When it comes to working in digital marketing, it’s all about understanding the data and communicating your results effectively.
There’s never been a better time to work in digital marketing. With more data available than ever before, the ROI is so much more measurable than traditional marketing.
As the head of digital marketing EMEA at Qualtrics, Jacinta Walker understands and appreciates the importance of data. She is responsible for demand generation for Qualtrics products and has more than 10 years of experience working in digital marketing.
Walker spoke at the Social Media Summit last month about social media’s impact on core business metrics through measurement and effective ROI reporting.
What first stirred your interest in a career in digital marketing?
Originally, I wanted to be a journalist but when I realised I wasn’t very good at writing, I decided instead to study communications in Dublin City University. While studying, I got my first job as a research assistant in a media agency and that was when I really found a passion for all things data.
Media planning was really about planning by numbers and when I started focusing on digital media, the access to real-time data and the levels of data that I could use to inform my optimisations and plans was so exciting.
I knew then I had found the space I wanted to be in. It wasn’t until a number of years later that I moved into B2B marketing and into tech, and now I know I am in the right place.
What education and/or other jobs led you to the role you now have?
I decided to do a master’s degree in digital media technologies in Dublin Institute of Technology. I now realise this was one of the most important things I did for my future career.
My master’s degree showed me about the technical side to digital media; the level of work, knowledge and expertise involved in something that people in marketing often take for granted.
Getting a website built, getting tracking and reporting set up, and getting a campaign live takes time, and it really is a science. Working first at Salesforce and now at Qualtrics helped me take those technical skill sets and mould them into the business environment.
Being challenged and showing impact is so important for me personally. Being at Qualtrics is allowing me to take all my expertise and really build something amazing. Getting to work with some of the best people of my career means I am continuing to learn and continuing to be challenged in one of the most exciting companies I have encountered.
What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path and how did you deal with them?
I don’t think this is a challenge unique to me or my role. When you are a marketer focused on demand, ROI and data, often the work you do is not as visible as some of the larger marketing mediums.
Looking at code and data, building scalable processes, and sometimes making really small tweaks that can have large incremental impact on businesses is harder to explain to your wider organisation.
It often amazed me how organisations could spend big money on marketing that had no measurable ROI but would assign very small budgets to digital marketing that produced measurable results.
It can also be frustrating as a digital marketer and I have seen it get to some of the best ones. It took time for me to figure out how to deal with it and now I focus on education for leadership within my organisation about what I do. Getting sales leaders on board with digital marketing is key for me.
When I can show them the exact amount of leads and pipeline my team has generated, the conversations become easy. Another thing I like to do is support marketers who are not as data-focused or technical, to effectively show the ROI from their campaigns.
This means everyone has the same opportunity to show the value of what they do, and every campaign and tactic becomes comparable. This makes budget and resource allocation a lot smoother.
Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?
I think there have been loads of people who have influenced me. I have worked with and continue to work with some of the most incredible sales and marketing leaders, who push me to deliver excellent marketing programmes every day. I love working with sales because digital marketing is so closely aligned to delivering a number, just like sales is.
I love the mentality of leaving no stone unturned and going the extra mile to close a deal. For me, that is exactly how I approach digital marketing.
One person I can call out though is Carina Furlong. Carina is an executive coach who helps female leaders advance their careers. For me, working with Carina really took my career to the next level. I could not recommend a career coach enough for any women who are figuring out how they make it to that next step and to this day, I still reach out to Carina for advice and help.
What do you enjoy about your job?
The people I work with hands down is the best thing about my job. I love working with great people who want to get stuck in, build something and show impact. In Qualtrics, I feel that every day, both with the team I work in and the wider teams around the organisation.
The culture of getting things done is infectious and it makes you raise your game. I also really enjoy watching the careers of my former team members, how they are progressing, seeing them be successful. It is one of the most rewarding parts of being a leader.
What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?
I am very analytical, which really helps. I also enjoy being a player/coach. I enjoying hiring great people and teaching them, and often seeing them become way better than I am at digital marketing.
I also know I am really persistent. This helps despite the fact that you can verge on annoying! I want to get to end-to-end ROI reporting and when I know something is possible, I will figure out a way to do it.
How did Qualtrics support you on your career path, if at all?
I am surrounded by amazing leaders in Qualtrics who really support my career. If I have any questions or need support, there will always be an open ear to listen and this is not something you get at every company.
We have a very transparent and open culture in Qualtrics and if you want to do something that is going to impact the business in a positive way, there is huge support for that.
Working at a company such as Qualtrics and getting to build the digital marketing programmes in EMEA is not an opportunity that comes up often so, when you get that opportunity, you grab it.
What advice would you give to those considering a career in digital marketing, or just starting out in one?
Get some hands-on experience to help hone your technical skills. Set up your own website and try different tactics to drive traffic to it. Read and learn a lot. So much of digital marketing can be self-taught.
There is so much video and written content, so go out and find it and read/watch it. Learn to love data and learn to love looking at numbers because this will be a huge part of your role.
Finally, network and reach out to people who are hiring. You never know who might have a job that you are perfect for in the future and I always remember the people who reached out to me.