5 things CMOs can do to get fired this year

Staying siloed and not measuring are just two of the ways that CMOs can get themselves fired in an increasingly digital world, writes Robert Bosch, CSO at Sociomantic.

5 ways marketers can get themselves fired in an increasingly digital environment
5 ways marketers can get themselves fired in an increasingly digital environment

CMOs today have a tough job, and it’s not getting any easier. Gone are the golden days when the all-holy TV commercial reigned supreme, when the push to win a Lions or a CLIO award consumed almost as much attention as planning the outfits for the ceremony after-parties. Meanwhile, since the United States appointed its first-ever CTO in 2009, we’ve seen the number of chief technology and chief information officers of the world grow almost as quickly as the big data that has made these new titles so necessary.

In a world ruled by technology and data, the CMO has to stay savvy to stay put

In a world ruled by technology and data, the CMO has to stay savvy to stay put. Here are the five things that CMOs absolutely should not do if they want to keep their jobs in this quickly-changing digital age.

1. Stay siloed

Want to lose your job? Then keep pretending like marketing exists in a vacuum and executing campaigns that leave your organisation’s data advantages on the table. Ignore the data that is being generated by other departments, shut out the customer insights that are being harvested in your research and CRM departments and stay far away from those crazy product teams.

The CMO heroes of tomorrow will be the ones who take on the big data questions from across their organisations and leverage proprietary data to their advantage: the airline CMO who uses revenue management data to drive demand instead of just managing it; the retail CMO who uses real-time location data to delight customers in new and interesting ways; the telecommunications CMO who cuts through the advertising noise with custom-tailored offers that perfectly match his clients' phone usage.

2. Measure success the old-fashioned way — or worse, don’t measure at all

John Wanamaker famously complained that, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." While measuring effectiveness of advertising must have been a challenge for Wanamaker back in the 19th century, today’s CMOs have the tools and technology to measure return on investment with a great deal of accuracy and to be able to react in real-time. That’s why the success of a marketing campaign today must be measured in real results: did it drive sales? An advertising award will no longer tell the whole tale.

Those who can’t, or won’t, use technology to measure the success of marketing interactions across those devices and channels will fail

As connectivity is added to a host of new devices, surfaces and screens, the number of measurable marketing touch-points is growing every day. Those who can’t, or won’t, use technology to measure the success of marketing interactions across those devices and channels will fail. Meanwhile, KPIs like ROI, CPO and CLV will become the new love language of marketing. The modern CMO must be a hybrid of media strategist and technology expert, someone who can deal as well with data analysis as with creative briefings. While previously the CMOs inbox was filled with pitches for creative, brand awareness, media and market research, today these decks cover topics like attribution, incrementality, cost-per-profit and more.

3. Assume that "big data" is the best data

There’s no question that big data is a big deal – there’s a reason that phrase graced the word count of nearly every digital marketing article in 2014. The trouble is that big data is usually also a big mess. Just because the data is created doesn’t necessarily mean it should be kept, and just because it’s been kept doesn’t necessarily make it structured or usable. Sometimes, trying to get value out of unstructured big data can be like getting blood from a stone — lots of effort with little return.

The CMOs who want the chance to stick around should go smart before they go big when it comes to data strategy. Smart data strategy means using the data you already have—the structured, accessible data stores that are already used to drive other parts of the business—to make marketing work harder. From customer relationship management to on-site behavioural data, from revenue management to real-time inventory: these are the smart data stores that you can put to work tomorrow.

4. Leave innovation and new partnerships to the agency

The days of the single agency partner are long gone. Today’s CMO is responsible for orchestrating results from dozens of vendors, agencies and service providers spanning every device and channel in the book. It’s no wonder that Gartner predicted that, by 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CTO.

With so many moving parts and technologies that seem to change at lightning speed, a successful media consultancy depends on getting good advice from data specialists and technology experts who know as much about product feeds and tag management as they do about CRM databases. That said, these experts are rare, and as such, they’re often found at the source of innovation. Technology providers are becoming ever more important in their roles as advisor to the CMO. When it comes to innovation and technology adoption, every CMO should make it a personal mission to work with and learn from only the best in the market.

Customer centricity is no longer the remit of the CRM department alone, but must be extended to every part of the business

5. Focus on customer acquisition at the expense of loyalty

It’s an easy mistake to make, but it could be a career-ender: don’t get so caught up in gaining new customers that you forget to take care of your existing ones. Customer centricity is no longer the remit of the CRM department alone, but must be extended to every part of the business.

Sure, filling the top of the funnel is a huge part of growing a business. But if you lose customers just as quickly as you gain them, then sustainable growth it is not. It’s time for marketers to realise that an investment today could—and probably should—be measured not only in terms of immediate return, but also in terms of potential future gain. Customer lifetime value is the name of the new game.

And what better way to lose a customer than to deliver offers that are irrelevant, stale or too-often-seen? Cat food for dog owners and sanitary napkins for men—these missed connections are helping CMOs lose customers every day. When the next option is only a few clicks or keystrokes away, marketers will have to work harder than every before to win customer affection. The CMOs who win will be those who learn to use the automation power and real-time speed of programmatic technologies to provide user-individual marketing at scale.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).

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