blagicaToday’s guest expert in our Intersections series is Blagica Bottigliero, Vice President of Digital Media at Metaverse Mod Squad, a digital engagement agency. With over 16 years of experience in every aspect of Internet development, online marketing, digital communications, traditional public relations and social media technologies, Blagica has a unique background that spans channels and blends corporate know-how, agency dynamics, and start-up flexibility.

KW: You have an extensive history in the digital space. What was it like to be immersed in those early years of emarketing?

BB: When I started my career out at Giant Step — now known as Arc Worldwide, a part of Leo Burnett — I was essentially teaching clients about the web. A big component of the job was education and helping marketers understand the implications of the dot com boom of the 90s.

I was focused on web development strategy and learned a lot about how to build a website and create a user experience.

Then, I moved to Orbitz in the early 2000s where I was a member of their first eMarketing team. I received a hands-on experience across nearly every aspect of online media buying that was available to us.

These experiences equipped me with the building blocks of the web on which I grew my career.

How have you seen digital and brands’ approaches to the customer journey evolve?

I’ve learned that digital marketing is really an art and science.

There are all these interconnected pieces to consider within the customer journey, but the web can get so siloed. In the early days, there weren’t established best practices; we just had to figure it out.

Marketers must take the time to understand the customer.

Now, we have all this data and advanced technology to help inform our decisions. On one hand, I think big data can be really powerful. On the other hand, it’s not valuable unless marketers can access it and know how to use it to create a better customer experience.

As marketers, we have to strike the right balance.

You spent some time as a brand-side marketer at Motorola Mobility leading up its global social media agenda. In today’s social ecosystem, what is some advice you would provide to social marketers about how they should be thinking about both paid and owned strategies?

It really does start with the consumer and the pitcher/catcher relationship of the journey.

First, social marketers need to sit with their analytics teams and understand the paths by which people visit websites. What is the percentage of organic versus paid?  What type of referral traffic is coming in?  Did a new site come to play that could be a potential paid partner? From an owned perspective, what is the quality of traffic coming in from platforms like Facebook and Twitter? How much time is being spent?

Social marketers need to incorporate basic digital marketing analysis to get behind the ‘how’ of a click. Such data should be shared both among internal brand teams, but also cross agencies.  Only when this data is understood and the baseline is established, can social teams truly create a solid playbook.

How has your own point of view on the role of digital and channels such as search and social changed?

Over the years, what I have come to love about digital is the way you can use technology and the web to connect with people. This is a big part of what I’m doing now at Metaverse Mod Squad. We’re focused on helping brands connect with their customers and communities on a human level.

I recently wrote a piece for Digiday on this topic, making a case for how the importance put on social media influence needs to stop. Today’s consumers are savvy – even if their klout score may not reflect that. Marketers need to bring back the human element to social and invest in those relationships and conversations.

From your perspective, what does the future of digital and cross-channel marketing hold?

We’ve come so far when it comes to innovation and automation, but in a lot of ways, we need to get back to the basics. The industry needs to slow down, get the right talent in place, and become more people-centric.

Marketers must take the time to understand the customer, their day to day, and the psychology of the person.

I’m excited for what the future holds with this mentality in mind.