Digital Interactive Services

The 2020 upheaval: Shaping the future of CMO services

Marketing today is drowning in data and technology. Yet like that seafarer who dies of thirst in the ocean, marketers are extracting little value from the data ocean surrounding them; all the while looking for that elusive oasis that might reinvigorate their marketing operations (MarkOps).

Making Impact - It’s not just data

Why is so much information going unused? For one, siloed operations in the marketing value chain haven’t been able to keep up with the evolution of brand management to data-driven marketing.

In the pre-pandemic days, moving across the work floor of any marketing unit, one was bound to find digital assets, tools, and automation solutions with focused “skilled groups” managing them. But could they see the bigger picture binding them? In fact, one study said 70% of marketers today, lacked an integrated marketing strategy.

As COVID-19 became a destabilizing force, an agile integrated marketing strategy that harnesses the powers of all these siloed functions and keeps the organization nimble has now become essential. Gartner’s Leadership survey from 2021 suggests that this need for agility transcends a single disruption, and how quickly organizations can adapt to changing conditions will determine their recovery and renewal.

Customer centricity is the new gamechanger

Rapidly changing customer needs have been synonymous with marketing ever since the very first seller decided to publicize their goods to get the most lucrative barter. How marketers respond to these changing needs has defined the various eras of marketing operations. The last 50 years have seen MarkOps transition from brand management to demand generation to a tech-based effectiveness driver. With the world huddled in their homes, the next era arrived suddenly – the era where customers value digital experiences more than ever.

This is a new battleground - one where winning customer experience is reliant on technology; to understand who the customers are and where they are in the customer journey. Furthermore, today customers expect conscientious leadership and a voice of activism from their brands. This leaves a two-fold challenge for marketers – churning out appealing content dynamically at the right touch points for an integrated marketing ROI improvement and improving the ability to quantify their marketing impact.

In other words, while technology is at the forefront to deliver optimal customer experience, it is critical to individualize and humanize this experience, so as to not lose those customers in a bombardment of content across every media they turn to. Content is still the king; but agile, engaging, well-defined user journeys and right touch points are something over 65% of marketers struggle with, as Gartner’s leadership vision from 2021 suggests. Enterprises are seeing historic returns on their digital media investments this past year. But the absence of a solid integrated, improvised, and on-demand customer experience may just drive the very inspired customers away, that technology worked so hard to find.

The CMO-led Marketing Transformation

To answer such questions, fund management is being prioritized to solutions that can demonstrate the impact of marketing actions. Marketing has a seat at the revenue attribution table, and CMOs have performance numbers to deliver against the marketing budgets.

This attribution phenomenon is not new. We have seen this in action from when unique phone lines were used for TV show campaigns, to now every time an influencer posts offer codes on their social media. What’s new is the amount of data from cross-channel marketing, and the vitality of improving the measurement and cohesive analysis of their marketing impact. The entire customer journey lifecycle is under AI-ML and analytics-based scrutiny, to glean insights on the biggest revenue potential areas and target them for maximizing marketing ROI.

While this evolution was just taking shape, it began to feel the effects of the pandemic. Marketing budgets were among the first to go on the chopping block. In fact, according to Gartner’s leadership vision 2021, 60% of marketers expected a budget cut in the next years. However, the focus continues to be on cost optimization – optimizing the performance of programs and directing investments to initiatives that can support growth and digital transformation. This means the CMOs will be laser-focused on scrutinizing what initiatives to prioritize, which automation technologies to spend on for MarkOps capability improvement, and how to trade off poorly designed programs from omnichannel marketing spend and scaling solutions.

The 2020 turbulence - marketing overhaul or death knell?

Prior to 2020, the global MarkOps digital transformation was saddled with inertia and a glacial pace. Organizations were either unconvinced, reluctant, or simply preferred defaulting to what worked in the past 5 years. But come 2020, those blueprints were no longer relevant. In a very Cassandra-esque manner, Gartner in 2019, declared too few CMOs had planned for tough times ahead. (Ominously, PwC’s 2020 and 2021 climate tech study  prophesizes that our operations are equally unprepared for the next big change – managing climate change risk.)

However, a few enterprises were quietly, imperceptibly leading their organizations into MarkOps digital transformation which made them resilient and flourish in the new normal. What are the lessons to be learned from them, and what trends did it enable? Driven by customer centricity, business accountability, and integrated marketing-led digital transformation, several trends are emerging in MarkOps. According to Gartner’s CMO spend survey 2020, Marketing analytics (32%), digital commerce (31%); and marketing operations (30%), are now a major focus of investments, while key MarkOps processes are being transformed from cost center to revenue center for a ‘Marketing-powered growth’. The survey also suggests that spending on the customer experience has increased 71% over the last three years from 8.9% of marketing budgets to 15.2% at present. New competencies development revolves around infusing agility, customer-centric culture, interactive and streamlined multichannel communications, and innovation in processes.

In summary, marketing effectiveness is not just linked to customer desires, awareness, or brand recognition value anymore; rather to their intention to do business as quantifiably measured in each location and step of their journey. Creating the balance between human lead vs process lead/automation solutions creates a value case for marketing for the right impact. While 2020-21 were the years of upheaval, the coming years of the decade will be of reinvention. When grappling with relevance and budget cuts in a pandemic, mapping revenue routes for marketing as a whole will need smart data exploration using the likes of AI-ML, robotic process automation (RPA), and creating a customer-intuitive business model. Absolute topical content delivered and measured via these new age processes may just be the cure from obscurity and elixir for future success. After all, never has been a fate more dreaded by a brand than obscurity!

Recent Posts