Data drives pretty much everything in marketing. Ahead of her appearance at our CMO Summit on May 11th discussing what it takes to be a data-driven CMO, we spoke to Corina Stirbu, CMO of Wolfpack Digital, on what data means to a CMO and how she tackles some of the current challenges in the world of data.

Hi Corina, can you tell us a bit about your career, Wolfpack Digital, and your role there as CMO?

Hi, sure!

I am currently helping tech products, SaaS companies, and startups grow to the next level through data-driven actions and optimization.

As Chief Marketing Officer at Wolfpack Digital, I make sure we work with companies that we truly believe in, especially in the fintech, medtech, and beauty industries, and I identify new distribution channels, and strategic approaches in order to increase MRR and grow the company with healthy and steady KPIs in the long run.

My career started back in 2010 while being an engineering student with content writing, PR, and social media side gigs in my spare time, so by the time I graduated, I had already been doing marketing work for a few years. The first official job was as a Marketing and Communication Specialist for a business consultancy company, and it slowly migrated to tech startups and companies. It was quite a journey: ghostwriter, copywriter, social media manager, content manager, PR manager, full-stack marketer, strategist, product marketer, CMO.

Do you see yourself as a data-driven CMO, and what does that mean to you?

Oh, absolutely!

(Good) Marketing, at its core, is the process and effort of aligning the business with the changing needs of our customers — so, mainly understanding pain points and solving the customers’ problems. If we want to build and scale a strategy, considering contemporary challenges, data helps a lot and will optimize the efforts.

So, I’d say that being a data-driven CMO is about bridging the gap between a business goal and the market needs using data and cross-references to identify the right channels, messaging, positioning, and actions at the right time for the right audience.

Are there any specific data types that help you the most when you’re developing marketing strategies?

It all depends on the business goals, really, as this role is very mission-driven.

CMOs are at the management table and discuss the business direction as well — revenue, new services, growth, ups and downs for pretty much everything.

While we lead all the marketing efforts, we also get involved across departments when/if needed and have a say for the entire org plans, and then adapt the marketing efforts accordingly.

No matter if you are a team of two, eleven, forty, or a hundred plus, the role is defined by the impact your work has within the company: management, team engagement, talent development, cross-collaboration within the organization departments, c-suite collaboration, profit and loss responsibility, and everything in between to ensure growth.

The one metric I always look at is revenue, though. No matter what you do within different campaigns, channels, product marketing actions, or media types (each of them with their very own important metrics), at the end of the day, revenue and growth are key for any c-suite role.

What you measure is what you get done!

How do you balance making data-driven decisions, while still giving your team room to be creative?

What an amazing question! I don't find data as being the opposite of creativity — au contraire!

Being data-driven forces you to do proper research, both in terms of audience and their needs and what else was done by other companies. Which would definitely avoid any creative stereotypes, and help you think about creative ways to be better than the competition or ways to win your customers.

Humans are capable of simultaneously engaging both sides of the brain, the creative and the analytical side, in a series of scenarios and tasks. Creativity, like all other skills or competencies, comes in different shapes and sizes, and being creative is not only about original ideas, but the way we explore the existing solutions and ideas and bridge the gap between them and the audience's needs. Think about Ford, their car assembly line was actually inspired by a processing meat assembly line. There is nothing out of this world nor original, but the way an idea or a solution was iterated to fix a problem is absolutely genius.

To give you an example that applies in martech: making an app onboarding is not a unique idea, making a truly amazing app onboarding is what makes you good. And if you have the data to know that most of your customers love, say, gifs, South Park references, and witty jokes, and also the maximum number of screens/steps, you can always build a damn creative onboarding that converts/engages 😀

With many countries bringing in various data-protection laws of different degrees of intensity, what advice do you have for CMOs looking to collect and analyze data internationally?

Oh, this is a good topic!

I am a huge believer in privacy by design, so collecting data should not be THE goal, but solving a problem.

As a marketer (CMO or not), one should always draw the line between data and customer-centric approaches: see what triggers the “aha!” for the customers and focus on it (data, content, marketing, behavioral triggers, improvements, everything).

At the end of the day, no matter how many metrics you measure, it’s people who click on your site and who drive the success.

They aren't just users and numbers, but people, and you need to know what goes through their mind when they see your site/product.

They are people with specific behaviors and decision-making reasons.

And knowing your customers better leads to great messaging, amazing customer experience and success, long-term partnerships, and, obviously, growth.

So, with all the regulations, I would focus on privacy by design, consent, communication with the client, customer support, conversational marketing, and any actions that ensure all content and messaging is transparent, trustworthy, and consistent over time.

Oh, and use a tech stack that is also reliable, trustworthy, and considers the laws across all countries.

You’re going to be taking part in CMO Alliance’s CMO Summit on May 11th, discussing data-driven CMOs. Why do you think being data-driven is important for you in your role as CMO?

Consumers are checking twice before picking a brand. And looking at this pandemic time range, with all its events (strikes, marches, movements, etc.), we can definitely say that the thriving brands will be the ones with a bold "why" in their statements and well-built company culture.

Being data-driven is not only about measuring all the analytics, heatmaps, and charts we have at hand, but also about checking how the world changes economically, politically, culturally, and in any other way. And then adapting all that information into one strategy. So, this year, more than ever, it is important to align all this public data to products and services that have a cause, a specific group of people to serve. Being data-driven ensures we are the most relevant product, service, or content for the audience.

What were you most looking forward to about taking part in CMO Summit?

I find the CMO role very diverse, and, as mentioned before, extremely mission-driven, and every CMO has a different strategy and approach - so, I  am looking forward to hearing about the other CMOs' experiences, industries and how one question can have multiple good answers based on perspective and context.

Being cross-functional and pluriperspective is what makes this role challenging, and this summit covers speakers from so many industries and verticals that one can only learn a lot from it, no matter how many years of experience you have!

Thanks, Corina!

For more insights on being a data-driven CMO from Corina, as well as a huge range of other topics from leading CMOs, check out her session OnDemand here.