The traditional role of the CMO is changing. But before the new CMOs can be successful, they need to fully embrace marketing technology.
Most current CMOs started their careers in an entirely different business environment and culture than what today’s world offers. At that time creativity and the Four P’s were the kings of marketing, with a smattering of statistics and economics to back them up. The media landscape was simple, target audiences were (relatively) cohesive, and marketers were generally limited to a handful of time-tested strategies that nobody questioned.
Never before has there been so much pressure on a C-suite executive to embrace digital technology.
But back then, marketers didn’t have to worry too much about technology’s impact on their careers. The traditional CMO has historically been concerned with brand awareness, creative and messaging, and the psychology of the consumer.
They were rarely particularly data-driven—they couldn’t be. There weren’t efficient ways to gather enough relevant data, let alone the systems to process it into actionable insights. Marketers had to rely on their instinct and creativity instead.
At best, as the old saying goes, marketers knew (or more likely, guessed) that 50% of their marketing spend was effective; they just didn’t know which 50%.
That’s all changed.
In a marketplace where disruptive business models are rapidly evolving and technologies are opening up new possibilities and markets, the role of the CMO is colliding with that of the chief information officer (CIO) and chief technology officer (CTO).
CMOs today are expected to know the ins and outs of their traditional stomping grounds of brand strategy and advertising. But now they must also stay up to date on the latest technology trends that are influencing the entire customer experience and lifecycle.
Over the past 20 years, CMOs have gone from being a cost center, siloed within their organization with minimal accountability, to being a full-blown player, charged with P&L and caring for the entire customer lifecycle. Today’s CMO is more CEO-like, carefully balancing parts of the business that are starting to overlap including marketing, operations, sales, and especially IT.
CMOs have gone full digital, hiring marketing technologists, data analysts, and “growth hackers” in addition to the usual crew. They’re increasingly reliant on a support staff of marketing executives to keep them up-to-date in these fields and developing hiring strategies that maintain the level of modern talent they need throughout the organization.
Never before has there been so much pressure on a C-suite executive to embrace digital technology. Today’s CMO is expected to be an innovator, able to adjust to the changing consumer, changing technology and a constant driver of growth.
The Experience Overseer
The emergence of the digital CMO is good news, but the transition is paved with speedbumps.
As customers increasingly turn to digital touchpoints to interact with brands, these new-age CMOs are rightly focused on creating great digital experiences. They’ve come to the realization that digital customer experience is both an urgent priority and a key factor in driving revenue.
Lynn Vojvodich, CMO of Salesforce, Succinctly Explains the Significance of Today’s Customer Experience:
For most companies, digital experiences are the first interaction consumers have with your brand in today’s market. This has led to a sort of digital gold rush. Organizations with the right digital foresight have been preparing for this for years, building up their infrastructure and talent bases accordingly. Many more are scrambling now to catch up.
Despite the tremendous opportunity presented by dazzling consumers with digital experiences, most CMOs still haven’t been successful in delivering. A recent study by Meta Group reveals a sobering reality: as many as 75% of digital experience projects fail.
5 Things Successful CMOs are Focusing On
As CMO executive recruiters, we encounter clients all the time that are looking for a leader at the highest level to bring their customer experience into a modern age. They’ve been let down in the past by behind-the-times executives who just couldn’t deliver. To avoid these failures, we believe that CMOs must embrace the following 5 obsessions:
Own the customer experience and lifecycle across all channels. A good CMO is chronically obsessed with the customer experience. Take initiative to get whatever executive authority needed to make changes anywhere your organization encounters the consumer.
Surround yourself with the expertise you need. Much as you might like to think otherwise, you’re not omniscient. With the pace of marketing today, things will inevitably fall through the cracks if you try to shoulder the entire burden of digital experience on yourself. Acquire tech-savvy, forward-thinking marketers at every level to support your vision and execute effectively.
Break down silos. Consumers absolutely do not care that they’ve been passed internally between different departments, from marketing to sales to customer service. They expect a consistent, positive experience. Organizations must undergo radical shifts in their structures to align themselves with how customers act in a new world obsessed with digital experiences. This starts with the CMO closely collaborating with the CIO, and building from there.
Be data-driven. Pragmatic marketers have a saying for those who refuse to glean insights through data: “Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant.” Instinct might once have been enough for a CMO, but reliable, undeniable results from real-world data is greater than gut feelings any day. Smart CMOs rely on data and analytics to understand what’s really going on with the business and can optimize on the fly.
Embrace the mobile mindshift. The new battleground for customers is the mobile moment, but the scary truth is that most companies are simply not ready for it. CMOs must keep mobile experiences at front-of-mind for everything they do.
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