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Overheard from a CMO: “I’m Not Technical”

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by: Ellen Valentine (@EllenValentine)
19 February 2014

Late last year I overheard a CMO shrugging off of a conversation about designing digital marketing campaigns because he said he wasn’t technical. So I thought I would unpack my thoughts about that comment.

First, I do not think that CMOs should ever have to do any HTML coding. I don’t think they should have to write APIs to allow two systems to exchange information. CMOs should definitely leave those tasks to the good folks in IT.

But CMOs must fully understand what is possible via new technology, addressing questions such as:

  • Can the customer support master database be integrated into our marketing automation system? 
  • Can we use the answers from last quarter’s market survey to personalize our nurture campaign?
  • Would we be able to automatically alert sales management when certain companies are visiting our website?
  • How can we accomplish these things? 
  • What and who should be involved?

CMOs also need to continue to stay abreast of new technology developments. How can we use iBeacon technology to encourage our in-store visitors to see the new arrivals?  Can we begin to apply prediction algorithms to our existing customers so that we can preempt attrition? What are all the ways we can leverage SMS with our newly opted in prospects?

Finally, CMOs have to understand the inner workings of their marketing automation system. This platform is the key to growing your database, learning more about your prospects, building your pipeline of qualified opportunities, reporting on the ROI of your marketing investment, and maintaining strong relationships with your existing customers. Make sure you get regular briefings from your digital marketing platform provider so you can stay abreast of new announcements and really understand what’s possible with the technology.

By developing a strong workflow and process orientation, you’ll be able to help your team conceptualize automated campaigns that will facilitate turning prospects into customers. If content marketing is part of your strategy, you’ll need to help your team figure out the best way to automate these resource offers and brainstorm ways that allow the content to have a long life of productive use.

Your team is counting on your leadership to help them get and stay ahead of the competition, and this means setting an example by getting technical enough that you can understand what’s possible. Demonstrating to your team how your company is going to get creative and leverage digital marketing will allow you to have a very strong year.

Related Resources:

1) White Paper: “15 Tips for Enhancing Your Marketing Team’s Skills, Vision and Data

2) Video: “Vision: Talking Marketing Possibilities with Executives

3) Blog: “Get More Personal by Making the Most Out of Your Marketing Technology


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