By Matt Bertram, head of strategy at EWR Digital & co-host of “The Unknown Secrets of Internet Marketing Podcast.”
Inflation, the Great Resignation and political instability mark some of the challenges companies face in this uncertain market. Unfortunately, CMOs are caught in the middle trying to adapt to radically changing consumer trends and an increasingly segmented digital landscape. However, I fully believe CMOs will succeed in 2022 and beyond by overcoming the following four prescient challenges.
1. Creating Meaningful Connections With Customers
Customer relationships are everything. I’ve even read that some marketers refer to this new trend in marketing as similar to online dating. With that said, building lasting relationships with customers is essential for three big reasons in 2022:
• Digital marketing is becoming overcrowded
• The digital landscape is becoming more segmented
• Consumer intelligence is rising faster than we can account for
As reach through traditional marketing channels becomes more decentralized, creating relationships rather than awareness becomes more imperative. The segmentation of the podcast scene is evidence of this trend.
Additionally, customers demand authenticity, originality and real-world awareness of social and political causes from brands. For example, Black Rifle Coffee has built a cult following by marketing its brand’s founding story across social media and podcasts.
To adapt to these trends, CMOs must do the following:
• Shift marketing strategies away from broad reach to hyper-focused channels
• Create original and meaningful content that appeals to customer pain points
• Focus on lead-nurturing strategies that meet customers across the sales funnel
• Craft a seamless digital experience that allows for easy conversions
The final two points are important. First, to create meaningful connections with brands, CMOs will have to do a lot of schmoozing. Creating relationships involves following up with leads with hyper-focused content, whether through email newsletters, advertisements or sales pitches.
Additionally, customers demand more out of digital experiences. For example, customers expect to click or swipe a button to make quick purchases like they can on Amazon. As a result, CMOs must work with web teams to refine their conversion funnel and make CTAs clear and accessible for easy wins.
2. Optimizing Marketing Funnels Using Big Data
To better meet growing online intelligence and a shifting media landscape, CMOs must learn to become more agile and embrace machine learning to elevate their marketing strategies from disorganized to focused.
First, CRMs enable webmasters to incorporate data from multiple ad networks, email marketing campaigns and analytics platforms to receive a complete view of customer journeys, which are often underutilized. If CMOs want to understand their customers better and meet them at the right channels, they have to think big by leveraging the power of big data through critically analyzing the customer journey and utilizing webhooks, personalization and automation that can further drive differentiation for their brand and drive results.
Secondly, employing machine learning through tools like lead scoring and predictive analytics allows greater insight into consumer behaviors. Tools like Hubspot and Salesforce allow webmasters to segment user cohorts based on actions taken on their site to send automated responses based on a user’s behavior and level of interaction. For example, marketers could follow up with personalized email reminders of abandoned cart purchases or with a reach out to join an online newsletter based on a blog they read.
Furthermore, tools like Hubspot, Salesforce or Mailchimp allow for cross-integration to feed valuable marketing data between platforms and to sales teams for follow-up. CMOs derive a tremendous advantage by gaining insights into consumer behavior and automating responses with the right personalized content.
3. Retaining Staff And Talent
Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges CMOs face is not external but internal. Labor shortages have impacted nearly every industry, including advertising. This problem becomes compounded by the fact that marketing has become increasingly sophisticated and requires specialized talent, whether it involves hiring experienced content marketers, data analysts or advertising gurus.
However, it’s my belief that the best way to meet the challenges of constant staffing turnover is to outsource many marketing tasks to specialized agencies that have both general and specialized knowledge. CMOs can benefit from managing projects in-house and outsourcing tedious labor, such as web design, content creation, webpage development and website auditing to an agency or trusted staff of freelancers.
This method yields access to more specialized knowledge, saves time/money and still enables you to take credit for the success of a campaign. Additionally, this strategy enables your staff to focus on more important things in-house, such as managing data and analyzing ROI in real time to make the best use of your money.
4. Easing Data Privacy And Security Concerns
Finally, CMOs must collaborate with CIOs and IT staff to combat growing data security concerns and minimize their customers’ risk. Many companies overlook the branding disaster that can result from mismanaging valuable consumer data.
Brands can take the following steps to better protect consumer privacy and web data:
• Protect websites with an SSL certificate
• Employ first-hand cookies to track customer data
• Invest in web/email encryption for secure communication
• Set up multi-layer authentication processes for employees to access customer data
• Host data on a secure and trusted third-party cloud platform (if needed)
• Implement best practices for managing consumer data
CMOs must spearhead the effort to align with other C-level executives on a plan to identify security risk areas and employ strategies that best protect and preserve customer data. Adapting to a changing digital landscape and consumer behaviors is critical for CMOs to keep their heads above water. Unfortunately, many of these challenges I’ve explained tend to compound and make the task more intimidating, such as competing to attract a shrinking talent pool. However, by educating their staff, partnering with successful agencies, and adopting new technology, CMOs can outlast the competition and continue to thrive in 2022 and well beyond.