Digital transformation is more than taking offline marketing strategies online and having one cool advert in a push campaign. Today, marketing is every touchpoint with a brand. This includes a consumer visiting a mobile site, browsing merchandise at a brick-and-mortar store, maneuvering an app or encountering a social advertisement.
But here’s the rub: digital consumers do not have brand affinity. They switch from app to app and from brand to brand when it’s convenient. As a result, many brands struggle to keep a competitive advantage and are beginning to re-think their strategies for attracting and retaining customers. The role of the CMO is evolving to address this opportunity. CMOs are now expected to be digital leaders responsible for building long-lasting loyalty by bringing the power of human relationships back into the entire brand experience.
To achieve this, digital transformation is required but it is no easy task. It calls for a strategic, integrated approach that considers how all internal teams, systems and workflows operate together in a business in a way that caters to individual customer journeys.
A holistic perspective of each customers’ journey can drive digital success for the entire organization. In addition, digital CMOs need to look beyond optimizing lead generation to nurturing relationships throughout the entire customer lifecycle, from creating awareness through purchase, service, renewal and recommendation.
In other words, the CMO must become a “disruptor” CMO, who not only handles the entire brand experience and customer lifecycle but also shakes up the status quo within the organization to do it.
CMOs have the opportunity and the tools to design the experience that is right for their business and customers. In building 1:1 customer relationships, it is vital to find the right balance in communicating just enough—too much and customers are annoyed, too little and they feel forgotten (or, forget you).
To drive digital transformation and become a disruptor CMO, below are three critical aspects to consider:
1. Customer Experience
It is vital to expand beyond brand and demand to customer experience. Customers want quick, easy access to information across channels without needing to enter conversations with sellers before they’re ready. At the same time, they also expect businesses to personalize their sales experiences with the first interaction and to be available the moment they’re ready to learn more or buy. As an example, have you ever been frustrated by continuously reaching a voice automated system instead of a person when you have a quick, burning question on a product or service?
Once a customer is ready to buy, it’s important their purchases are completed as quickly as possible. Process issues and tech glitches are a red flag; smooth automation is a high priority. For example, many don’t want to repeatedly input their credit card information into the website check-out if they’ve previously purchased from the provider. Successful businesses align internal processes and efficiencies around customer desires and needs. At the end of the day, it’s about putting people back in the center of real-time marketing campaigns and relationships. A strong customer experience is vital for a strong brand experience.
2. Agile Technology
As we enter the third wave of digital marketing, it’s imperative CMOs enable their teams with technology. Marketing teams must be able to create, update, deploy and see the results of their work without any outside support from IT for these daily tasks. Core marketing tasks should be ready out of the box and integrations should be quick, simple and reliable. Custom software should not take years to build or configure with the result of holding the entire system back from forward progress. Digital marketing demands agility now. When marketing teams are enabled with the right technology, they can consistently create campaigns, landing pages and promotions without the need for IT intervention.
Additionally, marketing teams need to deploy their work smoothly across channels and devices, ensuring brand integrity and great customer experiences at every touchpoint. Rather than managing the details manually, technology should manage the complex workflows automatically.
CMOs can then empower people to do what they do best and let technology handle the details. Technology is no longer a consideration in marketing; it is now the essential launchpad of all organizational marketing initiatives, decision-making and customer-centric operations. By using technology to unify the customer journey, organizations can optimize replicable functions and, at the same time, make the most of what technology cannot do—empower staff to build authentic relationships.
3. CIO Partnership
The success of digital transformation depends on the CMO-CIO partnership. Today’s disruptor CMO needs the CIO’s support to connect all internal disparate systems that contain a view into customers and how they interact with brands. For instance, how often does your customer call into your company? How often does your customer access the support site? The CIO holds the keys to powerful data intelligence.
Up until recently, most of the emphasis on the customer journey has been limited to customer acquisition. That point is really only the beginning of the real relationship. What happens once the customer logs in post-acquisition is the make-or-break point in a relationship. The CIO can tell exactly how the customer moves through their journey from beginning to the present moment. CMOs and CIOs can work together to imagine, leverage and deploy new technologies to create competitive advantages fast.
The new responsibilities of CMOs mean that enterprises cannot afford to be held back by the complexities of multi-channel, multi-language and multi-product programs. Technology needs to be an enabler, supporting and accelerating a business’ mission without slowing the business down. The right 1:1 customer relationship is not the same for every brand or every customer. It depends on both the product or service being offered and each customer’s individual preferences. The core of that relationship is giving the customer the feeling that they have as much control over the relationship as the brand does. That includes giving them transparency into what data is kept on them and how it is used.
Today’s disruptor CMO must partner with the CIO, deploy agile technology and create a strong customer experience to drive success in the evolving competitive landscape.