The Rise of the Digital CMO

Fact: When it comes to marketing spending, analog still outstrips digital by a factor of three to one. How could this be?, you ask. Digital marketing provides targeted reach and measurable impact. Innovative digital marketing approaches in social media, CRM, and other areas dominate the discussion. Nevertheless, analog spending still rules, as confirmed by Gartner’s 2013 digital marketing spending report. Shouldn’t CMOs and all marketers be shocked by this? Sure, an ample pile of dollars can be attributed to big spending on a few analog media channels, like Super Bowl ads, for example. But I would suggest that there is something more fundamental happening behind the numbers; something lurking in the very nature of digital marketing and what it asks of leadership and what it means for accountability.

The Digital Disconnect

First, there’s a digital disconnect in the executive ranks, a leadership vacuum created by a mismatch between expertise and authority. Like so many other revolutions, digital marketing has taken hold from the bottom up. Here, we find digital natives steeped in digital culture and practice — twenty- and thirty-somethings who came of age on the social web. Squint your eyes and you see tomorrow’s CMOs. But today’s CMO is different: the corporate attire may be gone, but the assimilation to the new digital culture is incomplete.


The Consequence of Measurement

Second, digital marketing is illuminating in ways both powerful and problematic. Analog practices leave room for ambiguity. The numbers matter, but can’t always be counted with precision. ROI is often ambiguous and anecdotal, which can relieve the CMO of true accountability. To be fair, many CMOs do want greater visibility. They’re tired of the murkiness clouding the space between investment and impact.


The Digital CMO

Now, a few CMOs may feel unfairly implicated here. Apologies! Of course, there are indeed strong examples of digital converts who have completed this assimilation successfully and built world-class digital marketing organizations that reimagine brand engagement, and even reinvent business models.

What do these “digital CMOs” do differently? They experiment aggressively. They hire smart digital natives — and empower them. They partner with great agencies. They have the humility to admit what they don’t know, the courage to toss out the old playbook, and the confidence to allow digital metrics to illuminate the results.

Some hire a chief technologist. Sometimes it’s a peer to the CMO, perhaps a chief digital officer, which Gartner predicts will be present in 25% of enterprises by 2015. Sometimes it’s a chief marketing technologist reporting to the CMO, which Gartner already finds in 70% of marketing organizations today. In both cases, this role is the designated left brain to the CMO’s right.

Digital CMOs also think beyond digital marketing. They look for opportunities to create digital experiences and revenue streams enabled by the nexus of forces, which is Gartner’s description of the convergence and mutual reinforcement of social, mobile, cloud and rich information. The collision of these factors unlocks opportunities to reach and engage with consumers across the physical and virtual worlds, drawing them closer with targeted, contextually relevant experiences and offers. Further, it can allow brands to redefine how value is created and delivered — the way Apple has with music, Amazon has with IT infrastructure, and Netflix has with movies.

Last year, Gartner predicted that by 2017, the CMO’s technology budget will exceed the CIO’s. Why? Because more often than not, it’s the CMO who is expected to drive this digital transformation, which is deeply dependent on technology. Is the average CMO ready to step up to this challenge?

Some CMOs are preparing for the digital revolution by filling the gap between expertise and authority. In other words, they have the self-awareness and the confidence to take bold action even when the context has shifted beyond their sphere of influence and scope of expertise. That is leadership. Others are afraid of the digital disruption — or exhausted by what it will take to convert digital resistors in the executive suite.

But as we’ve witnessed through the economic and technological upheavals of recent years, and the resulting creation and destruction of business models, markets and careers — disruptions can be swift and unrelenting, and it is much better to be a disruptor than one of those being disrupted.

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5 Things Digital CMOs Do Better

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.

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The World of Social Media Monitoring and Analytics

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Are we moving to a world of H2H marketing?

Marketing AutomationAs marketing
increasingly strives to become one-to-one with prospects, assisted by solutions like  ‘Marketing Automation’ that will ‘collect’ and ‘solicit’ the ‘Big Data’ about us to serve up more personalised offers and
experiences, the lines between the two marketing segments of B2B and B2C are becoming so increasingly blurred now that it’s hard to differentiate between the two anymore. This is a more personalised experience that we can give the individual on our website to allow access relevant content. This creates an emotional Human
2 Human (H2H) relationship that cannot occur with a business that does not have emotion.

10 Business Blog Ideas

7K0A0223How do you avoid “writer’s block” when your mind goes blank and you can’t think of a single thing worthy to say and your frustration level peaks?
I have put together a list of 10 popular business blog posts to get you started:

1. Customer success stories.
A most effective type of blog post is to highlight your client success stories. As you are putting the spotlight on a client, giving them extra publicity and visibility, you are also providing social proof that your product or service works.

 2. Educate Your Clients.
Many business owners implicitly understand that in order to effectively sell a product or service, the customer needs to be educated. Oftentimes our prospects don’t even understand why they need our products or services.
It is therefore appropriate to provide education for your prospects. This is incredibly important. Care must be taken so that you don’t use a “hard-sell” approach and push your prospects into making a purchase. Also then, if you help your prospects understand why your product and service is so valuable and what problems it will solve for them, your battle is half-won.

3. Information about new products/services.
If your company launches a new product and/or service, use your blog as an announcement service to give your audience a sneak preview. In addition, you can generate additional excitement by offering beta testing, focus groups and surveys that will help keep your audience engaged in the launch process.

4. Relevant news from your industry.
You can positively position yourself as an industry leader by linking important and relevant news stories from your industry. If you find any pieces of news that is interesting or would benefit your audience, then make sure to offer the news-story along with your own commentary and opinion.

5. Elicit feedback from customers.
As a business owner, you will want to generate trustworthy feedback from your clients about your products and/or services.
The feedback that your clients provide can either be pulled straight from their comments or from surveys and blog polling services. This type of feedback can be an invaluable resource for your business and help move it from good to great.

6. “Warning” Posts.
Every so often, it is appropriate to help your prospects understand “what they need to watch out for” in your particular industry. This again, positions you as an expert and helps build trust with your prospects. For instance, the Service manager could write a blog post entitled, “Beware of the carcinogenic effects of this Ink.” This would let your prospects know that you provide high level training on safely handling Inks and you care for your clients health.

 7. Industry tips and tutorials.
Your blog should provide your clients and prospects with valuable tips and strategies that they can put to immediate use. For instance, if you coding and identification solutions then make sure to provide your audience with plenty of marking & labelling ideas and tips that will encourage them to keep coming back to your blog for the latest labelling strategies. This of course positions you as an expert by providing your audience with industry tips and tutorials.

 8. Upcoming events from your business.
If you’re having a huge, sale, then post it on your blog. If you’re hosting an online webinar, then post it on your blog. Whenever you plan to have an upcoming event, make sure to let your audience know.

9. Related interests.
If you sell Networks, you should blog about Networks. If you own a business consultancy, you should blog about the success’ you have had. It’s important to reveal to your clients that you are a real person with similar interests to theirs. As long as your personal blog posts are directly related to your product and/or service, you will find these posts to be an invaluable way to connect.

10. Product, service, or process explanations and stories.
If you own a product or service that needs further explanation, then share this explanation on your blog. Your clients will appreciate tutorials, stories and explanations about how to best use your product and services.
So, the next time that you are struggling to come up with a business blog topic, keep these 10 tips in mind.

Achieving success with inbound marketing, whilst aligning Sales with Marketing.

align-sales-marketingCollaborating effectively with your sales team is essential to achieving success with inbound marketing. However, getting sales on board with your inbound efforts can sometimes be quite challenging. It has been shown that companies with strong sales and marketing alignment grew their annual revenue. If your company wasn’t one of them, it is time to start and to look at:

  • Why marketing needs to train sales 
  • What sales needs from marketing in terms of qualified leads. 
  • How to bring marketing and sales closer together 
  • How to define your company’s Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

How do you create a marketing mindset?

What do marketers hear most of the time from sales:

  • “There aren’t enough leads coming in the door” 
  • “The leads that do come in are appalling”
  • “Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) never close” 

A disconnect between Sales and Marketing has grown over time making it difficult to communicate strategies effectively. Sales may be unaware of your current marketing efforts and the far-reaching changes marketing has made to the quality of your leads. Sales still thinks of marketing in terms of your promotional efforts which they can’t measure or prove its effectiveness.

It is our job to take the first step in aligning sales and marketing into one big, happy family. We need to re-educate sales and show them marketing is on their side.

So what does Sales Need from Marketing? 

Sales needs only a few things from Marketing in order to feel satisfied:

  1. An increase in lead volume
  2. Improvement of lead quality
  3. Greater insight into lead information
  4. Measurement of lead close rates

So How Can Marketing Help Sales

As inbound marketers we can give sales everything they dream of by:

  1. Increasing lead volume by creating optimised top of the buying cycle content like blogs, podcasts, videos, presentations, ebooks, and news releases to drive qualified traffic to the website that can be captured as leads
  2. Promoting new content to social media and through email campaigns to drive awareness and gain more traffic to the site that can convert into leads
  3. Optimising the content we create so that the right visitors find the website. This means using keywords and other site optimisation strategies to get found in search engines
  4. Nurturing leads to get them to take the next step in the buying process thusly creating a faster sales cycle
  5. Integrating the CRM to the marketing automation system so that sales sees a complete picture of the lead’s lifecycle. This will show them the leads’ activity so that all follow-ups can be customised
  6. Measuring each campaign to show whether or not it worked. Sales can work with you to provide information on what they believe a qualified lead will need before committing to buy. When you run the campaign, you can share the data to encourage even more brainstorming and involvement between each team
  7. Collaborating on what creates a Marketing Qualified Lead. Sales knows their audience and what they need better than most teams. Use this to your company’s advantage. Work together to develop the most defined MQL and then target them with your inbound efforts

So start now it is never too late to start the journey of Marketing Sales Alignment!


B2B Marketers 6 Big Questions are you up for the change?

The more change occurring the more questions arise. B2B Marketers are experiencing continuing as well as new challenges. What are the big questions for B2B Marketers?

How do we generate more leads anculture-change-newspaperd not lose them from the funnel?

Survey after survey indicate B2B marketers have this issue top of mind.  Creating demand and filling up a pipeline is loaded with pressure packed environments.  In my qualitative buyer research work, I see shifts in behaviour on the part of buyers.  There are unique sets of goals and behaviours emerging in the area of nurturing.  Calling into question how leads should be defined and segmented.  Lead research and unique lead persona development will emerge to help B2B marketers address this most important question.

How do we use and do we have the expertise to use marketing automation successfully?

Marketing automation has moved from the infancy stage and is being more widely embraced.  Many organisations have been in the “let’s just get started” phase.  Experiencing the pain of implementation.  The next level question is how to make marketing automation more effective and a standard part of operational procedure to get better results.

How do we imbed into the organisation the content marketing operation?

Content marketing has certainly arisen as one of the core capabilities that B2B marketing must hold.  It is causing sweeping shifts in thinking about the role of marketing within the organisation and how to build systems internally.   To implement content marketing solicits further questions related to structure, roles, and skillsets.  Presenting CMO’s with the formidable task of figuring out how to build internal strength in content marketing.

What do customers and buyers want, where are they on the buyers journey?

When this question is asked, there is a tendency to give a product-centric answer.  This is one of the hardest questions to figure out.  Since no one is assured to be a mind-reader of others, this will take a much more structured approach, to understand how your potential clients think as well as what is motivating this thinking, it takes skillful client and buyer research.

How do we stop reacting and plan for the future?

There is palpable tension in the air for B2B Marketers this year.  The need to know and the need to get results creates mounting pressure.  When results may not have been as expected, it is bound to cause some to push the panic button.  It can become a fire drill.  All hands on deck to create the next campaign.  What is happening is buyers are out in front and B2B marketers are trying to catch up.   I advocate having a solid foundation of buyer intelligence to work with.  This means a collective body of research-based reference knowledge like audience personas, buyer personas, mapping tools related to content and buying journeys, and much more.  These give you the perspective you need to know why something may not have worked and to plan intelligently.  Another words – stop hitting the panic button.

How do we build more buyer predictability into B2B Marketing?

Predictive analytics continues to grow.  It holds promise to scale down Big Data and give the ability to predict buying behaviors.  While this may help us to predict how buyers may behave online for example, it may yield little on predicting why.  A capability I am advocating is developing customer and buyer foresight planning.  This type of planning calls for emerging buyer scenario modeling and mapping capabilities.  Knowing where your buyers may be headed can give you the foresight needed to anticipate future motivations.  In addition, share your foresight and help them envision a future which includes you.

There are many more questions.  It is the nature of business and marketing.  It is the one constant we can count on.  Things will change enough which will create more questions.  B2B Marketing leadership and success will be predicated on the ability to answer the big questions.

How to Create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for Better Sales & Marketing Alignment

A great post from HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Blog.

 Sales and Marketing are on the same team. Okay, let’s be honest: At most companies, it doesn’t actually feel that way. According to a Corporate Executive Board study, 87% of the terms Sales and Marketing use to describe each other are negative. Sales calls ImageMarketing arts-and-crafts and irrelevant, and Marketing calls Sales simple-minded and incompetent. Don’t you think it’s high time we stopped all this childish name-calling?

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How to Keep Marketing While Enjoying the Christmas Break

With Christmas here and the New Year just around the corner, many business owners are worrying about how will 2013 perform after the Christmas break. Will the sales force be at full throttle come end of January? Will the Sales funnel be full?
During a well-deserved break should you worry about letting your marketing efforts from 2012 slip? Luckily, there are several ways to ensure you don’t skip a beat while you enjoy the holidays.

Here are some tips for marketing when you’re not in the office.Preparing his content

1          Automate Content delivery

There are services within the products that you currently use that allow you to pre-schedule the distribution of press releases, tweets, WordPress blogs and Facebook posts. Simply pick the date and time you want your content to appear, and with a few clicks it’s ready to go!

2          Mobile apps are there to assist

There’s pretty much a mobile app for anything these days, and plenty that can be downloaded to your phone or tablet to help keep things “business as usual” while you are out of the office. This includes blogging apps, Twitter, Facebook, and more. If you run out of time before you head out on holidays, you can still keep the content coming and no one will know the difference.

3          Delegate or Outsource

Enable one of your staff members to manage certain pieces of your marketing communications. If you’re used to doing most of the work yourself, why not let someone else give it a try and see what they can do with it? As long as you give them some guidelines, your client base would probably enjoy getting some viewpoint from another voice in the company.

4          Integrate your efforts

If you’ve pre-scheduled your press releases, tweets and Facebook posts, you should also have your blog ready to go as well. This means scheduling its distribution while you’re out – and then using those previously scheduled tweets and Facebook updates to promote it!

A little pre-planning combined with a readiness to take advantage of all the automated and integrated marketing tools out there will make it easy to organise marketing efforts before you take off – and help you enjoy some much-deserved time off!