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By Margaret Harrist
While many companies are making progress in adopting modern marketing, most are still just starting to develop customer-focused strategies and tactics—which in many cases include changing the entire organization’s mindset. It’s a complex venture that doesn’t happen overnight, but CMOs are the ones on the hook to deliver results, and on an increasingly condensed timeline.
“CMOs have long wanted a seat at the leadership table, and now they’ve got it in a big way,” says Kevin Akeroyd, senior vice president of Oracle Marketing Cloud. Here, he talks with Oracle.com Senior Editor Margaret Harrist about the biggest issues faced by CMOs and the progress they’re making in creating a customer-centric organization.
Harrist: What is keeping CMOs awake at night, and why?
Akeroyd: The CMO is being empowered and held accountable for a large part of what we call customer experience—from awareness through consideration, research, and evaluation all the way to that first purchase and then right through upsell, cross-sell, renewal, loyalty, evangelism, and advocacy. And they own it across all of these channels, through which they need to deliver consistent, relevant customer experiences throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
Why You Need to Be a Modern Marketer
Of course, the world is going digital, so CMOs know they need to nail mobile, social, web, e-mail, display ads, search, and all the touch points. But they realize that their own inhibitors are often internal first. They’ve got to break down organizational silos as well as KPIs within those silos, and organize around the customer.
Next, they need data, content, and marketing technology that can enable a customer-focused, real-time approach. Trouble is, they’ve got a lot of gaps between where they are now and where they need to be in terms of data management and analysis, personalization, and providing the consistent, relevant experience that customers expect—in real time.
And in the short term, CMOs know that if they’re making investments in new technologies, they need to show some solid ROI. So they’re struggling with delivering for the bottom line today while still building for an increasingly digital marketing future.
What are the top three areas that CMOs should focus on now to modernize their marketing approach?
Tackling silos is the number one issue. In a Fortune 500 company, there may be 17 silos in the marketing department, and each customer looks like a different person in all 17 of those silos because each silo has its own database, content system, user interface, and campaign reporting tools. And each of those 17 marketing VPs has KPIs against which they are held accountable—KPIs that might be incredibly myopic and contradictory. For example, the VP of social may be judged on the number of impressions and clicks and likes and all kinds of other things that may have absolutely zero impact on sales or retention or loyalty, and he might spend tons of money driving what feel like great metrics, but it has absolutely no impact on the earnings per share for the business at all. But he’ll still get his bonus because he crushed his numbers.
Meanwhile, the customer is incredibly aware that this company has no idea who she is because she gets treated differently in every channel. CMOs have to break down those silos and focus on putting the customer in the center. That means changing the organization, the culture, and the incentives of the marketing team to focus on customer identity management.
Frost & Sullivan: Marketing Automation
That’s where marketing technology and the right skill sets come into play. A company needs the ability to look at all of a customer’s digital body language—search, mobile, social, etcetera—and marry all that behavioral data with that customer’s transactional data.
Of course, if you have that data and can’t activate it and use it in real time in the customer experience channels, it doesn't do any good. In order to activate it, you need content and marketing automation. If you’re going to hit each customer in the right channel with the right content at the right time, that means you’ll need many millions of individual pieces of content to really pull that off. That order-of-magnitude appetite for content can only be satisfied with a very high level of automation and orchestration.
What progress have you seen CMOs make in the last year?
CMOs are realizing that this is an enterprisewide opportunity to fundamentally transform the business with the customer at the center. They are understanding that there is a race to the customer happening in their industry.
But many of the older, established companies with their organizational silos are competing against young companies that were built on digital and data. These upstarts are nimble, and they’re approaching customers in new ways, enabled by data. They don’t have to untangle an entrenched organizational structure. And they’re aggressively hiring the right baseline of talent.
In the last year, I’ve seen enterprise CMOs make amazing progress in realigning and refocusing their organizations. And I think the new companies that were born digital are inspiring the bigger, older companies to move faster.
If they don’t move fast, their competitors will. For example, a telco can detect when one of their longtime customers has visited their competitor's web site, tweeted that he was unhappy about their cellular service, and clicked on the last four mobile ads that he’s gotten. Clearly this customer is at risk. So if the telco learned this on Monday and then sent that customer the right offer through the channels where he is active on Tuesday morning, the company may be able to retain that customer. But if all the telco does is send this customer its standard, preplanned direct mail piece and an e-mail the first Monday of every month, including a 10-percent-off coupon because that customer is in segment 12 of the direct mail department’s database, that customer may have already made his decision to leave (thanks in part to a Tuesday morning e-mail from the telco’s competitor).
Oracle Marketing Cloud: Leading the Way in Modern Marketing Execution
We’ve seen an increasing number of Oracle customers delivering this level of real-time service since we introduced Oracle Marketing Cloud a year ago. This comprehensive data, content management, and customer communication platform is the best, most comprehensive marketing technology stack in the world. Oracle Marketing Cloud makes it possible for companies to understand the digital body language of their customers and prospects and communicate with them in the right channel with the right message in real time.
As companies shift their focus and organizational structure to providing a consistent and personalized customer experience, our technology enables them to make that a reality.