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Ahead of our upcoming Forward Marketing Summit Sydney 2020, we’ve spoken to Steffen Daleng, Chief Marketing Officer of Booktopia about how he engages with new technologies, his biggest challenges and Booktopia’s new publishing programme.
Want to hear more from Steffen? He's one of the many speakers at our upcoming Sydney summit on 26-27 February – see how you can be part of it here.

What is the core factor in being a successful CMO in today’s everchanging industry?

Understanding the full Customer Journey from consideration to post-purchase nurturing and general lifecycle management requires a broad operational and psychological understanding of the category in which you operate but also needs martech available across all industries to keep you at the forefront of technology and customer intent.

Can you point to the key aspects of data analytics that should be adopted by an organisation’s marketing strategy if they haven’t already? 

Single Customer View. 

However, you want to slice this old buzzword. It remains a critical aspect of any marketing department to achieve some MVP (Minimum Viable Product) of a Single Customer View.

Actionable data is key to a nimble and agile marketing department for them to be empowered to analyse and action on trade and customer insights.

What has been the biggest technology-related development of the last two years for you? How does it impact your marketing strategy?

CRM capabilities and significant automation being achieved here to further improve and reduce CODB in a channel that is already a great ROI channel. 

What has been the biggest challenge with taking what are essentially traditional high street products and using them as the basis of your online business?

The biggest challenge during the years has been adapting to the large demand from customers who want to buy their books online. A great e-commerce experience demands a broad selection of products in the vertical and ensuring the products are always in stock. Growing is one thing. Growing well and ensuring perfect quality and customer experience in a constant growth environment can be a challenge and requires a highly agile mindset.

On the product side, books have the luxury of being recession-proof. When consumer confidence is down, people start thinking about how to upskill their hard or soft skills or generally diversify their work-related skillsets to be more attractive to the workforce. When confidence is up, they want to be entertained.

Outside of meeting customer demand in a growing market, I would say convenience is a double-edged sword of Value Proposition for us.
On one side, customers enjoy the convenience of fast online checkout and delivery on the books they want directly to their home or work. On the other hand, offline bookstores have the convenience of proximity and shopping centres/discount stores the luxury of deploying books as an upsell, which makes it convenient to pick a book up while shopping. But this rings true to most online retailers with a product category that has mass adoption and is priced in the >$50 average product price. 

When we talk about business books, it's less prevalent. Most get book suggestions from friends, LinkedIn or online inspiration or through their HR department.

Physical bookstores can't compete against the niche selection and recommendations we provide online. I.E. "Here are the top 10 Books Seth Godin Suggest for you to be a marketing rockstar".

Last year Booktopia announced plans to launch its own publishing programme: Booktopia Editions. How do you hope this will generate greater business?

The purpose is to offer our customers an even stronger price point on key titles and reward loyalty with market-leading price points from great authors. There are many parts in the full distribution chain from when a book is penned, to it finding a home on your shelf. With Booktopia Editions we get a larger piece of the pie, and can better control the value to our customers, ourselves and our partners as we cut out the middlemen.

As this is a push to provide even stronger value to our core audience, we start with Fiction books. When we get momentum, it would be great to explore the opportunity in expanding into business books and self-help. Business and Learning being categories we are focussed on; we stock an unparalleled inventory of top business authors.

We make a soft launch here in January.

How do you inspire your team to adopt and engage with new technologies and initiatives? 

I'm a technology enthusiast. I have a natural curiosity for solving problems and love having my fingers in the machine to see how it works. That natural curiosity gives me a broad exposure to new and upcoming technologies and I enjoy discussing them with the teams and exploring how they might solve challenges. When I encounter tech I can’t see an immediate use for, I put them away in the mental box of "not yet applicable".

When we face challenges where a technology solution isn't immediately obvious, we often build MVPs ourselves.

I consider our team's micro technology labs with a test and learn mentality. At any given time, we will have 3-5 tests running to prove different hypothesises.
Want to hear more from Steffen? He's one of the many speakers at our upcoming Sydney summit on 26-27 February – see how you can be part of it here.

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