Revlon CMO Martine Williamson Tips for Using Technology in Marketing

  • Martine Williamson, CMO of Revlon, says the right talent is critical to today’s marketing success.
  • Consumer behavior guarantees seamless shopping experiences supported by e-commerce and social content.
  • In an age where content is always “on”, marketers need to focus on technological innovations.
  • This article is part of the “Innovation C-Suite“Series about business growth and technology change.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Revlon, the world’s leading beauty leader, had the digital transformation fully under control. In a 2018 earnings call, CEO Debra Perelman highlighted the company’s focus on e-commerce through retail partners, direct-to-consumer branded sites, backend technology capabilities and the effectiveness of social channels.

But when Martine Williamson joined Revlon as chief marketing officer in December 2020, the company wanted accelerates its technological innovation to drive customer journeys and at the same time move the culture towards an agile startup mentality. Consumer behavior had changed during the pandemic as social distancing and closings led to an increase in online sales.

“It’s no longer linear – shoppers can go straight from viewing an Instagram in-stream ad to reading comments on a product and buying online. So we really needed to speed up our efforts and adjust our plans, ”Williamson told Insider.

Revlon quickly worked on building its seamless shopping experience, creating new types of social and digital content and focusing on high quality influencers. “We want to make sure we can get there at any point of the day,” said Williamson. “Beauty is a fun category that is all about fantasy and storytelling, so we’re really focused on going beyond a traditional e-commerce experience.”

Williamson shared four tips for CMOs in any industry looking to drive the customer journey with the help of technology innovation:

1. Choose the right talent.

For marketers to drive technological innovation, it’s not just about finding tech talent, says Williamson, it’s about them Right Talent. “I firmly believe in building the right teams,” she said. “I’ll never be a tech expert, I can make sure I’m building the right digital team and we’re all trained on how to best connect with our consumers in a digital-first world.” That includes people who are data-driven in their decision-making, she added, who enjoy testing and learning. “You need an agile mindset,” she said.

2. Get input from younger employees.

“I’m not hierarchical, I’m like a sponge with the younger people in the organization that for me is about being adaptable,” said Williamson, who added that she brings in interns every summer to help with projects like running take over social channels. “These young people, who grew up in the digital world that they live and breathe, are the best people outside of our external consumers that we tap into, the main test cases that we run things by.”

3. Test and learn based on real-time data.

Williamson explained that nearly a dozen tools go into a Revlon dashboard that comes from backend analytics across all of the company’s businesses and provides snapshots of all major KPIs. “We all make our decisions based on this dashboard, it’s a common metric that we can all look at,” she said, pointing out the importance of testing and learning in an environment where it is in Okay is to fail. “There has to be a culture of courage where you can be nimble and move quickly,” she said.

4. Work with technology partners in the organization.

The key to meeting customer expectations is to be cross-functional and data-driven to ensure technology teams understand consumers and how to reach them, Williamson said. “We work closely with our digital team, our e-commerce team and our CIO to ensure they are fully informed about every aspect of the target customer,” she added. “As long as we all hold hands and know that this is for the good of the company, we can make adjustments as needed – this constant adjustment is a large part of the success of technical innovation.”

At its core, marketing is all about focusing on the customer experience, Williamson said. Revlon, she added, needs to describe dynamic journeys tailored to a variety of user experiences. “A Walmart Consumer is very different from a Target Consumer or a CVS Consumer,” she said.

But for any brand, today’s marketers need to focus on technological innovation in an age where content is always on. “All CMOs need to be aware of digital-first tools and stay on top of changes in consumer insights and behavior,” said Williamson. “This is what really drives how we need to evolve as a company.”