Splunk CMO: Focus on the customer

Brian Goldfarb, CMO, Splunk

It is a messy data world out there. CMOs are never short of data to aggregate, correlate and gain insights. However, the sheer volume and exponential data growth are also threatening to overwhelm many.

Brian Goldfarb, CMO at Splunk has a single piece of advice, “Focus on the customer and all else will prevail; if you do not, you have already lost control. I think as a CMO, you cannot succeed without having the customer as the principal focus.”

CMO focus areas

Goldfarb highlighted three areas that CMOs need to take note in their effort to become customer focused: digital transformation, security, and global execution. 

For Goldfarb, digital transformation is more than another industry lingo. “We are moving from an era of arts to science. That to me is where digital comes into play,” he said, adding the data you collect can help firms to optimize and focus on the customer success.

Security is also a CMO concern. With many expanding the number of tools and working with cloud service providers, they need to think about data and application security.

“I think a lot about what it means to protect customer data. So, I need to partner with my CISO and CIO to make sure that our systems are secure,” said Goldfarb.

Splunk’s fast growth is making Goldfarb concerned about global execution. Specifically, he wants to make sure that his firm can “think global and act local.”

“When you think about Asia Pacific, it is so large and culturally diverse. I need to see how we can bring over our North American experience and expertise, and do a good job in each country," he explained.

Splunk marketing initiatives

To address these concerns and strengthen Splunk’s customer focus, Goldfarb is rolling out several initiatives. Chief among them is a new CX (customer experience) initiative.

“Today, it is more important to have a streamlined end-to-end digital journey that starts from the moment someone asks a question and ends with purchase our product. So, we have built a new organization around CX. Because this is not something you can think about sometimes; you need to think about it all the time,” he said.

Goldfarb is also strengthening marketing operations. With the firm’s fast growth, he is looking to streamline operations around the world.

“When you get to our size, we need to think about how we want to streamline operations and stay in sync with the world. We have a big initiative on marketing ops as well as process. Ultimately, we are creating a consistent story in the market," Goldfarb said. 

Goldfarb reckons he has an advantage: driving these initiatives is easier when you are working at a technology company. He pointed out that unlike his peers in non-technology companies, staff already accept the benefits of technology.

“So, I do not think [the challenge] is a mindset change. But it is more about how we can leverage technology to do our jobs better and be more focused,” he said.

What you measure counts

Having metrics helps. But for Goldfarb, it is not just about data, getting reports or having the right tools. More importantly, it is about having the right metrics.

“As a CMO, you need to look at what are the metrics you are focused on and what questions you are asking,” he said.

When Goldfarb came onboard in November 2016, he shifted marketing’s focus lower down the marketing funnel.  “In the past, we have focused our energy higher up the funnel on awareness metrics and downloads. I am focused much further down the funnel on opportunity generation and sales support,” he said. 

For this change to work, marketing and sales need to work together. They cannot be put in separate silos. 

“One of the mistakes that companies make is silo-ing marketing and sales. You should start by putting the customer in the middle. Marketing's job is to make sure that the customers have an amazing journey, which means the right experience for sales, post-sales, and product,” he added. 

Embrace the data explosion

While Goldfarb is at a firm that champions data analysis and gaining new insights from data correlation, he advises CMOs not to be overwhelmed. After all, with more IoT devices coming online and businesses go digital, data volumes will only grow. CMOs need to be ready for the data explosion. 

“Well, is anyone ready for it? I think that is the ultimate question. And it goes well beyond the CMOs. Systems are producing data faster than anyone can imagine. You need to embrace that. The hard part is that most customers get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data,” he said.

Companies like Splunk are looking to help CMOs manage this data explosion. “But a lot of it is philosophy; you need to accept that science can help you make decisions,” Goldfarb said. 

Further reading:

Two trends marketers need to watch out for in 2017

Delivering marketing ROI with data analytics

Data driven marketing is about the customer