Murilo de Favari is the Marketing Director for Omega Engineering, the global leader in the technical marketplace, providing sensing, monitoring and control solutions for elements like temperature and pressure. He oversees global marketing functions such as product marketing, brand, search, content, analytics, corporate relations, and he supports international and local teams.
In this interview, we chat about his background, and get insights on 7 of the major challenges we uncovered in our global SEO marketing study.
Charity Stebbins: What was your path into global marketing and Omega?
Murilo de Favari: I was a storyteller by nature, and therefore, filmmaking was my ideal career path growing up – at the same time, math and statistics always pulled me in. Making marketing measurable and still be able to branded stories seemed like a good compromise. When I joined college, the industry was undergoing a massive change: with digital becoming more prominent. I am glad I compromised. I love the industry I’m in.
As for Omega Engineering, I joined about 5 years ago to spearhead marketing during its expansion into Latin America. From there, I bounced between the U.S., Canada and back to develop local and global marketing programs, until becoming responsible for the marketing org challenged with scaling and expanding Omega’s presence and support of our customer’s journey. I am lucky to manage a team of 8 people, and each one covers a specific piece of that digital journey.
Sounds like several jobs. How do you prioritize?
We’re a fully Agile marketing department, and I wouldn’t see it working any other way. The Agile framework accounts for the constant shifts in requirements and priorities that come in a digital-first company.
Agile allows us to quickly act on data-driven marketing where insights have a shorter shelf life. One of the concepts of Agile is working around MVPs (minimum viable products) and having a useful version of a product at the end of each sprint. A lot of times, that’s a combination of two or more of the disciplines we work around and constant collaboration from team members.
What motivates you as a marketer?
Telling stories and thrusting customers to a successful path in whatever it is they’re off to is what gets me excited about global marketing. Brands often think there’s a sweet spot (usually 10-25%) between what they represent and what customers are interested in. I would argue that is a problem, it means ¾ of your messaging and your mission has no purpose or audience. Good marketing helps customers take the next step. Great marketing helps them figure out what is a step, why you should take one – or even if you should.
My team is fortunate to work for a company with a very clear mission: to support, share and develop sensing, monitoring and control knowledge and expertise. That statement is everything a marketer could ask for because it’s truly customer-centric. While aligned with our values, every marketing action can support that statement: from developing content to catering for an entirely new digital commerce experience, to choosing a landing page for a search campaign – all can be done with customer centricity.
What makes a strong global marketing leader?
Can I say mind reading? Or embedded multi-language speech? Those would be super helpful. Since these options are not yet on the menu for genetic modification I would say a true understanding of customer behavior.
Geeking out a bit, I find anthropology, psychology and neurolinguistics fascinating studies that complement marketing. Marketing is, in fact, a universal discipline but it’s very much moldable by cultures and contexts – and not the other way around.
We’re so conditioned to preaching our particular way of achieving a certain goal that we tend to overlook the need for the local voice of customer programs. Understanding the market needs, behavior and intent is the first step to look for gaps in how you’re positioning the brand. Companies who look at search data beyond simply a search marketing discipline have a greater chance of getting to insight, understanding intent and optimizing their global presence.
Global marketing teams identify website navigation and structure as their #1 challenge. Why do you think that’s at the top of the list?
In building up a digital experience, brands will look to align their navigation and structure to a customer journey. When the number of variations rises in global marketing – multiple countries, languages, currencies, brands – scaling up and maintaining becomes problematical. I would say this is a one-two-punch of product information management systems and UX.
One of the things to keep in mind is the difference between an internal product taxonomy, versus what’s displayed for the customer. Looks for systems that allow for that flexibility. Also keep taxonomy and local customer behavior as one of the steps in a workflow to internationally launch a product, taking that opportunity to verify that the language makes sense and meets the local understanding.
On the UX side, I also think that flexibility on the CMS or Ecommerce system is top of mind, especially to adapt to international behaviors. It’s a very challenging task, but hosting global and local user testing might help remove some of those perceptions, or fine-tune the navigation to be more country-agnostic. And then build in elements in the ecommerce system that can be personalized to meet local requirements.
What other big challenges pop up for global marketing teams?
Language is always a barrier (until we have translation-ready earbuds, oh wait…). I have been through most of them: from cultural differences to silent meetings to time differences (those 16 hour reply times are a killer) and that’s a ticket to the dance for an international company.
I think finding the balance between “localization” and truly “truly local” is something we all struggle with. Language, content, copy, structure – all of those are aspects of our marketing strategy and should not be looked at as simply as a “translation” job.
45% of marketers say their global marketing initiatives are top-down HQ-driven rather than local. What are the advantages/disadvantages there?
Top-down initiatives are usually more structured – they often come in packages that involve measurement plans, creative assets and fine-tuned strategies that have been tested. They are loaded with learnings and supported by analytics. With that, there’s a risk of losing sight of innovation and opportunities that local teams can drive directly.
In global marketing, the trick is to find the balance between driving execution while still finding channels to allow local iterations and feedback from deployment. At Omega, our campaign deployment processes to local offices are starting to use Agile as well as framework to push localization and translation when and if relevant, feeding a continuous loop of progress.
More than half of global marketers think their regional teams aren’t adequately trained in SEO best practices. What are some of good ways to make sure knowledge from headquarters gets to local teams?
Defining what good looks like is important here. Assess their local knowledge and working with them to address any knowledge gaps. “They don’t understand SEO” is very wide. Ask yourself: are those gaps technical? Or is it really a foundational marketing knowledge that’s missing? Search is really just one piece of the global marketing equation.
Listen to what they have to say and support local training initiatives. Processes and guidelines help but process ownership and support are the most critical factors. A process paper can sit untouched for years unless there’s ownership and guidance on how to execute and also the willingness to adapt processes based on learnings that come with global marketing and international SEO deployment. At Omega, we recently established an SEO hub to align cadence of efforts and accelerate the learning curve.
Over 60% of global marketing teams say they’re expanding into new countries in the next 5 years. Do you think that there will be more global organic marketing competition in the near future?
It’s already pretty competitive out there but companies don’t realize because they’re handling expansion as a translation activity, low effort, and supposedly high impact. Global marketing will become a more structured and organized effort as everyone realizes there’s a higher chance of winning by agile-ing the expansion.
What’s in your global SEO/content tech stack? How do you use tech in your HQ and regional workflows?
The most important piece of structure we have is less about the technology and more about the framework that allows the teams to align each “user story” to their technology needs – for example, our analytics can be used in the planning phase to check historical performance, during testing to validate concepts or in sprint review to account for learnings, and we are implementing the same mindset to regional workflows as well. Conductor is a part of our global marketing stack – there’s so much potential there and we’re constantly learning and deploying new ways to incorporate Conductor and other analytics into our data-driven process.
What should goals look like for global marketing teams who are focused on organic search?
If there’s demand for your product or your brand, I would enlist branded searches and content development as your minimum viable product. Working around channel conflict (there might be resellers in place) is always challenging in that case. If it’s an English-speaking market, make sure to employ the correct tactics to get users to the correct local site as the customer experience improves drastically.
Getting search engines to index the correct local version of the site through hreflang tags is primordial but if that’s not happening just yet, identifying users arriving from other parts of the globe and inviting them to check their local site is another way.
From that point on, global marketing goals should be aligned to local forecasts and plans in terms of most important products, customers, needs and values that are being delivered.