All Systems Are CMO: Exploring Marketing's Emerging Enterprisewide Role

As the average marketer's responsibilities begin to expand, CMOs must build bridges between disparate departments to enable conversation and enhance collaboration in their effort to improve the customer experience.

While the digital era continues to usher in constant change, the CMO's rapid transformation also indicates the average brand's need to adapt alongside technology and improve the customer experience accordingly. As Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud's recent "Bridging the Digital Divide: How CMOs Can Rise to Meet Five Expanding Expectations" report highlights, today's CMOs are increasingly expected to act as stewards of the customer within their organization, reaching outside their typical scope of responsibility to build bridges and dismantle silos.

The study, conducted in partnership with Deloitte, surveyed 228 global marketing leaders to explore their primary goals and greatest challenges as they address and embrace their changing role within the enterprise. Many recognize that they are now tasked with developing consistent, personalized customer experiences that dissolve the channel barriers and bring customer centricity to the fore. However, while CMOs work to blend Web, call centers, mobile, and in-store channels, they must also redefine their role independently as both expectations and consumer demands continue to advance.

Overall, CMOs must prepare to meet these five emerging expectations:

1. Take on Topline Growth

Of those polled, 53 percent cited an increased pressure to enable revenue growth as the biggest change to their teams' responsibilities over past few years. However, for marketers, this conversion path is often one they don't entirely own, triggering the need to verify a clear path to conversion with the rest of the C-suite. Also, 27 percent of respondents claim to have increased ownership when aligning internal functions, such as product and sales, to deliver customer impact, though they haven't traditionally been asked for full input into such execution before. CMOs must become champions of topline revenue growth through full ownership of the customer experience, from initial brand awareness to customer service.

2. Own the Customer Experience

As marketing's ownership of digital channels expands, 38 percent have also assumed an increased role in customer service, even though 23 percent feel underprepared to manage major customer service touchpoints. Thus, marketing needs a greater push from the CMO to take full control of the customer experience, increasing revenue as result. Quick, personable customer service has become an integral element of the digital customer experience, and online strategies, such as real-time social responses and how-to YouTube videos, have only helped to usher in an era where service is the new sales, requiring increased focus on collaboration so as to put the customer experience first.

3. Dig Into Data-Based Insights

While internal priorities, such as data acquisition (61 percent), testing and optimization (60 percent), flexible and agile marketing processes (59 percent), and external priorities, such as customer acquisition (52 percent), personalized experiences (51 percent), and customer engagement (51 percent) dominate, 52 percent of respondents still report a greater need for data and analytics personnel. Overall, CMOs hope to obtain more data in order to boost their capabilities and improve marketing optimization efforts in the attempt to drive demand and personalize experiences. However, such goals can only be met by hiring top-tier analytics talent if they are to build a solid data foundation.

4. Operate in Real Time

In 2014, CMOs plan to focus more effort into developing both Web personalization (50 percent) and marketing automation (43 percent). CMOs must support such goals by making additional investments in the tools necessary to support real-time, customer-facing interactions and experiences. Because technology allows brands to sense customer behavior and respond with greater speed, such tools shorten lag time between the customer's action and the perfectly timed, targeted brand response. Batch-and-blast emails have essentially become a thing of the past, as marketers and teams across the enterprise work to respect consumer preferences and create experiences that cater to the individual, not the demographic.

5. Master the Metrics That Matter

Brands must focus on metrics that matter to the overall business. According to the marketing leaders polled, ROI (53 percent), engagement rate (42 percent) and conversion rate (39 percent) stand as the most important metrics with regard to the bottom line. Yet, while ROI might be essential, CMOs must work with their sales and business partners to agree upon what the right return should be. For instance, leaders must be able to reconcile marketing-qualified leads with sales-qualified leads in order to ensure that ROI aligns internally, for disagreement will negate the metric's validity. The entire C-suite must agree upon KPIs that yield credible, measurable marketing ROI as another element by which they diminish silos and promote collaboration and alignment throughout the organization.

Key takeaway: While the digital era offers numerous opportunities for CMOs to cultivate consistent customer experiences across all touchpoints, these emerging channels contribute an added level of pressure to an already heavy role. CMOs are now tasked with bridging the gap between departments as they seek to balance serving and selling, and move from data aggregation to actionable insight. Yet, while all must comprehend the overall state of the marketing profession, CMOs need to understand that their journeys must remain self-tailored, allowing them to assess and adjust their strategies as necessary, for no two organizations operate identically. Such increased expectations may cause leaders to question their direction, but the answers typically lie within their willingness to assume responsibility, collaborate across departments, and develop their team's skill set. By understanding how their position impacts the brand, CMOs can then begin to deliver positive change that allows for internal and external growth over time.