The DNA Of The Digital CMO

by , Mar 23, 2012, 8:10 AM
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Marketing is in the midst of a seismic shift. It’s no longer sufficient for today’s marketing organizations to demonstrate value in intangible ways. In order to gain a seat at the table, CMOs must have a firm grasp on data -- everything from the data that shows who exactly comprises their target audience to the data that reveals how effective their marketing programs are.

Enter the “digital CMO”: marketers who have evolved to meet the challenges of this new data-driven environment. But while many CMOs have made the leap, the reality is that some CMOs are evolving faster than others to address the challenges and opportunities presented by digital.

Here are four ways CMOs can adapt their “DNA” to become more digitally savvy.

Understanding Media Consumption

Yesterday’s CMO only had a few ways to reach an audience, and media consumption habits were predictable. Today, a marketer’s target audience can be pulled in many different directions online, and with a finite amount of time in each day, companies must strive to be everywhere their prospects are consuming information in order to stay top of mind.

Moreover, new devices and channels only add to the complexity. Social and mobile create a whole different ballgame. The digital CMO understands that his or her target prospects are no longer tied to a desktop, and knows how to use data to reach these audiences across multiple devices and media channels.

Targeting the Right Audiences

Ad targeting has evolved from pure site-based targeting to options including contextual, geotargeting, retargeting, and rich, granular audience targeting based on behavioral or demographic characteristics. To effectively reach target prospects online, digital CMOs must have a firm and detailed understanding of who their target audiences are, and they must be capable of using audience-data-driven strategies to target and reach them. This includes targeting based on the actions they take online; demographics; psychographics; and a wide range of other audience segmentation approaches. Only by having this information can the digital CMO achieve the level of precision required to target and cost-effectively access the most ideal prospects.

While yesterday’s CMO might have been content to apply this level of targeting to emailing the house database, the digital CMO aspires to this same level of targeting across all marketing channels. Digital CMOs think about every hour they spend that’s not targeted as diluted. Regardless of the channel, it’s about understanding the “persona” and mapping a relevant message to that persona at the right time in order to achieve the best results.

Marrying Branding with Lead Generation

The line between brand advertising and direct response is blurring. Digital CMOs understand that while channels like search and email marketing are great for targeting and converting prospects that are lower in the marketing funnel (e.g., prospects looking for solutions to problems or evaluating vendors), brand marketing programs such as display or TV ads can be highly effective at increasing brand awareness and recall, and ultimately creating “lift” across the entire marketing mix.

For example, studies consistently show that people who come across a display ad are more apt to visit Google or their search engine of choice to search on the company or product they saw highlighted in the ad. comScore found that “search alone produces an 82% lift in sales from visitors exposed to ads, compared to 119% when search and display are combined.”

Nailing Value Attribution

As marketers, the goals we set for a given marketing channel or specific campaign will inherently frame its success or failure. Applying the wrong metrics might have us optimizing in the wrong direction, and reducing the impact of our marketing dollars. The digital CMO is able to track and measure investments based on the value of every specific program in the mix, including how each investment amplifies the value of other programs.

Let’s take the display ad example again. Given that display advertising is actually lifting all boats in the marketing mix, it’s not enough to evaluate the leads that a display campaign delivers. The digital CMO must also understand how many leads benefited from a display “assist” (i.e. when a user views an ad and doesn’t click on the ad, but returns to a Web site later and converts).

In the words of John Wanamaker: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." For the digital CMO, this is no longer a problem.

1 comment on "The DNA Of The Digital CMO".

  1. Anthony Green from Optimal
    commented on: March 23, 2012 at 8:48 a.m.
    Great points John, such a fascinating time to be in the industry, but there's still plenty of wasted spend. Digital tech has certainly helped but we still all have a long way to go to account for 100%.

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