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Published January 28th 2019

3 Gaps CMOs Need to Bridge in 2019

Brandwatch CMO Will McInnes takes you through three gaps between industry trends and marketing team behaviors that must be connected heading into 2019.

In my experience as the leader of a marketing team that markets to other marketers (say that 10 times fast), I’ve noticed a few patterns in the challenges we all face.

Regardless of industry, market, or team size the problems that high-performing marketing teams need to tackle aren’t actually all that different.

At the core of every marketing team there is now a seemingly endless flow of data. The challenges lie in what we do with it, how we prioritize it, and how we action it in an increasingly dynamic environment. In today’s ever-changing, volatile climate, these challenges manifest themselves in three distinct gaps:

  1. The metrics gap
  2. The moral marketing gap
  3. The innovation gap

Let me explain.

The metrics gap

Customer experience has been touted as a top priority for marketing leaders for years now. In fact, according to the many CMOs Gartner recently surveyed, customer experience is seen as one of the top three most vital strategic marketing priorities for this year.

Yet that same survey claims that “awareness” is still at the top of CMOs’ dashboards. Not CSAT (customer satisfaction), nor CLV (customer lifetime value), nor any of the other “C” acronyms that actually have to do with CX.

This disconnect is what I am referring to as the metrics gap.

The metrics gap is a problem of our own making. When you have an endless flow of data from multiple sources for multiple campaigns and programs, rolling it up into one “awareness” metric simplifies things. Today’s CMOs have an ever-increasing mandate to own customer experience on top of traditional marketing initiatives and, in some cases, certain parts of the sales funnel. Combine that with static budgets and pressure to prove ROI, and it’s tempting to reduce the metrics we find important.

While “awareness” is a key metric for CMOs to keep track of, it provides an extremely limited view of how effective your marketing efforts are across the board and, more importantly, it’s not necessarily related to customer experience.

The metrics gap is one that’s dangerous for marketing teams who want to innovate and be seen as leaders, not laggers in their industry or market. Let’s not forget that the cost of acquiring new customers is nearly five times that of retaining customers. What gets measured gets done, so if marketing teams can go beyond basic awareness to track the CX data that’s vital for reducing churn, they can make good on the promise of prioritizing it.

Investing in technology that enables multiple data sources, from those measuring awareness through to CX, to be combined effortlessly is one way that CMOs can begin to bridge this gap.

The moral marketing gap

This is something very close to my heart, and something that I believe is important for brands to get right.

A recent study shows that a whopping 64% of consumers will choose, switch, avoid, or boycott a brand based on its stand on societal issues.

Meanwhile, nearly 80% of marketers still believe it is inappropriate for their brand to take a stance on politically charged issues.

This presents an obvious gap between what consumers want and what brands are comfortable doing. Does this mean that every single brand should take a stand? Absolutely not, but it does prompt some questions and present some interesting opportunities for brands to consider.

Before brands jump on the moral marketing bandwagon and end up with a brand crisis, consumer backlash or wasted ad dollars, it’s important for CMOs to have a deep understanding of their brand’s values and ensure they are brought to life within the wider team and their work. What positive values are already associated with your brand in your customers’ minds? How can your team activate around those specific values to create more effective marketing messages?

Understanding exactly what issues and causes your consumers care about is just as important. Use audience intelligence tools to understand who your followers are and who their influencers are. Combine this with survey data and social intelligence to get a better understanding of your personas. This consumer context and understanding is invaluable to your marketing strategy.

The most powerful and valuable brands are the ones who become extensions of their customers – the brands with logos or imprints that are so strong and synonymous with their values that customers can immediately associate with them. These brands have, in essence, found the sweet spot – authentically aligning brand values with what their customers care about.

The point of all of this research is to root your message in your target audience’s truth. If there’s anything shallow about your moral marketing campaigns, consumers will detect it immediately and the damage to your brand reputation can be costly.

However, if moral marketing is done right, it can be extremely beneficial to your bottom line.

The innovation gap

According to Gartner’s latest research, one in every six marketing dollars is spent on innovation without teams having a proper grasp on what “innovation” actually means.

“Marketing leaders rated themselves as relatively low in innovation maturity despite having high ambitions for their ability to innovate. Where CMOs plan to spend their budgets indicates where ambition and ability diverge.”

Chris Pemberton, Gartner

In a time where the old ways are being put to the test, it’s not at all surprising that marketing leaders want to be seen as innovative. The problem is, when it comes to innovation, many teams don’t have clear ideas on how to implement an experimental campaign and sufficiently track its success.

This makes no sense, and the stakes are high – digital marketing spend neared $100 billion in 2018. ($100,000,000,000 / 6 = $16,666,666,666.70 in innovation spend – yikes, that’s a lot of potential waste).

Is your innovation program’s objective to drive your marketing forward, your whole organization forward, or your whole industry forward? Those are big questions to answer but honing in on the main objective will inherently help close the innovation gap.

The key to success here, like with any marketing program, is to appropriately define what “innovation” actually is, what it’s hopefully going to do for your company, and push accountability for the success of that program. I believe there’s room for innovative work in every role – I actively encourage it – but experiments should be treated with the same (if not more) scrutiny as your other marketing activities if they’re going to be successful.

In my team at Brandwatch, I have a product marketer who is leading our innovative marketing efforts as we make a foray into a completely new category for Vizia (exciting times!). We have a defined scope and rollout plan along with success metrics. It could thrive or fail, but we’ll have a good idea of how it’s performing as we go, and regardless of the outcome there’ll be plenty of learnings.

Whatever innovation means in your organization, if the program itself is designed to drive business results and can be proven to do so then CMOs will be well on their way to bridging the innovation gap.

The new frontier

With these three interesting, important gaps identified, it can seem pretty daunting to tackle – even for the most seasoned marketers. I believe the answers lie in intelligence. How can you use intelligence to better understand your customers and connect with their values? How can you bring together different types of intelligence to ensure your team is aligned with business objectives? How can this intelligence drive meaningful innovation, better CX, and better marketing?

Personally, I’m excited to see how CMOs (myself included) will lead marketers over the bridges to close the gaps these dynamic times have created.

Challenge accepted.

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Michelle Vangel

Global VP, Strategy & Insights

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