Just When Marketers Thought Things Couldn’t Change Anymore, This Report Shows They Will

Digital Marketing Trends


Historians of digital marketing will be hard-pressed to find another era when CMOs faced so many challenges or so many opportunities to effect dramatic change. Like I always say, marketing has changed more in the last five years than it has in the last 500 and will change more in the next five than ever before.

I’ve often used this forum to share my thoughts about how CMOs can safely navigate this interesting, new world of engagement marketing. A report out today from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), sponsored by Marketo, shows just how much this new world is shifting.

CMOs have been grappling with the emergence of new technologies such as social, mobile, and other digital channels over the past five years. The challenge—and perhaps opportunity—is about to go into overdrive over the next five years. Now, CMOs will have to grapple with the added complication and explosion of Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and virtual reality technologies—technologies that will dramatically transform how buyers engage with brands. If you lose their interest, buyers can switch brands or cut the cord with a keystroke. Marketers need to be listening and responding not just in every channel, but in every place and every moment.

But what does this mean in practice?

The Path to 2020: Marketers Seize the Customer Experience

Marketo turned to the EIU to help with the answer. EIU surveyed nearly 500 CMOs and senior marketing executives around the world to learn what these experts thought about the technologies and customer trends that are most likely to change marketing over the next five years.

The findings describe how CMOs are taking advantage of the rapid-fire innovations in digital technology to reshape their brand’s relationship with customers. Here are a few that I found most interesting:

  • Eighty-six percent of CMOs and senior marketing executives surveyed believe they will own the end-to-end customer experience by 2020.
  • More than half of respondents believe the accelerating pace of technological change, mobile lifestyles, and an explosion of potential marketing channels via IoT will change the field the most by 2020. This will be driven by billions of possible interactions between a company and its customers, forcing CMOs to manage staggering amounts of complexity.
  • Marketing leaders *must* have a single view of the customer that allows them to engage in two-way, personalized conversations across technologies, locations, and physical objects at mass scale. It will be impossible for CMOs to build and manage a customer experience without one.
  • New media will continue to trump old media, and the top channels for reaching customers in 2020 will be social media, internet websites, mobile apps, and the mobile web. More traditional publishing-centric channels, like television, radio, and print,  rank far lower.
  • Brand equity will depend more than ever before on fostering consistent and personalized experiences that leave customers satisfied.
  • The biggest technology-specific trends that will most impact marketing organizations by 2020 feature small screens or no screens—mobile devices and networks, personalization technologies and IoT.

CMOs will need to use these new tools to learn customer buying patterns and the context of where someone is in their decision journey. What’s more, they’ll need to be able to predict what customers are most likely primed to do next and be ready to influence them at the proper moment.

So how do these findings directly impact the CMO?

Sorting through the data, several emerging trends will occupy the attention of CMOs throughout the remainder of the decade.

  • CMOs are going to be under more pressure than ever to find, win, grow, and retain customers. As Jonathan Martin, CMO of Pure Storage, told the EIU, “If you’re still thinking of the CMO as chief megaphone officer, then you’re stuck in the ‘90s.” The CMO role will evolve to managing experiences of the customer across all facets of the business and lifecycle.
  • With buyers interacting in myriad new places, CMOs will need to make sure that their companies are everywhere their buyers are, listening and responding with the right messages at the right time. Mass media’s not completely dead, but the ability to personalize customer experiences at numerous touch points will be essential to marketing’s success. They need the right technology to have a single view of the customer that allows them to engage in and orchestrate two-way, personalized conversations at scale, across every channel, device, physical object, or even the location where they are.
  • For the past decade, marketers have spent considerable time and effort perfecting their ability to understand the customer through personalization. They now need to supplement that understanding with direct action that drives engagement—and do it at scale.
  • Savvy CMOs will manage these historic changes to their advantage by retooling and reorganizing their departments around data and analytics as much as around content and media channels. The goal is to be ready to engage the customer with personalized experiences—everywhere and anytime.

Get Ready for What’s Next

If we all believed that the advent of social, mobile, and digital changed our world, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. The explosion of IoT and the ability to connect and interact with customers everywhere—literally everywhere—will fundamentally transform where and how we expect marketing to be in the very near future.

This promises that the marketing we used to know is gone. Marketing is now the very essence of a company. Marketing is the brand. Marketing is the customer experience. And in the words of JPMorgan Chase CMO Kristin Lemkau, who was interviewed for the report, “the experience is the marketing and the experience is what drives performance.”

This post originally appeared on Marketing Land on April 6, 2016.

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