Cadillac’s Melissa Grady Dias on Performance Marketing, Multi-Touch Attribution + “Vibrational” Resonance
The topic of unprecedented growth isn’t going away anytime soon. Therefore, the need for performance marketing has never been greater. Additionally, to lead a successful marketing organization, you absolutely must break down the silos that once existed between brand and e-commerce if you want to create an impactful CX ecosystem that delivers the best results for the customer and the brand.
With all of this in mind, I wanted to speak to someone who knows best practices intimately for creating synergy between e-commerce and brand, and successfully innovating in performance marketing. I recently met Melissa Grady Dias, Marketing Director of Cadillac and industry leader in marketing who has worked for major brands such as Jackson Hewitt, MetLife and Motorola. Here is a summary of our discussion:
Billie Howard: When we first spoke, it became clear that you truly embody the new model of what it takes to be a successful CMO today. A lot of it is about finding the synergy between the brand and e-commerce. Can you tell me what you think of the best practices marketers should keep in mind here?
Melissa Grady Dias: One of the first conversations Deborah Wahl and I had when considering joining Cadillac was around “where do we line up?” For us, this alignment was the notion that marketing is about performance. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to come and work with her. I think at the end of the day, no matter what you do, you’re trying to induce a certain type of behavior against a certain type of measure. Staying focused on that really helps you at every level of the funnel.
Further down the funnel, you might be trying to ask yourself, “how am I going to drive a sales conversion?”, “how am I going to get this lead to the dealership?” or “how am I going to get this person interested in searching as they move up the funnel?” These questions clearly inform your tactics and are easy to measure. At the top of the funnel, you are trying to bring people into your brand family and you try to connect with them. Brand building can be more abstract, but we still have specific outcomes and quantifiable metrics that we try to drive. I think when you understand marketing this way, the science and mindset of it, this leads to what i think are best practices what are you measuring what results are you looking for what are your goals or objectives as a brand?
Howard: It is perfectly logical and related to the propensity of the public. Can you tell me about the “funnel flip model” we discussed around this topic?
Grady Dias: if you look at how i just went through how you measure marketing, i started at the bottom of the funnel and worked my way up. I think it’s an innate way to look at marketing when you’re coming more from an e-commerce or digital brand because the low hanging fruit at the bottom of the funnel is where you’ll get your top search results in everything.
We take that performance mindset and look at the people we need to convert. Here are the people who are maybe months away from making a purchase, and I need to give them the required information to be able to convert them. Then here are the people who are a bit further from that point and need a different kind of messaging. We took that mindset and funnel view and built a propensity model for Cadillac based on a dataset from across the United States with our agency partner. Inside of that you have two dimensions. First, you have the Cadillac propensity. We have that broken down into any level or percentile we want. On the other side, market timing.
Looking at it this way, you start at the bottom of the funnel and do the easy things that you can measure well and progress. This allows you to develop a deep understanding of your audience and where they are so you can try to speak to them in a meaningful way. As you move up the funnel, you add levels of people we’re trying to bring into the Cadillac family. The propensity model helps us both who are we going to talk to and how/where are we going to talk to them. Consider filling a jar with pebbles and sand. The “rocks” of the plan are digital addressable and connected TV, and then linear TV is the “sand” that fills the gaps between the two.
Howard: That’s a really good way to think about it. With that in mind, everyone’s heads are spinning around CTV and linear, and where all the dollars are going, which dollars are working and which aren’t. There’s a ton of emphasis on measurement through the media lens. Personally, I think it’s a little myopic to only think about measurement when talking about TV or media. I’d like you to tell me about your thoughts on the things you think are most critical to success related to evolving the definition of measurement, as broadly as possible.
Grady Dias: Measurement is an interesting thing because I feel like three years ago we were in a better position than today. When we looked at how the technical landscape was developing, with cookies for example, we looked at things like the use of the Google ad stack and then started to understand behavior through the same type of things as d other partners offered. We were in a place where, from a marketing perspective, we could measure very well. We were also in a good position to look at the multi-touch attribution. As we begin to create more and more walled gardens, what we were doing is not even a viable option anymore. But as the saying goes, old becomes new again.
We’re looking at media mix modeling again, but we’re getting at it more from a multitouch lens. It’s an interesting thing, because I remember being on a panel many years ago to talk about unified attribution, and at the time unified didn’t make much sense because it was multi-touch. Now we’re in this more unified world that allows us to use a more traditional media mix. Let’s see what the market conditions are. Let me take a look at what general television spending is. Let me look at all of these things, but then let’s pull in the impression level data and personal survey data where I can start to understand “where do I know someone has seen an impression?” Where do I think they saw a print? And then, most importantly, what were the business results of sales or other metrics that we look at? I think we’re at this place now where we’re taking this mixed approach and looking at different metrics and trying to figure out what’s going on and what’s the best way to optimize things. More importantly, understand if we use a single piece of information to optimize, how does that affect the whole net?
Howard: How should contextualization fit into all of this?
Grady Dias: I think contextual advertising is the way of the future. However, the thinking behind it needs to evolve. I’m not going to put my ad on a cooking site because someone likes to cook. This example is relevant to us because we discovered that we had a very strong propensity for cooking and this motivated our version of the contextual. At that time we created something called the ‘ELECTRIC kitchen‘ – ending in IQ, just like the LYRIQ. Basically, we asked two Michelin-starred chefs to take inspiration from LYRIQ and create a multi-level restaurant featuring car-inspired dishes. We could talk about the car as we went through the experience and it was seamlessly integrated. We’ve partnered with 60 Second Docs to create content around the vehicle and the two chefs to reach anyone interested in cooking so they can learn more about the LYRIQ in their language. Additionally, the event was picked up nationally by Access Hollywood. Those two things gave us a lot more scale beyond the 150 people who attended the event.
For me, that’s when you start to see contextualization as number one. How do you speak to an audience in a way that will make sense to them and make them want to engage? The other thing is to remember the environment someone is in and not just place your 15 or 30 second ad in that environment. Think what they do? How are you going to make sure they don’t jump? How are you going to keep them from getting frustrated if they have to watch it?
Howard: Very helpful and super creative. Thanks for sharing this. Why don’t we end around our shared passion for creativity, and something else that we talked about that I think is very relevant not only to creativity, but also to contextualization, which is understanding the emotion as essential to performing in a way that drives performance. Please tell me more about the new ways marketers should be thinking to understand consumer emotions.
Grady Dias: When you look at insight and creativity, they have to be tied to the brand and to the future. A lot of people love Cadillac, but Cadillac has to be a brand that someone wants to be part of. “I want this car in my garage and I want to get into it every day.” You have to look at the impact you have through creativity. It goes back to something I learned in graduate school that has always stuck with me. I use the word resonate. Something has to resonate with people, and that goes back to the scientific definition of resonance. This is the natural vibration of objects because each object has its own vibration. When you match that, the amplification is beyond what the vibrations themselves were. When something resonates, emotionally or otherwise, it is that internal vibration creating something so much greater. We need to take all the data to know who people are, and then we need to use it in a way that resonates to get the kind of relationship-driven engagement that’s so imperative today.