We recently spoke with Harriet Kenney about developing a customer-first strategy at independent, academic and professional publisher, SAGE.

Harriet will be joining us on Wednesday 9th June from 3 p.m. (GMT +1) for our Building a Customer First Strategy: the Rise of Customer Insight online speaker event for academic and scholarly publishers.

Register here to join us.

For a taster for what to expect from the session, read our five-minute chat with Harriet below.


Hi, Harriet! Please tell us a bit about your job.

I’ve been working at SAGE Publishing for the last 16 years, both in product marketing and in marketing data, analytics and insight.

What’s your background in creating and implementing a customer-first strategy?

In my data, analytics and insight role, I started to realise the potential of putting the customer first in our marketing strategy. I saw that many of our customers were unsubscribing from emails because we weren’t reaching them with the right message at the right time. Also, I became more aware of the data that we had access to and how we could use this to better understand customers and design compelling marketing initiatives to meet their needs.

What are publishers missing out on from not having good-quality customer insight?

The risk is that we can’t see the wood for the trees – when we spend too much time focusing on our individual products and not on understanding our customer base then we can end up tracking metrics that are not really meaningful. Are we generating textbook adoptions that don’t sell through? Are we generating submissions that don’t get accepted? Are we communicating to the right people? When we are only looking at product or campaign level metrics then we can’t answer these questions.

What is the main plus you’ve seen since implementing a customer first strategy?

We’ve found that the success of our marketing really spikes when we use insights to show the customer that we understand them. Getting that insight out to the sales teams has a huge impact too.

What is one simple thing would you recommend to publishers looking to get started with developing a customer first strategy?

Get a group of colleagues together – from different customer facing teams – for a customer journey mapping exercise, is a fun way to put yourselves in your customers’ shoes and to uncover some quick wins to get you started.

Harriet Kenney has over 15 years’ experience in academic publishing leading marketing and marketing operations teams. At SAGE, she has recently moved from a role working closely with technology and marketing teams on integrating data sources, developing insights and generating value from data, to leading the Books Marketing team, where developing a customer-centric marketing strategy is at the core of her objectives. @HarrietCKenney