RMIT CMO: Marketers now have end-to-end jobs

Following the Adobe 2021 Digital Trends report, the marketing leader shares his thoughts on the new CX playbook and the broadened marketing remit

  • RMIT CMO Chaminda Ranasinghe
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Insights and analytics capabilities will be a key focus this year, according to the Adobe Digital Trends 2021 report. While digital disruption hit organisations as the COVID-19 pandemic broke last year, it has had a lasting effect on predictability.

This has led to changes in consumer behaviour which have altered the standard CX manual, now giving consumers the upper hand in the digital relationship, according to the Adobe report. Following the release of the report, RMIT CMO, Chaminda Ranasinghe, spoke to CMO about the nature of CX ownership and the changing focus of a marketer leader’s remit.

“Organisations need to know what the customer wants in a much more relevant and meaningful manner as the marketing and wider environment is changing so quickly,” Ranasinghe told CMO.

RMIT CMO Chaminda RanasingheCredit: RMIT
RMIT CMO Chaminda Ranasinghe

And that customer’s voice comes from the person who represents the customer - the CMO. Far beyond having an empty chair to represent the customer, the CMO needs to be in the room to bring the customer view to the c-suite.

“Having that voice in the room is important. It also can bring a balance between the commercial needs to the organisation and the purpose of the organisation. You can’t take unnecessary risks and lose customers but if you don’t keep a commercial viewpoint, then you don’t have customers anyway,” explained Ranasinghe.

The Adobe survey has found only one-third (35 per cent) of A/NZ leaders believe their organisation has strong capabilities in accuracy, actionability, speed and access of insights, and one-third of A/NZ leaders have a focus on personalised customer experience.

Having marketers in the c-suite can keep the focus on acting in keeping with the core values of the organisation and keeping an empathic approach to customer experience. “Having the marketer in the room you can balance that with the commercial lens,” he added.

Empathy and trust in CX

As digital convenience becomes a commodity, empathy by brands will be a key differentiator for customer experience. Analysing and adapting to a customer’s emotional journey in this new world will be the next evolution of experience management. However, most organisations are still a long way from authentically displaying digital empathy, according to Adobe.

In terms of CX, empathy and trust are becoming more important. While people were faced with difficult circumstances in 2020 during the start of the COVID-19 crisis, how brands and organisations treated them will stay with them. Added to this are the lasting themes of understanding where customers are at and connecting with them in that space that will outlive the crisis.

“That’s becoming the norm. People will always look for customer service and customer support to be more around the customer and what's right for the customer and now more so than is has been in the past. And the organisations that do that well will come out better in the recovery,” Ranasinghe said.

After the events of last year, such as the Black Lives Matter protests, there’s a renewed emphasis and drive for brands so have - and display to their customers and the wider public -  values beyond profit.

Not making hollow promises; saying one thing and then doing something else; ensuring messaging is sensitive and consistent are some of the things that now are part of the rule book for marketing. “Be true to your values and the purpose,” Ranasinghe said.

Purpose-driven marketing

For brands across every sector, 2020 brought a loss of predictability. Organisations of all kinds were driven online at an accelerated rate, creating a wave of new digital customers with increasing expectations, the report found.

Companies have never been more interested in being agile and adding new capabilities for seamless digital
execution, with one-third (34 per cent) saying they’ve been unusually agile and able to take quick decisions.

“Marketing has to become more aligned with the rest of the organisation now and become not just about delivering nice creative to the audience; instead being far more conscious of what promises you're making and what promises you’re putting out. And doing it in a very functional way,” he said.

There was a time when big marketing organisations would just be like the translators between the organisation and the agency, where the agency did the hard work and the marketing department the wrote the briefs and it's was just back and forth.

The end-to-end marketing role

To deeply understand the customer and deliver strategically crafted experiences, marketers must have a comprehensive picture of the buying journey. Organisations where marketing and tech teams take joint ownership of their functions will emerge stronger in 2021, driving digital transformation strategies that enable more meaningful customer engagement, according to Adobe.

It means increasingly marketers have to be as much in the ‘doing’ as the translating of creative briefs and ideas. “And the agencies have to partner in a way where they are working together with the internal marketing departments,” he said.

Ranasinghe points to creative functions being in-sourced, media buying going in-house and shared with agencies, and CX and UX connecting with digital marketing as examples of the ways marketing is involved and responsible for all parts of the creative, brand messaging and customer elements.

“Marketers now have end-to-end jobs,” he said.

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