit better; asking her a range of questions:  

  • What do you like to do in your spare time/hobbies?

I am a very family-oriented person and spend a large portion of my time taking weekend trips to games to watch my son play football. My daughter is currently a senior at high school and so we are also using up a lot of time looking at colleges.

For myself, I like to keep healthy and try to go kickboxing at least 3 times a week. I also like to keep up on technology trends and read as much as I can.

  • What football team do you like?

I am a huge fan of the Real Madrid team. I was born in Portugal in the same town as Cristiano Ronaldo, and soccer was always on while I was growing up, so I definitely root for the Real Madrid team. But out of loyalty, as someone who lives in New England I am also a big supporter of the Patriots for “American football.”

  • What other career would you have chosen if you weren’t in marketing?

I have been a “purebred” marketer since day one, and have enjoyed over 25 years of experience in marketing, as it has been continually changing and evolving. However, if I was to choose another career I would want to be a data scientist.

Data fascinates me, and I love the notion of collecting huge amounts of information, and taking this information to be analysed and manipulated in order to create different models that could help companies become more successful.

I would have also liked to be a software developer. At the moment, it’s all about software and the importance of this career is only going to increase with time. Ideally, I would double major in both subjects to become a data scientist and a software developer.

We also asked Anna a variety of marketing questions, looking to find out Vector’s biggest marketing challenge, as well Anna’s future insights and opinions of effective marketing activities and best campaigns: 

  • What do you think have been the biggest changes to B2B marketing in the past 3 years?

In the past three years, data has become more and more prominent, with marketing automation tools allowing companies to take advantage and find ways to utilise data. The increased use of intelligence data and automation tools to create personalized experiences along the customer journey, is one of the biggest changes I’ve seen to B2B marketing.

I recently read a great report done with Google* which explored how leading brands are investing in a “first-party” future, that is using the data they’ve collected on their customers and creating individualized experiences. Within the report there is a discussion on artificial intelligence and the impact it will have on marketing in the future. The report proposes that the use of artificial intelligence through machine learning will grow, to more accurately predict and provide customers with instant, personalized experiences along their buying journey. As a marketer myself, this is something I fully agree with and what I see for marketing in the future. Exciting!

*An Audience of Individuals, 2017 Econsultancy and Google

  • What do you think will be the biggest change in the way you approach your campaigns in the next 3 years?

In the next 3 years, I believe the biggest change in the way we approach our campaigns will be through our marketing expertise. Having people with digital capabilities who can create these online strategies will be essential. With the increase in data and the need to utilise it, we need data-driven people who are a cross between marketers and data analysts.

The challenge will lie in trying to find the people who have this added layer of expertise, as well as the resources to create and implement these campaigns.

  • What are your biggest marketing challenges?

The biggest challenge we are facing at Vector today is the new GDPR regulation which is to be set into place next year. As a global company, data compliance is going to be challenging, and we need to have a strategy ready for this. Email campaigns will also be a challenge with this new regulation; knowing how to set them up and position them, while ensuring our database is compliant and clean.

  • Describe the future of trade media – will it thrive or are there problems ahead?

Within the trade media, as with any company, lots of innovation needs to be done there. Trade journals are still very traditional and I firmly believe that if you don’t innovate you die. They really need to increase their use of digital channels, although it is hard with both Asia and Europe still using traditional ads.

From our own personal experience, we don’t advertise in trade journals as there is no ROI for us there. Instead we utilise digital campaigns such as syndicated content to gain leads, while advertising in trade journal e-newsletters.

I believe large media companies do need to innovate and have a long way to go. Although the modern day does have a traditional touch, trade journals who don’t have digital expertise, need to hire expertise to ensure they don’t fall behind with the times and continue to develop. It is critical that trade journals know how their customers consume media and do not get left behind.

  • What do you think is the most effective and least effective marketing activity you, or your company undertakes (in terms of ROI)?

Success for Vector is measured through revenue, and so for Vector, trade shows are our least effective marketing activity. We still attend trade shows as a company, but limit ourselves to the amount of trade shows we attend. There is great value in face to face interaction and relationships created at trade shows. However, in terms of ROI, the cost versus business generated makes trade shows our least successful activity.

Our most successful activity comes from our website. This is our top lead generator with the highest qualified leads. Our web marketing efforts, such as utilising all our channels including social, organic search and Google AdWords are among our most effective marketing activities.

  • What is the most over-hyped marketing tactic?

I am a huge fan of social media, yet I still believe it can be over-hyped. Making social media more quantitative in B2B is a challenge. You’ll have the greatest success by setting specific goals and measuring key KPIs including engagement, reach, leads, and conversions.  Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have been around the longest and can be extremely valuable. Social media needs to be taken seriously, starting at the top. If there is no management buy-in on its value, chances for success at your company are slim.

  • What was the best campaign you’ve run?

Personally, the best campaign I’ve run was at a CRM technology company. We worked directly with the sales team to create email campaigns. We created two B2B email lists (one with first-party data and the other third-party to supplement our database) and sent a series of emails with the main goal of setting up demoes for our sales team. We ran the campaign for a couple of months, and there was a huge increase in requests for demos. It is one of the best campaigns (with a very basic goal) and cost-effective campaigns I’ve ever run.

With reference to Vector and our campaigns, email marketing remains our most successful and cost-effective channel. We have increased our internal capability to create more personalized, automated email programs to nurture leads along the buyer’s journey and provide the highest qualified leads to our sales people.

  • If there is one thing you could change about the electronics press, what would it be?

I would like to gain more analytical insight. If the electronic press used more tools to analyse their data and be a bit more proactive, they could provide more analytics to their customers and help them optimise their campaigns. I think companies would be appreciative of this.

  • If there was one thing you could change about how agencies work with you, what would it be?

Personally, I would like more day to day interaction. I understand it can be hard, but working closer with each other, means the relationship could be more personalized. Napier is awesome, but agencies generally could be more pro-active and be a step ahead of us, thinking of things we haven’t yet thought about, just one step. Whether through a campaign or resource, agencies should be more pro-active and persistent.

  • Can you explain how you define and measure success for your campaigns?

We try and implement most of our campaigns through digital channels because they can be measured. We track ROI from marketing leads that turn into opportunities and sales.

Our main aim, as probably with most companies, is to generate marketing and sales qualified leads (MQLs/SQLs) that have the highest probability of turning into sales.