Digital technologies have completely changed the consumer, their behavior, their habits and their expectations. No longer is Digital considered to be an enhancement to one’s life – it is an integral aspect around which today’s lifestyles are centred. As customers adapt to the digital experience, digital becomes the context of all marketing and CMO’s need to adapt to this paradigm.
While Digital technologies are redefining every aspect of accepted business wisdom and upending many industries, nowhere is the impact felt more keenly than in how businesses communicate with their customers through technology driven channels. The extent of the impact can be gauged by the extensive restructuring of marketing setups and the fundamental change in the responsibilities, skills and overall approach to marketing, adopted by CMO’s.
An offspring of the Digital Revolution, Digital Marketing – with its arsenal of powerful tools like Search Marketing, Emails, Content Marketing, Social Media et al.- was an effective channel for CMO’s to implement branding and lead generation initiatives. Fast forward a few years and we see that, while the above still holds true, the Digital landscape has seen a considerable shift. This shift offers the modern CMO’s an opportunity to spread their wings, take up the gauntlet and explore newer horizons.
From extended customer funnels to real time interactions
The primary responsibility of CMO’s has always been to generate enough demand by guiding prospects through the sales funnel and delivering them to sales team for closures. The customer funnel is becoming almost non-existent today; the customer journey is no longer linear nor does it follow defined chronological steps. The customer is living in an always-on digital world with thousands of real time interactions that are shaping his/her decision making.
Large Scale Ad Campaigns to Hyper Targeted Contextual Messaging
The modern consumer is inundated with thousands of advertisements across channels. While traditional marketing is highly effective in reaching a large audience and creating strong brand recall it mostly ends there. Digital, on the other hand, helps in creating relationships and engagement with the consumers. The only way to get effective attention from this audience is to have hyper targeted, one-to-one contextual messaging, in the right place at the right time.
From Annual Marketing Plans to On-the-Fly Agility
Annual marketing plans and quarterly targets are no longer the way things work. With the availability of extensive real time data and advancement in ad tech, marketing campaigns today are created, executed and optimized in real time.
From Delivering Campaigns & Messaging to Delivering Experience
All the information your customer might be looking for is most likely available online already. The growth of public feedback systems like social media and reviews make a brand highly vulnerable. Engaging your customers is no longer restricted to delivering the right information but more about creating micro interactions throughout their journey, across channels, integrating processes like in-store experience, customer service into the main fold of marketing and delivering an overall brand experience.
So Where is the Challenge?
When you come to think of it, ideally, there should not be any challenge for CMO’s today. After all, there is Terabytes of real time data flowing in from all marketing touch points; much more than we can actually consume; marketing tech investments are at an all time high; Automation is becoming the norm, not just for grunt work but also for sophisticated decision making, with AI and advanced algorithms coming into play.
The actual challenge lies in identifying the customer journey and mapping it to the numerous brand touchpoints. In the current omnichannel world there are way too many touch points for the CMO to manage and at times there are touch points that are beyond your direct control ( think of a social media fan page with millions of followers).
CMO’s need to break apart the silos and take a deep look into every aspect of the business that affects the customer’s experience. It’s not just about integrating marketing channels but the necessity for marketing thought to be integrated into every business function with the key focus on delivering value throughout the customer’s journey. To be able to do this you need to understand your customer’s and have an end-to-end view of all their journeys.
What You Can Do
Don’t Think Channels, Think Customer Engagement and Value
The key objective of marketing today is to deliver value and create engagement for your consumers, irrespective of the channels they choose. This can only happen when you focus on the customer and his problems. Each channel has its own nature and while we would want to maintain uniformity of the experience across them, we also have to accept the uniqueness of every channel and make allowance for the same. A customer looking to buy a car would probably do his research online, visit the local dealer to get a price quote, ask questions in an online forum or on Facebook and even discuss with his friends in the local pub and all these interactions will contribute to the final decision he makes. What is important is that you are delivering the right content and experiences that your consumer finds valuable and create opportunities for them to engage with the brand; tailoring it to the channels demand is a relatively easier task to handle.
Understand and Appreciate Technology
Marketing today is driven by technology, like most of your other business processes. You don’t need to be a coder (a good thing to have nonetheless) but have a strong appreciation for technology in general and a keen sense of how they can be leveraged to impact your business and processes favourably. Keeping yourself abreast with the tech solutions which are available, what they can do and their limitations is the first step towards becoming technology savvy.
Date the CIO
Well, not literally. But marketing today is so tech driven that without the CIO support it is just not possible to run the show smoothly. From marketing automation platforms to content management and ad exchanges, as marketing teams rely increasingly on technology, a CIO partner could be extremely helpful in evaluating which solutions will be the best fit for your existing IT architecture and of course you will also need the CIO team for successful implementation and integration of your mar-tech solutions.
Get The Right Partner
Not just execution partners but look for partners that can think for you. With the myriad of solutions available across every marketing function it is extremely difficult for a CMO to choose the right technology and implementation solutions. You would ideally want a partner who knows the marketing tech landscape better than you, think for you and guide you on the strategy and implementation roadmap.
Hire The Right Guys
Even though you have all the technologies you want, your technology is only as good as the people behind them. The modern marketing team needs to go beyond just marketeers and welcome a diversified range of skilled people. While having a data scientist is quite common, marketing teams today are opening up to new roles like Chief Digital Officer, Customer Experience Manager, Customer Success leads and the like which reflects the deep customer centric approach of modern day marketing.
Improve or Perish
Continuous Improvement is pretty much the underlying sentiment behind any digital native company. The world around us is changing, and changing fast. With newer technologies coming into play every other day the complexity of the marketing discipline is increasing continuously. Unless there is a continuous drive to learn new things, execute fast, win/fail fast and do frequent course correction you will perish.
Marketing today is highly agile, critically tech dependent, data driven, contextual, customer centric, multi-channel and at times real time. The CMO’s role is undergoing a renaissance and would increasingly demand wider involvement and deeper integration across all the business functions.