Written almost a year ago, this article by Anoop Sahgal at Adobe still rings true.
1) Marketers need to bring data and channels into a single, comprehensive, and integrated solution.
2) CMOs must build their own core skill sets around data and adapt, expand, and train their teams. Marketing teams today must care about information, understand metrics, and see how the data maps to overall key business objectives.
3) Data is the path toward optimizing the consumer experience, and, in today’s world, customer loyalty is an important lynchpin for business success.
4) The CMO is poised to become one of the most powerful positions within an organization. But for that to happen, CMOs must adopt data-driven skill sets, processes, and cultures, as well as smart technologies that harness data to keep pace with marketing complexity and exceed business objectives.
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Here is the article:
In today’s multichannel marketing world, characterized by the rapid and consequential changes in digital and social marketing, the ability to measure and optimize marketing initiatives is more challenging and important than ever. Marketers need to bring data and channels into a single, comprehensive, and integrated solution. The online marketing suite, according to Forrester Research, is the key to improving marketing return on investment (ROI), as well as enhancing the customer experience. Integrating multichannel campaign execution, content management, and analytics into a single platform is crucial for today’s online marketers. Also vital is a central hub incorporating management, measurement, data, and integration points.
Demonstrating Value And Business Impact In this new marketing environment, data is paramount and channels are proliferating. At the same time, chief marketing officers (CMOs) and their teams are being asked to demonstrate the value of marketing initiatives and campaigns and their overall impact on the business. Today, decisions and marketing programs can and must be formulated based on data—rather than intuition, past experiences, or hunches.
“Intuition is no longer a marketing strategy,” said Josh Hanna, executive vice president and general manager of Ancestry.com, a global company that offers customers the world’s largest online collection of family histories. “At Ancestry.com, we evaluate everything, from attribution of our marketing spend across channels to the customer experience and even the value of our content. Using data from an online marketing suite, we can attribute traffic and conversion spikes to specific TV spots—a marketing medium that has traditionally been difficult to measure. Our team can even assess the impact of specific spots across channels and creative executions.”
A New Set Of Best Practices CMOs play a crucial role in constantly updating the boardroom and CEO about the latest customer preferences, and how well corporate resources are aligned to meet those evolving customer needs. Among others, there are a trio of practices CMOs can employ to become more successful in the new, data-driven marketing world:
1. Build a data-driven organization: Data-driven marketing, as CMO.com blogger Brent Dykes has emphasized, requires new skill sets and places new demands on organizations and their cultures. The data requirements for success as a CMO now extend beyond counting advertising impressions; instead, data must demonstrate solid ROI in the form of profitably generated leads, conversions, and other metrics that the business has established for success. The information must then be distilled and continually analyzed to help drive the business forward. The upshot is that data and its related pros and cons now fall into the hands of CMOs and their marketing organizations. Today, CMOs must leverage data to not only solidify their decisions and their campaigns, but also to become income earners and innovation drivers within their organizations.
The influx of marketing data is a double-edged sword. CMOs now have a seat at the revenue table, but they need the numbers and a solid understanding of what the data means to back them up. With marketing at the center of a data maelstrom, CMOs are flooded by feeds of information—Web analytics, transaction histories, behavioral profiles, industry aggregates, social community feedback, and more. This new trend is forcing organizational and cultural change on a massive scale.
CMOs are under more pressure than ever to successfully convert customers and drive higher revenues. Rather than simply bringing in analysts or Web analysts, CMOs must build their own core skill sets around data and adapt, expand, and train their teams. Marketing teams today must care about information, understand metrics, and see how the data maps to overall key business objectives. The digital world has not just brought about new mediums—it has ushered in an entirely new type of marketing.
Several companies are transforming this challenge into a tangible competitive advantage. Build.com, the third largest and fastest growing online home improvement retailer, has mastered the art of data-driven marketing, incorporating information, testing, and ongoing analytics into the fabric of the company. “We measure and optimize every facet of the online shopping experience, from pay-per-click advertising to category product recommendations and even providing pricing and other data from our competitors for comparison shoppers,” said Brandon Proctor, vice president of marketing for Build.com. “We’ve seen impressive results from taking a data-driven, integrated approach to online marketing.”
2. Optimizing the consumer experience isn’t one thing; it’s the only thing: Data is the path toward optimizing the consumer experience, and, in today’s world, customer loyalty is an important lynchpin for business success. Having a unified view of every consumer interaction across all touch points, and then using that insight to influence every future exchange, is the way forward for CMOs. It requires capturing, analyzing, and proactively acting on data to optimize the consumer experience by delivering relevant and engaging content. Success depends on profitably engaging consumers, optimizing every interaction with them, and then knowing and proving which campaigns are delivering ROI—and for those that aren’t, being able to rapidly adjust tactics to maximize returns.
Companies need to focus on the relationship and interaction they have with customers in all forms of media. It is not enough to just ensure that content is search-engine optimized or enhanced for analytics. It’s also not enough that site navigation is simple, or that social media pages or “like” buttons are prominent on a site. Marketers must analyze and optimize the entire consumer experience.
At Ancestry.com, reliance on solid data versus intuition is integral to developing the company’s solid marketing strategies—with more than 200 company professionals across marketing, PR, product, finance, and IT using an integrated online marketing suite. Ancestry.com spends approximately half of its working media budget on television. The use of an integrated marketing suite has enabled closed-loop marketing across channels to enhance the consumer experience and make marketing more effective overall. The company has learned that its customers respond well to meaningful, targeted television ads, and then flock to the site to try out the service and sign up for a subscription.
“We can immediately measure online registration counts on Ancestry.com to gauge TV network performance, cost per TV-visitor, relative creative performance, revenue per spot, and even channel attribution,” EVP Hanna said. “The online marketing suite has brought us a level of visibility into the effectiveness of our TV advertising activities like we’ve never had.”
The only way to continually improve the consumer experience is to capture and synthesize information and then act on it. What is the consumer’s interaction with your company? Where does the experience fall short? What are they looking for? Do they have the same quality of interaction whether they are in a store or online? Are their needs being catered to as individuals with unique requirements, interests, and needs? These questions must be answered successfully in order to optimize the consumer experience. CMOs must have visibility and solid data to inform and transform consumer experiences in stores, on mobile phones, through social networks—wherever consumers are. This data, not intuition, must drive how the consumer experience can be improved to meet key business objectives.
At Build.com, for instance, customers who decline to make a purchase—or those who are repeat customers—are revisited with retargeted display ads pertinent to their interests and coupons for relevant items based on browsing history. The company even makes recommendations when the consumer reaches a “no results” search page on the Build.com site. The benefits for Build.com include industry-leading boosts in conversions, average order values, and customer loyalty.
“We’ve come full circle with marketing to optimize customer acquisition, product recommendations, A/B testing for a better customer experience, follow-through with emails, and analysis of customer behaviors. Then we start all over again for continuous improvement,” marketing VP Proctor said. “This continues to be a winning and profitable strategy for us.”
3. Marketing is the new R&D, and marketing executives need to recognize and embrace their roles as innovators: Now that CMOs have in-depth insights and actionable data about consumer reactions and behaviors, they are taking a leadership role in driving innovation. The Internet and social media, in particular, are having a huge impact on marketing research and innovation in organizations. It’s no secret that many of the traditional marketing research tools—focus groups, surveys, brainstorming, and phone interviews—are woefully ineffective at uncovering the deep knowledge of consumers that organizations need today.
Data-driven marketing organizations and channels, like the Internet and social media, are changing the way companies innovate and react to consumers. For example, company managers can know, within hours, if the red version of a particular shoe is outselling the other colors, and they can act quickly to restock more red shoes. A company can have an instant pulse on consumers by watching reactions and comments on social media sites and change strategies accordingly. Rather than just communicating to their target audiences, companies are engaging in multidirectional interactions with consumers, and the information captured from those interactions is more powerful than any focus group interview.
In data-driven organizations, marketing executives have a lightning-fast read on consumers and their preferences. Marketing executives’ contributions can take the form of informed inventory replenishment, new product development, and more. When CMOs understand consumer behaviors through actionable data, they can see gaps in markets, improvements to upcoming product introductions, pathways toward competitive differentiators, and better ways to express their brands.
Driving innovation might sound like a daunting responsibility, but if the data is there, then the action can follow. Because CMOs have access to the instant information that reflects conversations and interactions with consumers, they can guide the business almost better than any other executive. CMOs have an enviable position and big responsibility to help their organizations make more informed decisions and meet key objectives to deliver better products or services, communicate in new ways, or discover other unforeseen ways to improve the business.
Transforming Challenge Into Opportunity The data-driven world of marketing is challenging, but it is also replete with exciting, new opportunities, especially with a solid foundation and the power of the online marketing suite.
Today’s new data-driven CMOs are contributing to the bottom line and increasing the value consumers receive. They are also revolutionizing marketing, driving innovation, and earning unprecedented respect among their C-level peers.
The CMO is poised to become one of the most powerful positions within an organization. But for that to happen, CMOs must adopt data-driven skill sets, processes, and cultures, as well as smart technologies that harness data to keep pace with marketing complexity and exceed business objectives.