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Amid Unprecedented Change, a Path Forward for CMOs During COVID-19

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Once viewed as a cost center, marketing has come full circle where for many organizations it is the top revenue-producing department. While the current health and economic crisis is causing anxiety for everyone, marketers included, the situation also provides some hints as to how marketing can best accelerate its path to the future.

The current state of rapidly changing consumer behaviors coupled with accelerated use of digital and hybrid channels has exposed customer experience issues at the enterprise level – one that transcends marketing. It’s about delivering a compelling and consistent brand experience, tuned to current customer expectations. Companies that survive and thrive in a new reality where customers may permanently change behaviors, perhaps in unrecognizable ways, will understand that marketing strategy will be indistinguishable from a higher enterprise purpose.

Marketing had already started evolving into a profit center because customer journeys were becoming customer-centric, not function centric.

Customer journeys are more dynamic than ever before, driven by an influx of channels and devices making it more urgent to deliver the perfect experience every time. What is happening today is an acceleration of this process, super-charging marketing’s rise as a revenue-driving engine.

Connect the Line Between Customer Needs and Revenue

CMOs charged with leading this shift from a marketing focus to one of profitable growth are essentially responsible for connecting the dots between customer needs and revenue. This becomes more complicated when faced with customers who are transitioning to an increasingly digital experience – and changing behaviors at an unprecedented pace.

Hyper-personalized experiences that account for individualized consumer needs and behaviors are proven to drive new revenue. In a Harris Poll commissioned by Redpoint, 63 percent of consumers surveyed said that personalization is now a standard service they expect, and 37 percent said that they will outright not do business with a company that fails to deliver a personalized experience.

The CMO’s charter amid this new landscape is to create meaningful experiences that build trust and loyalty by demonstrating an understanding of the person. This requires three interconnected capabilities: 1) the data that represents each customer’s needs and their context, 2) real-time, automated decisions to recommend the next best offer, message and content 3) the ability to orchestrate and deliver those personalized messages at the customer’s chosen time and place. These are the key building blocks for a superior customer experience that results in long-term success.

The acceleration of the digital customer experience underscores the need for real-time understanding and action. Advanced technology exists to seamlessly tie together real-time data, real-time decisions and real-time interactions.  Real time is essential for delivering a relevant experience that is in the context of a unique customer journey; it is less about how quickly a brand engages, and more about always being relevant in the cadence of the customer. Real time is the key to demonstrating empathy for a customer’s situation. These real-time components help marketers deliver journeys that meet individual consumer’s expectations in their moment of need.

Empowered Customers, Empowered Marketers

An acknowledgment that the customer drives a brand experience (and is in charge of an increasingly dynamic journey) is ultimately what elevated marketing as a “first among equals” for driving profitable business growth. Advancements in customer engagement technology have made it possible for the CMO to take the lead in re-imagining how to engage – with relevance – with customers and prospects within the contours of a dynamic journey.

A customer-centric approach to engagement that is enabled by a single point of control over data, decisions and interactions can lift response rates by 20 percent and higher. The current crisis may pose unprecedented challenges for CMOs who must find new ways to engage with customers, but there is a path forward. By delivering a relevant customer experience at every touchpoint, no matter what shape a customer journey may take, marketers are empowered to turn technology investments into sustainable revenue growth.

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