Marketing’s perpetual state of change cannot be, well, overstated. But the start of a new year is an appropriate time for CMOs to take a (brief) pause to reassess and resolve to practice some new behaviors and shed processes that no longer serve them or their organizations well.
CMO.com interviewed marketing leaders across industries to gather their 20 best ideas for 2016.
Start: Proving Your Worth
As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. “It’s critical that marketing comes with a set of metrics,” said Vicki Godfrey, CMO of data and analytics provider Avention. “CMOs need to make sure that their teams have a good understanding of these metrics, what they mean, and what impact marketing had on sales and revenue.
That understanding must simmer on the front burner, too. “Be ready at any minute to give any senior leaders a progress update on your biggest programs,” advised Chris Moloney, former CMO of Wells Fargo and Scottrade and now CEO of Gremln. “You’d be shocked how many senior leaders at big companies have no idea what marketing does for the company. Share in an educational way and non-egotistical way how you are growing the business.”
In fact, stop spending money until you can track it, said TopResume CMO Diego Lomanto: “Test, measure, and optimize—a familiar refrain, yet most marketing efforts still go unmeasured.”
Stop: Fixating On Lead Generation
Tracey Sloger, CMO of DataSource, said she vows to stop spending as much time on lead generation: “My goal is to spend more time with our customers, improving customer experience.”
Avention’s Godfrey also thinks lead-gen events will be back-burnered in the new year. “Quality leads are harder to find at lead-gen events where a company just has a 10x10 booth on the floor,” she said. “CMOs should cut back on attendance at these events, unless they have a speaking slot or customer on the agenda.”
Start: Going Old School
With so much competition for on-screen attention, direct mail may prove to be a valuable approach in 2016. “With less and less traditional mail being sent and received, high-value direct mail that is relevant to the recipient’s needs has a better chance of cutting through the clutter and having a bigger impact,” Godfrey said.
And, by the way, print is not dead. “There are some great deals to be had out there,” Moloney said. “Don’t cut anything you can’t measure or you will miss out.”
Stop: Spraying And Praying
Swear off batch emails for good in 2016. They will become irrelevant, said Lara Albert, vice president of global marketing at Amplero, a division of Globys. Even segmentation may soon become passé. New machines learning and artificial intelligence capabilities will make it increasingly easy to individualize each message. “Marketers will thrive in roles where human creativity is appreciated and, at the same time, complimented by the power of machine-based marketing platforms,” Albert said.
CMOs have given personalization a bad name with their mass emails and irrelevant offers, said Lisa Arthur, CMO at Teradata Marketing Applications. “Take the time to deliver more value to consumers and prospective buyers by approaching marketing like a service to engage and improve relevance,” she advised.
Tracy Rosecrans, vice president of marketing at Healthline.com, where newsletters have been manually curated, said she plans to transition to smart data software to personalize content to each recipient in 2016: “Instead of ‘personalizing’ by category or or interest group, today’s technology lets you actually personalize to each individual user.”
Start: Telling Tales
The advice “show rather than tell” holds true for social media, as well. Revive the art of storytelling on social channels. “Showcasing your brand through simple and honest storytelling via social networks creates genuine engagement with your customers and builds brand equity organically,” said Paul LaRocca, vice president of brand marketing at Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Added Mike Wong, director of marketing at PicMonkey: “It’s no longer B2B or B2C. It’s P2P—people to people.”
Stop: Trying To Master Every Social Network
A handful of outlets dominate the consumer and business worlds. “At one large company we wasted a year trying to figure out Instagram for business,” Gremln’s Moloney said. “We wasted hundreds hours in meetings that could have gone to mastering LinkedIn or Twitter.”
Start: Partnering With HR
Hopefully you’ve already mended fences with IT and developed a relationship with finance. Now go make friends with your company’s recruiters. “As the lines between customer and candidate continue to blur, today’s forward-thinking talent acquisition leaders are just as likely as marketers to be obsessing about brand, personas, value props, and social media followers,” said Leela Srinivasan, CMO of Lever, an applicant talent system maker. “Rather than engaging in a futile turf war, savvy CMOs will embrace the opportunity to partner with their colleagues ... to increase the chances that employer brand and candidate experience budgets are being spent in a way that supports the company’s overall brand position.”
Stop: Chasing Unicorns
If you’re looking for an analytics guru with a passion for creative marketing and an ability to talk to business partners, it could be a while. “Stop trying to find the curious, data-driven, creative, passion marketer all in one—they don’t usually exist in one human. It is called a team,” said Scott Vaughan, CMO of demand marketing software maker Integrate. [Instead, double] down on your commitment to developing and rewarding essential marketing talents: data, curiosity, passion—to name a few.”
Start: Experimenting With Sensors
“The Internet of Things is a rapidly growing ecosystem of connected objects that is poised to generate more data than anyone could ever have imagined,” said Rob Murphy, vice president of marketing with Swirl. “Those CMOs that can harness this data to deliver more personalized omnichannel experiences will be the real winners in 2016."
Stop: Focusing On Direct Competitors
Innovation in digital, mobile, and social media is likely to come from a category alongside of yours as much as any direct competitor,” Moloney said. “Focus on similar purchase journeys, not products. Ask yourself, ‘Whose mobile and digital approach do we envy?’”
Start: Measuring What Matters
“CMOs need to refocus objectives to make the most out of our marketing budgets in 2016,” said Dan Gilmartin, CMO of BlueConic. “To do this, we need to start looking at the larger picture when it comes to setting goals and measuring campaigns.”
Most marketers, for example, measure mobile campaign success by cost per install. “Instead … we should be looking at how engaged users are by measuring things like time in app or session per user,” Gilmartin said. “By measuring things that matter to customers, like engagement, marketers will ensure that their budgets are being used to the full potential.”
Stop: Making Plans
Perhaps it’s time to rethink the traditional planning process. “Most companies still follow an annual budgeting process, so CMOs create quarterly or annual marketing plans. But the reality is marketing needs change day by day,” said Stacy Gordon, CMO of LatentView Analytics. “Marketers need to leverage analytics to help them see the impact of the things they are doing and be ready to adjust course or do a major pivot. It’s the data that should lead CMOs, not a plan they wrote months earlier.”
Start: Focusing On Sales
The American Marketing Association reported that 90% of assets produced by marketing go unused by the sales organization. “My resolution is to make sure the content my team creates accelerates the selling process, grows deal sizes, and resonates with our buying audience,” said Robin Saitz, CMO of Brainshark, who plans to monitor how content resonates with customers. “By applying this data, we can stop creating assets that aren’t working and double-down on the content that’s shown to help drive greater revenue.”
Do more with less? Not quite. “Marketing is a lot of work with countless moving parts, many of which comprise the minutiae. However, the great work happens when people can mindfully approach problems with clear minds,” TopResume’s Lomanto said. “A skeleton staff barely holding its head above water cannot be expected to excel.”
Don’t accept a job unless you have a commitment to staff appropriately. Never position yourself as a sorcerer who can meet the CFO’s unrealistic budget. Instead, sell your CEO on the value of hiring.
Start: Getting Your Tech House In Order
In 2012, Gartner’s Laura McLennan predicted that by 2017, CMOs would outspend CIOs on tech, and they’re not far off. There’s no shortage of niche tools available to marketing. But 2016 must be the year marketing leaders get more discerning about their tech stack.
“CMOs need to take a hard look at which tools are truly the most important to their business—those that enable them to achieve their objectives and provide value to their customers—and keep a steadfast focus on using them effectively,” said Judd Marcello, vice president of marketing at Smartling, maker of translation management software.
Stop: Chasing Bad Data
First, get to know your available data, said Rishi Dave, CMO of Dun & Bradstreet. Know what type of data currently exists, what data you can access, and, most importantly, how to organize the data to drive the bottom line. Then clean it up. According to 2014 Dun & Bradstreet research, 71% of the 223 million B2B marketing records were lacking fundamental information like contact information, revenue, and industry. “In other words, the type of information that is crucial for demand generation and revenue-based activities,” Dave said. “Marketers must resolve to employ a comprehensive strategy in regard to data hygiene, accuracy and completeness.”
Decisions based on data-driven insights result in 23 times greater likelihood of customer acquisition, six times greater likelihood of customer retention, and 19 times greater likelihood of profitability, according to a report by McKinsey Global Institute. “With numbers like those, how can CMOs not invest in orchestrating the right group of people and implement technologies that, together, will transform their organization into a data-driven enterprise?” said open-source software maker Talend’s CMO Ashley Stirrup, who advises appointing an individual to oversee marketing data efforts.
Start: Taking The Digital Lead
Digital transformation and customer experience are inextricably linked. CMOs must resolve to drive both in 2016, said Pegasystems CMO Robert Tas. “Given that CMOs play an important role in defining and championing customer experience, CMOs should be at the center of this transformation—not just supporting the organization but driving digital strategy and execution,” he said
Stop: Cranking Out Content
“I think that 2016 is going to be the year that content marketers stop, look, and listen. Instead of feeding the beast, the savvy content marketers will slow down and figure out what content is working and what content is not,” said Claudine Bianchi, co-founder and CMO of Crescendo Content Marketing.
Start: Building Bridges
Everyone is a marketer, so it’s critical to start working more closely with the entire company, and not just at the leadership level. “In 2016 I will continue to encourage my team to partner effectively cross-functionally,” said Brian Kagen, CMO of weight-loss company Medifast. “Marketing touches each function in some form or fashion, so having those solid working relationships makes everybody more effective.”
And begin listening—really listening—to your customers. “Listening is not passive,” said Chris Trick, CMO of ERA Real Estate. “We undertake listening both qualitatively, by actively reviewing customer feedback and regularly monitoring social media, and quantitatively, by rigorous analysis of data, insights, and engagement indicators.”
CMOs themselves should also resolve to keep their feet on the street, Trick said. “When marketers merely sing from the mountaintop without regular involvement at every level of the business, disconnects arise,” he said. Assuming an active, customer-centric approach supports relevance in both B2B and B2C environments. Pledge to keep a constant pulse of what is going on—with your team, customers, and consumers—to provide a better customer experience.”
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