As the pace of digital transformation continues, marketers are now taking center stage in their organizations, connecting the dots between customer needs and data, business priorities, and the digital agenda. The author recommends five actions marketers should take to actively drive growth and create value.
As we enter 2022, we enter the third year in which the pandemic is transforming our business reality. As digital behaviors accelerate, neither do your customers’ expectations.
As the crisis lingers, this is a year for marketing leaders to redouble their commitment to accelerate transformation at scale. With widespread recognition of their impact on sales, results and growth, marketers have a new mandate to take center stage in their organizations, connecting the dots between customer needs and data, business priorities and the digital agenda to aggressively drive growth and create value.
The question is, how can CMOs drive change and create value most quickly? Based on what I see when working with CMOs on transforming marketing, e-commerce, and all aspects of the data-driven customer journey, I recommend that CMOs consider five actions to get more impact:
1. Your business now recognizes that marketing generates revenue. Enter the change.
It wasn’t fun when marketing was a cost center, especially when the CFO had to cut an area of discretionary spending. But now, marketing is understood as a revenue generator, integrally tied to sales.
Today’s types of media, like social media, research, and programs, are all highly measurable and have positively accustomed executive team leaders to expecting results from marketing spend. Certainly, over-indexing performance-only spending (like last-click online sales) can sacrifice brand health and equity. The best strategies balance short- and long-term results. But the productive impact of the swinging performance dollar is that leaders outside of the marketing function are now seeing the tangible impact of marketing at work.
This offers marketers the opportunity to be on par with the traditional revenue leaders of the organization – sales – and marketers should embrace this change. In 2022, the key will be making the results understandable to a wider audience across the business. Attribution, or the calculations that tell us which marketing efforts have produced results, continues to challenge us all, as mobile platforms, browsers, and the walled gardens of e-commerce and social media continue to change the rules. and fragment the landscape. But marketers shouldn’t be afraid to create “good enough” math to understand dollars all the way down the funnel — from brand awareness at the top of the funnel to click-to-buy times at the bottom. of the funnel. The more companies view spend as a source of performance, the better. The key is to focus less on each individual expense line and more on the predictive and collective value of their combination.
2. Seize the end-to-end growth program as the legitimate domain of marketing.
Today’s growth agenda does not respect previous organizational boundaries confined to conventional notions of marketing or other adjacent functions. Marketers should explicitly claim the drive to drive the growth agenda and provide consistent business leadership.
This is do not on building a fiefdom to capture data, analytical or technological agenda, teams or budget. It’s about creating the right internal connectivity through the prism of the customer journey. Customers don’t care about internal organizational boundaries: they expect their experiences to be intuitive, predictable, and relevant. Transfers between organizational functions often stand in the way of this objective.
Take the rapid growth of social commerce, which is a great example of the new seamless growth agenda. The media offered to consumers is targeted with great precision and must connect directly to an effective and personalized e-commerce experience. The connected social commerce journey must also recognize that users are most likely on a mobile device and therefore require a fast, frictionless and mobile-centric checkout experience. Any barrier to payment prevents marketing from turning into sales. Marketers should work with their colleagues who create online product pages and checkout mechanisms to create an experience with minimal friction. Simply put, everything needs to flow naturally, and that will require more real-time coordination than most current organizational boundaries allow.
A recent EY/FinancialTimes investigation of approximately 200 senior marketing executives showed that 77% of respondents believe the marketing function needs a stronger voice to set business strategy as the owner of the customer journey. Areas such as data-driven marketing, e-commerce, and CRM cannot afford to be run in silos given how quickly friction must move out of the customer journey to accelerate revenue growth .
3. Stop ignoring the fundamental data work that enables digital transformation, even though it’s not sexy.
The pandemic has united C-suite leadership teams like never before, so digital transformation has seen an undeniable acceleration across many businesses. However, the success of a digital transformation relies on the success of data transformation. Companies can implement technologies such as CRM or consolidate sources into a single data lake, but key questions often still need to be addressed, such as the true level of data quality and how to manage ongoing health. data across the organization. Marketers need to focus on the right sources of quality data feeding the engine. Value is created by more holistic analytics models that enable last-mile decision-making, as opposed to isolated, point-in-time solutions hard-coded to a specific time or business use case.
It is only through true partnership between functional business leaders in sales and marketing, technology, data/analytics, and finance that more lasting and meaningful change can occur. In fact, the EY/FinancialTimes survey of 600 cross-functional marketing, technology and finance senior executive respondents who highlighted that data strategy is more distributed than ever across leadership roles, including CEO, CFO, CFO, operations, the technical director, the RSSI and the marketing director.
Scaling results requires data, technology, and business transformations are perfectly in sync – and the answer isn’t just a better “dashboard” or better data visualization. The work of integrating data into technology and digital processes can be daunting, especially on a global scale, but if done well, value creation will build momentum and trust.
4. Prioritize talent issues as soon as possible and don’t be afraid to try something new or radical.
Despite all the talk of data and technology, the issue of talent is likely to be the thorniest challenge in 2022. Based on in-depth conversations over the past year with CMOs across industries, from goods to consumption to technology to manufacturing, there is broad agreement on the talent challenges, including data-driven skills scarcity, global retention challenges, and incentive alignment.
To be successful, today’s marketers need both and detailed, extensive and in-depth expertise. This forces leaders to consider how they structure and train their teams, manage and collaborate with external partners, like agencies, and embrace new working models, all while striking the right balance between consistency and independence. Many leaders are taking matters into their own hands, creating new programs to turn their current talent into modern, well-rounded marketers. These actions create more coherence, even mobility, within the company.
5. As you get more data, don’t lose that creative spark.
The data revolution means there is a lot more thinking about the future. Today’s marketers should spend less time looking in the rear-view mirror to analyze past results and instead use predictive analytics to predict the future. These new superpowers allow marketers to drive both growth and operational efficiency in profound ways, as they can, for example, not only target advertising, but also ensure that they only execute it. when the company’s supply chain is positioned to deliver the products.
However, if marketers become one-sidedly data-driven and overly focused on automation, they will lose their most differentiating skills in human intuition and creativity. The art of storytelling will be more important than ever to ensure that, even when well-focused and fast-paced, creative messaging still connects with humans. New marketing options and formats will continue to emerge, from retail media networks in the physical and digital world to virtual branding and transactional experiences in the metaverse. There needs to be space to take risks and be distinctive, whether or not the math is well understood from the get-go.
In 2022, marketers have the opportunity to connect the customer journey to the full-growth agenda, retaining their creativity while scaling data and technology more meaningfully than ever before. The speed at which decisions must be made will only accelerate, while also becoming more multivariate, connected and complex. Those who can build the internal connective tissue will transform their businesses to be dramatically more competitive and unlock new levels of value creation, central to growth strategy and the C-suite.