Digital Marketing

Where Customer Experience is Heading in 2015 and Beyond


For marketers, change is now the rule, not the exception. That means the New Year will be filled with new opportunities… and new challenges. Are you ready to turn the page and embrace all that lies ahead? To help you prepare, here are five ways I see customer experience evolving in 2015:

More companies will move to Digital 3.0. Marketers have long agreed that digital is their top priority, but it takes time for organizations to mature their approaches and truly marry digital to customer experience. Years ago, “moving to digital” meant simply getting your arms around all the relevant channels. Then, the next step was actually connecting with audiences on those channels. In 2015, I expect to see more and more companies achieve the third iteration; they’re going to start using data-driven decisions to segment personas and deliver tailored content. Digital 3.0 will be focused on meaningful engagement and the seamless customer experience.

The growth of technical roles on the marketing team will expand organically. Remember when “data” used to be the realm of a select few in the marketing organization? (It wasn’t that long ago!) Well, as marketing shifts towards Digital 3.0, there will be the growing expectation that everyone needs to be looking at the data and using it to drive better decisions. As a result, 2015 will bring increasing demand for marketers who can analyze data and apply it back to marketing programs. Likewise, you can anticipate mounting pressure for more integration and collaboration between marketing and IT, too.

How customers behave and digitally connect will become more important than traditional demographic parameters. Earlier this year, Brian Solis and I discussed this trend in detail. As Brian explained it, the addressable audience is no longer specific to traditional demographics like age. Sure, Millennials are the fastest growing segment of consumers, but it’s the way Millennial habits are being adopted by older generations that now drives consumption, purchase and interaction trends. Brian calls this newly created and ageless demographic “Generation C,” for the “Connected Generation.” (See more of my interview with Brian here.)

Exceptional customer experience will continue to become more affordable. Why? Because technological innovation is happening at all levels and that’s driving accessibility up and costs down. For the first time since the digital revolution began, marketing technology is well within reach of mid-size –and even some larger small-size –companies.

Customer experience will become increasingly integrated into everyday lives. Studies have shown that customers don’t mind marketing messages if they’re relevant and unobtrusive. So, as technology becomes more and more a part of who we are, what we do and even the things we wear (illustrated most recently by devices like the iWatch, i.amPULS, FitBit and GoogleGlass), it may become easier for marketers to reach their target audiences. I’m careful to say “may” there because no one is predicting marketing via wearables will be an instant slamdunk. First of all, customers need to invite you along. Then, you’ll need to earn –and continually nurture –their trust.

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Digital Marketing, Marketing Trends

What Does It Take To Be An “Evolved” CMO?

Marketers face plenty of pressure to keep up with the latest marketing strategies, tactics and channels. Something is always changing . . . and falling behind can leave your brand at a competitive disadvantage.

For CMOs, the challenges are even more intense. In addition to adapting to the everyday needs of the changing marketing landscape, CMOs must also evolve as leaders so they can optimize their position in the C-suite. It’s a job that requires constant self-evaluation and re-assessment of answers to questions like: What are our core priorities? How should we be adapting to realize opportunities across the enterprise? Who’s best to collaborate with to get the job done?

Understandably, charting the right course isn’t always easy, and that’s why I was eager to hear from Sheryl Pattek at SDL’s recent CMO Executive Forum. Pattek, a VP at Forrester Research and the firm’s Principal Analyst serving Chief Marketing Officers, recently published a report with important insights about what it means to be a CMO in 2014.

The biggest takeaway? CMOs need to see their role through a much larger lens than was used in the past. We need to see ourselves as business leaders, rather than just marketing leaders. By taking this broader view, we open ourselves to more knowledge, create opportunities for more collaboration and ultimately, lay the foundation to have much more of an impact.

According to Sheryl, here’s what it takes to be an evolved CMO in 2014:

  • Realize the importance of technology—and the person in charge of it. EveryCMO needs to make the CMO-CIO relationship a top priority. Why? Because a CMO needs the CIO’s help to put technology in practice—and to get the most out of data.Forrester’s survey indicates that 62% of respondents see the CIO as a strategic partner, and 51% made this collaboration a priority—up from 30% in 2011. And while the 65% of unsynchronized data systems in 2011 is now down to 50%, there’s obviously still some serious integration to do in the years to come.
  • Take an active role in management and bring vision to the table. 62% of survey participants viewed a good relationship with their peers as vital, while 96% stated that strategic thinking and vision—keeping an eye on the big picture—was integral, as well.Marketing strategy is still at the heart of every CMO’s role, but smart CMOs know that a broader business perspective will earn the respect—and cooperation—of the other members of the C-suite. 59% said they wanted to grow their influence in this area.
  • Tie marketing goals into overall corporate goals. Customer acquisition. Revenue growth. Customer retention. Product development. Brand awareness. Shareholder satisfaction. The CMO plays a role in all of these, and we need to make sure the entire C-suite knows that. By clearly tying marketing goals to enterprise-wide needs, CMOs can establish their role in the company’s success.

To be successful today, you need to leave old silos and purviews behind and make yourself an invaluable part of the larger team. Fortunately, it’s likely you’re not the only one who needs to do so. Communication and collaboration is vital for everyone in the C-suite.

You can find more insights by digging into Sheryl Pattek’s full report, The Evolved CMO in 2014. , and by visiting her blog on Forrester

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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