AiThority Interview with Maggie Lower, CMO at Hootsuite
Hi, Maggie. Please tell us about your journey into the marketing tech world?
I started all the way at the entry level in strategy and project analyst roles and I’m grateful for that! I was very fortunate to work for people that appreciated my willingness to always say “yes” to new things and things took off from there. I’ve been fortunate to work in financial services, human capital management and global staffing and recruiting industries in various commercial and leadership roles. I started taking on CMO roles when I joined Aon Hewitt in 2012. It’s been a wild and wonderful ride. Marketing is one of the fastest-changing and most dynamic of the corporate functions (and possibly the hardest and least understood), in my opinion.
How did you cope with the disruptions brought by the pandemic? How did you leverage technology to stay on top of your marketing game?
Spending more time with my family (and off of the road) definitely helped me to cope with the pandemic. It was a bright spot in what has been an unprecedented time. We’ve become very adept at using all forms of technology at home to see the faces of our loved ones. Same is true at work, we’ve always had video conferencing tech available, but really didn’t use it until we needed it to have a sense of human connection during our work days. Now it’s the norm.
Tell us how you plan to advance Hootsuite’s global marketing strategy?
First things first, I’m in marketing so aligning on prioritization with sales is crucial. I’m fortunate on that front because my sales colleague,Melissa Murray Bailey, is amazing at what she does, a truly collaborative partner and all around wonderful human being who I feel fortunate to “hang out” with for work.
On a parallel track, I always start with the team and want to ensure our team is built for fast growth. We need speed and agility while maintaining and building upon what makes us beautifully Hootsuite. We are a continual first-mover and we will continue to innovate. My team and my colleagues around the leadership table (and the “nest” at large) are excited about our next chapter and what that means for our future. Stay tuned.
Which areas in martech are you keenly following?
Social commerce, ABM tech and strategies, Hybrid events and tech supporting authentic, personal connection in a virtual world.
Tell us more about your role and understanding of the multicultural marketing themes that influence Marketing, Advertising and Communications industries.
Inside of Hootsuite, there is a lot of partnership here between what I hope to help our company do and what our Chief People Officer, Tara Ataya, is already doing so powerfully. I can’t go out to the market, encouraging brands to be multicultural and inclusive if my own company isn’t on that journey. Tara is not going to rest until we empower every voice in Hootsuite and every future owl that might want to be in Hootsuite (and you should want to be an owl – just sayin’). Our ELT is very focused on people and our talent strategy as a competitive differentiation. We actually really care about and value our owls, our alumni owls and our future owls. Yes, it’s great for business, but it also matters to feel like you are doing well by doing good. I know that this leadership team believes that because I hear it and see it demonstrated every day.
From a pure marketing perspective, any brand that wants to stay relevant needs to constantly explore diverse viewpoints and understand how to create a conversation with individuals and communities that actually reflect their lives. One positive element of the tumult of the last few years culturally is that it is so nice to see more diverse and inclusive programming across all media. I have experienced it personally as an LGBT+ community member. For me, it’s been refreshing to see people whose lives look like mine every once in a while versus, you know…maybe during Pride…maybe. Recently, I even watched a Hallmark movie with a brief cut to a lesbian couple (don’t judge, we all need guilty pleasures to balance out the nuttiness of our lives)…if LGBT+ people are in a Hallmark movie…things are actually changing. There are many more examples to be sure but it’s getting better.
We are witnessing the convergence of AI, Automation and Voice technologies in the B2B marketing technology space. Could you provide some unique insights on how AI-powered brand creation would look like in the coming years?
Conversational AI is going to become the frontline of brand to customer interactions—both as the first voice, and digital 1:1 touchpoint in the years to come. The concept of waiting on hold on a phone is a thing of the past, but when dealing with customers via chat, getting it right is critical. It’s so important to get customers to the right answer and the right person. The key is knowing how to respond via bot, and when to switch to a human—it really can be the difference between won and lost sales.
At the same time, I believe the innovations we’re seeing in content-related AI will make the discovery and creation of highly engaging content much easier for marketers in the years ahead.
What role do AI and Automation play in influencing data privacy frameworks ? Have we slowed down on GDPR /CCPA adoption / compliance due to the pandemic?
AI and Automation are technological innovations that empower businesses to focus on the truly value-add functions. In the case of Heyday for example, their AI technology helps an organization be able focus on higher-value sales related conversations by having bots take on the often repetitive and manual customer support questions such as, “when is my order going to arrive?” AI technology and automation helps businesses maximize and scale their limited resources, while at the same time meets customer expectations promptly.
While there are certainly advantages to this new technology, privacy protective measures have to be in place around AI and automation. Given that there is often a lack of algorithmic transparency, it’s not always easy to tell from the outside if a business has appropriately anonymized and aggregated data to train the machine learning model, which honestly highlights the current gap in data protection laws. However, we are seeing how this technology is driving regulators to look at this sector and design laws that protect individuals and prevent algorithmic bias in decision making. For example, we’re seeing a proposal for harmonised rules on AI and there are AI requirements under the proposed Consumer Privacy Protection Act in Canada.
As for slowing down on compliance, the answer is not at all. Our global customers are continuing to expect organizations to protect their data and they’re actively searching for organizations that can meet their compliance needs. Producing products with security and data protection in mind is now a ‘must-have’ for most organizations. At Hootsuite, we believe that security and privacy is everyone’s responsibility and we’re currently actively hiring in our Privacy team.
Your opinion on the idea of reskilling needed within the technology industry for high-growth industries such as E-commerce, retail, marketing and advertising.
Reskilling yes, but also more encouragement and training around how to be thoughtfully curious. I think to compete in this next martech evolutionary cycle, we need partners that are seeking knowledge about the problems we are trying to solve and want to learn more. The very best technologists I’ve ever worked with were constantly curious about understanding the industry they were operating in, which means you have to overcome shyness and be willing to push. The re-skill is to be brave, reach out, and learn how the tech drives business outcomes.
Your favorite podcast / webinar that you have listened to in recent times.
When I have time, I often listen to marketing and/or leadership podcasts by Jim Stengel, Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle. The most fulfilling part of my role is creating a sense of play, open dialogue and thinking differently. Cultivating a bias towards bravery so that we can be our best selves at work and bring our best ideas to work matters to me a lot, so I love any perspective on that!
Tag a person in the industry whose answers you would like to see here.
@matzucker @charleneli @brenebrown (in the spirit of bravery, what if she sees it? I can’t ask my team to be brave if I’m not!)
Thank you, Maggie! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
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Maggie joined Hootsuite as CMO in July 2021, bringing over 20 years of experience as a modern marketer, and leader. Maggie excels at combining the art and science of marketing to drive exceptional results for global brands, where the art is critical for awareness and recognition, the science drives revenue growth. With a commitment to fostering a collaborative marketing approach, Maggie builds innovative, go-to-market models and leverages transformational opportunities, to create better experiences, increase sales pipelines and deliver services more efficiently. Prior to joining Hootsuite, Maggie was CMO at Cision, held the top marketing role at TrueBlue, and Aon Hewitt, and spent thirteen years in senior leadership roles at Bank of America. Throughout, Maggie’s teams have won numerous industry awards for their work under her leadership.
Maggie volunteers as a member of the Peer 150 Marketing Advisory Board, serves as an executive mentor for The US Marketing Academy helping develop and nurture top talent within the Marketing, Advertising, and Communications industries, and is a leader in The Collective, an LGBTQIA+ executive forum striving to create more connectivity in the workplace to drive diversity, equity and inclusion. She is an executive mentor in the Berlin-based RAHM group, supporting LGBT+ professionals aspiring to C-level roles, and has been named to OUTstanding’s Top 100 LGBT+ Global Executives List for three consecutive year.
Hootsuite is the global leader in social media management. With over 210,000 paid accounts and millions of users, Hootsuite powers social media for brands and organizations around the world, from the smallest businesses to the largest enterprises. Hootsuite’s unparalleled expertise in social media management, social insights, employee advocacy, and social customer care empowers organizations to strategically grow their brands, businesses, and customer relationships with social media.