The marketing universe grows exceedingly complex by the moment, it seems, whether it’s shifting attribution and measurement models, up-and-coming platforms snagging share of audience, new technologies enhancing the customer journey, or any number of fast-evolving, hot-button issues on the minds of marketers today. It’s safe to say that for those with c-suite aspirations, it can be difficult deciding where to apply focus. To help narrow that purview, we spoke with four CMOs—culled from our Marketers and Brands on Fire series—about the most important trends to be tracking right now, from the digitization of marketing to the importance of brand purpose to identity-based measurement.
Chief Marketer: Can you talk about some trends that you feel like marketers should be focused on right now for 2022?
BlackBerry CMO Mark Wilson: The digitization of marketing has been a boon for so many marketers. And your ability to understand your market has never been better. It’s not new, because we’ve been focused on it, but it’s becoming more and more relevant every year. Our ability to understand trends based on more data coming in has only gotten better.
The other trend is something we lean into a lot: understanding your competitors. If you did a competitive study 10 years ago, you would probably hire a research firm and do it once a year to try and understand what’s happening in your market. Today, we understand what’s going on with our competitors on a weekly basis. We’re much smarter about understanding what our competitors are doing, what seems to be working for them, what doesn’t work for them. We’re much more mindful of having an outside-in perspective in B2B marketing. I see this trend only picking up.
SmileDirectClub CMO John Sheldon: The number one piece, particularly as it relates to digital marketing, is about signals. In an environment where Apple and iOS have reduced the amount of signals, finding other ways—third-party ways—of sending signals into the platforms is really important. That’s one big piece. Beyond that, it’s the same things that we’ve been about in marketing forever. Making sure you have a real purposefulness to your brand, and that you communicate that throughout all of your advertising. It allows people to connect with and learn more about the brand.
More than anything through this pandemic, our CRM engine has been the engine of stability. It’s created an incredible ability for us to take leads, which have been a little bit bumpy as we’ve been experiencing the ups and downs of this pandemic, and pulling them through on a consistent basis to get us to aligner sales. Having a really strong underlying CRM capability is powerful and important, particularly for high-consideration products.
Banfield Pet Hospital CMO Lisa Stockmon: I think the whole idea of digital transformation is over. Digital is how we communicate, and so it’s not necessarily transformation. It is how you meet that customer where he or she is. The adoption of that isn’t something that you can choose. Consumers have an immediacy now. They want to work from home. They want their food delivered while they’re at home. And understanding that immediacy of the consumer is going to lead to some success. We’ve seen that at Banfield as well, which has to adapt to how we communicate with our pet parents, how we text with them, how we provide information to them through all of our digital channels.
CM: When we spoke about the top trends in marketing right now for our executive roundup, you touched on the increased need for measurement and accountability of marketing spend. What’s your approach to identity-based measurement? Do you have any recommendations for marketers?
ZenBusiness Co-founder and CMO Ryan Pitylak: It’s definitely top of everybody’s mind. The real impact of all this is probably going to be felt the most in about a year, when Google starts to change some of its rules related to cookies. But there have already been a lot of changes led by Apple, around Safari on your mobile device, for example. There’s already a loss of data if you’re just relying on cookies. If you’re going to have any chance at competing effectively with other major brands, then you need to understand the contribution that each advertising channel is having towards driving you new customers. And that can be difficult when you’re looking at advertising that’s being delivered across so many channels, including TV.
The best measurement frameworks are not relying on cookies. There are identity companies out there. I think two of the companies that are the best in this area are Neustar and Visual IQ. Neustar has an identity-based framework, because they power a lot of Know Your Customer (KYC) for banks, phone companies… it’s incredible how much data they have. They map all the different advertising to this person at the core, and then the marketer understands the contribution that every single channel had.
Furthermore, with Facebook, almost nobody has the ability to know when a particular person has viewed an ad. Visual IQ and Neustar have gotten behind the walled garden of Facebook and many other platforms, and those platforms trust Neustar because of their strength in maintaining the integrity of people’s data and identity. As marketers, we can actually get visibility into that. The ability to make smart investment decisions and media allocation decisions, and to be able to forecast appropriately, is all made possible with this foundation.
CM: Another trend you cited was the need for companies to do good in the world.
Ryan Pitylak: We think about our decisions through that lens. The investments that we made in ZenBusiness Academy, for example, which is education, and the future investments that we’re making in both the platform and different ways of giving back and connecting with our customers, are all with that framework in mind. And they may not always have a profit motive associated with it.
There are so many great things that come from being a business that has made a decision to do that, [such as] the ability to attract employees who feel like they want to make a difference in the world. When scrutinized by discerning buyers, like millennial and Gen Z shoppers, who care about buying from companies that align with their values, then we have the opportunity to win—especially against some large corporation that doesn’t really seem to care about its customers.