If you’re a mid- or late-career marketer, chances are your job today is mostly unrecognizable from what you signed on for. Perhaps no other business function has changed as dramatically over the past decade.
Why? Following a silent coup, the coronation is complete: the customer is king. With an abundance of information and choice, customers now guide their own self-directed decision journey as they traverse connected experiences that blur the lines between physical and virtual and scramble marketers’ signals for targeting.
Many marketers are left behind, simply tuned in to the wrong frequencies. In response, capturing the right data has become the key capability in finding and engaging audiences. But data, alone, isn’t enough; search and social marketing, for example, are content hungry disciplines. Marketers must also become publishers.
1. Shift from finding customers to getting found
The best digital CMOs don’t just shout from the hilltops, demanding attention on their terms. They orchestrate content marketing tactics that situate their brands at the moments that matter to their audiences.
2. Shelve the commercial pitch in favor of authentic storytelling
Digital CMOs have moved well beyond better-faster-cheaper; problem-solution-impact; features, feeds and speeds; and other self-referential brand-forward conceits, which are now rejected by audiences like a foreign body in the bloodstream. Instead, they tell stories — and, most importantly, they find others to tell stories for them.
3. Break through silos to erase seams between channels and experiences
Digital CMOs recognize that customers are channel-blind. Channels, after all, are an artificial construct designed, first, to support corporate goals and organizational structures; and, second, to support the needs of customers. Today, customers expect the inverse: brand interactions that hide the seams between channels, where stories, experiences and services serve their needs first and the brand’s second.
4. Use data to target precisely and measure relentlessly
Digital CMOs have learned to “close the loop,” turning their marketing efforts into a data-centric, performance-driven discipline. Here, the goal is to trace the thread from investments to outcomes, directly attributing marketing dollars with business outcomes. These CMOs use first- and third-party data to target contextually relevant offers and experiences guided by predictive analytics and algorithms that learn and adapt as customers traverse a meandering purchase path. These marketers then close the loop by combining this data-driven targeting with a process for continuous measurement. The result is a performance-driven discipline where marketing investments can be optimized to highest yield.
5. Experiment aggressively, and challenge business model assumptions
Digital CMOs are agile marketers who embrace the mantra “test and fail to learn and scale.” Gartner finds that, today, 83% of enterprise marketing organizations have an innovation budget that reflects, on average, 9.4% of marketing spend. What do they use this for? Exploration. Experimentation. Learning by doing in recognition of the fact that sustainable competitive advantage is a quaint vestige of another time. These CMOs seek to create pipelines of innovations that they test and validate in rapid succession.
A year later, digital CMOs are still on the rise. Only now, their secrets are coming into focus.