Every week, it seems there are new tactics that enable marketers to pursue the increasingly digital consumer, vying for their attention. But the savvy marketer knows that interacting with consumers through isolated tactics and campaigns is far from optimal for marketers or consumers.
Winning in marketing today -- and ultimately, improving business performance -- begins with the acknowledgement that marketing is actually comprised of many simultaneous and intertwined fields of battle. Changes to a Web site can improve Web conversion and positively affect call center close rates. Changes to retail displays can affect word-of-mouth mentions.
Winners and losers are decided by the consumers themselves, who continually assess a brand’s relevance against their own needs, intents and personal context. Being continuously relevant to consumers and doing so “at scale” is a complex and chaotic endeavor.
This complexity, however, creates opportunity. Being relevant-at-scale helps marketers to truly benefit from a competitive advantage in the market.
At the heart of being relevant-at-scale is an ongoing commitment to harnessing data and analytics. How can you be relevant to your consumers if you don’t know where to reach them and if you don’t know anything about them when you interact? The data can be found in both common and uncommon sources -- from campaign interaction data to third-party consumer data to search queries.
Embrace a key ally: The CIO
One common approach to cope with the complexity of modern-day marketing is to work with multiple agencies, data providers, and technology partners -- each with their own specialties and dashboards. With this form of ecosystem, it is nearly impossible for marketers to develop a "single" view of their business.
As CMOs look to marshal the fragmented data and execute data-driven strategies, they increasingly require a close partnership with the CIO and IT function. CMOs need to partner with CIOs to determine what data they need, how to aggregate it, how to store it, how to analyze it, and how to connect it back to the rest of the organization. CMOs also must recognize that most IT organizations lack the necessary expertise to work with emerging data sources.
Ensure that you really own your data assets
One key result of the way marketers operate today, with their myriad of partners, is that data ownership is unclear across organizations. Data access is often mistaken for data ownership. For instance, while brands may own their campaign performance data, if they release an agency, the brand is left with weekly PDF reports and typically an unintelligible CD full of Excel documents.
As marketers utilize vast amounts of data to deliver and relevant experiences, ensuring the integrity of their marketing and consumer data is critical to search for patterns that can provide critical insights. IT can be an ally on this front because it offers the processes and the know-how to protect data, ensuring integrity as well as customer privacy and security. Whether it is the CMO or CIO who takes ultimate control, brands can no longer relegate ownership of their highly valuable customer data to agencies or other partners. While partners are acceptable for storing large volumes of data, the ownership and ability to extract the most relevant data must always be retained.
Continuously re-skill the troops
There is an ever increasing need for improved customer data aggregation, segmentation and analytics to support customer-centric marketing strategies, tactics and campaigns. A recent survey, the CMO-CIO Alignment Imperative, confirmed that access to customer intelligence is critical for competitive advantage, with 53 percent of CIOs and 55 percent of CMOs agreeing. With IT’s collaboration, customer data aggregation and analytics can provide a foundation for a far more robust system that embraces cross-functional input and insight to form a single, real-time view of the customer.
Maximizing the utility of the data requires new skill sets (for example, framing marketing experiments), new roles (such as data scientists and experience engineers), and typically new operating models. Marketing leaders should already be thinking how to re-skill the existing team and how to restructure the operating model, working closely with IT to ensure that analytics are at the core of key marketing decisions.
So as marketing battles wage on, companies that are on track for success will be those where the CMO and CIO work closely together to mitigate risk, manage data responsibly, and secure effective and strategic deployment of content. CMOs must form a strong partnership with CIOs, going beyond collaboration to co-create new cross-functional organizations and processes where both teams share ownership of goals and business outcomes.