Originally published on “MarTechAdvisor“
It is no secret that the ‘digital transformation challenge’ is changing the way CMOs approach their jobs, even as we head into the next decade. Irrespective of which industry you are in – from retail to travel, pharma to automotive manufacturing – as a CMO, getting the marketing organization aligned to and capable of delivering a digital and seamless CX is on your plate.
Editor-in-Chief Chitra Iyer and Andy Coghlan, Global Head of MarTech & eCommerce at Wipro Digital talk about 3 of the most pressing digital transformation themes: Customer Experience, Data and Technology; and practical ways CMOs can approach them.
1. Customer Experience
“The marketing leader of today is likely to be the customer experience leader of tomorrow.” Customer Experience today is not possible without technology.
Andy agrees that everything that an organization does should be driven by the customer. CMOs need to focus on creating personalized experiences for the customer, as well as on how their team of marketers can be enabled to drive these experiences. But there is a third angle to driving CX as well. “CX belongs to many people: it is a major cultural shift. The CMO will lead, but it must be mandated by the CEO, and the whole C-suite and their ensuing teams, must all be aligned.”
“Teams are generally aligned around products or specific channels, not around the customer journey. So there needs to be much more collaboration within aligned customer journey teams.”
Andy has a practical tip on how CMOs can start erasing the silos within marketing to begin with. The multi-disciplinary approach. “It is essential that marketing teams – who might have historically been organized around individual channels like email, search or online media, need reorganization into multi-disciplinary teams – working in a test and learn cadence, across all channels – focused on ‘hacking’ growth into the customer journey. These smaller teams can develop and execute strategies in week-long ‘sprints’, rather than siloed development streams, which work in timeframes that can stretch for months. This multidisciplinary approach also ensures that their teams remain technology agnostic. This will help them ensure they are able to leverage MarTech to their advantage, to create truly integrated, omnichannel experiences.”
“Data is empowering marketers to hyper-personalize the customer experience and create a dialogue with people as individuals.”
Today, the new holy grail in marketing is Unified Customer Data – a single view of each customer across touchpoints and journeys. This single view – in theory at least- enables marketers to deliver the individualized experiences that customers are coming to expect as the new normal. Luckily, “marketers have massive amounts of information and tools at their fingertips to understand customers better and contextualize content. Data is empowering marketers to hyper-personalize the customer experience and create a dialogue with people as individuals. Businesses can now create specific value propositions by exploiting real-time data, contextualizing content and providing tailored offers/experiences content based on what customers have been looking at or what they are doing.”
A practical approach to data-driven personalization
In spite of this proliferation of data, very few brands are able to pull off true personalization at scale. Perhaps a practical approach to using data to drive outcomes is to look at data-driven personalization as a continuum rather than the old-fashioned ‘boom or bust campaign approach’.
Andy’s suggests two practical ways to execute this continuum approach.
“Evolving Personalization works on the principle of prioritizing one micro journey at a time in lab environments. It starts with continually investigating where to unlock value in the journey, using data in an insights environment to validate hypotheses, drive experimentation around those hypotheses in a growth hacking environment, on a sandbox stack, and then industrializing optimized and automated marketing programs, across the organization.” This approach helps ensure marketing is leveraging the correct platforms, solutions and technologies, and are able to use the wealth of first and third-party data available to successfully personalize in ways specific to their industry.
A second, more controversial approach, he suggests is “to adopt zero-based budgeting for all key marketing activities – so budgets are focused on customer growth rather than channel-specific activity.” This approach helps enterprises move away from the old boom and bust campaigns approach and takes them towards delivering ‘always on’ experiences with a constant stream of relevant content that can then move customers along the buying cycle.
“New technologies, such as AI, AR, VR and IoT, can help analyze customer journeys, automate content, and deliver omnichannel experiences at scale.”
It is essential that CMOs, and their marketing teams, are fluent in MarTech. Technical skills including the optimal use of MarTech platforms will be a key differentiator for marketing teams. Unfortunately, “it’s become quite obvious that marketing teams don’t know how to use technology effectively. Gartner has found that CMOs have slowed their spending, amid concerns around marketing’s current ability to effectively implement and adopt technology”.
CMOs should prioritize testing and learning new technologies quickly; and adopt an experience-led approach to leverage those technologies and make the most efficient use out of them for the customer.
Andy advocates a service design approach that puts “the customer front-stage, marketer middle-stage, and technology & data back-stage”. With over 6000 martech solutions available, point solutions have proliferated, but companies’ ability to orchestrate customer journeys and drive contextual customer experiences hasn’t. At Wipro Digital, Andy and his team are currently creating a ‘MarTech hub’ which enables the orchestration and integration across channels and touchpoints of data, to “look at how we can work better to drive end to end capabilities in our platforms and find a new operating model(s) which we can exploit.” Technology is thus designed and implemented to drive excellent customer experiences – rather than “the marketer adapting to the technology and struggling to deliver BAU – never mind evolve great experience.”
Not without your CTO!
In the last few years, thanks to the SaaS model, it seems the CMO-CTO connect had been whittled down to the bare minimum. But with the new push towards ‘unified customer data’, technology teams are back on the radar of functional leaders. Andy reminds us of the crucial role technology leaders (CIOs/ CTOs and their teams) play in optimizing the business impact of marketing technology. “As the owners of a lot of the data coming into the business, technology leaders are the gatekeepers to key marketing and CX inputs. Specifically, CMOs will need the CTO’s help in shaping the data flows – especially from new technologies like IoT – that will help marketers continually improve the customer experience”.
“‘Be digital’ rather than ‘do digital’”
As Andy sums it up, the digital-first mindset is ‘be digital’ rather than ‘do digital’. CMOs today own a lot more than just brand building. Marketing leaders must demonstrate their value to the business and collaborate across teams. Agility, he says, will be a natural outcome of that improved alignment and collaboration.
“Successful digital transformation initiatives are driven by new ways of working, by taking lessons from the software industry and instilling agility through the value chain – from strategy, through design, to execution. Marketers that approach technology as a separate, downstream function will fall behind in their ability to drive omnichannel customer experiences”. Our take is that when it comes to choosing priorities, CMOs need to ensure their workforce is prepared with the mindset, skills, data, and technology to drive personalized customer experiences at scale. That is the bottom line for CMOs going into 2020.