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Marketing to the future: Creating a customer-centric organization

By Grad Conn, General Manager, Microsoft U.S. Central Marketing Organization on March 21, 2017

Filed under Microsoft in Business

Marketing 2027: Engaging the CMO
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According to McKinsey and other sources, annual global marketing spend will reach $2.1T globally; 51% of the spend is attributed to labor and services costs — human-powered processes and the services used to develop, implement and integrate marketing activities. Imagine the possibilities if you could automate the productivity and marketing decision-making activities currently conducted by humans and reduce the people costs through collaboration and artificial intelligence (AI).

Expanse of marketing “best-of-breed” solutions forcing CMOs into a corner

The role of the CMO is shifting. CMOs are on pace to outspend CIOs as CMOs take on more and more accountability to drive growth. Not surprisingly the Marketing Technology (Martech) space has exploded over the last ten years in reaction to this. Each year issues their Marketing Technology Landscape [superinfographic]. They are due to release this year’s version but it’s mindboggling that CMOs have to navigate over 3,800 different solutions and juggle as many as 24 different systems in order to manage their customer interactions. And it’s not just the sheer volume of point solutions. Each one of those best-of-breed solutions comes with its own reporting tool, making it a daunting task to get a holistic view of performance across systems. With so much on the line, CMOs are now forced to become technologists. For some CMOs that’s ok, but for most, it’s a role they’d rather not have to play.

The Martech space is ripe for consolidation. Parallels can be seen with how enterprise resource planning (ERP) matured in the late ‘90s – first with multiple players scrapping for share until only a handful now hold the market. Martech will mature into a few platforms which connect Care; Marketing; Sales; and Research into an integrated customer experience with a channel agnostic ability to listen, engage, and reach customers in a social-first/mobile-first way.

Because customers are more sophisticated with how, where, and when they engage with brands, marketing organizations — CMOs specifically —will have to lean into next gen technologies to meet customers on their own terms.

The evolution of modern marketing

Modern marketing is everywhere, but many companies still rely heavily on email as the primary driver of demand gen. Typically you see standalone campaigns, flanked by digital, that are mostly oriented from a product-centric point of view. These campaigns are becoming “old school” as marketers are learning that leading with offers and product content falls on deaf ears to the emerging multi-channel buyer.

As organizations start to mature, social engagements are taking a more central role, spanning the entire customer lifecycle. While email still plays a role in demand generation, there is a decreasing reliance on it as a primary tactic and it almost never stands alone. Marketing automation, sales automation, and customer service software enable companies to apply a little more science to the art of prospecting, giving the CMO direct and measurable ways to track how leads convert through the sales cycle. For the first time, technology can make “connected sales and marketing” real.

With rapid acceleration, marketing is rocketing to the future where predictive analytics, marketing AI, machine learning and Blockchain open up new possibilities. The abundance of information people share about their preferences, behaviors, and interests, purchase intent can be gleaned from information we never before considered. Imagine the ability to take seemingly unrelated pieces of data and stitch together the insights needed to make relevancy a reality. It’s beyond modern marketing. Marketing AI enable marketers to parse through the vast universe of anonymous prospects and identify with significant accuracy the potential prospects who are most likely to turn from opportunity to sale.

The Evolution of Modern Marketing
Figure 1. The evolution of modern marketing

Creating the customer-centric organization

The ability to find moments of truth in our hyper-connected world to deliver a unified customer experience across social, mobile, and Internet of things will mark the brands that rise. It’s a shift from thinking like departments to thinking customer-first through systems of nurture across advertising, marketing, sales, customer service where all employees are sellers; all employees are marketers; all employees are care; and all employees are in research.

An organization must have an integrated set of nurture systems with an underlying insight cloud to enable real-time collaboration and a customer-first mindset.

Systems of nurture
Figure 2. Systems of nurture

According to IDC, MarTech is rapidly moving to a cloud-based service model with more than 90% of the growth coming from this space. With this growth and with the point solution soup, a new category of integration providers is emerging — the advent of marketing as a service (MaaS). There are several players in this space – from well-known providers like IBM and Adobe to up and coming players like Red Ventures. CMOs can contract with a MaaS firm to manage the interoperability of their point solutions on the back end. Essentially CMOs can pay someone else to provide a consolidated view and consolidated output so the can focus on what they do best – selling at scale.

Digital transformation is top of mind for every CMO in 2017 and it’s no wonder. Global competition is fierce and every organization is in a race to better engage customers, empower employees, transform products, and optimize operations in order to thrive in a business landscape that is changing every day. But at the core, marketing professionals simply need to understand that success lies with how well an organization creates a customer-centered system of nurture.

Marketing to the Future: A CMO's Roadmap to Digital Transformation
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