A view from Mickael Paris

'The real driver should be customers', says Standard Life's Paris

Standard Life's head of digital marketing explains the importance of having a clear vision.

I’ve always been passionate about tech. I consider myself a digital native, although probably not young enough to call myself a millennial. 

My first proper job was at a credit card personalisation company as a marketing assistant. I very quickly developed a passion for understanding what makes people tick. But it was when I joined Maxymiser that I discovered digital marketing and the diversity of skills and expertise needed to create, develop and maintain an ecommerce business. 

Skyscanner was a great school, teaching me about SEO, pay-per-click, affiliate marketing, display, aggregators, price-comparison sites, content marketing, social media, analytics and much more. Those skills allowed me to come to Standard Life and really push the digital agenda. What excites me about my job is that it goes beyond marketing. I’m looking at innovation and disruption. 

Marketing is not just about marketing any more

When it comes to digital marketers, the profile of people I’m recruiting has changed massively. It isn’t just about being creative, good at developing campaigns, great at SEO etc. For digital marketers in my team, this is only one part of their role.

Data has become important in everything we do and therefore they need to be literate in web-analytics platforms, eCRM and data-management platforms. The reality is that analysis, test and learn and personalisation are as important as the delivery itself. On top of this, digital marketers need to be comfortable with HTML. I’m not speaking about building a website from scratch, but reading code is paramount to their success.

Marketing is done by your customers

Long gone are the days when the SEO geeks sit in a corner working their magic. Same goes for all digital specialists. Digital is now at the forefront of businesses and digital channels are prevalent in a good marketing mix. So now the real driver should be customers. Co-creation, testing, surveys. Everything we do should be about improving the online experience by working with, and for, them.

Stop shouting and start having conversations

Data-protection laws, the rise of ad-blocking and more general behavioural changes are forcing the industry to rethink everything. Every piece of communication has to be personalised and delivered as and when people want it – and only if they want it. With the development of social media, a great marketing campaign can just be about having great conversations. It’s a shift from speaking at customers to having a conversation with them.

Get out there

New tech, platforms and marketing techniques appear on a daily basis. It is impossible for a marketer to keep up to date with everything. Getting outside of the organisation, networking and attending seminars are things I would really advocate.

The importance of vision

Because things are moving so fast, strategies and plans tend to focus on short-term actions. However, having a clear vision will help you keep consistency and move in the right direction. Without it, you will end up with a bunch of great things that don’t gel. 

Mickael Paris is head of digital marketing at Standard Life; he featured in Marketing's Power 100 Next Generation in 2015