The Future of Retail Over The Next Five Years, with Marissa Tarleton, Chief Marketing Officer at RetailMeNot

I had the pleasure of interviewing Marissa Tarleton. As the chief marketing officer at RetailMeNot, she is responsible for all advertising, customer acquisition, SEM, PR, B2B marketing, and customer relationship management. Prior to RetailMeNot, Marissa led marketing for Dell Inc.’s North America Consumer and Small Business organization. Marissa lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two children.

Accomplishments at Company: Since joining RetailMeNot in 2016, Marissa has led the marketing team on key accomplishments such as:

- The RetailMeNot Brand: We reoriented our brand around the concept of being “the ultimate savings destination,” launching a “Yours for the Savings” campaign that has been running for two years. In 2018, we rebranded Redplum to RetailMeNot Everyday, adding a print product to the portfolio. The new brand initiative has driven growth in how people consider our brand vs our competition.

- How We Measure and Plan Media: This year, we have been focused on effectively measuring the short and long-term performance of our media and have spent time creating a multi-touch attribution system and looking at incrementality. The impact of this has been significant in how we shape media mix top optimize for long term ROI. We have seen a significant increase in media ROI with this change.

- Evolved Marketing Strategy: We have evolved our marketing strategy beyond acquisition. We have shifted our marketing bit to retention programs but also invested in our CRM programs to engage our consumer over time and help them understand new ways to save money. The impact of this has been longer retention curves and loyalty for our consumers.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

During my time at Ogilvy & Mather, I worked as an account executive on the IBM e-business campaign. This role sparked my interest in e-commerce and how it would change the state or retail and shopping. I knew pretty quickly that this was my path and I chose a business school shortly thereafter that allowed me to focus on both marketing and MIS with the hopes of leading a major consumer e-commerce and mobile brand to growth. Upon graduating with my MBA, I landed a great role at Dell that allowed me to eventually gain the experience of leading one of the greatest e-commerce sites in the world. Then, the move to RetailMeNot allowed me to further develop into mobile. It has been 20 years since that spark on e-commerce and building brands in New York City, and I am proud of where it has taken me.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

About 10 years into my career, I got married and had my first child. Up until the hour my baby was born, I was working 70–80 hours a week with really nothing but career advancement in mind. I was literally on a conference call in the delivery room hours before my son was born. I did not have much perspective beyond my career and driving results at all cost, but that day changed my perspective with a lasting impact. I started to think about others, and I developed more respect for things outside of just a career including family, community and relationships. It has taken me years to find balance and I still struggle with it daily. But that day, in the delivery room on calls, was a pivotal moment of realizing I wanted to make a change in my priorities and there are more important things in life.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In general when I was starting out, I took myself too seriously. I was overly dramatic when things did not go my way and, inevitably, I “broke into jail” all too often by elevating problems. I became known in the early days for high drama and the wake around me. I have learned over time that you need to plan for the long haul and not sweat the small stuff. It’s not always about me!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

1) We stand out for consumers by saving people money on everything they need. The savings are real. We help people save money not only the things they want like a brand new pair of nikes, but also on things they need, like prescription drugs. When consumers are spending thousands of dollars for their families each year on medicine, it is really powerful to be a part of brand that is helping them save up to 50% on prescriptions each time they go into their local pharmacy.

2) On the retail partners side, we stand out because we’re able to assist in the elusive mobile to in-store attribution story while measuring ROI. We heard from our retail partners for years that they wanted to invest in mobile marketing but struggled with the lack of measurability and ROI with this media investment. We invested in location technology and location aware marketing channels to help solve that challenge. Our mobile to in store attribution programs today deliver a 10X ROI for our top retailers.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

My best advice to avoid burnout is to mix it up every 9–12 months. You can do that without leaving your company! Just make the time to explore new roles adjacent to diversify your skillset, or even ask for new projects that allow you to grow. Don’t be shy to ask for a new challenge.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

My movement would be about empowering young women, particularly those new to the workforce, to have courage to fight for the careers, the resources and role models they want and deserve. Currently, I coach many women who struggle to find the resources and role professional models the need as guides early in their careers. I would love to be part of making that a larger movement.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My parents. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true. My father was a successful GE executive and very early on, instilled the drive for me the make a difference and also be successful in his career and with his family. He was instrumental in helping me take risks and be confident that I can do just about anything I set out to do. My mother was also a tremendous support. There were many times in my life I hit dead ends and my mother was also there to help me course correct.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

I am really excited about the evolution of the RetailMeNot brand into new categories of saving. We are launching savings in travel, prescription drugs and food more broadly this fall through new product experiences and a new marketing campaign. This evolution of the RetailMeNot Savings Destination will enable millions of people on every more of the things they need and want everyday.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Empowering women in tech and giving back to the community are two areas of focus for me in Austin in particular. At RetailMeNot, we have built a community-focused environment through our RMN Gives program — I am particularly proud of this. We contribute to more than 40 organizations around the country with a specific plan to support the areas where we work and are also aligned to our corporate values. I also proudly support our Diversity and Inclusion program, and have since initial inception of the program. I am the executive sponsor of our women’s Employee Resource Group (ERG), and coach more than twenty women.

Can you share 5 examples of how retail companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to shop?

Technology moves very fast and in 5 years there will be new innovations and consumer expectations that are not even on our radar yet. That being said, we are already seeing retailers and brands make moves now that will impact them 1, 3, even 5 years down the road. Here are five areas I anticipate retailers and brands will make changes to keep pace with the way consumers shop.

1. Expand their definition of “competition” and look beyond the retail industry. The most successful retailers today are taking note of all digital experiences shaping their core audience’s expectations, not just what their traditional retail competition is doing. One example is the use of voice-assistance in consumer homes; consumers are using voice-assistance to help with turning off lights in their home, playing music, finding out the weather and more, and these expectations will become pervasive in all areas of their life, including retail. Watch as retailers and brands enter this space in a way that drives sales.

2. Brands will focus less on the individual product and more on the entire customer experience. With more consumers, especially millennials, seeking experiences over things, traditional retailers will utilize their physical footprint in a smarter way. In-store events, pop-ups, local push notifications and interactive installations will be the driving force behind product purchases, much like the Museum of Ice Cream is currently doing.

3. E-commerce will rush towards traditional retail, not run away from it. Consider Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple making investments in brick-and-mortar spaces and shopping experiences. Traditional retail is far from dead, but will begin to focus on bringing their digital efforts into their physical spaces for a WOW in-store shopping experience. Expect to see physical retail utilize their data to offer more in-store conveniences, like checkout-free stores, facial recognition and smart shelving/inventory systems.

4. Maintain the basics of a good shopping experience. Not everything needs to be be shiny and new in retail. In fact, among 200 retailers surveyed by RetailMeNot, more than half (54%) said they plan to focus on a better customer service strategy in the future as a way to compete with other dominant retailers. Pairing solid customer service with the likes of a good deal ensures your audience walks away with a positive feeling about your brand.

5. Video marketing makes a bigger sales splash for retailers. Video marketing is here, now. However, retailers are still trying to figure out how this plays into the buying process. Over the next couple of years, shoppable videos that feature in-store experiences will have real power in winning over consumers who are interested in things like fit, feel and more.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@mbtarleton and @retailmenot on Twitter, or on LinkedIn

This was really great , thank you so much for joining us!