A day in the life of... Head of Product at a behavioural marketing company

SaleCycle specialises in email and on-site remarketing (otherwise know as behavioural marketing) and the company's head of product, Michael Barber, is this week's Day in the Life interviewee.

Read on to find out what Michael has to say, and don't forget to visit the Econsultancy jobs board if you're thinking of finding a new position yourself.

Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?

Michael Barber: I’m Head of Product at SaleCycle. SaleCycle is a global leader in behavioural marketing. We work with some of the world’s leading ecommerce brands; IKEA, Ralph Lauren, Virgin Atlantic, Panasonic, French Connection to name but a few.

Basically I’m responsible for product management, portfolio management, commercial decisions, strategy and a whole other list of buzzwords. I’m responsible for the future direction of SaleCycle’s products and to do that I try and blend some operational management with longer term planning.

E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?

MB: I report directly to the CEO/Founder of SaleCycle. I meet with him and our CTO once a week as part of our technology and product management process. When we meet we look at a wide range of topics and subject matters from AI to wearable tech to complex data questions. It's a fairly broad process but we give a lot of focus to the research side of R&D.

E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

MB: My background is in strategic marketing, I’m a chartered marketer. Aside from that I’m a bit of a geek and have worked in digital marketing roles in technology companies for the last 12 years. So outside of the strategic experience in brand and proposition building and product management, my other set of skills are digital marketing; analytics, email marketing, paid search, ecommerce, social media and web development.

E: Tell us about a typical working day…

MB: No two days at SaleCycle are the same really, so nothing is really that typical. As a company, we have a blend of agency-style work and working on our software and technology, so I get the best of both worlds.

On the agency side I work with a lot of our larger clients on projects and pitches/opportunities. On the technology side, I can be working with our engineers to solve complex problems or with the UX team working on our interface.

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Michael Barber, Salecycle

E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?

MB: Overall I love my job because I get to design the kind of products I would have bought in my previous jobs. Specifically I love the analytics side; we collect and store data for the brands I mentioned earlier.

To help us build out features we work closely with clients to really understand what's happening on their website and take a real deep dive into the data. One retailer I worked with looked at all of the abandonment rates for their different products, we examined the ratio of sales per product, looked at the profiles of visitors who bought vs. those who abandoned. This analysis helped us develop new features where we target abandoning visitors differently by product category, price and name, real granular level conversion optimisation.

I could write for hours about more of the stuff I love such as working on new features or products and analysing their performance or integrations with admired third parties such as Trustpilot or Google Tag Manager. But let's leave it as there's lots I love about my job.

Not much really sucks. Sometimes when new features we're testing don't work quite as expected it can be a bit deflating but we are really agile as a business and 'everyday's a school day' so what we learn we apply next time and go again quickly.

E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

MB: My main goals are to develop the strategy for our product portfolio, the measurement is the growth of our business. We've won national and international awards for how successful our growth has been and I'm lucky to be part of a great team that all focuses on that.

The growth piece is important because that's what lets us go and hire more great and talented people who can build products that deliver results for our clients.

I also work closely with our head of client services. A few years ago I suggested we use Net Promoter (NPS) to measure clients' satisfaction. For my role it's a key metric, but again I'm lucky because our scores are always awesome so in the rare occasion there's feedback about how our products could be improved then I get to use the detail in that measurement to justify changes.

E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

MB: My current favourite is not a tool I use so much, but our product design manager uses Adobe XD and that allows us to build working prototypes of our interface that we can show to our clients and garner their feedback. I used to use a similar product called Balsamiq that lets you easily wireframe websites and software interfaces but Adobe XD has taken it to a new level if, like our team, you have amazing design skills.

For managing our projects and product feature requirements we use Trello and Jira. Both great tools. For team communication we use Slack.

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Virgin Atlantic email capture

E: How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here?

MB: I started my marketing career in a FTSE 100 company. I had a background in IT and in about 2005 the team I worked in started its first ever PPC campaign. I was asked to write the ads content and work with our then media agency to start experimenting with less above-the-line media and start looking at this "Google' thing.

After that I worked in a number of roles with different responsibilities such as the company's email marketing programs. I've worked on affiliate programs for the software industry and done quite a lot of consulting on CRM for some of the UK's largest brands.

My current ambition is to grow SaleCycle to the same size of revenue and client base as some of the global providers in display advertising. After that I'd like to get into a new technology vertical, having previously worked in business software and now martech, something like healthcare tech seems appealing.

E: Which brands do you think are doing behavioural marketing well?

MB: I'm pretty biased but brands that I work closely with like Tommy Hilfiger and Virgin Atlantic do a great job on the behavioural side.

E: Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?

MB: Keep learning. I read a lot about the industry from great publications like Econsultancy (cheque is in the post, right?) But also a lot of books on business and creativity. I'm currently reading Hunting the Killer Idea, a book about how to breed creativity.

The only other advice I would give would be to try your hand at as much as possible. I worked in search marketing and come back to it time and time again. In 2007 I was a social media ambassador for the large company I worked for and I still remember how to write social media guidelines, how to write an influencer strategy. I'm all for specialism but I feel I benefit from a really broad range of experiences.

Also numerical skills and being good with data is important. A Gartner research director told me the biggest challenge facing CMO's from the Fortune 500 companies was finding professionals who could execute great digital marketing who had great data analytical skills. That's stuck with me which is why I always keep trying to improve mine.


If you're looking for a new challenge in digital, see the Econsultancy jobs board or benchmark your own digital knowledge using our Digital Skills Index.

Alternatively, if you already work in the digital industry and would like a Day In The Life profile, you can email us via press@econsultancy.com

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