By adaptive - January 2nd, 2013

As companies adjust to an evolved marketing landscape, they need to produce content that is engaging, affordable, tied to brand strategy and accessible.

As companies adjust to an evolved marketing landscape, they need to produce content that is engaging, affordable, tied to brand strategy and accessible.

The role of the CMO in your organisation is rapidly evolving thanks to the meteoric rise of social media. At no time in the past have CMOs had the chance to make personal and lasting connections with their company’s customers. What’s more, if these relationships can be nurtured, product and brand advocacy will result that could stretch long into the future. The key questions for CMOs now is what kind of content their businesses should be producing to make those lasting connections?

In the past CMOs have tended to focus on CMS solutions for the content produced by their company’s. These platforms are often isolated into the marketing areas of their businesses. Today, CMOs need to think across their enterprises, as social media impacts business wide on their corporations. There is no element of a business that isn’t touched by social media. For CMOs this means a more holistic approach to CMS in general, that itself has rapidly evolved to take into consideration the special needs that social media demands.

In their study ‘Today’s CMO: Innovating or following?’ IBM state: “The survey findings reveal that CMOs maintain a variety of cross-functional relationships—though not as broadly as seems necessary to inform a truly integrated marketing strategy. Overall, of the majority of CMOs polled (63%) say sales is one of the three functions they deal with most frequently. However, that number drops to 51% when describing the likely situation in three to five years. The next most frequently cited relationship is that with the CEO (54% against 55% in future).”

Says Xabier Ormazabal, Director of Product Marketing, Ormazabal, Product Marketing Director at “The role of CMO has always been a fast-paced and varied one, but social media has blown the CMO job description wide open. A survey conducted by and Booz and Co. revealed that 81% of marketing departments are now responsible for social media activity. Now the CMO is responsible for creating and managing a range of new roles within the company, including a head of social media – 35% of companies have already recruited for this role and 50% believe that this role is critical to social media success.”

With Ray Horan, Chief Content Officer at Marketing.AI commenting: “The role of the CMO has certainly gotten more interesting since the advent of social media. In the pre-Facebook and Twitter era the CMO could talk about developing a conversation with their target audience and customers, but aside from the occasional letter or phone call from an irate or ecstatic customer this was mostly a euphamism for the receptibilty of the public to their marketing efforts. The extent of the customer response was their willingness to commit to a purchase. This situation has been drastically transformed thanks to the instantaneous and interactive nature of the social media experience.”

The mobile imperative

CMOs that are looking closely at the marketing content that their businesses are creating can’t ignore how these materials will ultimately be consumed. Today, this means mobile platforms that have taken the market by storm and now form a major touchpoint no business can ignore. Think about the content that was created for your company’s last marketing campaign. Was this content mobile friendly?

A recent report form TNS stated: “The TNS Mobile Life study for 2012 proves that the home-screens of mobile devices are becoming one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the battle for consumer hearts, minds and share of wallet. The stakes are high, given mobile’s potential to undermine traditional sources of brand and retailer power and the competitive advantage for those able to leverage it effectively.

“Crafting a brand proposition that can earn them a regular role on consumers’ phones is rapidly becoming a priority or CMOs. Achieving it requires an integrated response from across their businesses, embracing mobile as a key element of their business model rather than simply another marketing channel.”

Paul Berney, CMO and Managing Director EMEA Mobile Marketing Association also commented: “Understanding how far and how fast to deploy a mobile strategy is one of the biggest challenges facing all brands today. The reality is that consumer adoption of the mobile channel is moving at a faster pace than marketing activity and brands need to move to close this gap.”

What is clear for CMOs that are being tasked with creating content for second screen access is how these materials can be engaging and result in a sales funnel that has high levels of conversion. At the moment, most corporations are in experimentation mode as the rules of engagement on these mobile platforms have yet to be universally defined.

In addition, CMOs are looking closely at the metrics that can and can’t be used to deliver the analysis they need to support the campaigns they will design in the future. The TNS report goes on to state:

“Existing web analytics platforms already provide CMOs with some insight as to when mobile is used in the purchase journey – and how this correlates to different need states. However, more work is needed to map and understand these correlations, and enable businesses to respond accordingly. Businesses with online and bricks and mortar stores, for example, often see mobile account for a high share of visits but a low share of sales. New methods of measurement may be required to help identify the points in the purchase journey at which mobile is most influential, and to identify how mobile is driving purchases that are completed through other channels.”

Business objectives must now have a mobile component, as this is not only a rapidly expanding channel, but also a major interface between businesses and their customers. Social media is a great fit with mobile marketing initiatives. CMOs will increasingly place mobile at the heart of their marketing campaigns.

Content creation

The role of the CMO is changing. How marketing content for their organisations should be created in a new world dominated by social media is on their agendas, but as Forrester in a joint research project with Heldrick and Struggles point out, internal relationships are still the focus of many CMOs.

“The role of the CMO is changing, as empowered consumers and customers use technology to drive their voice into the conversation with brands. Business strategy and the execution of digital initiatives top the list of priorities for CMOs, ahead of brand building efforts and pricing decisions. And despite the rise in importance of technology and digital media, CMOs remain focused on their relationships with the CEO and CFO, ahead of the need to partner with other executives like the CIO. Most importantly, CMOs recognize that they need to act as company leaders, not just CMOs, to help their companies grow.”

What are your current top marketing objectives?Because economic uncertainty continually puts a strain on marketing budgets, CMOs still focus on brand awareness and customer acquisition over strategies to retain the customers they have amassed over the years. Forrester and others have identified the need to move from a marketing-funnel approach to a customer life-cycle approach to customers, but turning those who have purchased before into advocates is still not the main focus of CMOs.

Content creation is also being carried out with a backdrop where the explosion in data that corporations now collect is overwhelming some CMOs. Indeed, a study by IBM stated that the data explosion was the number one concern for CMOs.

Biggest headaches for CMOs“The data explosion tops the list of headaches,” the report commented. “More than 70% of the CMOs who think it’s important say they aren’t fully prepared to deal with its impact. “One of our biggest challenges is in data analysis. For the complexity and size of our organization, we are way behind,” a consumer products CMO in the United States admitted.

“He’s certainly not alone. “We’re drowning in data. What we lack are true insights,” a life sciences CMO in Switzerland commented. An energy and utilities CMO in the Netherlands put the problem even more bluntly: “At this moment, I don’t know how our marketing department will cope with the expected data explosion.”

“Social media, and the growing number of channels and devices from which customers can choose, come a close second and third in terms of the anxiety they generate. “We need to manage the ‘open box’ of social media and the transparency it brings. Communication via social media is completely different from traditional communication tools or channels,” a consumer products CMO in Poland said.”

And CMOs need to understand how the content they are creating impacts on its target audience. IBM’s report concisely reveals that brand advocates are looking for tangible connections that have real-world value to them: “The question is: how do you earn that loyalty? More than half of all CMOs think social media is a key channel for engaging with customers. Yet, an earlier study by IBM shows that many executives don’t understand what triggers customers to “follow” their organizations.

“Nearly 70% assume that customers interact with them via social media to get information, express an opinion and feel connected to their brand — whereas, in reality, customers are most interested in receiving tangible value. Indeed, when asked why they choose to follow a company, the top reasons consumers cite are “getting discounts” (61%) and “making purchases” (55%). Only 33% seek out companies to “feel connected.””

Encouraging customers to stay engagedIn addition, the use of digital technology is clearly giving CMOs the tools they need to evolve the content their businesses need to compete in today’s market place, as TNS state:

“Few CMOs see standalone functions remaining in place for many years to come. The broader focus is on the role digital should be playing as an enabler across all functions of the business, having typically made its presence felt originally in the marketing function. This is blurring organisational boundaries as digital is making horizontal links, where there used to be silos between business functions – for instance between core marketing and retail or shopper marketing.”

A more tactical approach to content creation is now being widely adopted by CMOs that realise that they need to modify their company’s traditional broadcast approach to marketing activities. The one-to-one nature of social media has shifted how corporations need to approach all of their marketing activities.

Many companies are taking a more modular approach to how they design and then use the marketing collateral they are creating. Social media has delivered a number of outlets that content can be created for. CMOs need to understand the multifaceted approach that they now need to take to lever the advantages this can bring, and how customer touchpoints are rooted in their social networks.

Smarter CMOs

Dominic Sparkes - TemperoDominic Sparkes, CEO and co-founder of social media management company, Tempero.

How in your view has the role of the CMO changed since the arrival of social media?

Social media has brought with it two major issues for CMOs – data and the sheer volume of it. Both of these mean that CMOs now need an enhanced skill set that touches on previously more IT and customer service focused concerns.

The volume of inbound customers communications into organisations has increased dramatically and with social media still seen as more of a marketing channel than customer service, CMOs are often the primary gatekeeper of those channels.

In order to maximise the effectiveness of social medial, they must understand elements of customer support. In terms of data, there are multiple issues – again volume, but also how to use the available data and ensure valuable information isn’t lost through the ineffective use of social media platforms and technology.

Should CMOs now take a more holistic approach to their business’ marketing activities because of the change in the customer relationship dynamic that social media has made to corporations?

Over time they will have no choice as social media is at its most effective when it mirrors the customer journey. CMOs can benefit at multiple points along that path – from customer acquisition, to consideration, purchase and support.

How does your company decide what type of content it should generate for the social networks it maintains a presence on?

We follow the same philosophy we sell to our clients – we believe if you act in the shared interests of your community, good things will happen and everyone will prosper.  Put even more simply – we try to be useful.

What impact has the mobile marketing channel had on how CMOs approach the campaigns their companies develop and the content they contain?

Channels shouldn’t really matter as technology is passive – the principals of how you are communicating are more important. That said there are obvious differences in the way people consume via different channels, so certain practical considerations must be taken into account and creating multiple versions of assets for one is now vital. Tracking activity across channels that aren’t necessarily joined up is also a growing challenge.

What are the key mistakes that CMOs make in your view regarding the social media content they manage for their organisations?

Bland broadcasting of information and not interacting with people is the big issue.  Attention spans are getting shorter and younger generations want useful information quickly and in bite-sized chunks. Reaction times are also important in that customers want almost immediate responses. This aspect is inherently unfair on many organizations, as they simply cannot respond within the time scales consumers expect. Outsourcing is critical here.

How can CMOs make the most of the close personal relationships their corporations now have with their customers via the content they produce?

They need to listen to their customers. Just because you have 100,000 fans on your Facebook page doesn’t mean you have a close personal relationship with 100,000 fans. Most have probably only liked you because of a moment in time as opposed to any real connection. Listening to what they want and then communicating is the only way to create any kind of meaningful relationship, and even then ‘relationship’ in the traditional sense is not the right word. Opportunity is better.

Big data is often criticised as being a hindrance to corporations. How can CMOs use this resource to improve the content of the campaigns their businesses?

Start small. Four million mentions on Twitter means absolutely nothing if you’re unable to garner any kind of context or emotion around those tweets and the only way to do that effectively is via expert analysis, not automated sentiment. A clear objective and brief is the best place to start, then choose a manageable data set and use the best resources you can afford to analyse that data.

How will the skill set and even the mindset of CMOs have to change as social media becomes even more important in their companies?

Social media cannot be the remit of one department any more unless that department is a centralised social division. If CMOs want to own the channel they must understand how social needs to live and breathe throughout the entire organisation. That requires a very progressive view of customer communications and before a social media strategy can be created, organisations really need a socialstrategy – one that puts customers at the heart of everything they do. That’s easy to say but a nightmare to do and it takes time.

The Content Marketing Explosion


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