Data is the inhibitor and enabler as CMOs drive business growth

CMOs are taking a key role in driving crucial data-driven outcomes for the business, but there are challenges to overcome in achieving the holistic view and single source of truth they need

As the use of online channels and platforms has proliferated over the past year, CMOs have played a key role in facilitating digital transformation across the enterprise. Having helped businesses adapt to serving more digital customers, now they are taking centre stage in the next key goal: capitalising on the rapid economic rebound expected to follow the pandemic.

The reason for CMOs’ elevated role in recent years, and increased accountability for business outcomes, is simple – they are closest to one of the most important business assets today: customer data. Recent research by Gartner has shown a rapid and significant growth in CMOs’ investment in analytics and data science tools and talent, as quantitative savvy becomes foundational to marketing craft skills. But data is as much of an inhibitor as it is an enabler, and marketers are struggling to meet their targets.

Salesforce’s annual State of Marketing report revealed that the top challenges marketing leaders facing are engaging customers in real time, creating cohesive customer journeys, sharing a unified customer view with data from various sources, and continuously innovating. Besides tackling these, their key priorities include the improved use of tools and technology, and complying with privacy regulations.

This challenge around sharing a unified view of the customer and giving visibility across an organization is only growing, and data continues to explode across channels and platforms. In the past two years alone, the number of data sources used by marketers to understand their customers and optimise campaigns grew by 50%, according to Salesforce. Identity management is just one; knowing a person who signed up for a company’s newsletter with a work email is the same person who registered with its ecommerce store using a personal address.

“As parts of the world begin to enter a new normal - and with employees continuing to work from anywhere - building a complete picture of each customer becomes more important than ever,” says Shannon Duffy, executive vice-president of cloud marketing at Salesforce.

“Marketing leaders need to focus their innovation strategy on customer data. Right now, only one in three marketing leaders is satisfied with their ability to reconcile customer identities across data sources. Technologies like customer data platforms will help brands manage data across any channel to get that all-important unified customer profile. And then be able to personalize every interaction for them based on those insights.”

While brands increasingly want to provide personalised experiences, only 28% of marketers are completely satisfied with their ability to balance personalisation with customer comfort levels.

As we are reimagining marketing for the post-pandemic era, it is crucial for success that marketing teams double down on communication with customers, telling them exactly how and why they are collecting and using their data, and what customers will get in return. This is now becoming of utmost importance for brands to think long-term and invest in building trusted relationships with their customers.

In 2020, when assessing the skillset of their teams, global marketing leaders said that data science, coding and emotional intelligence (EQ) were their team’s least advanced skills. If you think about this challenge of personalisation versus trust, it is a combination of these technical and empathetic-led skills that a modern marketer needs to be successful.

“One of my passion projects at Salesforce is providing free learning tools to all marketers to grow or change their careers, especially to disadvantaged communities. We are building on the success of our free on-demand learning platform Trailhead this year and launching a tailored learning experience to help current and future marketers gain these critical skills,” says Duffy.

As marketing leaders are rethinking their entire strategies to cater for the all-digital customer, they are looking for technology partners to help them be successful long term, achieve a more holistic view and evolve with their business needs. This is driving a shift from point solutions to a more all-encompassing approach that allows both speed and scale grounded in the vast data collected and activated by marketers. In short, CMOs want to simplify their marketing stack.

For two decades, Salesforce has helped brands build a 360-degree view of their customers, first for sales teams and customer relationship management, and now across the customer and buyer experience. While it has been a key technology partner, Salesforce has also been a trusted advisor on creating the organisational roadmap for meeting far-reaching business goals.

The company recently launched Salesforce CDP to enable marketers to ingest, organise, analyse and activate customer data from a variety of sources inside and outside the Salesforce ecosystem, both in batch and via streaming (real-time) data ingestion. For companies with multiple organisations collecting and storing data, the variety of ingestion choices allows them to easily connect all these orgs and gain a combined view of the data for cross-team collaboration.

“We are in a unique position, because of our history, to not only help marketers achieve a scalable, single source of truth but do it in a way with trust at the core,” says Duffy. “Companies can now activate their data for personalisation across customer touch-points, serving the right message in the right moment, and on the channel that individuals are most receptive to. Your interactions become more human, building a lasting connection with customers on their terms.”

From hundreds of conversations every day, we know that marketing leaders are working tirelessly at the forefront, delivering business growth, reducing uncertainty in the boardroom, embracing data-driven decision making and leading their teams with confidence and authenticity through these times of change. We seek to empower them with technology and help them do the best work of their careers.

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