In this opinion piece, Robin Marchant, Global CMO of digital engagement software company Squiz, explains why it is vital to ensure CMOs’ skills and influence are well-represented internally, as their role dramatically shifts during digital transformation.
According to the latest Squiz State of Marketing Technology Report, 60 per cent of survey respondents identified marketing managers as the key stakeholders when purchasing new marketing software. In a function that would typically fall within the remit of the IT team, this demonstrates how vital cross-collaboration is within digitally-led businesses.
Somewhat surprisingly but also tellingly, instead of identifying content creation or lead generation as their top digital goal, marketers chose integration of platforms. This comes at a time when digitisation continues to present both challenges and opportunities to businesses.
It’s clear that the role of marketing is shifting. Previously concerned with broadcasting to as many people as possible, technology has allowed marketers to be targeted and customised, with the ability to deliver bespoke programs using cross-device tracking, advanced search options, and detailed CRM systems. With all of this technology, and specifically marketing technology in play, it’s no wonder that platform integration is key to today’s leading CMOs and their counterparts.
As the lines blur between marketing and IT team functions, it is essential that marketers embrace this change in order to remain relevant, and more importantly, impactful, as businesses continue their journey through digital transformation. Marketers can make this happen by developing their technology skills, driving influence through business consolidation, and embracing new world, digital marketing.
Here’s how marketers can navigate digital transformation:
Enhance skills, enhance influence
Anticipating consumer trends has always been the hallmark of the marketers’ role. In recent years, they have also been expected to upskill, particularly when it comes to understanding the technology at their disposal. This poses a steep learning curve for many and though I have seen many marketers rise to the challenge, more needs to be done.
The speed and ROI that marketing technologies can afford will give those willing to embrace it more back in terms of increased revenue and valuable data insights, enabling CMOs to prove the value of marketing to the business. Ensuring that marketing is respected and viewed as an important business function at board level is incredibly important, especially if you can prove the tangible impacts it has on customer experience, and therefore, revenue.
Once you work to enhance your skills in technology, as a marketer, so many other aspects of the job will fall into place, such as increased conversions, superior experiences, and better knowledge of the customer.
Put the customer at the centre of business consolidation
Marketing teams will experience, and should even ideally be leading, business consolidation over the next few years. The trend will continue as companies integrate their various marketing technology and enterprise resource planning (ERP) functions. But there is still a way to go – just 13 per cent of Squiz’s State of Marketing Technology respondents said that their marketing technology is on the way to integration.
But integration is actually hugely important, and the trend for consolidation of platforms will only grow. The reason for this is clear, and it’s a customer-centric one: consolidated technology platforms, particularly in the marketing sphere, will enable a seamless experience for the customer.
Uber is a classic example – it focused on building an outstanding product that looks amazing on all devices, and is intuitive for the user. This was only able to happen thanks to superior technology that puts the customer at the centre of all activities.
To keep the customer top of mind, your business will need to be truly digital in every aspect, which is simply how consumers expect brands to be.
Bring “new world” marketing thinking and strategy to your brand
With up-and-coming CMOs and marketers – who are likely to be millennials themselves – becoming well-versed in strategic rationale for implementing technology solutions, not only will their constant plugged-in nature be beneficial to the business, it will also determine the relevancy of your brand to new consumers.
Now that two generations of marketing teams are working together side by side, it’s a matter of coming together and defining clear goals. The process needn’t be complicated – it’s simply a matter of sitting the teams down and discussing the balance between experience and intuition, and what each group can bring to the table.
Transforming organisations to become digital-first is no longer an option, but a necessity. With the new generation charged with selecting and implementing the technology, they are in a new position of power, talking simultaneously with the previous generation of theorist marketers, and the technical experts in the IT team.
“New world” marketing and the digital transformations that accompany it will be a challenge and an opportunity for marketers – it all depends on what you make of it.