The data-driven opportunity that’s so near yet so far for CMOs

Among many things to have arisen from the pandemic, we’re seeing a new age of consumerism: a host of consumers who have come to know and love the exceptional digital experiences that brands were able to accelerate bringing to market when the physical world was closed to us. Amidst these new innovations have come an expectation from consumers; give me a great experience, or risk me going elsewhere. Sub-par, disjointed experiences won’t be tolerated in this new world and, what’s more, customers want to see them as they return to the high street – and not just when they shop online.

As marketers, we know what powers these experiences. It’s insights, it’s information, it’s knowledge; it’s data. But it’s not just having the data, it’s what we’re able to do with it – and how it can be used across the organisation. For a while now, we’ve known that the organisations who took steps to become truly data-driven made themselves more agile, and able to respond to the feedback customers are both intentionally – or unintentionally – giving them, second-by-second, day-by-day. They can see directly how any action or proposition is affecting customer behaviour, and – from there – decide whether or not to change tact, or stay with the current strategy.

New research from the Capgemini Research Institute, A new playbook for the CMO, shows the benefits of data-driven marketing very clearly. It found an incredible 93% of marketers who consider themselves ‘data-driven’ are highly satisfied with their real-time marketing initiatives. More than half (54%) even say the benefits of real-time marketing exceeded their expectations. Rewards include increases in brand awareness, customer retention, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction.

Clearly, being data-driven will give that differentiator brands are looking for at this time. But who feels responsible for data strategy in this new climate?

Who should lead the data-driven journey?

Well, interestingly, the research showed nearly three quarters (74%) of CMOs take responsibility for just that. In fact, they say they are responsible for data and technology, business growth, and customer experience. And, perhaps showing how important they know getting these things correct will be to the success of the business overall, an incredible 90% of CMOs now consider themselves responsible for their businesses strategy in general.

Furthermore, when you add the fact that nearly two thirds (63%) of CMOs are responsible for defining and conceptualising new products and services, you can see that we’re really painting a new picture of the role the CMO finds either herself or himself in. They’re not just in charge of marketing any longer, but with their job comes a responsibility for the business in its entirety. As Kristin O’Boyle of Morgan Stanley sums up the new role: “For the CMO of the future, it comes down to marrying the use of intelligence and technology, with the art of brand-building and creative expression.”

Indeed, the vast majority (69%) of CMOs know they are responsible for certain elements of these new customer experiences. More than half (58%), meanwhile, agree they have increasing accountability to own the customer experience at their organisations. But why? Well, 52% of marketers know what we do: that real-time marketing is the key to enhancing the customer experience.

Calling for the right skills & technologies

And that will be because they know all eyes are now on them to not only gather the right data, but to put in place the right technologies and the people with the right skillsets to make the best use of it. Data isn’t a secondary part of what anyone does; it must come first and foremost, and be gathered from all areas of the organisation to be used effectively, and create the real-time knowledge needed to drive those industry-leading, game-changing customer experiences.

So CMOs know that the ability to wow customers should come from their teams. But are they and their teams ready and raring to go? Unfortunately not.

Even though we know real-time marketing and data go hand-in-hand, less than half of marketers say they currently use data to drive marketing decisions and actions. A lack of the right processes and skills are both to blame here. Less than half (49%) say that they have technology such as AI to automate customer segmentation and grouping, and only 38% say that customer segment and persona data is available to them. And when it comes to skills, only 44%, say they adequate knowledge of using AI and machine learning technologies, or even data analytics and data science.

Peter Markey Chief Marketing Officer at Boots UK, puts this down to marketers needing to be such all-rounders: “The combination of technical ability and a mindset geared to working at speed and in real time within a retail setting is challenging to find. For example, talent skilled in responding quickly, using creativity in a more dynamic and more relevant way when creating messages and offers for customer, and finding people who can take insights and build a program and set up campaigns at speed is a challenge. These are the skills and competencies I think are harder to find at the moment.”

A way to go

By Capgemini’s definitions, its research shows only 11% of all marketers actually qualify as data-driven marketers. This needs to change, and change fast. Data is king, even more so following the digitalisation that was spurred on by the pandemic. But there’s an opportunity for CMOs and marketers in general as much as there’s a challenge here. If they can take the time now to upskill their teams and invest in the right technologies then they can let data permit through their organisations and really differentiate themselves on the customer experience front. And, as we heard from those marketers who are already data driven: there are no regrets, only rewards aplenty from getting it spot on.