Jeff Samuels

Global VP of Marketing at Cisco Security

As Global Vice President of Marketing at Cisco Security, Jeff's success has come from rethinking one of Marketing’s oldest friends: data. Marketers are no stranger to data, but they’ve lost touch with it as technology has introduced new depth to analysis and even changed customers’ relationships with companies. Jeff believes that, in order to prove their staying power, marketers will need to adopt a nimbler approach to data, switch up their favorite metrics, and ultimately serve the whole customer journey.



Cisco Security is the multi-billion dollar security arm of Cisco, a leader in IT and networking. By reducing the complexity of security processes and systems, Cisco Security keeps businesses more secure and makes their IT departments more productive.


To prove their staying power, marketers need to serve the entire customer journey

New technology has done more than merely test the mettle of marketers; it has transformed the means by which marketers engage. Today, Marketing is a discipline comprised of finite domains of expertise leaving many marketers ill equipped to handle this new era of specialization. As Global Vice President of Marketing for Cisco’s multi-billion-dollar Security business, Jeff Samuels has observed this paradigm shift from its epicenter, Silicon Valley.

According to Jeff, a principle responsibility of a marketer is to act as the voice of the customer. The key benefits of espousing the customer’s voice are to design more effective customer conversations while elevating and scaling customer engagements. In today’s era of digital transformation where most customer buying decisions are happening both physically and digitally away from the company, marketing is one of the most—if not the most—important priorities for every company.

Most firms attempt to define customer journeys as a way to support their intended go to market activities. Typically, functional organizations that touch customers have specific, and often misaligned, points of view on the best way to engage them. Sales, Services, Customer Success, even Engineering, all design and often deliver experiences to customers with the best of intentions but also with inherent disconnects.

“Each team often works on a separate point of the customer journey or creates their own unique journey with different moments that matter. When one team’s version of the journey is even 2% different from another group’s version, the resulting misalignment will have a substantive impact on the customer experience, and by extension, business outcomes. The modern marketing organization is often perfectly positioned to bring that perspective to the broader business.”

By representing the voice of the customer across their full lifecycle, Marketing can help its colleagues be more impactful and function as a true growth partner. Jeff would know. He’s navigated these business conversations well. For him, success, in part, comes down to rethinking one of Marketing’s oldest friends: data.

Marketers are no strangers to data. However, with an ever-increasing number of tools and measurable customer touchpoints, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the volume of data, and the new approaches to analysis. To continue advancing a modern go-to-market strategy, and a corresponding set of business outcomes, marketers will need to adopt a nimbler and more refined way of divining meaning from data. And in doing so, they will provide insight into the customer journey for the entire company.

Care about tests, not report cards 01

Even though marketers were some of the earliest proponents of data, many have lost touch with how to use it effectively. Jeff believes marketers have much to gain if they can resist thinking of data as a simple report card and start using both the available technologies and their shared data as the medium for progress.

“Data originally became the center of marketers’ worlds primarily because it functioned like a report card to highlight campaign ROI. Although the way companies use data has evolved, many marketers still treat data in a retrospective context. It’s not good for anyone to be waiting and praying for a good report card.”

Instead, Jeff prefers to study the habits and data of consumers across the buying journey. He views the iterative and rapidly paced agile software development model as a guide for marketers. Rather than using data simply to evaluate the success of a campaign, he wants data to help marketers trailblaze new paths to success.

“Test facets of your approach in stages. Have hypotheses. Monitor the data as it changes. Let that be what drives the marketing agenda.”

To leave the world of report cards behind, marketers need to think in terms of where the data will lead them. A hypothesis is important, but on its own, still can result in short-term judgements. In the past, marketing hypotheses took the form of objectives-like statements: We hope we get 1,000 sign-ups by Friday, for example. Jeff wants these hypotheses to evolve into more action-oriented, detailed, conditional statements.

“A test should have an insight into cause and effect. Otherwise, we’re left saying, ‘80% of customers did this one thing—what an interesting insight.’ The worst thing marketers can do is get the data and then ask, ‘What now?’ If there’s not a clear answer, why did we measure it? That means our hypothesis wasn’t detailed enough.”

If data is to continue sitting at the center of marketers’ worlds, they need to recognize the new realities of data. That means being adaptive and detailed enough to catalyze change, instead of waiting for it to happen.

A test should have an insight into cause and effect. Otherwise, we’re left saying, ‘80% of customers did this one thing—what an interesting insight.’ The worst thing marketers can do is get the data and then ask, ‘What now?’ If there’s not a clear answer, why did we measure it? That means our hypothesis wasn’t detailed enough.


Measure the company, not the marketing 02

Traditional metrics, in fact, do matter. That said, a marketer’s business partners—often in Engineering or Sales—don’t always grasp how marketing KPIs directly impact the overall success of the company. Jeff tasks marketers with educating their peers about how marketing metrics advance understanding about the overall health of the business—and how the metrics directly connect to outcomes that sales, engineering, services and customer success teams care about.

“Conversion rates for interactions online and at every stage of the funnel measurably impact growth. They ultimately translate into pipeline and bookings. And they tie into customer acquisition cost and lifetime value.”

While a marketer can feel safe in the knowledge that their metrics count, they should also adopt a sense of humility about them.  “Marketing metrics” should only be part of their world.

“I advise Marketing leaders to focus on company-wide metrics that they can implement as shared measures between marketing and other teams. Why? If business leaders limit their view to the funnel, without a clear perspective of how that fits into the broader story, they’re doing their teams and their business a disservice. The real insights are derived from connecting all the different pieces of data as a way of also clarifying the entire customer journey.”

Jeff especially encourages marketers to invest in the metrics that are most relevant to crafting a holistic portrait of the customer. Typically, these types of metrics mark intersections where different parts of a company engage in the customer’s journey. “One good example is Sales-Qualified Leads (SQL). Marketers contribute to that pipeline by acquiring initial inquiries. But there is more to SQL than what marketing delivers. So much of this metric’s success hinges on sales validation of prospect interest. By working to understand where the digital world connects with the physical world and improving conversion rates for Sales Qualified Leads, both sales and marketing collaborate more effectively to drive business growth.”

I advise Marketing leaders to focus on company-wide metrics that they can implement as shared measures between Marketing and other teams.

Embed Marketing throughout the customer journey 03

The conversation between customers and companies is richer now than ever before. Prospective customers expect to engage frequently with a brand before making a buying decision. Products are iterated to the tune of customer preference. Support is available 24/7 across several channels. If Marketing wants to “get” the customer, it will need to live throughout the journey, and not just at the top of the funnel.

“There are all of these ‘moments of truth’ now, and Marketing plays an important role in each and every one. From that first introduction to the brand to the free trial to purchase to adoption to renewal, I believe marketers should start mapping out this unified customer journey and defining what success looks like at each of these touchpoints.”

Successful modern marketers, according to Jeff, are those who can demonstrate a deep knowledge of not only marketing’s best practices but also this unified customer journey. The really good ones—the marketers whose companies will win due to their efforts—are those who can take it one step further, using data nimbly to closely track the right company-wide metrics. It is this adaptive relationship with data that will create the predictive capability to define immediate actions based on the derived insights.

“There may always be misconceptions about Marketing.  And some colleagues may not see every aspect of how Marketing drives the business. If this gap in understanding is something, we, as an industry, are going to overcome, we need to demonstrate how Marketing creates optimal customer experiences. Data underlies our ability to achieve that aim.”

We need to demonstrate how Marketing creates optimal customer experiences.

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