Marketers are struggling to deliver on the big promise of true omni-channel alignment across both digital and physical worlds, according to a new study from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) council released today. According to the research,one of the biggest challenges for marketers in 2017 will be understanding the connected customer journey across all touch points and how best to interact on a more personal, content-rich level.
While digital engagement continues to grow and dominate the customer experience, 38% of marketers surveyed feel that digital strategies have delivered mixed results to date. This is especially the case when it comes to bridging the physical and digital customer experiences — 49% of marketers stated that alignment between physical and digital is selective at best, with some ties between the two being made while many remain totally disconnected.
Looking ahead into 2017, marketers plan to dedicate their efforts to resolving many of these disconnects. According to the study, 42% of respondents plan to better integrate campaigns into a comprehensive, connected customer experience. Further, 37% of respondents will address connecting physical and digital experiences and 29% of marketers intend to invest in more technologies to manage data, as well as the talent needed to oversee and optimize the new marketing technology stack.
"Savvy CMOs don't see digital as a destination for transformation but instead see the digital experience as a constantly moving evolution for both engagements and operations," noted Liz Miller, senior vice president of marketing for the CMO Council. "The year ahead will represent a real turning point in the customer experience as marketers plan to turn their sights toward connecting, streamlining and measuring the entire journey."
As CMOs focus on digital transformation, both content and data strategy are two areas that are changing how their organizations engage with customers and prospects the most. According to the study, 60% of marketers believe digital has altered content strategy and heightened the need for more types of content. Further, 44% of respondents state that digital has heightened the need for aggregated data that is pulled from across the company and 4% report that digital transformation is revealing cracks in their systems as data continues to be difficult to aggregate and centralize for a clear view of the customer.
The report, from the CMO Council and IBM, is based on findings from an online survey of 198 senior global marketing executives fielded in the second half of 2016. Some 38% of respondents have titles of CMO, senior vice president of marketing or head of marketing, and 24% hail from brands with revenues of more than $1 bn annually.