By Matt Bertram, head of strategy at EWR Digital & co-host of “The Unknown Secrets of Internet Marketing Podcast.”
Technology has disrupted not only the way we approach marketing but also largely the role of the CMO itself. From hybrid workforces to brand consciousness in the digital age, CMOs have much more on their plate than just marketing products.
Further, with the increasing sophistication and rapid pace of technology, CMOs need to act ahead of the curve to predict and direct change in their company.
Tack on a pandemic that largely eroded face-to-face sales, and CMOs have even had to integrate more fully with sales teams over the past few years.
As Stephen Hawking is often credited for saying, “intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” So let’s take a look at the five ways the role of the CMO has evolved in the past few years and how to adapt.
Big Data And Analytics
First and foremost, technology has enabled marketing teams to unlock more information about their customers and marketing performance than ever before. Big data can now be applied everywhere, from supply chains to micro-interactions customers take on a website to acquire a holistic view of an entire business at work.
With that said, the learning curve of adopting new technologies, including the metaverse, machine learning, predictive analytics, NFTs, blockchain, VR, programmatic ads and everything yet to be invented, has become steep. Nevertheless, adopting these technologies can help ensure your success in an increasingly digital world that’s decoupled from traditional technologies like a keyboard and mouse and now incorporate VR headsets and blockchain.
Likewise, these technologies will also fundamentally transform how we approach privacy, how track our customers and what media we use to market to them.
Despite its steep learning curve, mastering new technology can eventually lead you to the holy grail of marketing: personalization.
One profound result of the big data revolution has been the ability to personalize marketing messages at scale. Combining automation with existing technologies, such as CRMs, email marketing platforms and even programmatic ads has enabled marketers to serve personalized content to individual customers on virtually any platform.
However, the big data and personalization revolution doesn’t end with technology but rather with how we approach it. For CMOs, adopting new metrics, such as brand value and customer lifetime value, helps brands observe how much their business connects with its customers. As a result, CMOs are no longer just concerned with growth but also with key metrics like revenue.
While big data and AI have certainly altered the marketing landscape over the past two decades, the most significant changes to the industry have occurred in the past few years. The rise of social media and the demand for brand authenticity have forced CMOs to pivot their marketing messaging to all stakeholders at a company, not just customers.
One survey showed that 61% of employees often evaluate a company based on its social values and commitment to social justice before applying to or accepting a job offer.
Connecting brands to communities through charity, activism and proper messaging has become critical to younger generations and all stakeholders.
One of the biggest challenges for CMOs in the wake of the pandemic has been the shift to hybrid workforces, especially among marketing teams. According to Gartner, U.S. businesses expect a 20% increase in turnover nationwide above pre-pandemic levels.
A Gallup poll confirmed that not offering hybrid work options can significantly impact a business’s ability to hire and retain employees.
Regardless, coordinating between different marketing divisions and communicating with remote staff can be difficult for CMOs, especially when campaigns require coordinated or central messaging. Further, remote work may create silos in organizations, especially between different departments, such as sales teams and financial officers, who may only communicate through C-level executives.
Overcoming and adopting hybrid work and technology solutions will be an important goal for CMOs moving forward, as we’re not likely to see a return to previous work models in the tech space.
Finally, if there’s one central theme that has echoed throughout this piece, it’s being able to react to changing conditions and technologies. However, I think the challenge for CMOs moving forward will be being proactive and quickly employing new technology to their advantage.
For CMOs to succeed, they must think outside the box. For example, while many companies have struggled to adopt blockchain and crypto, I recently purchased an NFL box with Bitcoin. This move generated great press for my company and its partners while showing the possibilities of what marketers can do with existing technology.
This doesn’t mean that CMOs should adopt each new shiny technology that makes the news, but they should strongly consider leveraging the proven ones. Integrate technologies like blockchain to protect consumer privacy and build digital assets in the metaverse to market your brand and its companies.
In an age of incredible technology at everyone’s fingertips, learning how to become proactive rather than reactive is the CMO’s best marketing strategy.