CMOs have always had to operate under pressure. While they carry the greatest responsibility for the company's pipeline generation and brand, they also have the shortest average tenure of any executive in the C-suite and the shortest timeline for producing results. This post originally appeared on CMSWire.
But the pressure has intensified considerably today, as marketers struggle to reach buyers whose budgets have shrunk. At the same time, they are coping with their own budget woes, as the marketing function, usually classified as "non-essential," is one of the first to be led to the chopping block.
CMOs will have to ask — and answer — some tough questions in the months ahead, but if they can answer "yes" to the three foundational questions listed below, they will be well-positioned to adapt to unpredictable market forces, generate demand and pipeline for their organizations and prove marketing's value.
Do I Have a Line of Sight from Campaign to Revenue?
Marketers need to stay close to revenue and clearly demonstrate their impact on the top line. However, revenue attribution is still a challenge for marketing. A 2019 Demand Gen report revealed that while 90% of marketers stated measurement and attribution were a growing priority, only 11% rated their ability to measure and analyze marketing performance and impact as excellent.
To connect marketing activity directly to revenue, CMOs need to take steps to break down organizational silos. If they can bring marketing, sales and finance functions together, it will help them connect the dots from first touch to earned revenue.
This cross-functional collaboration needs to be mirrored in the tech stack. Establishing (or tightening) integration between web analytics, marketing automation, the CRM and your organization's financial platforms will help you track the journey from clicks and visits to opportunities and revenue.
Can I Make Data-Driven Decisions for My Business?
Demonstrating that marketing decisions are driven by trustworthy data rather than trends, best practices or intuition is the key to credibility and effectiveness. When planning campaigns, marketers should have data-backed responses to questions such as: where should we spend our budget? When should the campaign start and stop?
Yet a 2018 survey conducted by DemandLab found that only 53% of marketing leaders were using data analytics in their decision making. For those who don't, the lack of data quality and accuracy — the reliability of that data — is often the greatest stumbling block, which is why unsexy topics like data hygiene and data governance should be part of every CMO's vocabulary.
Even seemingly small issues such as data duplication can render lead data virtually unusable, which is why conducting a data audit to uncover quality issues can deliver a big payoff in terms of overall marketing effectiveness.
Do I Have a 360-Degree View of Every Customer?
To fill in the gaps, marketers must have well researched, recent personas on file for their key market segments. According to a 2016 Cintell study, companies that exceed their lead and revenue goals are more than twice as likely to have personas and use them in their demand generation efforts than companies that miss those goals. Yet a large proportion of enterprise organizations, 43% according to a 2019 CMI survey, still don't have personas in place. That deep, foundational understanding of prospects and customers drives every aspect of marketing strategy, including decisions around the messaging, channels and campaigns used to engage the market.
It's equally important to support the integrity of those customer personas by prioritizing marketing stack integration. Many marketers have assembled an impressive collection of point solutions, but unless the customer data collected at every touchpoint can be shared and analyzed across the stack, it's impossible to generate (and validate) deeper customer insights based on the behaviors they display and the information they share throughout the journey. The keywords they use, the way they browse a website and consume content, the questions they type into the chatbox, the emails they choose to open — all of this valuable data needs to be consolidated at the individual and aggregate level.
Stack integration is challenging, but worth the effort. According to a 2019 Adobe Digital Trends report, customer experience leaders are four-and-a-half times more likely than other companies to have a highly integrated, cloud-based technology stack, and companies with a unified tech stack are 131% more likely to have significantly outperformed their top business goals.
Be Ready to Answer the Tough Questions
A CMO's job has never been easy. During an economic downturn, it's even harder. The questions CEOs, CFOs, boards and other organizational stakeholders ask of CMOs likely get tougher, too. But if a CMO can answer yes to the three questions covered above, they're ready to navigate any challenges with confidence.
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