• April 5, 2023
  • By Zarnaz Arlia, chief marketing officer, Emplifi

A CMO Roadmap: Operational Efficiencies Are Key for Navigating the Changing Customer Landscape

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Adapting to constantly evolving customer behaviors is a core component of the chief marketing officer (CMO) role, but today’s modern consumer is raising the stakes on marketing leaders across every industry. A looming recession, weekly layoff announcements, and rising inflation rates are creating havoc on our economy, leaving in its wake budget-conscious consumers who have high expectations when it comes to the brands competing for their attention and dollars. 

To thrive in today’s economic climate, CMOs are required to optimize new social channels, new content formats, and new social marketing strategies while reining in their marketing spending. It’s a bit like piloting a plane as you are learning to fly it—all while having to balance a budget so that the plane remains in the air.

Seasoned marketing leaders understand that operational efficiencies are critical to their success, and they are looking to their martech stacks to fuel efficiencies. 

To better understand what CMOs are up against, Emplifi commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey enterprise-level CMOs, marketing VPs, and directors. Here’s what we learned about their top priorities, biggest challenges, and the technology they’re leveraging to navigate the ever-evolving customer landscape. 

2023 Marketing Priorities: Operational Efficiencies and Improved CSAT Scores

As marketing leaders lean heavily into more strategic ways to connect with consumers, operational efficiency is their number one goal. In fact, 83 percent of the marketing leaders surveyed reported that increasing operational efficiencies was either a critical priority or high priority this year. But what does operational efficiency look like from a tactical angle? 

It starts with implementing agile marketing technology and putting a focus on recruitment efforts. To remain competitive, CMOs are searching for skilled marketing professionals who know how to maximize resources and can hit the ground running. When asked which marketing roles they are looking to hire in the next 12 months, 70 percent of the CMOs surveyed are either actively recruiting or planning to recruit growth/customer marketing professionals. Social media marketing roles are in high demand as well, including social customer care professionals (51 percent), social media managers (50 percent), social commerce professionals (59 percent), and social video professionals (50 percent). 

In addition to operational efficiencies, marketing leaders ranked “improving CSAT scores” (a barometer for customer satisfaction and loyalty) as a top near-term objective, with 82 percent of the survey participants claiming it was either a critical priority or high priority. Marketers understand the impact of customer ratings and reviews on brand reputation and revenue—improving CSAT scores translates to improved brand perceptions, which helps drive new customer growth. With nearly 70 percent of marketing leaders using “new customer growth” as a key metric for measuring success, it’s no surprise CSAT scores are top of mind right now. 

A Look Back: CMOs Hit Hardest by Changing Customer Demands and Inflation

A key indicator that customer satisfaction is driving modern marketing strategy: 73 percent of CMOs and marketing leaders cited “changing customer demands” as a top challenge during the past 12 months. The customer journey is elusive: There is no straight line from finding a brand and browsing its products to clicking the buy button. Shoppers may see something they like in their Instagram feed, search for the product later that day on their work laptop, then look up customer ratings and reviews across multiple websites later that night on their tablet.

These shifting consumer behavior trends are making it increasingly difficult to track the customer journey and potentially impacting customer satisfaction scores. With more than 50 percent of CMOs using the CSAT score as a success metric, it’s no wonder “changing customer demands” is one of the biggest challenges marketing leaders face right now. 

Another market factor that proved to be a massive challenge for marketers during the past year was inflation. According to the survey, 72 percent of marketing leaders said that rising inflation rates have impacted the success of their business. Unfortunately, marketers cannot control inflation. Instead of trying to change economic conditions, CMOs must adjust their strategy by optimizing marketing budgets and course-correcting campaigns in real time to generate maximum ROI. 

What We’re Up Against: The Biggest Obstacles for CMOs Ahead

After inquiring which market factors proved to be the most challenging for their business during the past 12 months, CMOs were asked to name their biggest challenges as they plan for the future. Forty-two percent report that they are up against unrealistic expectations to support projects beyond their scope, with 36 percent claiming they lack the scale of content needed to support diverse marketing channels and touchpoints. 

Another 36 percent said they lack the right marketing technology for business growth and market agility. In addition to lacking the right martech capabilities, 45 percent said they have trouble integrating and consolidating data to create a single view of the customer, an ongoing problem that has been a challenge since the dawn of marketing technology. 

As expected, capturing a unified customer view is becoming an exponentially bigger problem as the customer landscape shifts and twists. The issue is only compounded as new social platforms gain traction and customer expectations grow. Ultimately, CMOs must align their marketing technology capabilities to their specific marketing goals. By implementing effective tools that enable an omnichannel marketing approach, marketing leaders are better equipped to engage their customers at multiple touchpoints across the customer journey. 

The CMO Marketing Technology Wish List

Economic uncertainty. Increasing customer expectations. Lack of resources. The list of challenges can feel never-ending for today’s marketing leaders, but not all is lost. While many marketers confirmed they are cutting traditional marketing spends (out-of-home ads, TV ads, and industry events), nearly 100 percent of the marketing leaders surveyed said they are either currently using, expanding their use of, or planning to invest in social commerce tools. Ninety-three percent said the same about social media marketing platforms. 

Social adtech solutions are also high on marketers’ wish lists with 76 percent of the survey participants claiming they are either currently using or are expanding their use of these tools. Another 15 percent say they are planning to invest in social advertising tools in the next 12 months. These findings directly align with CMOs recruitment strategy in the coming year as they look to fill a variety of social marketing roles. 

When considering social marketing technology platforms, marketing leaders are prioritizing security and privacy controls, usability, onboarding and account management features, and integration capabilities. But more importantly, they are evaluating social cloud platforms based on potential outcomes. More than half (57 percent) of the CMOs surveyed said that integrating and consolidating customer data into a single view of the customer is the most significant benefit they hope to gain from their social marketing technology. Forty-seven percent are prioritizing an out-of-the-box solution that is easy to deploy and accelerates their ability to connect and engage with intended audiences. 

The Ultimate Marketing Technology Solution: Intuitive, Integrated and Agile 

The key findings from Forrester Consulting’s survey make clear that operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction initiatives are driving current marketing strategies. But what is even more clear is the need for high-performing marketing technology that is aligned to specific marketing goals.

To thrive in today’s tumultuous economic climate, CMOs need a social marketing cloud solution that offers intuitive implementation workflows, delivers effective integration capabilities, and drives agility across the marketing organization. Without the right tools in place, not only are marketing leaders putting their goals at risk, but jeopardizing the success of the business.

Zarnaz Arlia is chief marketing officer at Emplifi. Arlia is a global marketing executive with a demonstrated history of driving growth and profitability in B2B marketing environments. She is responsible for driving all marketing functions from vision and strategy to execution. Prior to her current role, Arlia held senior marketing leadership roles at Sitecore, Adobe, Trifecta, and Neustar.

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