How can CMOs maximize influence among the C-suite?

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This 3-part series is based on the findings from Capgemini Research Institute’s CMO Playbook, following on from the first article on how CMOs can strike a balance between creativity and data.

Capgemini on the evolving role of the CMO.
Capgemini on the evolving role of the CMO

After almost two years of accelerated digitization and change to consumer behavior, brands are still struggling to find ways to adapt to the rapidly shifting digital landscape. While consumer data is more abundantly available today than ever before, many brands are failing to use this data effectively to understand consumer needs.

For chief marketers to win the consumer relationship in today’s digital world, they must learn how to harness the power of data. The diversification of consumer needs has consequently broadened the remit of marketing, and chief marketers must ensure that they keep up with the pace of change – or risk a ‘crisis of credibility’ among their C-suite peers.

The role of the CMO is evolving

The shift to a consumer-first approach, underpinned by data, to deliver tailored experiences has accelerated over the past two years. Subsequently, the role of the marketing function has grown to encompass technology, data, innovation and consumer experience (CX), in addition to brand and communications.

Our recent research found that the chief marketer is also gaining an increasingly influential role contributing to business strategy and planning, with 63% of chief marketers having responsibility for new products and services, and 55% having responsibility for business strategy. To solidify footing among business leadership, chief marketers must use data and understand the value of consumer relationship building to help drive sustainable business growth. Failure to do so will put the chief marketer at risk of being restricted to overseeing the communications department, instead of owning the end-to-end consumer relationship.

The cracks can already be seen in many organizations, with marketing functions reacting to consumer behavior at a slower pace. The realms of technology, digital and innovation are increasingly being assigned to teams outside of marketing. For instance, only 28% of chief marketers report direct responsibility for CX within their business, as new roles such as chief customer officer or chief digital officer emerge to assume responsibility over the discipline, eroding what would usually sit within the chief marketer’s domain.

CMOs must harness the power of data

As new digital touchpoints add to the almost infinite volume of consumer data available, chief marketers are sitting on a data gold mine. However, many are struggling to make sense of the vast amount of information at their disposal. As noted by Nortura’s Karolina Henriksen: “It’s just too much data. The problem is that all of this data needs more structure and more systematic analysis to make it actionable and efficient.”

Currently, less than half of marketing teams are able to drive decisions from harnessing data, and only a third are directly responsible for data and technology within their organization. Perhaps more alarmingly, only 12% of global marketers qualify as data-driven marketers.

For chief marketers to drive data-driven marketing, it is imperative to foster cross-functional collaboration within their organization. Breaking down silos across functions such as IT, finance and sales makes collating data easier, in turn enabling a more holistic view of consumer analytics. Brands that manage to champion data-driven marketing through a culture of collaboration reap the benefits: data-driven marketing reports a 16% increase in brand awareness and consideration.

Therefore, to reclaim ownership of marketing and to truly drive with data, chief marketers must take action quickly to ensure they are upskilling their teams and acquiring data-driven expertise to bridge the skills gap.

Increasing prominence at the C-suite table

These challenges mean chief marketers continue to struggle to secure credibility among their C-suite peers. According to a report by Forrester, only 19% of chief execs noted that out of their C-suite team, the chief marketer will play the most crucial role within the organization; a stark contrast to 57% allocating this role to the chief financial officer.

This doesn’t have to be the case: with a strong point of view on consumer data, supported by an effective stack of marketing technologies, chief marketers can solidify their seat at the C-suite table as the internal voice of the consumer and key growth driver for the business. By ensuring data-driven metrics lead marketing strategy, and translating consumer successes into measurable ROI, chief marketers can help their C-suite peers fully understand the value and role of the chief marketer.

As Sharon Driscoll, chief marketer at IBM, noted: “Marketing is now consulted and our data – particularly behavioral data [...] – has given us a seat at the table.”

It’s all about balance

As marketing evolves to further encompass data, technology, innovation and experience, chief marketers must ensure marketing teams have the right capabilities to channel the voice of the consumer within their organizations. Failure to do so risks the marketing team being relegated to overseeing communications, while outside actors emerge to take ownership over digital, consumer experience and performance marketing channels. Chief marketers consequently run the risk of losing their seat at the table.

Successful chief marketers will be the ones who are effective in bringing together insights and internal collaboration to help drive empathy and creativity across all consumer touchpoints.​ As noted by Peter Markey, chief marketer at Boots UK: “The modern chief marketer needs to be three things simultaneously: an artist, a scientist and a champion.” Chief marketers who manage to evolve their role, and teams, with the changing needs of their consumer through creative thinking and data-driven execution will in turn help drive year-on-year growth.

To understand more about chief marketers’ challenges and areas of growth download the full CMO playbook and our Disruption Fatigue Report here, and find out why chief marketers should enable real-time marketing and deliver on purpose beyond profit to drive sustained growth.

Riina Rintanen, digital marketing and experience consultant at Frog UK, part of Capgemini Invent.