A CMO’s View: How The 208-Year Old Wiley Brand Went From Traditional To Digital Marketing

Wiley CMO Clay Stobaugh shares the challenges of leading a company founded in 1807 into the digital marketing age.

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Wiley Offices Hoboken 10.18.15
After more than 208 years in business, Wiley has moved its brand into the digital age while continuing to focus on educational resources, professional development and scholarly research.

“There is a global demand for knowledge and learning,” says Wiley CMO Clay Stobaugh, “[There are] gaps in higher education, a skills deficit in industries and the need for innovative research.”

Stobaugh says his brand is focused on addressing these challenges. With numerous brands that cross the spectrum of education and learning within the Wiley family — including WileyPLUS, CrossKnowledge and the popular For Dummies series — Stobaugh’s responsibilities are far-reaching.

“My role as CMO is to build, within Wiley, a global modern marketing organization that delivers measurable results and drives revenue.”

As CMO, Stobaugh oversees Wiley’s Marketing Revenue Center (MRC).

“The MRC works across customer engagement, demand generation, CRM and global branding, and external communications,” says Stobaugh, “Within these groups, you have areas such as sales enablement, reporting, marketing automation, SEO, customer experience and digital commerce.”

Today, Stobaugh shared how he leads these areas and offers insight into the challenges that come with taking an age-old brand from its traditional marketing roots into today’s digital marketing landscape.

Get To Know:

Clay Stobaugh

CMO @ Wiley


1. At Wiley we focus on three core elements: the mindset, the skillset and the toolset. The mindset is being a modern marketer, someone who is data-driven and knows how to focus on marketing revenue.

2. Second is the skillset, and this is being educated in modern marketing best practice; here, our award-winning certification programs ensure our colleagues have the skills they need to be successful.

3. Finally, there is the toolset, at Wiley we work with partners such as Salesforce.com, Adobe, Oracle, BrightEdge and Jive to empower our marketers with industry best practice tools that, in turn, guarantee our customers first-class and best-of-class services.

Amy Gesenhues: As Wiley’s CMO, how involved are you in the day-to-day decisions around your digital marketing efforts?

Clay Stobaugh: As a global organization, our digital marketing effort must be constructed within the geographic and cultural needs of our customers. Consequently, while I lead the strategic direction of our organization, I rely on my team to manage the day-to-day decisions of customer engagement.

We are all aligned around our Customer Engagement Framework as a consistent process and program for how we identify, nurture and engage with our diverse customer groups.

Amy Gesenhues: How have Wiley’s marketing initiatives transformed over the last decade to become more digitally focused?

Clay Stobaugh: We often talk about Wiley as a business of knowledge and learning, but this isn’t just Wiley providing digital learning platforms such as CrossKnowledge and WileyPLUS to our customers. We want Wiley to be a place where our colleagues internally learn and grow.

One strategy that has transformed Wiley is our award-winning certification program. The program is digitally focused, with core areas including social marketing, digital analytics, search engine optimization (SEO) and customer experience advocacy. This program ensures our colleagues remain up-to-date with marketing best practices so that they not only have the mindset of modern marketers but also the skill sets to bring this to life.

After introducing this program a little over 24 months ago, we now have several hundred colleagues enrolled. We are also very proud that our certification series has just won the Brandon Hall Award for Best Learning Program in 2015.

Amy Gesenhues: Over the past years, has Wiley’s audience changed, or just the channels used to communicate with your audience?

Clay Stobaugh: The channels have most definitely changed. Whereas once, we may have distributed via an intermediary bookstore, for example, digital now allows us to engage with our customers in ways not possible even a decade ago.

A great example is the CrossKnowledge digital learning business within Wiley. CrossKnowledge recently donated their Learning Management System to Junior Achievement USA, an organization dedicated to empowering young people to learn and grow.

Wiley CrossKnowledge

This is an example of how the digital transformation has enabled Wiley to not only communicate with a new audience but to provide a digital platform that helps young people to learn. It is estimated that over 300,000 Junior Achievement users will access CrossKnowledge in 2016, which we are very excited about.

Amy Gesenhues: As CMO, what was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to move your brand into the digital age?

Clay Stobaugh: The biggest challenge has been bringing together a variety of systems across the organization. Wiley is a global company that needs to not only capture information, but to share this data seamlessly across the business.

Our customers, whether they are students, professionals, societies or researchers, expect Wiley to provide marketing insights on a global scale, and integrating our systems is hugely important in order to provide to meet this need.

Amy Gesenhues: What do you hope to accomplish as a brand on the digital marketing front?

Clay Stobaugh: Wiley’s digital marketing goal is to understand the needs and wants of our customers based on the evidence of their actions.

One of the ways we achieve this is by using what we call a Customer Engagement Framework, a best practice eight-step process for engaging with our customers globally. The Customer Engagement Framework provides insight into customer behavior at a global level, allowing us to tailor our services to customer needs.

From segmentations and personas to measurements and conversions, the framework enables us to make informed decisions and enhance the experience of our customers.

Amy Gesenhues: What metrics do you focus on to gauge your brand’s digital marketing success, and which channels have proven most effective?

Clay Stobaugh: We use industry best practice platforms such as Salesforce.com, Eloqua and Cvent, which help to measure customer and lead acquisition costs, as well as costs for email and event campaigns.

Based on each individual campaign, Wiley has ROI KPIs that ensure [that] we measure the effectiveness of each campaign we run and that as a marketing center we can prove our contribution to revenue.

The two areas that have really stood out are certification and SEO. As I mentioned before, Wiley won gold at the 2015 Brandon Hall awards for our certification program. The program is available online for all Wiley employees and ensures they are equipped with the right skills to be modern marketers.

In SEO, we recently established a center of excellence that in a short time increased SEO for two of our biggest brands, Efficient Learning and Dummies, by 90 percent and 70 percent respectively and increased revenue by over $850K.

Amy Gesenhues: Can you share any recent campaigns that proved the strength of your digital marketing efforts?

Clay Stobaugh: One of Wiley’s most recent and interesting campaigns was for our product, WileyPLUS, which ran this past August and September.

Wiley Plus campaign

In this campaign, Wiley combined display advertising and A/B testing on product and cart pages with different product offerings. Year over year, we saw revenue increase by $1.6 million. As a follow-up, we also surveyed our customers and 73% were either satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their purchase.

This combination of marketing, testing, and analytics with product and customer research is important to us. Using data to improve ROI is obviously valuable. It’s even more important to know that we’re providing value to our customers. In this case, we’ve been able to accomplish both.

Amy Gesenhues: What’s has been the most valuable lesson you have learned as Wiley’s CMO?

Clay Stobaugh: One of my biggest insights has been people’s affinity with the Wiley brand. As a 208-year-old American company, founded when Thomas Jefferson was President, customer recognition of our brand and its preeminence in learning, research and professional development is incredible.

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About the author

Amy Gesenhues
Amy Gesenhues was a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

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