Q: As a Digital Trailblazer, you're doing
outstanding work to further digital marketing. When did you make
the transition into digital?
Ms. Bowman: I really began to work more on
digital when I was at Microsoft, when I was working on Bing and
MSN. That is where I cut my teeth on digital and earned my chops.
Now, including social and mobile, about 80% of my day-to-day work
is digital. Because I oversee both, I can really focus on the
interplay between traditional and digital marketing. What's clear
to me is that silos don't work anymore. The customer doesn't
consume media in silos.
Q: Tell us about a moment in your career that
was pivotal and why it affected you so strongly.
Ms. Bowman: About four years ago, when I was on
maternity leave with my first child, I was coming off several years
of doing large ad campaigns for the Bing brand. Although we did on-
and offline, the focus always was a 30-second spot—and
everything spun off of that. At home, I was really finding a
passion in social. The social director role opened up; I called my
boss and said, "I can't make another 30-second TV spot." Some would
say it was a brave thing to do because it wasn't the prestige thing
to do, moving from the $200 million TV budget to the $2 million
social budget. But I don't regret it at all. It gave me so much. It
enabled me to land this job at Neiman Marcus.
Q: How important is harnessing the power of
data for a business like yours? How are you and Neiman Marcus using
data to find and connect with potential customers?
Ms. Bowman: Data is critical to every decision
that we make. Neiman Marcus has a deep history of being a catalog
and direct marketer, so we have that ROI culture ingrained. We
don't make any decisions unless we can prove them out with data.
From a customer standpoint, our goal is always to enhance the
shopping experience. We want to deliver online something that is as
close to the beauty of our in-store experience as we can. The data
allows us to do that.
At Neiman Marcus, your sales associate knows you so well, she
can predict how you will respond to new items and make
recommendations for you. Our goal is to show the customer that
Neiman Marcus online knows her as well as our offline associates
Q: You have worked on several luxury, high-end
brands. Are there differences in reaching the likely consumers for
those brands through digital channels?
Ms. Bowman: The audience has changed. When I
worked at Land Rover, income was the No. 1 demographic to determine
who you spoke to. You didn't bother to have a conversation unless
they were at a certain income level. But with millennials, it's
about their willingness to spend on a particular
item—regardless of their income. They have very high
expectations and value things that other generations might not have
Q: Everyone is talking about the role
programmatic buying has assumed in marketing. How do you view the
role of programmatic buying in reaching the customers you need to
Ms. Bowman: Programmatic has definitely
simplified the process for us because it allows us to focus on who
we want to reach without getting caught up in the details of how to
reach them. And it has given us even more access to data, which we
Q: What parts of your marketing strategy keep
you up at night?
Ms. Bowman: For me, it's how we find the right
balance between brand advertising and performance marketing. With
the access to data we have, it always leads you to optimize for
ROI, but sometimes those are not the best channels to deliver the
right brand experience.
Q: Aside from Neiman Marcus, of course, what's
an online retailer you really like or have ordered from?
Ms. Bowman: An online experience that I use
often and find perfect from end to end is Warby Parker [the online
eyeglass retailer]. Their try-on-at-home system gives a lot of
convenience, which as a busy mom I need. They feature whimsical
quotes on their packaging, which is always fun. They do a great job
engaging with their audience. I couldn't imagine buying glasses
from anyone else; I must have 10 pairs of Warby Parker glasses
Q: What's your favorite new app or digital tool
that you have been using in your work or personal life?
Ms. Bowman: My social team will laugh at this,
but I have been trying hard to get into Snapchat. I have been
making an effort to use it, and sometimes feel like an old person
trying to do that. As a mom, I think the Endless Alphabet app
offers a perfect combination of fun and learning. For my child it
feels like a game, but my 4-year-old is very articulate and I think
that kind of exposure has helped her grow.
Q: What do you do first thing in the
Ms. Bowman: At home, I'm spending time with my
kids, making breakfast and fixing lunch. When I get to work at the
office or online, I go straight to work; I am not one of those who
reads the news to start the day. But often I wake up in the middle
of the night, and that's when I'll read The New York Times or Huff
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