Search: The key word for CMOs of the future

Nearly everything about the customer experience is changing because of digitalisation —including the role of the CMO. Evolving technology means there are more touch points between brands and customers than ever before and the purchase decision path has consequently become more complex. To make the most of this opportunity, the CMO today must become the master of the end to end customer experience journey.

A study of 350 chief executives from Calabrio revealed customer experience is more important than sales and revenue – a new business success driver is coming to the fore. Hence, responsibility is shifting for some of the most critical business decision making. Today the CMO has a far bigger seat at the boardroom table than ever before, as revealed in a study from Deloitte stating that 75 per cent of CMOs see their role as increasingly influential to business success.

The objective for today’s CMO is to build a valuable and personalised experience that harnesses data representing a complete view of the customer across all channels. This means driving a digitally centric business model with responsibilities reaching far beyond traditional marketing —technology, analytics, growth and, above all, measurable impact on revenue.

The strategic synergy that digital provides leads to CMOs making considerable investments in technology. Where previously, the CIO or CTO would be the owner of data, the CMO is becoming increasingly responsible for making technology investments that rival that of the IT department. And this is going to continue. The same Deloitte study showed that two thirds of CMOs use analytics to make key decisions but recognise they aren’t even close to realising the full potential of data. And 83 per cent said they see their biggest challenge as acquiring new skills to transform effectively and quickly. This is reflected within marketing teams today – more and more frequently made up of both creatives and data scientists.

This agile ability to upskill, evolve and reflect the growing needs of the business is a direct response to the changing customer experience driven by digital. As with being able to adapt quickly internally to business needs, CMOs are responsible for doing the same for their customers. Decisions to divert budgets across its omnichannel suite rapidly is key. Today’s customers aren’t predictable and go in and out of different stages of the buying process. The plethora of platforms they demand engagement on and the expectations for experiences to be intuitive and human in nature, are also growing. Marketers need actionable insights and deeper customer understanding than ever before.

Search intelligence is critical to CMOs. It’s the world’s biggest, most candid focus group. It indicates emotion, intent, reception and interpretation. But it doesn’t just provide insight that can be pulled through and turned into intelligence layered across the wider marketing mix, it’s the means to identifying and creating new relationships between brands and their audiences. Expanding outside the query box to become more personal, predictive, and pervasive, and making smart connections between online entities, search is a business engagement tactic that affects the entire consumer decision journey. Search is integral to the future of personal computing – it’s fuelling the onset of artificial intelligence and personal assistants.

As I see it, there are two fundamental changes – ownership of the entire customer experience journey and the need to harness data insight invaluable to the wider business. CMOs are stepping up to lead through a time of transformation in redefining customer experience. We are enabling growth, healthy competition, and thereby further innovation in the search industry to empower them in their quest. The challenge for all is to unlock the power of search in both creating new world experiences through technology and using the intelligence to inform business strategy. This is fundamental to not only ensuring the success of our industry, but providing consumers with the brand engagements they deserve and expect.

Axel Steinman is VP-international sales at Bing Ads

Axel Steinman

Axel Steinman is VP-international sales at Bing Ads

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