As recently reported by IBM’s Global C-Suite Study, CMOs at industry-leading “Torchbearer” companies set their brands apart by developing deeper customer experiences and by working harder to understand their customers’ journeys. . For marketing practitioners, managers, and directors, the question becomes, “Is my organization a torchbearer?” If so, how can you help your CMO maintain that status? If not, what can you do to help propel your organization from “Market Follower” to “Torchbearer”?
We’ve highlighted 5 key areas where your efforts will have a significant impact on the way your CMO is able to focus on the customer journey and create more meaningful and impactful experiences.
1) Get connected
The cornerstone of all customer engagement decisions is data, both quantitative and qualitative. Whether you’re coming up with the next brand tweet, approving a comp from your agency, or selecting the winning subject line on a mailing test, it only makes sense that you should give yourself the best chance for success by having as much data at your disposal as possible. Likewise, in order to best understand what will resonate with a customer, we need to have as much data about them as possible.
Therefore, a top priority for your marketing operations and IT team should be to connect the systems of record to create 360-degree profiles of your customers. In our C-suite study, the Torchbearers proclaimed that to be truly authentic in interactions with customers, it means “being hyper-connected with every area of the business that interacts with the customer.” Your customer database or CRM needs to be connected to financial/sales data, to your marketing platform, to your digital behavior analytic platform, to your social aggregation platforms, etc.
2) Buy your brand
Do you really know how your customers find, explore and select your products? Why do they? Why do they buy again or never buy again? Hot phrases in the marketing world right now are “path to purchase” and “customer journey.” The first implies the steps a prospect takes to becoming a customer. If you can lead prospects down the best “path” for their persona type, they will have the highest propensity to convert.
“Customer journey” aims to understand the lifetime value of customers and create multiple “paths” back to purchase. From the C-suite study, “Torchbearer CMOs focus on delivering holistic, multi-faceted customer journeys ... [and] mapping the entire path, as well as the technologies, people, and processes involved.” If your data is connected, this becomes a much easier task. (Learn more: “Customer Journey Maps and Buyer Personas: The Modern Tool Kit for Marketers.”)
3) Get cognitive
As one CMO put it “we need to become ‘math men’, not ‘mad men.’” The analytical technology available to marketers is changing the very nature of how decisions are made. Torchbearer CMOs acknowledge the benefit of cognitive systems. “Traditional algorithm-based systems are limited by what they’ve been pre-programmed to do, whereas cognitive systems learn through experience and apply what they’ve learned…”
The collection, storage, processing, and interpretation of that data is going to be what separates the Torchbearer CMOs from the Market Followers because that data is crucial to the success of cognitive systems. As I addressed in a previous blog post, there are things you can be doing right now to prepare yourself for these cognitive capabilities. By preparing your department to add cognitive capabilities, you are providing the fuel to become or stay a Torchbearer.
4) Get help
Torchbearer CMOs know that the best way to cover your bases is to look outside as well as inside for inspiration and ideas. Seventy-four percent plan on both partnering with other enterprises to tap into their expertise as well as working with contractors and consulting firms. Working with consultants offers a multitude of benefits as each party brings unique attributes to the table. You bring all of the brand experience, knowledge, and insights to the table as well as a focused view of your industry. The consultants bring a broader view of the industry as well a vast experience in using the tools and technology to help you succeed in your marketing efforts.
Our IBM Marketing Cloud consultants, for example, can partner with you to create detailed customer journey maps or develop cognitive-based communication campaigns. Whether you find an industry group, an agency, or a technology consulting partner, outside help can validate that you’re on the right path and offer improvement guidance.
5) Test, test again and retest
There’s nothing too small to test. Incremental increases in key performance metrics can have a massive impact on bottom line revenue. Take, for example, subject lines in an email. Or visual signage next to a product in store. Did you know that by simply replacing a statement with a question, you can increase the conversion percentage?
A recent research report in the Journal of Consumer Psychology explains that the way a phrase is styled can have a significant effect on purchase behavior. In an experiment, researches set up a stand with fresh berries for sale and played soft music with a sign that read “Berries?”, and another stand with exciting music and a sign that read “Berries.” And then they reversed the signs. Shoppers were more inclined to purchase from the stand with a question mark and soft music than from the one with a statement and exciting music.
Seem obscure? Think about it the next time you’re doing subject line testing in an email. Try “This is the offer for you,” and “This is the offer for you?” Send me a note at @Pyrzenski and let me know what you find!
Torchbearer companies continue to widen the gap and make far greater strides over the years when compared to their Market Follower counterparts. In order to help your CMO stay in the lead or close the gap, keep the above-mentioned tips in mind and strive to create focused, meaningful customer relationships.
1) White Paper: “The New CMO Guide: A Handbook for Marketing Leaders”
2) Blog: “Cognitive Business: Two Areas to Focus On”
3) Ebook: “Ultimate Guide to Assessing Your Digital Marketing Program”