How you can be a digital CMO

Gartner outlines five recommendations on how to become a successful digital marketing leader using big data, consistent customer experience and strategic campaign investment

What does it take to be a digital CMO? According to new research from analyst group, Gartner, success comes down to a host of factors including strategic campaign investment, staff skill sets, consistent customer experience and telling the right story with the help of data analytics.

Gartner’s new The Rise of the Digital CMO report looks into the rise of the digital CMO and outlines five ways marketing chiefs can meet the needs of an increasingly digitised customer experience. The recommendations are based on current global marketing and customer trends, which the analyst group claims will help CMOs make the transition from just being an authority figure for digital, to also accessing expert insights.

Given the focus placed by most CMO-oriented reports on data-driven customer intelligence and the cultural shift to two-way earned media, Gartner’s findings are not likely to surprise many readers, but the list does present a good way of ensuring you are covering all the bases.

Gartner’s digital marketing transit map: Infographic
CMOs require analytics and data management framework: Gartner
2013 is the year of big data

  • Become an inbound advocate, shifting from finding customers to getting found: According to Gartner’s Digital Marketing Spending survey, search marketing remains a cornerstone of digital marketing strategy and will be one of the top three budget items increased this year. As a result, digital CMOs are shifting from finding customers to getting found by searching for the right audience willing to listen, as well as injecting their brand in contextually relevant conversations in search and online. Gartner recommended CMOs research and model their customers’ Web, mobile and social behaviours to better target inbound efforts, as well as become content marketers.

  • Shelve the commercial pitch in favour of authentic storytelling: Using Unilever’s Dove brand campaign, ‘Real Beauty Sketches’, as an example, Gartner said it is vital brands drive engagement through emotion, humour, irreverence, insight, excitement and unexpected twists in order to engage audiences. “As this example demonstrates, campaigns that drive engagement tell authentic stories,” the authors stated. Digital CMOs need to reflect on what their brand stands for, develop a strong point of view and series of related themes and translate these into compelling stories.

  • Break through silos to erase seams between channels and experiences: It almost goes without saying: Successful digital CMOs are the ones that can integrate all channels and messages to deliver a consistent experience for customers whenever and wherever they choose to interact. As an example, Gartner pointed to US office supply retailer, Staples, which has set-up in-store kiosks and an interactive lounge to combine the digital and physical retail experience. To achieve this, Gartner said CMOs need to research and model their customers’ online and offline engagement with their brand, and consider forming a centre of excellence to lead multichannel innovation.

  • Use data to target precisely and measure relentlessly: “Digital CMOs exploit data-driven advantages, both in targeting offers and experiences and optimising investments to the highest-yield business outcomes,” Gartner’s report stated. “But while digital CMOs are certainly data obsessed, they have a bias toward action over deliberation.” Gartner’s advice includes defining metrics that map to corporate goals, combine first- and third-party data to enrich target segments and personae, and employ predictive analytics for targeting offers and experience in planning or in real-time.

  • Experiment aggressively and challenge business model assumptions: “Digital CMOs look beyond marketing. They’re business innovators,” Gartner stated. As a starting point, the research group advised CMOs to establish a test-and-learn budget for experimentation, evaluate the durability of every aspect of competitive advantage, and look for new ways to leverage assets and advantages to create new revenue streams.
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