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8 things CMOs need to know right now

8 things CMOs need to know right now

At the recent Marketing Nation Summit, industry leaders offered CMOs tips and strategies for success — including why less is more when marketing to customers.

What’s the best way for CMOs to evaluate marketing ROI? What will be the next big revolution in marketing? And what advice does James Corden of “Carpool Karaoke” fame have to give CMOs?

Here are answers to these questions and more tips, strategies and sage advice for CMOs from the recent Marketo Marketing Nation Summit in San Francisco.

1. When it comes to engaging with customers, less is more

Consumers today receive endless marketing emails and ads that follow them wherever they go online. And there’s a finite supply of attention that isn’t going to expand, Marketo CEO Steve Lucas noted.

As a result, CMOs need to ensure that customer engagements over time are scarcer and more valuable. Otherwise, you risk damaging your brand. “Buyers will opt out not because they dislike your brand, but because they dislike the volume” of messaging from your brand, he added.

Though consumers still want to receive marketing messages, they want to forge “a real, lasting relationship” with brands that understand their interests and share their values, Lucas continued. “We’re no longer able to prescribe the terms of our relationships with our buyers. They are in charge. We work for them.” CMOs must therefore “start thinking of marketing as a carefully curated experience at every stage of the buyer journey.”

2. There’s a disconnect between what marketers and consumers think

During his keynote presentation, Lucas said 83 percent of marketers believe their organization’s customer engagement efforts are effective. However, 51 percent of consumers say brands could do a better job engaging them.

“The disconnect shows we’re spending too much time talking to buyers instead of listening to them,” Lucas said. His advice:

Listen to your audience across all digital channels. Invest time and effort so you’ll know everything about current and potential buyers. Centralize your data from multiple channels so you can more carefully listen to what consumers are telling you. And embrace your inner data scientist. “Turn everything you listen to into insights,” Lucas said.

3. Customer loyalty is an excellent way to evaluate marketing ROI

There are countless ways CMOs can measure ROI. But some metrics, such as time spent in a brand’s app, don’t “get to the heart of why a customer is doing business” with you, said Jeff Wright, vice president of data analytics and automation for Autodesk. ROI is still a challenging area for many CMOs, he added. And Autodesk is working to “go beyond ‘vanity metrics’” such as time spent in an app, because they “don’t help you understand how you’re doing.”

Tracee Nalewak, group vice president of customer experience marketing for Hakkasan Group, said the company created a VIP program in which everyone who purchases a ticket to a Hakkasan event is assigned his or her own concierge. The program enables Hakkasan to better develop a “one-on-one” relationship with customers, which millennials in particular appreciate. The best ROI for such a program is customer loyalty, Nalewak said. “If you’re driving the right relationship with customers, that drives loyalty,” she explained.

4. Just be yourself

Brands should have a strong identity, and their marketing should allow them to show that identity — to be themselves, so to speak. This advice came from the host of The Late Late Show with James Corden, who was a featured speaker at the conference.

Consumers “just want the truth,” Corden said in an on-stage interview with Marketo CEO Lucas. “They want to feel like they ‘get it,’” and they greatly value authenticity. He added that the segments of his late-night show that score the largest internet audiences are those in which “it’s me being the closest version of who I am.”

Authenticity and being “who you are” is especially important in an era when brands can highly personalize and target their marketing messages, Corden added. “The more open, honest and transparent you can be, the more people will respond to that,” he said.

And then, looking out into the crowd, Corden added: “You all look like you smell amazing.”

5. CMOs have great responsibility for their company’s security

It’s never been more important for CMOs to work closely with CISOs and CIOs to maximize security across an organization, said Holly Rollo, CMO of RSA Security. “Think about all the data marketers work with and depend on, all these listening tools to engage and inspire audiences,” she said. CMOs are responsible for the data and tools, and if you haven’t aligned them with your organization’s security strategy, you could be exposing the company to “massive business risks.”

Too often during digital transformations, marketing “works around IT,” and that puts the entire organization at risk, Rollo said. For example, she cited the fact that in the European Union, fines for not adequately safeguarding customer data are “tripling.”

6. CMOs should focus not just on tools but on training

Like many organizations, publisher/research firm Wiley has a proliferation of marketing tools at its disposal, said Clay Stobaugh, executive vice presiden CMO. The challenge is not necessarily getting the right tools to the right people. The challenge is in making sure you have a training foundation so that your marketing folks can use the tools, which helps build their careers as well as improve the company’s business performance.

For example, under Stobaugh, Wiley developed the Marketing Revenue Center, a ‘global center of excellence’ focused on building internal skills and training in customer experience, CRM, social media, content marketing and SEO/SEM. Employees train to receive internal certifications in these and other disciplines. The certifications help Wiley managers more easily identify employees with the skills they need in their department, which in turn gives employees a stronger career path.

7. Don’t lose sight of your creativity

With all the tools, technology, training and everything else to keep up with, CMOs sometimes forget one of the most important aspects to marketing: Creativity.

“Yes, you need to know the brand and be fluent in it, and you have to stay on top of all the digital stuff,” Stobaugh said. “But I get concerned because a lot of people in marketing have the digital stuff down pat, but they don’t have the creativity.”

Creativity will be “the next big revolution” in marketing, predicted Rollo. With all the technology and data, marketers can become “like robots” in their jobs. “You’ve got to hold on to the creative spark and keep developing it,” she advised.

8. Great CMOs are courageous, too

The best CMOs take bold steps, noted Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade, citing a quote from former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy: “You’ve got to be prepared to risk everything.”

Prior to being CEO, Leahy spent time in marketing at Tesco “trying to one-up the competition,” Neisser said. Leahy came up with a loyalty program idea, then explained to Tesco’s board of directors that the program could risk 20 percent of the company’s revenue. “Leahy knew that if the loyalty program failed, it would cost him his job,” Neisser said. But the program was a success, and eventually, Leahy became Tesco’s CEO — as well as an English knight.

Neisser said he was involved in a promotion for Panasonic’s Toughbooks, in which the rugged computer was run over by a Hummer on live TV. Here again, it was a bold, risky move — but it worked.

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