On a recent episode of CMO Convo, we were joined by Ionut Danifeld, CMO at TRAPO Asia, to discuss the what, why, and how of 360-degree marketing solutions. Ionut explains what they are, why they can be so impactful, and how he went about implementing a 360 solution at TRAPO, plus top tips for others looking to do the same.

You can find the full episode here, but read on for a write-up of everything we discussed.

CMO Convo | The what, why, and how of 360-degree marketing
Thinking about marketing as a linear process isn’t smart at any level as a marketer, and it’s especially foolish as a CMO. That’s what this episode’s guest, Ionut Danifeld’s experience has taught him.

Ionut's background and current CMO role

Hi Ionut, before we get to 360-degree marketing solutions, could you take us through your professional background and your current role as CMO?

My name is Ionut Danifeld. I'm the CMO of TRAPO Asia, we are the fastest growing car accessories company in Southeast Asia with a presence in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand. We've been growing 5x since the moment I joined TRAPO in the last two years.

A little bit about myself, I have around 12 years of experience in digital marketing, working at the international level. I think that the agency side, which I was doing before joining TRAPO, and also on the company side.

I'm originally from Romania, a fun fact about me, I've been living for about five or six years in Southeast Asia and at the moment I'm in Malaysia.

You mentioned you've had agency side and company side, has that giving you a certain philosophy you bring to the CMO role? Is there a certain way you approach marketing?

Yeah, absolutely. It's a good question. I think that I know how to speak with both parties. I know what the agency is looking for, and how to basically brief the agency. The majority of the agencies that we're actually working with are development agencies, and I know what to get from them and how to squeeze, let's say, everything from them.

And also on the company side, I understand what are the requirements, and I'm putting myself all the time into the client's shoes, which is super important.

You need to put yourself as a client, as a customer: is that message that you're delivering, is that visual that you're doing, is that email that you're doing, is that content you're doing actually going to be appealing? Yes or no?

If it's not appealing, how can we simplify it? Because something that we've seen also in TRAPO, for example, we tend to go too much into features and less to benefits.

I was actually looking today when Steve Jobs was launching the iPod. He was not talking about the features, where you had so many generations of iPods from different companies. But what Steve Jobs was basically saying is that here is the little version of a device that can store up to 1000 songs in your pocket. Everybody was like, "Oh, wow, it actually makes sense".

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What is a 360-degree marketing solution?

This broad perspective that you have probably comes in quite useful when it comes to building these 360-degree marketing solutions.

Before we go into the actual process building, maybe it makes sense to define what is a 360 marketing solution? Because it's one of those buzzwords that gets thrown around quite a lot but what do they actually look like? What makes them different from omnichannel solutions, for example?

Yeah, absolutely. So it's true. It sounds like a buzzword but basically, how can you create a marketing campaign that integrates perfectly with... and I'm talking here probably from a perspective of an eCommerce company, how can you define that sales funnel from a person that doesn't know anything about your business to somebody that is visiting your website, is taking the action, is adding a product to cart, and is buying the product and/or service?

How can you incentivize them to become a promoter of your business? So it's a little bit of a mix between the inbound marketing philosophy, and also all of the tools that we are connecting together.

So we are using tools for email marketing, which is, for example, GoDigital, we are using a tool for the loyalty scheme, which is Loyalty Lion. We are using a tool for reviews, which is Okendo. Our main eCommerce platform is Shopify.

Each time I was searching for a new tool to come into the place, it meant that every single tool needs to be connected one to another.

The reason I'm saying the "360-degree integrated solution" is because the customer is basically in the center of all of your marketing actions and they're basically attracted and pinpointed.

The moment that they're arriving from one channel, they're taken through the entire sales funnel and receiving the message from multiple tools and channels.

To give you an example, let's say when they're visiting the website, they're already receiving a push notification, they're also receiving ads on Facebook and Google, the moment that they're adding a product into the cart, or not even adding a product to the cart but visiting the product page they're already receiving an email.

If they bought something they're going to receive a message from the loyalty system saying, "Hey, you have so many points here you can use them for another purchase". They're receiving an email, from Okendo, the review system, "Leave a review, and you're going to get some points", which are connected to the loyalty system.

So that's the idea behind 360-degree marketing and integrated marketing solutions. If I would summarize it, I would say that every single tool you're going to use needs to be interconnected and the customer is at the center of your marketing actions.

So there's a lot of different moving parts involved and I'd imagine getting all these systems integrated together can be quite difficult, especially if you're starting from scratch?

Yeah, definitely.

So what are the benefits of this kind of approach as opposed to a traditional marketing funnel approach? What are the benefits of having this immersive experience for a customer?

Let's take one step back, first of all, and go from the goal. Before using Shopify, we were actually using WordPress, which was kind of like a clunky, not friendly, not scalable solution. So we were like, "okay, let's use Shopify, let's shift a little bit to Shopify". I like to say WordPress is a little bit like Android, but Shopify is a little bit like Apple, simple plug and play, and really user friendly.

From there, we were thinking, okay, what kind of tools do we want to use and why do we want to use them? The main benefit and focus for us is to actually increase conversions. If I'm speaking in the ultimate objective, we want to increase conversions.

So the moment we wanted to increase the conversions, we were thinking, what are the tools and what are the channels that we want to increase the conversions? We wanted to map up really clearly the entire user journey and that's something we discovered based on the previous data.

At the moment we launched the website, we already knew what we wanted to do. The moment we realized that, okay, here are the problems, we did a lot of AB testing from there.

Priorities when building the solution

Did you have certain things you prioritized with the problems you were addressing? Or because it's a 360-degree solution, do you go everywhere at once? Did you narrow down on specific problems first and solve those issues?

We actually looked at pillars, we knew from the top funnel, we wanted to attract the visitors to the website. What are the channels there? And we realized that it's, for example, Facebook, or Google ads. Two different networks with two different intentions.

Facebook is purely interest. Google Ads is purely search-based, intent-based. At the moment you arrive at the website, what are the things that are going to hook up the customer or the visitors to actually browse the website, stay longer, not to have a bounce rate? We realized a loyalty system, because it's giving an incentive, points in order to create an account.

At the moment they're creating an account, they're going to have a discount. If for example, they're not creating an account, what can we do in order to actually link them back to the website? We realized we needed an email marketing system in place with professional marketing email tool.

MailChimp wasn't working for us, so that's why we switched to GoDigital. It's creating all sorts of funnels that are helping us drive more traffic and actually re-engage with the customers. When we arrived at the purchase process, we realized that probably they're dropping off at add to cart, so we use heat maps.

It's such a simple tool for people to understand how the user behavior is happening. It's a little bit like James Bond, the moment you plug the code, you can actually see the recording. I remember when I was back in my early career, and even now in TRAPO when I started to implement it, people were like, "Wow, is it legal?"

And I was like, "Of course it's legal. I'm not seeing any numbers, I'm not seeing any credit cards. I'm just seeing, what the users are doing. And why are they not clicking?" At the purchase point we needed to look at Amazon, booking.com and other similar websites to review our own.

It's the simple human psychology that people are going to buy when they see other people are trusting you. That is why we were going for Okendo. And Okendo and Loyalty Lion were having a love relationship, they were basically connecting to each other.

Also, Loyalty Lion was connecting with GoDigital, so we can actually create an automatic code. You see that one piece is falling next to another. We were really happy with the process and it's why we chose tool A competitor with tool B is customer support.

With every single tool I had to say "I don't know anything about this tool, so can we fast pace this process of learning?" So I was asking for the account manager. The account manager is there to help you, hold your hand, it doesn't matter if you're a CMO, or a marketing person, he's going to hold your hand and show you "Okay, what are your objectives? How can you use our platform to basically reach those objectives."

I suppose that's a good lesson for yourself as well, when you're building a service, if you're attracted to services that have better customer support, then you're going to build customer support into your own services and your own offerings in a similar way?

We've talked a bit about the core components, and how you built on them, do you feel you have a 360-degree marketing solution now? Or is there still more to be added? Is it an ongoing process, a 360-degree marketing process ever finished?

It's a super interesting question. If I were to be realistic, yes, we have it. I might see flaws in the system, probably, but flaws in the system are a principle in life, that require lifelong learning, right? And you need to continuously learn and adapt.

The power is in the data. I'm a super creative person, I'm not a data analyst or person that knows really well to read the data. But, as a CMO, as a marketing person, you really need to have some sort of understanding of data.

So we are looking at all of the data, we're looking at the entire data and discovering what are the problems. And we're constantly improving the process and the flow. And we are doing a lot of AB testing.

I think the key to AB testing is that constant long-life learning. Every single AB test that we're doing, we're doing it in a simple incremented manner. A big problem I'm is testing too many things at the same time so you don't know what's working.

We are doing simple AB tests like title, length of the message, creative, all on a smaller scale, and after this, we go live.

Training your team with new tools

So when it came to integrating these new solutions, were there any issues with retraining people on your team who might have been used to certain processes? Was it tricky getting everyone up to speed on these new changes you were making?

Your question makes me laugh because I remember in the beginning when I was coming into the company and I was like, let's use that tool and that tool and that tool. I can tell you from my perspective from living here in Southeast Asia, not to sound negative, but people are reluctant to try new tools.

Realistically speaking it's probably universal when you have a new guy coming and taking a position and saying that you should use this tool for this and this tool for this, and this tool for that. It's taking people outside of their comfort zone and needs the right learning pace.

In the beginning, we were investing so much money in all these tools, and we realized that some people were not actually using them. Something I've been saying all the time, a tool is going to show the return on investment at the moment people are going to use it.

We set up meetings with leaders of the departments, and account managers, and I had the conversation with the account managers of that specific tool and I told them that, "Hey, this person is from, let's say, customer support, here are their challenges. Show them case studies of other companies, how they're using it. Make it as easy as possible, and make them understand that it's actually going to save them time".

I think that was something that really worked to actually make them understand that, okay, this tool is not to complicate your life, but it's actually going to help you and make your job much easier. That worked but it was a process.

It was solid months, I think half a year. And we actually ditched some tools down the way. Tools were great, in my opinion, but the response was not there and we had to close them down.

These retraining processes, did that require any buy-in from the CEO? For example, did you sell to them this idea that we're going to have to have a bit of downtime, we're going to have to do some retraining? Did they get the importance of that straight away, or did you have to sell them the concept?

As the CMO of the company you need to sell every single idea. Something that I've been saying to all of the departments and all of the stakeholders that I'm working with in the company is it's not my way or no way.

I think that it really needs to be quite flexible in the sense of understanding what other people need, and you need to sell it and explain to them why this should happen. But you should also have an ear for their problems and why they don't want to use it.

Definitely, it was a selling process, no question in my mind. But that's the reality.

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Knowing your solution

It sounds like you've got a good understanding of all the different components, do you consider yourself an expert on them? Is that something a CMO needs to be when building these kinds of solutions?

Do you have to understand every single nut and bolt that goes into the different components of your marketing solution or can you delegate that responsibility?

I think you as the CMO need to have a certain understanding of why is it working, why we should use it. It's an understanding of the tool components from a perspective of a helicopter point of view. But you really need to learn to delegate.

I can tell you, for example, I'd like to consider myself an email marketing expert, but probably someone in my team, the person in my marketing team that is handling day-to-day email marketing is much more the expert than me.

The ones that are, for example, using some other tools like Facebook ads, (not really a tool but let's call tool), or Google ads. I consider myself a Facebook and Google Ads specialist, or expert, but the person that I'm working with is actually much better than me.

I think the key role of the CMO is to actually supervise and to give the direction and the scope and the vision and the goal. To basically look at the process and look at the details, but for the implementation needs to happen - you need to have trust in your team.

So you're like the architect and your team does the building?

I love this word. I'm going to take it, I'm like the architect, yeah, definitely. I like to consider myself as the architect. Yeah.

It's a good phrase when it comes to this kind of thing, because you've got this map out, and you've got the end goal but you can't build something without showing everyone else what the end goal is.

You can't just say, "Go off and build this wall for me". You say, "This is the wall. This is what the wall is going to do. This is why that wall's important. It's going to support certain structures".


So you don't need to be aware of how every single component works, but it's more about how it fits together?


Integrating with other departments

That must apply to other departments as well? Because you're not just building a marketing solution in a vacuum, you've got to be able to make sure it integrates with the sales department, your product department, your CTO needs to know what's going on.

How difficult is that to do when it comes to building these kinds of solutions? Is it difficult getting everyone on board and getting everyone to understand how things integrate and how things fit together?

Yeah, as I said, it's definitely a sales process. When I was searching for different tools, I was going to the leaders of each department. Realistically speaking, our organization when I joined was around 100 people, now we're around 300 people, it was impossible to talk with every single person.

But I was talking with the key stakeholders, the ones that I know were coordinating that specific department and I was trying to basically understand, what are their problems? What are they trying to solve? What issues do they have?

Once I understand all of these problems and issues and frustrations and challenges, I was basically coming up with a solution. I was mapping everything together in order to find something that is connecting with different departments, and also with my marketing efforts.

To give you an example, I think we have a really kick-ass customer support team. I'm not just saying that because I'm working for TRAPO but it's actually the reality. Our response rate is anything between one and two minutes, which is, I think, a little bit mind-blowing.

It's happened to me to go to buy a product from different companies, and I've had to wait for hours or the next day, right?

I found that, based on the data, a customer arrives on the site between three and seven times before making a purchase.

The average interactions on the chat is between two and three times in order to make a successful sale. If I can shorten that time and I can find a platform that connects with everything, with Facebook, with Instagram, with email, with the chat from the website so people in customer support are not toggling through different windows and tabs and so on, it's going to save them a lot of time.

The moment I presented them the solution, they were like, "Fuck yeah, let's do it". I solved the problem and that tool is also connected with our email marketing campaign. So I tried to fill some blanks and loopholes here and there.

Having that one-stop shop solution as well also means that the data you're collecting has to be more reliable? You're not getting data from different sources, you've got all the data in one place, you can compare it more easily.


What companies can build a 360-degree marketing solution?

Is a 360-degree marketing solution possible for any stage company? TRAPO is fast-growing, you just said, it's a fairly large company, 300 workers, I don't know exactly how big your marketing department is but, say in a start-up situation, is it possible to have a one-man 360-degree marketing solution?

Anything is possible in life. I remember when we basically started, we were a much smaller company. The reason why we did this 5x was basically because of this approach. I'm not saying that's the only reason.

It's definitely possible, but you really need to understand where you're allocating the resources, and where the customers are spending their time. The problem with so many tools, is there are probably tools that are much better and every single day a new tool is coming out, etc.

If I were a startup now, I would say do your research, see what other people are saying, book a trial with a couple of tools that you think are the best solutions for you, always have in mind that integration with other tools that you're actually going to use and give it a shot.

Don't complicate your life. You don't need a tool for everything single component of your business, but where you can automate and let the tools do your job, I think that's the best approach

You said it was about devoting resources to where it needs to go, so there's no point in buying a tool for something that isn't a problem point is there? Because that is just adding extra components, extra moving parts that you've got to track when it's already functioning well.

How did you go about identifying where the resources were needed? What was your first step? Was it speaking directly to customers or was it looking at data, looking at the heat maps like you said, or was it a combination of the three?

In the beginning, I was looking at the data. And the data was, in a way relevant and not relevant, because we were switching the eCommerce platforms and the process. For example, the funnel is completely different from WordPress and Shopify. We kind of took it step by step and coming back to your previous question, can a startup do it?

It can be a burden because every single tool is another paycheck that at the end of the month, you need to pay. And your burning rate or your burning card is quite small, so you need to be careful how you're planning your resources. But what we basically did, we were taking it step by step and we saw the main problem is email.

The second one, we realized that the data on where the people are dropping out, we realized we needed the heat map in order to build the new website and we had no clue how people are actually going to react to this new website, especially because it's such a dramatic change.

So we invested in a heat map tool, and the next one was the SEO tool because I wanted to know how my SEO is basically going to react to a completely new link structure.

From there, I needed a loyalty system, and I needed a review system. That was about it. It was kind of like we were adding it on the top and on the top and on the top.

It sounds like some of the tools ended up presenting, not necessarily say new problems but helped you realize new things that you need to tackle. Like the heat map, like the SEO tool. Is there a danger? Could you end up just snowballing with costs when it comes to the tools? Or is there going to be an immediate ROI on certain things?

I think you need a lot of patience. Rarely have I found immediate ROI for one simple reason that it needs some time to snowball, it needs people to actually react. Imagine you're going to receive an email not from the moment you're actually going to buy, but from the moment you're going to receive the goods, and you're still taking a buffer period if I'm talking about the review system.

I usually giving around three months, maybe 90 days. I think that's the minimum timeframe you can actually decide if that tool is okay or not. If it's actually going to be more difficult, or for example, we are calling some customers, and we are asking them "Hey, what do you think about the emails that you're receiving? What do you think about this tool, for example, for the reviews, and etc, etc."

The moment we receive negative feedback, we stop it. And the problem you as the CMO have is that every day I'm probably receiving an email saying "Hey, we want to help you with this new tool and we think that we can increase by 5x the return on investment and etc."

I'm like no, it's fine. I'm okay. I mean, the reality is there's a bunch of them so you need to be super careful.

Final advice

What's your best piece of advice for people who are looking to build a 360-degree marketing solution? One big overall way of approaching the task?

Yeah, good question. Patience is definitely one, you really need to have patience, look inside your data and see what is working and what is not working, and do a lot of AB testing. These are basically the three pillars that I'm coordinating my entire career and my entire marketing efforts.

As long as you have this in mind, I think everything is going to develop from that. You really need to understand: don't put all of your eggs in one basket. I'm seeing problems over and over with different clients and customers that are saying "Okay, Facebook is the right channel, and I don't care about Google".

I'm like, "No, you're not right. Understand your customer, do a buyer persona". The buyer persona is that ideal customer, the one you want to basically come into your shop. As long as you understand that ideal customer, everything is going to fall perfectly.

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