What CMOs need to do to earn their expanded role in business

May 12th, 2015

What CMOs Need to Do to Earn Their Expanded Role in Business

It’s a great time to be a CMO.

And, it’s a tough time to be a CMO.

Here’s the modern CMO scenario:

CMOs used to adhere to the customer funnel, and create demand that was fulfilled by the sales department. Now, the consumer purchase funnel is dead, replaced by a real-time, always-on gumbo of interactions and experiences, most of them digital and fleeting.

CMOs used to architect big advertising campaigns to convince customers to act. Now, consumers are besieged by messages from brands, and hyper-relevancy rather than big campaigns is the key to garnering a share of their attention.

CMOs used to be able to think in quarterly and annual cycles, plotting moves far in advance. Now, with the rise of 1:1 marketing and micro-interactions, marketing is created and executed on the fly, often based on data mining.

CMOs used to live a wholly separate existence from their counterparts in sales and customer service. Now, with the rise of online research, marketing is providing much of the information to prospective customers that sales used to provide, and with the concurrent rise in public feedback mechanisms (social and review sites), marketing and customer service are converging as well.

The role of marketing (and the role of the CMO) has never been bigger or more important. But the ability to actually execute on that assignment – of delivering first-class customer experiences at every turn – is a frustrating challenge for most CMOs.

13% of CMOs are able to deliver a seamless customer experience across all touch points.

New ebook from Oracle Marketing Cloud and The CMO Club

New ebook from Oracle Marketing Cloud and The CMO Club

In fact, as reported in a terrific ebook from Oracle Marketing Cloud (a sponsor of our Content Pros podcast) and The CMO Club, just 13% of CMOs (among 110 surveyed) thought they were able to truly deliver a seamless, personalized consistently customer experience across all touch points.

(Download a free copy of The CMO Solution Guide to Leveraging New Technology and Marketing Platforms)

The CMO Struggle

On the surface, it’s remarkable that CMOs continue to struggle with this. After all, there are literally thousands of marketing technology companies born and bred to solve these issues. From content marketing to marketing automation to social media listening to predictive modeling to online customer care and self-help, the array of tech solutions available to the modern marketer is borderline ridiculous.

So what’s the problem? CMOs have a broader remit than ever, and more tech (and budget) available to fulfill those expectations. Yet, 21% of CMOs report that they need help evaluating the right marketing platform to use, and which analytics to use.

Specifically CMOs say they need (among other things) the most help with identifying the entire customer experience across all channels; mapping the customer journey back to touch points within the customer experience; and developing a true 360 view of the customer.

I find it fascinating that these are not technology issues or execution issues or even strategy issues. They are understanding issues. In this study, Oracle Marketing Cloud and The CMO Club have uncovered a key truth among modern marketers – we have more data than ever, yet we’re starved for insights.

We have more data than ever, yet we’re starved for insights

This is partially because silos are being ripped apart in many organizations, giving CMOs exposure to parts of the customer experience that previously were someone else’s responsibility, forcing today’s marketing leadership to play catch up in thinking through the end-to-end customer narrative. As Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, SVP at American Express, says in the report:

“Different groups owned the web experience and mobile experience. We had divided functions by business line and lost sight of the customer. My job now is to look at the decision journey of the customer, and optimize based on what the customer wants. We have to create solutions to connect to legacy systems that don’t speak to each other.” ~ Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, SVP at American Express

To better use marketing technology to solve the problems of the modern CMO and gain the necessary insights into the customer journey, Oracle Marketing Cloud makes five recommendations in this report:

1. Be the Customer Champion Every Step of the Way

Rose Hamilton, CMO and GM of Pet360 – a division of PetSmart (see this episode of our Social Pros podcast to hear deep discussion about their social media program) captures this scenario perfectly in the ebook:

“Knowing your customers’ issues—such as whether their dog is sick—is the central rally point for engagement. Our goal is to provide solutions for our customers regardless of which channel they choose to engage in and the experience may not be the same in every channel. It can be different when it’s appropriate to leverage the uniqueness of a channel, as long as it’s relevant. Never think solely in terms of channel, rather in terms of customer engagement and content. Are you providing high quality content that brings them closer to your brand and encourages them to engage further?” ~ Rose Hamilton, CMO of Pet360

2. Become BFFs with Your CIO

Only ONE of the 112 CMO respondents in this research referenced a positive relationship with their CIO when asked “how have you been able to leverage your current marketing platform to integrate your marketing efforts across channels?”

The need for the CIO and CMO to be on the same page is covered in-depth in a separate report the CMO Club called “The CIO-CMO Omnichannel Crossroads

3. Co-design the Optimal Customer-Driven Technology Roadmap

This is incredibly important, and it has become almost impossible for enterprise CMOs (even with CIO collaboration) to fully keep their own counsel with regard to marketing technology and implementation. Picking the right partner is just about as important as picking the right platform.

As Jenn McMillen, Marketing VP at Michaels Stores, says in the report:

“There are so many solutions out there. Managing it all requires a substantial time investment. I want a partner who can lay out a roadmap for me. We have 57 vendors just in marketing technology. And you need a data scientist who has the keys to unlock what you’re sitting on.”~ Jenn McMillen, Marketing VP at Michaels Stores

Certainly, Oracle Marketing Cloud believes it has the breadth and expertise to be that trusted partner, and their focus on data (the petri dish for all hyper-relevant marketing) through their BlueKai acquisition (and others) puts them in a good position, as does their open architecture. OMC isn’t just an outward-facing marketing execution tool set, it can also serve as the DMP (data management platform) and a robust DMP will soon be a requirement for all large companies.

4. Rethink Your Marketing Organization and Processes

Even with all this whiz bang technology available, marketing success is about the wizard, not the wand. As Michael Williams, CMO for The Grand Prix of America says in the ebook

“All the technology available is only as good as the people driving it.”
~ Michael Williams, CMO for The Grand Prix of America

Wise CMOS are bringing different types of thinkers and broader skill-sets onto their teams, and often organizing cross-functionally.

5. Establish a System for Continuous Improvement

Today’s CMO must be receptive to risk. If all you care about are averages and risk mitigation, you’ll never be anything but an average marketer. And inviting risk is not necessarily part of the historical job description for the CMO.

Target CMO Jeff Jones captures this well:

“Technology has completely changed what fast means. We are on an agility mission right now because speed is different than agility. What we’re trying to build is the capability to go in new directions fast, not just go straight ahead fast, and that’s a really different muscle for us to build.” ~ Target CMO Jeff Jones

The role of the CMO will keep getting bigger and broader, forcing a holistic view of customer experience, and adoption of marketing platforms (and partners) to execute on the real-time, relevant promise of modern marketing.

It’s going to be a hell of a ride.

Grab a copy of The CMO Solution Guide to Leveraging New Technology and Marketing Platforms for yourself.

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