Plants starting to blossom out of the ground.
PHOTO: Jo Elphick

Most CEOs feel their CMO's efforts can drive company growth. But not all of them believe they have done so. According to a new McKinsey study, while 83% of global CEOs say marketing can be a major driver of growth, 23% of those CEOs do not feel that marketing is delivering on that agenda.

Is there a silver bullet for marketing to deliver on its growth mandate? “There is no single marketing effort that is carrying growth on its own,” said Monika Doyle, digital media director at Chacka Marketing. “However, most of the aggressive growth happens by getting in front of the new methodologies constantly emerging in digital media."

So what is driving growth for CMOs? We caught up with some marketing leaders to find out what marketing efforts and campaigns have worked for them.

LinkedIn Leads to ‘Fruitful Discussion’

Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Nextiva, said he’s currently enjoying LinkedIn right now. “Since it has evolved beyond a virtual resume and portfolio, it has become a platform for fruitful discussion,” he said. “That means CMOs have the opportunity to build their personal brand, as well as serve the company they are fortunate to call home.”

Masjedi has been starting discussions through short video clips on LinkedIn, about two to three minutes in length. “From there,” he added, “it's important that CMOs take the time to engage with their network. For every comment, you should reply, whether the comment is negative or full of praise.” Masjedi encourages fellow CMOs to engage on LinkedIn. You may find you need to build your network over a period of months or even a year, but consistent posting will create an engaged network, he added.

Related Article: Top CMO Challenges and Focus Areas for 2020

Good Old-Fashioned Digital Marketing Delivers

Digital marketing is the most impactful and cost-effective way to drive growth, according to CMO Darin Archer of Elastic Path. “Through digital channels,” Archer said, “we can extend the relationships we build through traditional offline activities, such as field marketing, to a modern nurtured and measurable customer journey."

Specifically, Archer said, digital marketing programs that leverage content assets and SEO for key topics marketers want to own, combined with outbound assets such as PPC and webinars, drive significant growth. “Using these tactics we get the right information to the right people at the right point in their purchase journey with more personalized experiences and offers."

Making Lead Generation Work 

The secret to driving growth and campaign success is a single, digital destination that can act as a one-stop-shop for sales to leverage on-demand, according to Mike Hicks, CMO of Igloo Software. "For marketing teams, there’s a lot of time, money and effort poured into lead generation yet campaigns regularly fall short on results,” Hicks said. “The problem isn’t the ability to generate leads and interest. It’s the step after that; taking the leads through the last ‘10 feet.’” 

Sales teams often struggle with not having the information they need to fully understand the source of the lead, how to effectively pitch to it and where to find the pieces of collateral needed to support their conversations, Hicks said. “Often, the core of the main issues impacting sales and campaign performance is access to information,” Hicks said. “Sales reps won’t pay attention just because marketing tells them to. Instead, they have to see value in what marketing provides and, more importantly, be able to find what they need, when they need it."

Related Article: 11 Necessary Skills and Traits for the Modern Chief Marketing Officer

The Need to Be Omnichannel

Omnichannel is one of the main things driving growth for CMO Lisa Landa of Applause. “It’s a concept that really gained hold in the retail industry, but it has become a point of emphasis at nearly every company,” she said. “Today, the totality of the customer journey must be top of mind for marketing teams everywhere, regardless of industry vertical.”

A strong focus on omnichannel ensures that customers have a flawless experience every time they interact with a brand, she added. No matter where the customer is in the world, or what device they are using or what platform they prefer, their expectations remain the same. “Consistency and quality are key when it comes to omnichannel,” Landa said. “Customers expect the best from brands, and we should expect the same as marketing leaders in these organizations.”

Related Article: Beyond the Campaign: Times They Are A-Changing for CMOs

‘Customer Virality’ Program Emphasizes Customer Lifecycle

Karen Steele, CMO of LeanData, spoke about a successful partnership between her marketing and customer success teams, called “Customer Virality." Its primary goal is to make sure every LeanData customer is a customer for life, regardless of where they’re employed throughout their careers. “This program identifies and initiates a series of communications with sponsors of LeanData products immediately after they move from their current employer to a new company,” she said. “The goal, of course, is to help these individuals easily adopt LeanData at their new companies, but also to cultivate others of influence who remain in order to maintain and grow the account even after the sponsor moves on.”

The process: 

  • Become aware of a customer's movement, activated by a predefined set of triggers.
  • Identify whether the new company is already engaged with LeanData.
  • If they're not already a customer, evaluate the new company to see whether LeanData would be a good fit. 
  • If they are, re-engage with an account-based marketing (ABM) campaign involving sales and marketing. 

This program emerged organically over time because marketing noticed a large percentage of LeanData customers commonly implement its products across multiple jobs. In the second half of 2018, the teams started tracking this data through Salesforce and benchmarked about 40% of new-business sales coming from repeat customers. With the introduction of various ABM campaigns, and referral incentives for customer and LeanData teams, they saw the percentage of new-business sales from repeat customers top 50% within the first half of 2019. 

“We view this program as highly strategic and are actively building out more formalized programs as part of our broader ‘OpsStars’ user community,” Steele said. “We believe pairing customer influence and loyalty programs to the customer experience is paramount for any B2B marketer today.”