As every CMO knows, the incredible velocity of change is the most challenging aspect of marketing today. Information is power, and we’ve moved from the age of mass marketing to the age of the empowered consumer.
Thanks to the availability of personalized information on demand, consumers’ expectations of brands have increased. They expect personalized online experiences, on their terms. As a result, both business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketing must truly be a 1:1 exchange, more customized to the individual consumer or decision maker.
In this brave new world of empowered consumers, as marketers we must try new things, and do it fast. We must learn fast, fail fast, but most importantly, keep on adjusting and improving. Against this backdrop of the empowered consumer, here are some key marketing trends to watch in 2015:
- Contextual content via marketing automation will help marketers deliver personalization and relevance. As data analytics and big data continue to explode, the CMO’s role is more complex than ever before and it requires intense collaboration with IT, sales, finance and other departments. The CIO and CMO roles will continue to evolve, with the IT budget going outside of IT, and with every aspect of business becoming digitized. We will also see new digital roles emerging. This trend will only increase as companies place a strategic emphasis on digital content and the need for delivering targeted and seamless customer experiences across channels.
- Adoption of digital technologies will help drive business: In 2015, the digital transformation will further accelerate, with several influencing factors driving this forward. The digital revolution will continue to empower both customers and marketers, and social and digital media will continue to be key in influencing customers. By providing the perfect platform for sharing opinions and needs, communities can also help companies determine the content that makes the most significant impact, adding a whole new level of intelligence that can successfully drive sales. More and more users allow social networks to influence their purchasing decisions. Moreover, the community serves as the “ultimate social network,” facilitating meaningful relationships between customers and companies to bolster customer satisfaction and, ultimately, sales.
- Analytics will replace traditional marketing tactics: From manufacturers looking to improve production efficiency and quality to financial institutions seeking to upsell clients, analytics are now essential business tools. Likewise, marketing is undergoing its own transformation, away from traditional tactics to analytics and data-driven strategies that deliver measurable results. As businesses continue to expand their digital presence and grow their user bases, the amount of data about these users will increase, allowing marketers to gain a more comprehensive view of their audiences.
With the increased influence of digital in our lives, the epiphany known as the “moment of truth” happens. This is the exact moment when a consumer has a specific need or want and is ready to make a purchase – such as, “I need a new pair of running shoes.” It can occur whether or not the customer is physically near a store or product. Marketers therefore must expand their skill sets beyond campaign creation and management to include analytical and technical skills that make marketing more effective at the “zero moment.” These skills include generating insights from analyzing structured and unstructured data and engaging consumers through multiple channels and platforms. The shift in the “zero moment” has occurred and companies that don’t make the transition through the implementation of adaptive technologies and a friendlier user experience for customers risk obsolescence. Today’s CMO must be “zero moment-focused” about marketing to the customer.
- Non-ROI-based decisions will go away: Marketing will focus on business, revenue and funnel impact, measured through return on marketing investment. Embracing ROI as a discipline will help build strong brands that generate improved returns. Although marketers have been aware of the significance of ROI for over a decade, the industry has been slow to leverage its abilities to maximize marketing ROI.
However, the focus on top line revenue growth is of paramount importance. The CMO will have to evolve from an overt focus on marketing metrics to help the CEO and the organization realize top-line revenue growth. It is absolutely fundamental that CMO objectives reflect the goals of the organization and the mandates of the CEO. To succeed, marketers need to wear both hats, and by taking a customer-centric approach to assessing growth opportunities, marketers can enhance revenue and ROI. The goal has always been about creating revenue profitably. Marketers must acknowledge that financial goals don’t kill creativity; they enhance it.
- Customer engagement approaches will change: The siloed approach to customer engagement will disappear and be replaced by an integrated approach to customer engagement. Currently, most sales, service, operations, and marketing functions operate in silos with their own budgets and objectives. This will be replaced by an integrated approach to customer engagement – by identifying all the radically less expensive approaches and prioritizing the investments across the functions. The CMO’s role will be more complex than ever before and require intense collaboration within the C-suite.
Matt Preschern is CMO for HCL Technologies.