A steady stream of marketing technology (martech) platforms are threatening to overwhelm chief marketing officers (CMOs) and their teams, who are already dealing with legacy systems. This means marketing leaders must focus on how to best prepare their colleagues with the skills to get a handle on martech now and as organizations further develop digital transformation plans.
In addition, many of today’s CMOs also own the customer feedback piece of the customer experience (CX) puzzle. Aside from identifying the “right” CX technology stack, a CMO’s team must also be skilled in performing customer analysis based on the data output from these solutions. They must then use the insights to drive awareness and improve customer experiences across the organization.
Build Skills, Then Focus on Integration
Celia Fleischaker, CMO at Verint, said she is also seeing that as marketing teams increase martech ownership, this needs to be accompanied by the tech skills to successfully implement and integrate new applications into the CX stack.
“While most marketers are skilled martech users, now marketing teams are also responsible for key metrics like time-to-value and KPIs such as system and help checks to measure impact and drive change,” she explained. “All of which was traditionally owned by the IT department that is now being distributed across marketing teams.”
She said today’s CMO must champion the critical role of understanding and improving customer experiences to thrive in the engagement economy.
"The foundation of these efforts will be adopting a host of new technologies to drive CX, either by acquiring new solutions or leveraging existing platforms, that may not typically live inside the marketing department’s purview," Fleischaker added.
With the shift to digital, marketers are grappling with a tsunami of customer data stemming from multiple customer feedback channels. This presents opportunities and challenges for marketers to corral customer insights that live in various martech solutions and harness that data to drive continuous CX improvement. Fleischaker notes that in addition, CX encompasses many aspects of the business, from exceptional customer care to quality of products and services.
“As such, CMOs are evolving their marketing teams to think about CX holistically,” she said.
From her perspective, the key will be for marketers to understand the impression customers have of the company at every single touchpoint along the customer journey and analyze that feedback data to impact change and drive a better overall experience.
“A holistic approach is supported by customer engagement platforms that provide a single version of the truth with actionable analytics feeding data-driven CX strategies,” she explained.
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Automation, AI Technology Top List of Emerging Skills
“A CMO's team needs to be ready for the influx of data they’ll receive, and the speed with which it comes to them," he said. "Most importantly, they need to know what to do with the data to understand what to prioritize in their optimizations.”
Translating to skills, marketing teams must be able to multitask and adapt quickly to new challenges and opportunities. Zaheer said holding regular trainings on the latest innovations is critical and notes that if an organization wants a highly skilled workforce, then they must lower the barriers to entry to receive the necessary skill sets as the first step. He said it’s important to emphasize real-life use cases where the information will be used and leave employees time to get familiar with what they’ve learned.
“Most importantly — make the trainings mandatory,” he said. “Marketing requires a faster pace from employees than we’ve ever seen before, and voluntarily carving out time during the day to participate in a training is difficult without a mandate.”
Zaheer said this will set the tone that these trainings are critical for the team’s overall success and helps with team member buy-in.
Look to Online Training Resources
Fleischaker agreed training and knowledge building is critical as CMOs take the lead in martech ownership to boost CX success.
“Having learning paths defined for the martech you have is critical," she explained. "It is needed to help speed time-to-value and drive adoption.”
When we select new technology solutions, the training that they have available — particularly online training — is a critical component of the selection process.
“Beyond training available from vendors, we are also seeing our teams gain value from resources like LinkedIn Learning and Udemy courses to help build important martech skills," she said.
Zaheer admitted it can be overwhelming with the number of platforms out there, which can all achieve the same purpose for the team.
“The best strategy is to go out and test different technologies yourself to understand your own user comfort and how it will work best for your team,” he advised. “A resource is only good if it works for your existing processes.”
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Training Strategies for a Distributed Team
Fleischaker said a highly empowered and engaged workforce is behind every great CX strategy.
“Investing in digital experience tools and technology to address the future of hybrid work and remote revolution is not only critical but practical," she explained.
That’s the case whether the focus is on empowering employees with modern tools to help simplify their jobs for greater satisfaction and performance or advancing training and development for expanding the customer knowledge base across the entire organization.
"This has increased the need for better virtual, on-demand training to improve employee performance while creating great customer experiences that support business growth," she said.
Zaheer added the benefit of martech as a digital tool is that it can be trained virtually, opening up tremendous opportunities for a well-developed workforce. He pointed out the barriers to technical knowledge are now dramatically lower — conferences on the "latest and greatest" skills and tools will start to be a thing of the past when interactive webinars are at one’s fingertips. However, Zaheer noted that with these opportunities comes the expectation from CMOs and upper-level marketing teams that their employees will be well-equipped and well-educated with easy access to industry best practices.
"While these trainings are readily available, they must be taken advantage of to be truly effective," he said.