It’s hard out there for a CMO.
That’s the message conveyed in a new research report from Accenture Interactive.
And we agree.
Titled Turbulence for the CMO, the third-annual survey collects responses from 400 CMOs in 10 different countries. It shows an interesting cross-section of the struggles senior marketing officials are facing in a digital/social age where customer interactions are becoming increasingly complex and fragmented. This makes it difficult for companies to deliver a seamless customer experience.
By way of executive summary: The overall findings clearly show that not only must CMOs shift their marketing strategy to meet customer expectations across all touchpoints, they must also develop a “digitally oriented” internal workforce. The company must adapt to and leverage channel proliferation and changing customer behavior. Finally, CMOs must also choose the right partners to help them manage the new marketplace complexity.
Let’s take a deeper dive into a few of the findings:
Not Ready for Change
Seventy percent of CMOs are certain that a paradigm shift will occur in the fundamental operating model of marketing over the next five years. But how many feel ready for this change? Surprisingly few. Nearly 40 percent of the CMOs surveyed expressed a decrease in preparedness over the previous year.
These CMOs believe they don’t have the right people, right tools, or right resources to meet their marketing goals. This is especially true in digital, where 66 percent of CMOs are expecting to allocate more budget dollars to these resources, which leads to another problem…
The Digital Divide
Even with more investment in digital, the report indicates a disconnect at work on multiple levels.
While CMOs recognize the need to ramp up digital marketing efforts, those surveyed rated digital’s importance and performance lower in 2012 than in previous years.
Why the drop off? According to the report, one in five CMOs described their company’s digital focus as below average, citing factors such as “inefficient business processes, proliferating channels, and talent gaps.” Nearly 20 percent believed that a lack of internal integration of digital is hurting their business, and 22 percent cited organizational inefficiency as a cause of digital underperformance.
Solutions? Having a digitally up-to-speed workforce is crucial as the market becomes more and more complex, as is choosing the partners who understand the new connected-customer journey. Are you incentivizing your employees to keep learning and improving their skills? Are you working with the right agency partners who understand your marketing objectives and can fill in the talent gaps?
Where’s the ROI?
Meanwhile, as channels proliferate, CMOs feel they are getting farther away from quantifying marketing ROI. Twenty percent scored themselves as below average in their ability to measure multichannel attribution. Given an increasingly complex marketing mix – one that ranges from direct mail, to TV, to smartphone interactions – this anxiety is understandable. With so many customer touchpoints, it gets more and more difficult to measure where sales came from.
Yet, despite this challenge, the vast majority of CMOs still try to manage customer data (67 percent) and ROI (71 percent) internally. But if you don’t have an internal team who can effectively manage and understand customer analytics, how can you place the right message before the right customer at the right time – and on the right channel?
Solution: Developing a measurement strategy is critical in building a multichannel approach that makes sense for your company and meets customer expectations while driving sales. Remember, all channels may not be right for you. For example, before investing in the “hot new thing” in digital, take a look at what’s working and not working on other fronts first. For decisions like this, data analytics – and people who understand it – is your friend.
Conclusion: Turbulence to Transparency
It’s definitely a turbulent world out there for CMOs. Building new skills internally, choosing the right agency partners, and delivering consistent customer experience across all touchpoints – these are all important objectives in preparing for success in an increasingly chaotic marketplace.
But we’d like to offer one more solution: Why not make your customer part of this mix?
There’s never been a more open environment in marketing than right now, and customers are more willing than ever to engage with your brand and tell you what they want from you. Social media is a great platform on which to have this dialogue. (Note: the CMOs in the survey showed a clear weakness here. Only two thirds believe social media use is important, and fewer than half think they are engaging effectively!)
If all this turbulence is stressing you out, maybe one of the best things you can do is listen.