Love, Money & Marketing

February 25, 2016

Editor's Note: This post was contributed by Andrea Ward, Vice President of Marketing at Oracle Marketing Cloud.  

How can an organization offer its customers sublime experiences that trump competitors? Today’s consumers expect timely experiences customized to their specific needs and lifestyle, whether online, in the store or on social media. However, this demand can often undermine a consumer’s brand loyalty, especially if they encounter a negative experience, because competitors are ready to woo customers away at a moment’s notice. Consequently, today’s CMOs face the challenge of managing end-to-end customer interactions across a multitude of channels, for a consistent experience that delights their customers.

Meanwhile, the explosion of data creates an environment where decisions that impact how the business attracts and retains customers also have a measurable return-on-investment (ROI). For a new marketing campaign, both historical data and forward-looking financial models inform its potential value. Marketers must immediately consider the short-term effects of these decisions on a company’s financial obligations, while simultaneously considering the long-term effect on customers, which is often undervalued and overlooked.

This balance between immediate ROI and long-term customer satisfaction raises a conflict: customers versus shareholders; love versus money. Marketers face enormous pressure to personalize and perfect the customer experience, which is a long-term goal, while demonstrating clear and substantial ROI to investors. The CMO Club’s recent study into the modern marketing organization, in partnership with Oracle Marketing Cloud, revealed a number of insights critical to any savvy marketer facing this dichotomy.

The CMO Club survey identified four key themes for CMOs that help balance this issue of love versus money. The first theme is around expanding a marketer’s acumen. CMOs must always incorporate digital marketing and social media as a central part of any marketing plan. In addition, documented customer insights are increasingly becoming a popular method of foundational planning.

CMOs use these insights alongside data analytics to create a customer decision journey: an orchestrated set of one-to-one interactions between a consumer and the brand across multiple channels. Journey management enables personalization and adaptability throughout each phase of the customer lifecycle to build customer relationships.

Finally, marketing has altered significantly in recent years to focus on interesting, relevant content designed for sharing, rather than generalized commercial messages. Consumers are better than ever at identifying and ignoring advertising, placing an increased emphasis on interactive content. Modern techniques, such as the customer decision journey, set the foundation for the next three themes.

Oracle and The CMO Club identified the need for greater alignment as the second theme informing marketers’ decision-making.

First, businesses must align on:

  • What their brand stands for
  • How they plan to express that message at a high level
  • How their teams can execute on that plan

Brand marketing, operations, consumer engagement and even IT departments must constantly collaborate to ensure messaging comes across as consistent – from the CMO down to the last customer service representative.

The third theme identified is for the modern marketing department to act more agile in its day-to-day operations. The technological innovations made over the last decade have essentially destroyed the idea of an annual plan. The ability for customers to communicate in real time, search for alternative goods, and instantly share their story – whether it’s positive or negative – have placed an emphasis on agility. Those companies who cannot move quickly will ultimately risk losing customers to more agile competitors.

The final theme identified in The CMO Club’s research is the need for greater accountability. Today’s marketing department is expected to demonstrate quantifiable ROI. CMOs can measure nearly everything – a blessing and a curse – and thus must decide what KPIs are relevant and what is white noise. When executives adopt this mentality, it instills a culture of personal accountability in employees and gives marketers credibility in the face of shareholders.

When ultimately faced with the choice between love and money, how does the savvy CMO respond? The issue is one at the center of the head and the heart of marketers everywhere. The themes identified in The CMO Club survey—acumen, alignment, agility, and accountability—will help the modern marketer balance these two competing forces.

The strategies outlined here allow marketers to deliver personalized and consistent messaging to customers, while providing clear ROI. There is no doubt that the balance between love and money will certainly continue to remain a major priority for marketers in 2016 and will be a focus at the upcoming Modern Marketing Experience 2016.

If you are interested in a copy of the full CMO Solution Guide, it can be found here.

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