CMOs face a battle between Main Street and Wall Street — one that leaves marketers juggling competing priorities.

On the one hand, marketing is tasked with delivering amazing customer experiences that result in customers falling in love with their brand. On the other, marketing has to deliver tangible results every single day to show how their contribution impacts the bottom line. It’s quite the balancing act.

To meet these potentially conflicting demands, CMOs need to look beyond the hype and false promises in the industry and focus on the following areas:

Find the 'Real' Customer Journey

The yellow brick road sounds great, but the customer journey is never ending. In practice, a predefined road does not represent the reality of how a person interacts with a brand and can lead to marketing prioritizing the wrong things.

To enhance brand experiences and build long-term relationships with customers, CMOs need to shift away from creating one-dimensional and linear customer journey models to allow for a more comprehensive approach that considers human interaction and unpredictable consumer decision making. If you don’t prioritize this real world model, you risk engagement being limited to a linear journey where your customers don't get the information they want, when and where they need it.

Strive for Consistency Across Channels

A recent study published by Oracle and The CMO Club showed that optimizing the customer experience across all touch points — including digital and offline channels that span marketing, sales, commerce and support — was the number one priority for CMOs. Yet, only 13 percent of the CMOs surveyed said they were able to truly deliver a personalized and engaging customer experience across channels. Additionally, 21 percent did not know where to start in terms of understanding a customer’s end-to-end experience with their brand, and said they needed help evaluating marketing technologies to ensure they align with the organization’s goals.

The report indicates that the only path to CMO success is to prioritize technology platforms that connect the data, applications and media that drive consistent customer experiences.

Get More Out of Technology

The technology exists to deliver consistent customer experiences across channels, but many CMOs don’t know how to take full advantage of them. According to Mayur Gupta, Global Head, Marketing Technology & Innovation at Kimberly-Clark, most brands and marketers only utilize 15 percent of the technologies and capabilities they pay for.

This is completely understandable given the complexity in the market today. Just take a look at the MarTech Landscape for 2015 to see the sheer breadth of technology that marketers need to understand and manage. The irony is that all the bells, whistles and shiny news toys are exactly what marketing doesn’t need. Instead, CMOs should prioritize laying a foundation for an enterprise marketing platform that can help speed engagement while connecting the data for long-term relationship-based marketing.

Rethink Rules of Engagement

When customers are browsing online, there are usually a number of things fighting for their attention. In the past, marketers would retarget these customers the next day, but now marketers can respond to online behaviors in real time to remind the customer to reengage, pointing them back to where they were before they were distracted.

Marketers need to think beyond cool creative or old school publishing strategies. Engaging customers has to happen across channels through compelling stories that are relevant to each type of interaction. For example, video gives marketers the ability to tell compelling visual stories and communicate messages that may not be possible with text or still images alone. And with skyrocketing consumer expectations, marketers need to understand that the experience with different types of media across channels can change the perception of your brand.

Master the Data

We have all heard that “big data solves it all,” but in truth CMOs are drowning in data. What they need is insight into what customers are doing now, why they’re doing it and the best way to change what they’re doing.

What matters is that elusive needle of insight into what’s going to drive relationships, reputations and revenues. It should now be a priority to not only have that type of insight, but insights that are informed by online and offline data sources.

But once you have the insight, it doesn't stop there — you must be able to take action on that insight in a timely manner. Data from sources across the enterprise needs to be pulled together in a way that informs your real time engagement. This, combined with content and automation, enables brands to deliver a real time digital (or digitally-enabled) dialog with their customers.

The benefits of data-driven marketing extends to the boardroom conversation. Having data on hand to show the connection between marketing activity and revenue is the CMO’s ticket to more budget and greater autonomy. 

The good news is that CMOs already have the resources, the technology and the marketing knowledge to tackle these priorities and meet both near term demands to satisfy revenue expectations and long term aspirations to deliver amazing customer experiences. It just requires them to look beyond the hype and false promises that plague our industry and focus instead on delivering real marketing to real people.

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