CMO Council Executive Director Donovan Neale-May
CMO Council Executive Director Donovan Neale-May

Marketers are far less data-savvy than they may think.

They don't know what data they have at their disposal, and they don't know how to use it. 

It's a big reason they're failing to offer the best customer experiences, according to new research from the CMO Council and RedPoint Global.

"While today’s omnichannel customers are more connected than ever before, organizations are failing to keep pace with customer expectations for frictionless experiences, despite the multitude of data, analytics and engagement systems in place," the report concludes.

Only 7 percent of the marketers surveyed early this year say they deliver real-time, data-driven engagements across both physical and digital touchpoints. 

One big reason why: Just 5 percent are able to see the bottom-line impact of engagements in real-time, primarily due to the current processes requiring manual transport of data and intelligence from disconnected systems.

Poor Data Management

The findings in the study are arguably a wake-up call for marketers.

CMO Council Executive Director Donovan Neale-May told CMSWire poor data management strategies are critical issues.

“Marketers are not inherently data-centric animals so now we see chief data officers and chief digital officers, as well as a lot more linkage and alignment between the CIO and the CMO,” he said.

“But marketers are not progressing when it comes to the use of data and the most fundamental use of data, according to our research, is to justify and measure the impact of marketing.”

Based on the seniority of the people that took part in the survey, this looks like a core organizational issue.

Of the 263 marketers participating in this study, 51 percent hold the title of chief marketing officer, head of marketing or senior vice president of marketing, 77 percent are with either traditional business-to-consumer businesses or those with a hybrid business-to-business-to-consumer model, and 65 percent are from organizations with more than $500 million in annual revenue.

Neale-May said it is time for CMOs to reconsider their roles.

The CMO has to evolve to also become the chief revenue officer, the chief experience officer and the chief data officer in one, he said.

“If you are not going to get your hands around data as chief marketing officer you are going to be short-lived on the job because data drives everything these days. It’s just a question of how you integrate it.”

CMOs need to offer leadership around data management, he said.

New Technologies Alone Aren't Enough

Organizations have attempted to manage data with myriad new technologies, an unfortunate decision that has caused marketing technology stacks to sprawl.

Over the past five years, 42 percent of marketers have installed more than ten solutions across marketing, data, analytics or customer engagement technologies, and nine percent have brought on more than 20 tools or solutions, he said.

A huge number of organizations have adopted “rip and replace” strategies with 44 percent of those surveyed indicating that they had spent more than 25 percent of their marketing budgets to replace existing technologies.

But only three percent of marketers believe they are totally connected and aligned across all systems, with data, metrics and insights flowing seamlessly across all technology platforms.

At IBM's Amplify 2017, the conversation revolved around cognitive computing "and how this is going to help marketers get their heads out of the technical side of things and into the use of applications,” he said.

“IBM's whole reasoning is based on APIs and how this will offer connections to cloud-connected platforms that can suck data in from all areas supplement to give you what you need to make your relationship with the customer more personal, more human, more interactive, more intimate."

3 Key Considerations

Neale-May said three things need to be considered: The customer interface, the customer experience and the customer channels.

Organizations also need to avoid operating data repositories in silos. But few if any businesses have done this effectively enough so data is live and in real-time, with the front line synced with the back office, he added.

“There are these disconnects between the physical and the digital that impact customer experiences, frustrate customers and don’t allow customers to have a true view of the customer journey and the ongoing relationship.”

While the volume of data and data sources is an issue, CMOs and other data professionals in the enterprise should be able to cull the data to extract what they need.

“The problem is that folks don’t stand back and say, I need certain data to be effective so what data do I need to do business with a given company. It all boils down to what data do you really need, where do it get I, how do I use and how does it impact my business,” he said.

The CMO Perspective

Sam Melnick is VP of Marketing at Marketing Performance Management software company Allocadia. He is also a former IDC analyst in the CMO Advisory practice and has crafted a maturity model and framework around Marketing Performance Measurement — a framework to understand how well a company, and its marketing leadership, can manage and measure its ability to drive growth.

He argues that the CMO’s role has greatly expanded — and that should be viewed not as a problem but an opportunity.

“As companies have turned into digital enterprises, the CMO has taken ownership of many more touchpoints further into the buying process (well before a prospective customer interacts with a company) and now even beyond the point of sale with customer and advocacy marketing,” he told CMSWire.

This changing role has led to a variety of new skills that are critical to a high-performing marketing organization. CMOs need technical hires to optimize marketing technology, analytics and data analysis for the different types of data they now have access to now along the customer journey, and most importantly, financial skills.

"This is a huge opportunity for the CMO to gain the same strategic importance and internal status as the CFO or head of sales in the eyes of the CEO and the board. This is a chance to change the role of marketing from cost-center to growth-driver;” he added.