A CMO’s View: How data & analytics help shape SAP’s marketing message & strategy

SAP's Maggie Chan Jones shares how her team uses analytics to manage events, modify campaigns and inform the brand's marketing strategy.

Chat with MarTechBot

SAP location

As SAP’s chief marketing officer, Maggie Chan Jones manages the brand’s global advertising and branding efforts, global sponsorship, audience marketing, and field marketing for each region and market it serves.

“If I were to put my role in one sentence, it would be about bringing to life SAP’s vision of helping the world run better and improving people’s lives through customer-oriented brand experiences,” says Jones.

Jones defines herself as a growth CMO – a business leader who happens to be in marketing.

How do we continue to improve the customer experience, how do we think about driving the company growth are the key things that are important to me.”

As the lead marketer for a company focused on data and analytics, Jones talked to Marketing Land about the key analytics driving SAP’s overall marketing strategy and offered insight into the data that helps her better understand and serve SAP’s various audiences.

Get To Know:

Maggie Chan Jones



1. Establish strategic objectives. Define up front the stated business objectives, and state what success looks like.

2. Develop a measurement plan. Align your plan to your strategic objectives through KPIs.

3. Develop a communication and results action plan based on findings from the measurement plan. Communicate findings, celebrate wins and identify areas for improvement along the way.

Amy Gesenhues: Where do analytics and data management fit into SAP’s marketing team structure?

Maggie Chan Jones: When you think about the decision-making, when you think about how do we get better at being able to talk about the business impact, you have to be very factual.

So, the way we look at it is, there is a brand marketing analytics team that is essentially managed by what we call the marketing performance management team. And then, at the same time, we also have key analytics marketers who focus in different areas as well.

For example, we have our business management organization that is spread out across all the different parts of marketing to focus on the business performance in a specific market or region, or how we look at our partner marketing performance.

AG: What analytics do you turn to most often to lead your brand’s overall marketing strategy?

MCJ: I’ll answer it in two parts. One is from more of an outside-in perspective, and then the other way is more from the marketing management perspective.

What I mean by outside-in perspective is, how do we use the SAP analytics software and solutions to help customers?

To give an example in the area of sports, we work with the NBA as a partner. In the past few years, we’ve been working with the NBA on establishing a site that would engage their fans more. What they realized is fans are actually — when they’re watching a ball game — interacting with their mobile devices as well. And fans always want to get more stats from the players that they love, or the teams that they love, or coaches that they love.

What we have done together with the NBA is digitize 70 years of all the different games and digitize some of the plays during those games — that’s 70 years of data that is being digitized.


If I were to be watching the NBA finals, and I want to know what is the average number of points that Steph Curry got versus LeBron James, or I want to know who is the coach of all time to have the most number of games won, I can interact with the site.

Overall, since they launched their website with this step zone, if you will, they’ve actually seen an increase in fan engagement by 66 percent. And as a brand, when you see the engagement increasing in that kind of growth, it’s definitely great for the brand, and it’s great for the business.

So that’s an example on how we help companies to, as we call it, run a live business.

When I look internally at how I find the most interesting types of analytics as I run the marketing organization, I look at it in a few areas. One is around customer analytics. When I talk to a lot of my peers around the world, one of the big challenges that CMOs are seeing is how can they get one view of the customer.

The customers who are buying on your website could also be the same customers who are buying at your store. And if you are not able to see that end-to-end, 360-degree view of the customer, then you’re missing a very unique opportunity to give them the best experience possible.

The second piece is around the brand, and the brand analytics.

I mentioned a centralized analytics performance team earlier. That is the team that really looks at the brand health tracker. We look at the top markets that we operate in and make sure that — through the social media channels, through online — we can see what is the health of the brand. That is another a metric that I look at.

Also, is our messaging really resonating with customers? That is another area that I look at. And, of course, that also includes social media, analytics, and nowadays, the great news is we get all this data in an instant.

One more area is around media mix optimization. We work very closely with our media partner to ensure that when we drive the campaign — when we look at the different media channels — we look at how we optimize that mix to give us the best ROI.

Those are the key areas that I look at, and actually, on my iPad, I have what we actually call the CMO dashboard. All these things that I just mentioned to you, I can open my app and be able to see what we are doing in the specific areas that I just talked about. Or I can look at a specific region on how we are performing, mapping to the demand that we want to drive.

AG: Can you share a time when analytics have impacted your marketing strategy?

MCJ: Let me give you an example of how we provide a better experience at one of our biggest annual events called Sapphire Now using heat-mapping technologies.

This is our annual global customer and partner event that takes place in Orlando, Florida, in May. We had roughly 20,000 customers that attended live, and also hundreds of thousands of customers and prospects who actually watch some of the sessions online and interact with us online as well.

At the live conference, we see the heat-mapping technology at the Convention Center, that we actually know — without necessarily the private data — what kind of traffic we see at what time of the day, in what area. For example, we could potentially see, “Wow — We have a lot more people that are having conversations in our SAP HANA solution area.”

Then we may be able to say, “Okay, we’ve seen a lot of traffic. We’re not having enough staff over there to ensure we have the best customer engagement.” So we can adjust our staffing based on the heat map that we see.

Now, the better use of that big data — I mean, this is literally millions of data points that we are collecting throughout a three-day event — is, when we are planning our next event, we can actually go back and look at the trends and see that this particular area is over-performing what we had expected, or certain sessions may not be performing as well. Then, when we do the planning for the following event, we know the areas we want to dial up in terms of the content, in terms of the the space, and what are the areas we may need to adjust or reconsider.

As another example, when I talk to my business leaders, everyone, of course, will be saying, “Well, my product is more important,” right?

I now actually have facts to be able to have those kind of business conversations versus, “Well, based on what we saw…” There are actually data points to show where the traffic is, where we have the most engagement, and how that ties back to our online SAP experience as well — so we can look at the difference between online usage and in-person type experiences.

AG: Can you share any examples of how you used analytics to mange SAP’s “Run Simple” campaign that was launched in 2014?

MCJ: Tying back to what I mentioned earlier, we use the media mix optimization throughout the campaign. When we look at the campaign, we have the traditional media with TV, with print. We also have the digital media with paid search, paid banners and paid social as an example.

We use the media optimization to analyze how are we able to drive better ROI based on the different markets, based on the different messages that we used for different audiences.

When I say audiences, it’s really about when we target the CHRO (chief human resources officer) — the type of messages that we focus on is, how do we help HR to run Live? [And] when we target CFO and talk about how they can get Live data so that they can make critical decisions — that’s a different message that we use.

So we do a lot of work in terms of looking at this type of asset, or type of content that we have, via different channels, to understand where we need to optimize in terms of our medium.

Let me add another one too, internally, we also look at — from the overall marketing dimension funnel prospective, from the awareness to creating desire to creating demand, and also to eventually a customer buying our solutions — we look at that funnel very closely as well through the analytics that we have.

We work closely with our sales team to ensure that there is a good handoff between marketing and sales. And that’s part of what I mentioned earlier, too, about having my CMO dashboard — that I can see how each one of the regions is doing across the different areas of the campaign.

AG: I’d like to step back from SAP’s analytics to ask about the industry in general. How do you see  analytics impacted by marketing technology, and what’s your take on the evolution of data?

MCJ: If you think about it, the last few years have really been about the proliferation of mobile and social data.

So much of this is really the unstructured type of data. I think IDC (International Data Corporation) has predicted that by year 2020, the world will generate 40 zettabytes of data.

Okay, what does that really mean? That means this really massive amount of data. In this minute, in the world, we have already generated 204 million email messages, over two million Google search queries have happened in the last minute, or 48 hours of new YouTube videos have been posted. I mean, this is just massive.

The marketing analytics now is really about getting from data to insights, and then from insights to action. The trends that I see are, for one, an increased level of accountability, for marketing to demonstrate ROI to the business owners or business leaders.

For example, and I always joke about this when I talk with my CFO, I want to be able to talk about doubling cents, because that’s how he thinks about the business.

And, as the demand for big data grows, so does the demand for talent. You asked a question about how is my team organizing from an analytics perspective. The demand for talent has definitely required that kind of mindset, and also the skill set, as well. As I think about the type of people I hire, can people be part artist and part scientist? Because we not only need the art side of the marketing, but we need the science part of marketing as well.

And a third piece is, how do we use data to make decisions? And this — the data-driven marketing — is one of the six capabilities that my team is really focusing on to strengthen our muscles as well.

AG: With the growth of big data -0 and the overwhelming amount of analytics — what do you recommend CMOs do to determine which analytics they should be paying attention to, especially if they are not tech-savvy CMOs?

MCJ: When I mentioned our Sapphire Now event, we actually invited quite a few CMOs for a CMO retreat at Sapphire Now, hosted by our SAP Hybrids team. One of the things we did, we had a session specifically between myself and our CIO, Thomas Saueressig. Thomas and I had actually been working together even before he was named CIO of the company.

Sometimes when I talk to some of my peers, they may not be coming from a technology background or be tech-savvy, and I always say, bring your CIO together with you to have a conversation. The stronger the alignment between the CMO and the CIO, the better the marketers can leverage the technology savviness from the IT side to help create business solutions.

AG: What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about your audience through analytics?

MCJ: There isn’t anything particular that really comes to my mind, but I think of more evolution-type of scenarios. In my case, it’s the blending of the audience spine centers and the importance of the cross-audience messages, in terms of their purchase behavior towards technology.

For example, I just talked about the importance of the relationship between a CMO and a CIO. I can say the same thing about the CHRO and the CIO. And also, the CFO and the chief procurement officer — because we have solutions specifically for procurement, but most of the time, the CFO is also responsible for compliance as a company. Therefore, there is a lot of synergy between the different audiences.

The other way to think about it — it’s not a big shock, but I would say, “Wow, this is interesting” — is that nowadays, every company is a technology company. I haven’t met a customer or a peer of mine that doesn’t use technology to help solve business problems.

So, to me, that is super-exciting, being the CMO of a tech company.

AG: I interviewed MasterCard’s CMO recently, and he said MasterCard is not a finance company, but a tech company in the finance space, which definitely applies to what you’re speaking to here.

MCJ: That absolutely resonates with me. I don’t know if you’ve seen one of our new commercials featuring Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, but he actually said — I think one of the first things he said in that video — was Under Armor is a technology company and they just happened to be in apparel.


I think, especially in the digital transformation stage that we’re in, companies are really trying to figure it out: How do they leapfrog their competition in a way that they can impact the customer experience?

AG: When it comes to C-level executives, do you believe most are aware of what’s available in terms of analytics and data?

MCJ: I think there are more solutions available than most executives are aware they can actually use.

One of the things that we have been doing at SAP is using an approach called the Design Thinking approach. When we work with customers, we actually start with a Design Thinking workshop that we are not even talking about technologies. We are talking about what the company wants to accomplish, and therefore, what are the things that they need to know in order to make their dreams a reality?

To give you an example, I recently spent some time with a retail customer, and we had a workshop together where they had their head of marketing and their team. They had the creative team, they had the IT team in the same room. When we do the workshop they can actually start asking, “Okay, we want to create this kind of experience, and so we need to know about the buying pattern of the customer, about their shopping experiences…”

You can keep adding those attributes that you’re looking for — and from then on, because the technology team is also in the room, then they can say, “Wow, where we’re going from a technology perspective — these are the solutions that we have, and these are the things that we have to acquire in order to get to that data.”

One of the biggest challenges is that many of the companies are still operating on silo customer databases or customer insights, and that makes it really challenging to get to a single source of truth. That’s something that we’ve been talking to customers at SAP about — how we can help them to get to that solution.

AG: For CMOs, or companies whose data is stuck in those silos, what solutions are available?

MCJ: I think, today, there are solutions like SAP HANA that can help really bring all the disparate systems together so that customers can get one single source of truth. I think — building on that with analytic solutions — that you will be able to get to a place where we can speak the same data language.

There are definitely solutions out there to help the C-suite map out what they need to do. And, of course, we would love for them to use SAP.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

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.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.