October 10, 2018
The State (and Future) of Digital Marketplaces
Harvard Business Review recently released research noting that 57% of CMOs stay in their roles for 3 years or less, and more than 40% of CMOs stay in their roles for 2 years or less. These are much shorter terms than executives in other departments. Further, Russell Reynolds Associates published a study last year saying that in retail in particular, 48% of the top 30 retailers in the U.S. have had a change in marketing leadership in the past 12 months alone. These numbers are almost unfathomable when you think about the time and consistency it takes to build a stable marketing function and feed the organization’s bottom line.
While there are many possible culprits behind these relatively short terms, the fact is there is a very apparent problem and the people in question need a way to address it now before it’s too late. Considering all else being equal (they’re qualified, they’re a culture fit, they’re good managers and have strong teams, etc.), we can point the finger at one established theory why CMOs and other marketing execs alike are dropping like flies: They are not effectively using their biggest weapon—new technologies—to drive business results.
Here’s the evidence: A study released earlier this year from OnBrand Magazine revealed that, though they understand the value, an astonishing 65% of marketers are not planning to invest in new digital marketing technologies in 2017. And another 67% don’t plan to leverage data-driven technologies to create personalized, human touch-like interactions with customers. Yikes.
Not taking advantage of new technologies goes hand-in-hand with sticking to old ways and old views. Just think: If old technologies match the CMO’s current views and are getting them results that allow them to get by, then there’s no need to change. It’s unfortunately clear that many marketing execs—in retail and other industries—are stuck in the past, viewing the consumer through an old lens that doesn’t complement the state of the consumer today. The truth is that the consumer is evolving very rapidly, every few years even. That said, today’s CMO must keep a tight pulse on the changing consumer, how to best market to them, and how to effectively use technology to do so…or else (as noted above).
That said, here are 2 technology-driven trends the marketing exec needs to get on board with now…before they find themselves sifting through the want ads:
Today’s highly digitized society has created a fresh crop of highly sophisticated consumers with wildly different expectations of how a brand must engage with them. Consumers are aware of the digital breadcrumbs they leave behind with every brand interaction: their location, their preferences, products and services they’re interested in, items they’ve browsed several times, items they’ve left in the shopping cart, etc. These are real-time signals and consumers expect that brands take this information, make sense of it, and then communicate with them accordingly. This means only sending relevant, contextual, and timely messages that take those insights into account and it means keeping up in real time so that messages are always relevant, contextual, and timely.
Modern consumers require modern technologies to engage with them. CMOs that operate in this mindset leverage new data-based, consumer-centric technologies that ingest and process data at the individual consumer level, enabling marketers to communicate with each consumer as an “audience of one.” This is in stark contrast to relying on older models that only rely on demographic-based segmentation as a basis of crafting and sending messages…messages that no longer work to truly engage today’s savvy consumer who has countless options of other brands they can turn to.
Consumer “personalization” how you know it…is no longer how you know it. The extent of personalization used to be adding a person’s first name to email copy or sending every 18-34 year old female in your database the same product offer. This may have worked to get the results you needed at the time, but as consumers and their expectations have become much more sophisticated, this old scope of personalization is probably no longer working.
Case in point: The extent of old personalization was limited by the technologies that enabled it. Today’s technology has evolved to a point where machine learning and artificial intelligence are enabling marketers to deliver a new, enhanced level of personalization, what’s called extreme personalization. Here, marketers are able to truly learn consumer preferences at the individual level in real time—and then only engage with them in the way they want and expect, in real time. Now every consumer’s expectation to be treated as an audience of one—and not as a segment—is being granted, as they’re only sent messages with the right content, on the right channel, and at the right time. The modern CMO understands that no two consumers are the same—and therefore no two messages should be the same either.
Therefore, excelling in their roles today is not just about replacing technologies and tactics with new technologies and tactics; the modern CMO must first replace their thinking, and then seek out the right technologies and tactics to put it into practice.
Not only are new AI-based technologies helping marketers give consumers what they want—understand them and then communicate with them in an extremely personalized and meaningful way—but they’re also helping them automate the decision-making process, determining exactly when (and, more importantly, when not) to send messages. It’s about empowering the marketer to send fewer messages—but with incredible accuracy, therefore meeting consumer expectations and attracting them to your brand and offerings.
When decision-making is automated and manual guesswork is removed from the equation, marketing teams can return to what they’re good at—strategy. And that’s something every CMO—and the CEO that employs them—can applaud.
The playbook for the modern CMO is clear: accept and understand how the consumer is changing, implement systems that allow you to deliver extreme personalization to cater to their needs, and then adapt new technologies, like AI, that make it possible. It’s time for that 57% figure to drop significantly once and for all.
Learn more about how the CMO can rethink their marketing strategy and why AI must be a part of it by downloading our brand new ebook with digital analyst Brian Solis. Simply click the button below!
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