magnifying glass look inside
Customer Experience, Digital Marketing

Throw Away the Crystal Ball – CMOs Now Know What CEOs Are Thinking

The C-suite can be a difficult place to achieve consensus and establish shared priorities, given that everyone there sees the enterprise through a different lens. What the CIO perceives as crucial to the company’s success might not be what the CFO wants to invest in, and what the CMO sees as a top priority might be at odds with the CIO . . . and so on.

When there is alignment and the lines of communication do open up, however, smart strategy is born. Recent research from Gartner suggests CMOs and CEOs may be moving in that direction.

Forward-thinking CMOs are investing time, money and resources into their digital strategy. Whether the goal is to improve efficiencies, glean insights by sifting through mountains of data, establish a presence on the platforms their customers prefer or a combination of all three (or more!), finding the right technology solution—and keeping eyes open for the next innovation—is the name of the game. It’s the only way to truly stay competitive, and from what I can see, more and more CMOs are willing to go to the mat to make technology solutions a top priority.

Fortunately, Gartner’s How CEOs Are Driving the Digital Business Imperative suggests CEOs are now recognizing the value of technology, as well. Here are a few key insights from the report:

  • IT is growing in importance in the strategic priorities landscape. More than 40% of the CEOs and senior business executives surveyed included IT-related strategy as one of their top five priorities for 2014—that’s up 21% from 2013.
  • CIOs must connect IT priorities to overall growth priorities. How can technology support company growth initiatives? It’s up to the CIO to crack the code—but CEOs and CIOs don’t necessarily agree on where the growth focus should lie. This is an area where CMOs could help establish a bridge and do a bit of translating –a shift that would benefit marketing, too.
  • Digital business and product innovation are top investment priorities. More than half (51%) of the senior business executives surveyed said they plan to increase spending on IT. Other places where they plan to increase investments: digital capabilities (48%), research and development and innovation (47%) and product enhancements (43% increase).
  • Digital marketing is at the top of the technology investment priorities over the next five years. CMOs rejoice! 38% indicated that digital marketing would be their main spend over the next half-decade. E-commerce and customer experience management came in second-place, tied at 34% –and that’s great news for CMOs, too, since customer experience is a key to business success.
  • CEOs don’t always completely understand digital business. Are you and your CEO on the same page when you’re talking about “digital solutions?” It’s up to the CMO and CIO to decipher, educate, recommend . . .  and to be ready with data to back up their words.

It’s gratifying to see more CEOs and senior business executives become digitally focused—especially when CMOs need top-rung support to evolve how they connect with customers via technology. It also seems as evident as ever, however, that CMOs will need to lead the charge so the rest of the C-suite can truly grasp all that digital business delivers. A unified C-suite can strategize, plan and spend most effectively.

To read the full report, head over to

Customer Experience, Digital Marketing, Marketing Trends

Evolve or Die: Are Marketing Campaigns Destined for Extinction?

Remember how business professionals used to be completely devoted to the BlackBerry – so much so that “Crackberry” was named Word-of-the-Year in 2006? Back then, we didn’t realize that most of the technology we were holding near-and-dear would quickly become passé.

But now, we’re getting more accustomed to the rapid evolution of technology and processes. Looking around, I know that much of what’s familiar in the workplace today is probably on its way to becoming obsolete, replaced with alternatives that are more user-friendly, more intuitive and always connected.

And I know that’s exactly what’s happening with conventional marketing campaigns, too.

As I see it, one-way, mass-market marketing campaigns are going the way of dinosaurs and dodo birds. In the not-too-distant future, they’ll be extinct – not because there’s anything inherently “bad” about conventional marketing campaigns, but because they’re becoming less and less effective.

Digital channels, social media and mobile communications have fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with brands. As a result, today’s consumers don’t necessarily show traditional buying behaviors. Instead, they design their own experiences, jumping between on- and off-line channels, consulting their social networks for input, creating highly individualized paths to purchase and then, ideally, continuing on to become brand advocates.

In the era of the empowered consumer, every one of your customers is unique. Your marketing communications must reflect that uniqueness, including each customer’s often unpredictable change in interest, preference and expectations.

Certainly, blasting out a one-size-fits-all campaign won’t do the trick. Nor will any kind of old-school push marketing.

If you want to achieve marketing success, start focusing on customers – not campaigns. Become part of your customers’ buying cycles by building relationships that are ongoing, consistent, meaningful and mutually-rewarding, and keep in mind. . .

The clock is ticking on this paradigm shift. And the customer is controlling the stopwatch.

According to the data my company SDL has collected as part of a year-long research project on Millennials, they are already expecting brand interactions that are more innovative and more relevant. They’re connecting with companies on social media networks, and they like it when a company reaches out with a holiday/birthday card or some other kind of brand building that is more personal and not product specific.

In other words, Millennials – the 20-somethings who may be your customers today and will certainly be your customers in the future – aren’t interested in traditional marketing campaigns. They want to interact with your brand in a way that’s more timely, more customized and more relevant.

Are you ready to adapt to these new expectations? Are you positioned to focus on the customer experience?

As marketers, we can’t be resistant as our tools and processes evolve and improve. I remember holding on to my Blackberry until the bitter end, determined that an iPhone-sans-keyboard couldn’t possibly replace my beloved email-savvy friend. But, I was finally forced to change over when a former employer mandated the switch to an iPhone, version 3. I took the iPhone out of the box, started downloading apps and never looked back . . . not even for an instant.

You can do the same. Forge ahead. Don’t look back. Even though traditional marketing campaigns are extinct, your organization doesn’t have to follow suit.

Find out more about our millennial research here.