Tracy’s initiative as CMO of NIP Group has been to see full integration between the CRM and email marketing platforms to better align marketing and sales while building and executing long-term strategy as it relates to the brand, marketing positioning, lead generation and retention.

NIP Group is now leveraging their CRM and email marketing platform integration, enabling sales to assign personas, model attribution and map their customer journey through the sales funnel. Tracy also shared her perspective on marketing industry trends, platforms and tools as well as challenges she faces as CMO of a growing company.

Here are the questions and answers from an interview conducted in Charlotte, North Carolina:

What is your background / previous experience that led you to your current position?

Previously I worked with consulting firms, serving a variety of industries (such as Premier Global, etc.). Most of the companies I partnered with were in the B2B space. I worked to open new markets, feature functionalities for products and highlight barriers to growth and market. I would often do the analytics and reporting needed and show what that looks like. While I did some consumer marketing, most of what I focused on was higher-level, B2B companies, offering the strategic view and having a team to execute.

What have you done to increase the digital marketing piece of the marketing pie as CMO at NIP Group?

Since January, I have been running multiple business decisions under an umbrella. NIP Group has multiple divisions by industry, and each have different business models, which I have to consider and adjust to different revenue goals. Specifically increasing the digital marketing piece of the marketing pie, I have encouraged a shared services view of the marketing team. Instead of traditional versus digital teams, we now function as a holistic services team running all programs, whether that’s lead generation or retention. This way I can really pick and choose the best skills to manage on my team.

What have you helped develop as CMO at NIP Group?

I was lucky to come aboard as CMO and already have a solid marketing team on the premise. There were different areas of expertise, and the marketing team was soloed and segmented based on the business line and division. After coming aboard, I tried to turn the tables on this to drive our team towards a more shared services ideology, where team members were pulled in based on skill set.

While this is definitely more of a tactical and operational move, I have also had the privilege of working to integrate our CRM and email marketing platforms: Salesforce and Marketo.

Previously these were not fully integrated platforms, so I worked to build the API and integration between the two to make marketing at NPI much stronger.

During this time period, I also helped to build and grow an inside call team. Now we are really strong in email campaigns based on segmentation and target audience. With Salesforce and Marketo integration, our call team is incredibly adept.

Another huge success because of this integration is that our marketing team can now send the right message at the right time. Honing in on behavior and action and testing to set up the call team based on territory, our call-back time is near immediate. We can see the path to attribution, set up automated work flows, and lead nurturing campaigns all based on stages in the sales funnel. Through seeing what path they are taking, we are able to optimize our digital strategy.

I have learned that it takes time to build the content and what the communication is going to look like, but with the integration of our platforms, once built, it runs itself.

What marketing tools and integrations are you leveraging to be successful?

Marketo gives us incredible insight into lead scoring and behavior. We can see what website pages our visitors were on and what they downloaded. We can then build out behaviors and tasks based on lead scoring and behavior/action. This makes the call team that much stronger and smarter with leads that come in.

Our closed metric of originally 13-14% has increased upwards of 50%. Managing these leads and understanding the path they take from submission received to closed bid of business, we are more strategic. Depending on the specific business unit, we have seen an average 40-50% increase of inbound business.

If you would identify 2-3 developments that have been turning points in the industry, what would they be?

Platforms, platforms, platforms.

What trends do you see for digital marketing in 2015?

Having been in digital for so long, it seems to always go back to some traditional aspects like direct mail. With marketing, as you know, it’s always about the right message, the right offer to the right prospect at the right time, where they are looking and where they are online. I am a firm believer in reaching that prospect.

In 2015, we are definitely seeing customer journey mapping increasing in value. The need to understand where the customer is and whether they have a framework for the content based on where they are in the sales funnel is key to making sure your brand stays top of mind. Persona studies help understand what makes up your prospect but also gives insight into the timing of messaging, the digital touchpoints and the frequency of those touchpoints.

In what direction is NIP Group moving next with digital marketing?

Testing retargeting is next. In the pipeline for me right now is conducting a 3 month test with a few specialty insurance products. Currently, it has only been running for 1 week. As an early adopter of retargeting in the B2B world, I am interested to see if it will make any impact and increase the lead funnel.

Also on my horizon is of course mobile technology. In the B2B space, mobile definitely lags behind, but it is in our overall marketing plan. Currently, I am asking myself the question: “Does it make the most sense for us right now?” My focus has been building out platforms, evaluating where our marketing needs to be from a strategic and execution view. That being said, mobile advertising would start with testing, seeing what works and scaling. Business is all about timing!

What challenges do you face as CMO of a growing company (now ranked among the largest 125 insurance and brokerage intermediaries in the U.S.)?

Often times mid to large companies have misalignment at the senior executive level with the vice president of sales and the marketing division operating like oil and water. This is such a detriment to the company and causes revenue to decrease and lead generation to take a hit. This can become dysfunctional and toxic for the company when they are not in lock step.