Are CMOs Betting Big on Omni-Channel?


Daniel Newman, Contributor

September 8, 2015

As both sellers and customers, we know buying is no longer as simple as heading to the supermarket or a brick-and-mortar store a few blocks away. We buy online, using a plethora of devices—desktops, laptops, smart phones, tablets, and newer to the market, wearables. Buying doesn’t happen in one place anymore. While this fact presents new channels for marketers to use in reaching their customers, it also creates a tremendous challenge: Designing a seamless and consistent experience across all devices and channels customers use to interact with their brands.

In other words, modern consumers may use several devices for a single transaction, but they seek and demand a unified or “omni-channel” experience throughout their buying journey. So what is the role of the chief marketing officer (CMO) in delivering the omni-channel customer experience?

The CMO’s Role in Omni-Channel Marketing

Gartner’s Executive Summary for CMO Leadership Accountability and Credibility within the C-Suite 2014 stated that for most CEOs, their top expectation from CMOs is to lead the integrated cross-functional customer experience. The report also identified customer experience as one of the top three areas of investment for CMOs in the next two years.

Today, buyers are connecting with brands on their websites, on social media, through events and retail locations, watching videos, and so much more that it’s becoming hard to track exactly when or where a customer enters the buying cycle. As a result, marketers are under mounting pressure to better understand how they connect with their customers, where they connect with them, and what the best content strategy is on each platform.

Clearly, there’s a growing need for CMOs and marketing leaders to adopt marketing strategies driven by an integrated view of their customers. But most CMOs are running into problems and challenges while attempting to do this.

Roadblocks in the Way of Omni-Channel Marketing Success

In an article on Marketing Profs, Ayaz Nanji culled some interesting stats from reports by CMO Club and Visual IQ about how CMOs are struggling to win at omni-channel marketing. Here are a few:

  • Nearly 85 percent of CMOs believe lack of access to data and inadequate tools and technology hinder their progress with an omni-channel marketing strategy.
  • 82 percent are unable to measure cross-channel performance.  
  • 80 percent said their omni-channel strategy suffers due to a lack of in-house talent.

These stats expose a big gap that exists between customer expectations and what most brands can deliver in terms of seamless, integrated, and consistent experiences. As the chief marketing leader, the CMO must address these challenges and unearth new ways to incorporate omni-channel not just as a strategy, but as a brand’s overall marketing vision.

So, how do CMOs and marketing leaders determine marketing attribution when there are so many touch points? 

Mastering the Cross-Channel Conundrum

Regardless of the daunting challenges, omni-channel is here to stay, and CMOs need to adopt a unified marketing approach if they don’t want to miss out on significant customer opportunities. How do they do that?

  • Discard the we’ve-always-done-it-this-way approach
  • Stop working in silos
  • Adopt data mining techniques to incorporate all marketing data into a single database
  • Introduce new KPIs and metrics to measure progress
  • Involve other C-Suite members for cross-functional collaboration towards building an omni-channel ecosystem   

I think Bill Muller, the CMO of Visual IQ, providers of cross channel marketing intelligence software, summed it up well in his article on “Marketers [must] get a true 360-degree view of their prospects and customers, which is the cornerstone of omni-channel marketing.”

The onus is on CMOs to steer them in that direction.

Image: Creative Commons/Flickr 

This article was written by Daniel Newman from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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