IDC CMO FutureScape: Predictions for 2016 and the Digital Transformation

Think marketing has already experienced the biggest impact from digital transformation? Think again. IDC CMO Advisory Service predicts that CMO jobs will turnover 25% per year; that 20% of marketers will blow up their funnel; and that cognitive marketing as a mainstream practice is not far away.

Here are our most recent predictions.

  1. By 2017, CMOs will spend more on content marketing assets than they do on product marketing assets. For decades, the product launch has reigned as the kingpin content event. With a “bill of materials” stretching through multiple Excel pages, product marketing assets suck up a major portion of the marketing budget – and much of that content is wasted. The days of product content dominance are numbered. Product content will remain important but it will take its place behind the content marketing assets matched to decision-journey stages.
  2. By 2020, 50% of companies will use cognitive computing to automate marketing and sales interactions with customers. A few leads go right to sales. But the majority need further qualification and extended nurturing. Companies will increasingly turn to smart systems that automatically assess and respond to buyers at the point of need.  IBM recently added Watson to its marketing cloud offerings. The question is not when cognitive marketing will become mainstream – but rather, will anyone notice?
  3. By 2017, 20% of large enterprise CMOs will consolidate their marketing technology infrastructure. Marketing has been absorbing marketing technology a bite at a time for more than a decade. Many organizations now manage dozens (if not hundreds) of point solutions. Just as marketing environments are hitting the wall of this operational complexity, marketing tech vendors are building solid integrated platforms – tailorable through a partner eco-system. A fortuitous convergence of supply and demand.
  4. By 2020, 33% of CMOs will outsource some digital marketing activities via marketing-as-a –service. Marketing-as-a-service is a bundle of technology and marketing services that enable world-class digital marketing capabilities to be outsourced. MaaS offers CMOs an attractive, viable alternative to owning (and operating) everything.
  5. By 2018, predictive analytics will be a standard tool for marketers, but only a third will get optimal benefit. Early adopters of predictive analytics for buyer behavior report amazing results. The benefits come from the ability to discover hidden segments that have a high propensity to buy. Marketers can also better serve these segments with behavioral targeting. However, the majority of marketers face big challenges to achieving the benefits.  Chief inhibitors? Lack of statistical skills, stubborn organizational silos that won’t integrate data, and a culture that resists truth when it goes against tradition.
  6. In the tech industry, CMO job turnover will continue at the rate of 25% per year through 2018. In 2015, 59% of tech CMOs in companies larger than $50 Million in revenue had been in their job for less than two years. Some CMOs get pulled out of their job. The best and brightest get invited to join hot growth companies or exciting tech businesses sprouting as divisions in other industries. Other CMOs get pushed out. Some just can’t live up to the requirements of digital transformation. Others are discarded by laggard CEOs who just don’t understand modern sales and marketing.
  7. By 2020, 20% of marketers will abandon the traditional funnel in favor of a customer-centric model. The light of data increasingly reveals the reality of buying behavior. That same light also reveals major flaws in the traditional funnel. The sales funnel is 114 years old and never meant for the digital era. Rabid funnel advocates cling to the past with ridiculously convoluted updates. But making the funnel more complex with extra loops and stages just puts lipstick on the proverbial pig. Forward-leaning companies now experiment with customer-centric models that respond to real buying challenges in innovative ways.
  8. By 2017, 60% of CMOs will lag in implementing recommended benchmarks for marketing technology staff investment, increasing the rift between the CMO and CIO. Marketing is the fastest growth area for new technology investments, with growth projected at an average 9% per year through 2018. Given this situation, you might expect marketing to be ahead of the curve – leading the way towards technology investment and staffing. However, IDC believes that tech marketers are underspending and under hiring. Only 2.6% of marketing program dollars go towards technology and only 1.6% of marketing staff are primarily tech.
  9. In 2016, 70% of companies offering cloud or digital services will increase investment in post-purchase marketing. Marketing is primarily associated with the early stages of the buyer’s journey, the stages IDC calls Exploration and Evaluation. However, as the ownership economy evolves into a service/sharing/experience economy, companies will find that they need to market throughout the entire customer experience. For example, the fastest growing cloud software companies (those with 20%+ annual growth) have a more holistic approach. They spend about 16% of their total marketing budget on post purchase marketing.
  10. By 2018, 50% of CMOs will make significant structural changes to their “intelligence” operations and organizations.  “Intelligence” as a capability is growing in importance in modern marketing organizations. Intelligence includes market intelligence (MI), business intelligence (BI), competitive intelligence (CI), and social intelligence (SI). In the past, these four functions were spread around the enterprise. Now, IDC sees more companies consolidating into a larger, single, intelligence group – often combining with intelligence functions from other areas like sales. The elimination of silos in this important area is a positive sign.

For more information, check out our free webcast of the report highlights or download the full report. [Report download may require subscription].

 

The New CMO’s First Hundred Day Playbook

In a 2014 study, IDC found that 51% of CMOs at tech companies have held their position for fewer than two years. We predict many new CMOs again this year. How can a new executive start right? IDC interviewed 10 wise, seasoned, CMOs for a glimpse into their first hundred days playbook.

Transitions are vital moments when even the smallest executive actions have a disproportionate effect on outcomes. It’s a risky time for a new CMO who starts with neither the knowledge nor the alliances necessary for success. Fail to build momentum during the first hundred days, and a CMO will struggle for the rest of his/her (probably short) tenure. Job loss is not the only blow that may be suffered by a poorly conducted start. Many more CMOs fail to reach their full potential in their current position, thus putting a promising career on a slower track.

Success in the first hundred days, on the other hand, sets the stage for a brilliant performance. The 10 heads of marketing interviewed by IDC collectively recommended these six plays.

Play #1: Understand your real job.

Marketing is very closely tied to business context. A new CMO must assess quickly what work is really needed. Does the company need more awareness, a brand refresh, or a full product portfolio transformation? Each of these strategies requires a radically different approach from marketing.

Peter Isaacson, Demandbase: “What are the business goals of the company and the expectations for marketing? What are the business priorities and where is the company going? Get this straight from the mouth of the CEO. What is expected of you? Are there any unrealistic expectations that you need to set straight [such as] build a new category in the first two months? Get on the same page right from the beginning.”

Elisa Steele, Jive Software:  “There is a big opportunity and a big problem. No CMO in any company has exactly the same responsibility [as another CMO]. You know what a CFO does, what sales does, HR, etc. CMOs are different. Are they responsible for communications? Strategy? Product? Customer service? CEOs can create a spec of their own definition. But that requires a very mixed pool of candidates and it’s difficult to understand what any candidate’s power skill needs to be.”

Greg Estes, NVIDIA: “Building an executive team is like building a sports team. Different players are good at different things. [CEOs] might find they hired a great shortstop when they needed a good first baseman.”

Play #2: Speed up your learning curve.

The amount of information that needs to be absorbed in the first hundred days is prodigious. It’s best to approach learning in a direct and methodical way.

Paul Appleby, BMC: “To remain relevant, our number 1 priority must be to drive a new level of engagement with our customers. We are headquartered in Houston, Texas. However, our customers are based globally. As such, we need to engage with them globally. In my first three months, I travelled the globe and met with over 500 of our largest customers to understand the dynamic impact of digital disruption on their businesses. I also met with our teams in every major city where we operate. We listened and pivoted our engagement model, market positioning, and service delivery model based on what we heard.”

Play #3: Get the right people on the bus.

Waste little time in building a crackerjack team. Make tough decisions on whether existing team leaders should stay, go, or be repositioned. Make great hires quickly, too, as leaders will need people to achieve early success.

Christine Heckart, Brocade: “First, get the right people in the right job. I meet everyone on the team if I can. For key people, it’s one on one — all direct reports, all top talent, all people in key roles. I meet the rest in group reviews at least once. [In these group reviews] everyone gets two to three hours to present — What are you proud of? What’s working, what’s not working, what’s broken? Think of the future, what does success look like? In parallel, I run a change management process. The result is a new org structure, roles described, a people plan (gaps, promotions, etc.). You would be shocked at how often I’ve found that attention to the right organization has been ignored.”

Jonathan Martin, EMC:  “The first few weeks in any role should be spent assembling a new team and listening. In the first conversations, nothing makes sense, but after a while you see the same challenges. You need to be creative about finding solutions. With a large global team, it’s likely that someone somewhere has solved those problems. Use the scale of the organization. Raise up the super capable in the regions. I found a social expert in India and a guy in Italy who used Twitter to set up CEO meetings. Then, overcommunicate. I tweet. I blog internally. I hold a TV town hall once or twice a month.”

Play #4: Make a visible difference.

Early wins create momentum. Promote early wins widely and loudly so that the CMO and the marketing team are seen as the heroes.

Andy Cunningham, Avaya: “You need a few small wins. Before you can get the big jobs done, you need to earn your credibility. During the first hundred days, you are mostly focused with getting the organization to a place where they will follow you. The small things must be meaningful. Earn your way into the fold. Then you have a chance to get the big jobs done. The more the organization sees you having an impact, the more likely they are to take you under their wing.

“You have to pick the right initial wins. For example, building the funnel or repositioning might be really important, but it will be months before the company sees the impact. At Avaya, I focused on the corporate narrative first because it was really needed, progress could be made fast, and having it would be transformative. It was and now I can focus on longer-term issues.”

Play #5: Expedite key initiatives with operational rigor.

Identify the five-to-eight must-do initiatives that will create the needed business value that the CEO really wants. Institute a culture of operational rigor. Overcommunicate. A mantra, such as “Jive Forward”, can to be a container for the change that is coming and will energize the company.

Christine Heckart, Brocade: “You’ve got to think big — most companies are looking for a new positioning. But you need to start small. It’s hard to get the whole thing done on the first turn of the flywheel. Identify the small number of things that will establish marketing as the growth engine. Establish a rolling two-quarter plan and keep relooking at how it’s working.”

Play #6: Develop critical alliances.

CMOs will never be successful without forging alliances and coalitions to support initiatives. The CEO is the most important, alliance. His/her support will make or break the CMO’s success. Alliances are also needed with the CFO, the head of sales and, especially in this era of digital transformation and data-driven marketing, the CIO.

Lynn Vojvodich, Salesforce.com: “Build relationships with key stakeholders. What are the common objectives? Where is the ROI? These are the areas that need transparency. Everyone feels they don’t have enough resources. It’s important to be up front about marketing investment and performance so that people understand why necessary trade-offs are made.”

More recommendations for the road ahead.
IDC believes that great CMOs will continue to seek, and to be poached, for plum opportunities. These shifts will set in motion a domino effect. Therefore, CMO turbulence will continue. Turbulent environments favor the brave, the persistent, the resilient, and the lucky. While there is no checklist for success, IDC recommends that CMOs and CMO wannabes keep their eyes on the changing landscape and their resumes and networks current.

Kevin Iaquinto, JDA: “The turnover issue is all because of the pace of change. As I look at my own career, I have been in seven different tech firms. I’ve been acquired four times! This type of change inevitably means change in the management team including the CEO and, following that, other C-suite executives.”

Lisa Joy Rosner, Neustar: “This is the golden age of marketing. With the constant innovation of new technology the focus has centered on the CMO. Some CMOs jump to a different company because they want to continue to innovate. ‘I’ve just built out my stack and I want to do it again based on what I learned and with newer/better tools.’ This is how they get recruited away. There are very few CMOs who really ‘get’ digital — so they are in demand. If you are really, really, good, your work is visible and the headhunters call — then each time you move, you get a new opportunity to build a better team and you get ‘more tools in the sandbox’ to build the perfect marketing machine.”

IDC’s 10 Predictions for CMOs for 2015

What does IDC predict for tech CMOs and their teams in 2015 and beyond?

Our recent report IDC FutureScape: Worldwide CMO / Customer Experience 2015 Predictions highlights insight and perspective on long-term industry trends along with new themes that may be on the horizon. Here’s a summary.

1: 25% of High-Tech CMOs Will Be Replaced Every Year Through 2018
There are two dominant drivers behind the increased CMO turnover over the past two years. One driver centers on the cycle of new product innovations, new companies, and new CMO jobs. The second (but equal) driver centers around the required “fit” for a new CMO in the today’s tumultuous environment and the short supply of CMOs with transformational skill sets.

Guidance: Everyone in the C-Suite needs to “get” modern marketing to make the CMO successful.

2: By 2017, 25% of Marketing Organizations Will Solve Critical Skill Gaps by Deploying Centers of Excellence
The speed of marketing transformation and the increased expectations on marketing have left every marketing organization in need of updating its skill sets. In the coming years, CMOs will not only have to recruit and train talent but also create organizational structures that amplify and share best practices. Leading marketing organizations will become masters of the centers of excellence (CoE).

Guidance: Get out of your traditional silos and collaborate.

3: By 2017, 15% of B2B Companies Will Use More Than 20 Data Sources to Personalize a High-Value Customer Journey
Personalization requires a lot of data. CMOs do not suffer from a lack of data — quite the contrary. Today’s marketer has dozens, if not hundreds, of sources available. However, companies lack the time, expertise, and financial and technical resources to collect data, secure it, integrate it, deliver it, and dig through it to create actionable insights. This situation is poised for dramatic change.

Guidance: One of your new mantras must be – “do it for the data”.

4: By 2018, One in Three Marketing Organizations Will Deliver Compelling Content to All Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
CMOs reported to IDC that “building out content marketing as an organizational competency” was their #2 priority (ROI was #1). Content marketing is what companies must do when self-sufficient buyers won’t talk to sales people. While it’s easy to do content marketing; it’s hard to do content marketing well. The most progressive marketing organizations leverage marketing technology and data to develop a buyer-centric content strategy.

Guidance: Remember that it’s the buyer’s journey – not your journey for the buyer.

5: In 2015, Only One in Five Companies Will Retool to Reach LOB Buyers and Outperform Those Selling Exclusively to IT
IDC research shows that line-of-business (LOB) buyers control an average of 61% of the total IT spend. LOB buyers are harder to market to and are even more self-sufficient than technical buyers. To succeed with this new buyer, tech CMOs must move more quickly to digital, incorporate social, broaden the types of content, and enable the sales team to maximize their limited time in front of the customer.

Guidance: Worry less about how much video is in your plan and worry more about your message.

6: By 2016, 50% of Large High-Tech Marketing Organizations Will Create In-House Agencies
Advertising agencies have been slow to recognize the pervasive nature of digital. While many digital agencies exist and many have been acquired by the global holding companies, these interactive services typically managed as just another part of the portfolio of services the agency offers. Modern marketing practitioners realize that digital is now in the DNA of everything they do and are ahead of their agencies.

Guidance: Don’t wait. Take the lead.

7: By 2018, 20% of B2B Sales Teams Will Go “Virtual,” Resulting in Improved Pipeline Conversion Rates
Buyers won’t talk to sales until late in the game. But for B2B companies, a completely digital solution may not be answer either. Some solutions are so new, so complex, or customized that a human concierge must intervene. Enter the “virtual” sales rep. This emerging hybrid of marketing, sales and tech service is a far cry from the historical “me and my quota” sales rep. Think of them as a B2B Genius Bar. CMOs must equip the virtual sales rep with success tools.

Guidance: Find the fledgling “virtual” reps in your company and make them heroes – and make yourself one in the process.

8: By 2017, 70% of B2B Mobile Customer Apps Will Fail to Achieve ROI Because they Lack Customer Value-Add
Apps are maturing rapidly into utilities that can greatly enhance customers’ personal and professional lives. Brand value is being redefined by value-added services such as monitoring, reporting, best practices, communities, and guidance. Nearly every brand has an app today. But not all apps are created equal. Some apps provide tremendous value, and others will end up on the island of mobile misfits. 

Guidance: Allow your competitor’s app to be the “go to” resource and you are essentially locked out of that consumer’s life.

9: By 2018, 25% of CMOs and CIOs Will Have a Shared Road Map for Marketing Technology
The CMO and CIO relationship will shape the future of both roles. CMOs must accept that their infrastructure is more effective when it is integral to enterprise IT. CIOs must reinvent their missions to support unprecedented innovation in line-of-business IT.  CMOs and CIOs must work together for vendor selection, data governance, backup and recovery, security, and a host of other issues.

Guidance: CMO and CIO should jointly lobby the CEO to overinvest in marketing technology.

10: By 2018, 20% of B2B CMOs Will Drive Budget Increases by Attributing Campaign Results to Revenue Performance
With the sharp lessons of the Great Recession still fresh in their minds, CEOs and CFOs want to make sure every dollar leads to results. If marketing can achieve full revenue attribution promise, this will not only to satisfy demands for accountability but will result in budget increases. But marketing’s path to full attribution requires a complex orchestration of technology, data, and marketing skills and can’t be accomplished without partnerships with IT, sales, and finance.

Guidance: Start with attribution of individual campaigns and tactics and eventually you’ll build this Holy Grail.

9 New Terms Modern Marketers will want to Know

New practices need new language to describe them. When IDC’s smart, experienced, forward-looking, clients and special guests got together at our recent Marketing Leadership board meeting in New York, I jotted down these terms they used as particularly useful for describing their challenges and ideas.

  1. Product selfie: A type of content where it’s all about the product and nothing about the buyer/user (Guidance: Keep to a minimum – you know why.)
  2. Snackable content: Short-form, easy-to-consume, desirable, content (Guidance: As attention spans get shorter, you’ll need more of this.)
  3. Brand-as-a-Service: Offering beneficial, free, and minimally-self-serving, customer service that extends your brand promise. Examples: USAA offering car-buying services, Pantene offering tips for creating celebrity hair-styles during an Academy Awards social media campaign; (Guidance: Powerful! Find yours.)
  4. Budget slush fund: Holding back 5-15% of your budget so that you can respond with agility to unexpected opportunities such as a social media fire or an idea from a regional marketer that is worth testing. (Guidance: Great strategy to you get beyond the same-old, same-old, but you’ll need a seeking and vetting process to make sure this doesn’t go to waste)
  5. Off-domain: Use of non-owned capabilities such as content syndication, outside point-of-view, 3rd-party voices; curated content, and community/social/partner media or events  (Guidance: This fast growing practice will require a different mind-set than the traditional “owned and ads first”  Start with some pilots now and plan to expand.)
  6. Hunting in the zoo: A derogatory term for the frustrating propensity for sales people to prospect only in well-known territory and ignore leads from new companies (Guidance: While I’m reluctant to promote language that contributes to the marketing – sales conflict, I think we have to give witness to this reality.  It’s not likely to change without CEO intervention, so build reality into campaign and metrics – work with it or around it.)
  7. Multi-screening: Consumers are learning to use multiple devices in complementary ways to achieve their goals. Example: Using a mobile phone to research and buy a product seen at a tradeshow kiosk. (Guidance: One more reason to get beyond your internal org structure and think about what customers are trying to accomplish. Break down silo’s within marketing. But also bring marketing closer to all company functions that touch customers.)
  8. RACI: This acronym (pronounced “racy”) stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. A RACI grid is used to clarify roles in cross-functional practices. (Guidance: Accept that almost all tasks today can’t be accomplished in a vacuum. RACI is an indispensible tool for helping people work across silos)
  9. Orchestrate: Arrange and mobilize multiple diverse elements to achieve a desired result. (Guidance: Think of campaign managers as orchestra conductors who lead groups of experts each playing an instrument critical to the beauty of the concert. This model is more in tune (pun intended) with agile marketing than traditional top-down management.)

2014 Tech Marketing Budgets Showing Strength – Led by the Shift to the 3rd Platform

IDC’s CMO Advisory Service recently completed our 12th annual Tech Marketing Benchmark Survey and just last week had our client and participant webinar readout. With the results in, tech marketers should be excited; there are clear signs that marketing is gaining more respect, more responsibility, and more budget! For the first time since 2006, Tech Marketing Budgets will increase at the same rate as revenues (3.5% increases for budgets, 3.7% for revenues.) Coupled with this, the absolute number of companies increasing their marketing budgets continues to rise. Party time, right?

Well, maybe not quite.

The tech industry has hit an inflection point around the 3rd platform (cloud, social, mobile, and big data & analytics.) In fact, IDC is projecting that within the next 5+ years the 3rd platform will cannibalize revenue growth from the 2nd platform. Meaning, not only will 3rd Platform driven products account for all the revenue growth within the tech industry, but they will take market share from what was previously 2nd platform revenue.

What does this mean for marketers? 

A lot actually, tech marketers are in the fortunate (or fortuitous) position of being smack in the middle of this shift to the 3rd platform. Not only are the technologies being marketed transforming, but the day-to-day job of a marketer is being greatly affected. This is because the true impact of this shift is within next generation types of applications, industries – and ultimately – capabilities that the 3rd platform provides. Moving forward every marketer and every marketing organization must be updating skills, technologies, and processes. A lot is at stake and budgets are a clear indicator;  3rd platform marketing organizations are being funded at 6 to 8 times greater than 2nd platform organizations (see image below). The largest tech companies in the world are shifting to the 3rd platform and often (as they should be) the marketing organizations are exerting significant energy to be a large part of this company-wide shift. IDC sees moving to the 3rd platform as mandatory and marketing is no exception.

What can a marketing organization do to make sure they succeed in transforming rather than succumbing to turmoil?

  1. Understand which parts of the business are 3rd platform: These are the areas that should be supported with stronger marketing spend.  These are the areas to integrate new marketing technologies and processes in first. These areas will make or break your entire company. Use this opportunity to position marketing as a driver for the company’s future success!
  2. Invest in 3rd platform staff and programs: Supporting 3rd platform products is key, but marketing also needs to shift the way it operates. This means investing in 3rd platform technologies and skills like: marketing technology, sales enablement, content marketing, and data & analytics. These areas create leverage and efficiencies for the entire marketing organization. In short, putting the right people, in the right positions, with the right tools  gives your marketing organization its greatest opportunity for success. 
  3. Have a plan, but be realistic and be patient: The larger the company the more time should be allowed for this organizational shift to the 3rd platform. Marketing leaders must definitively set the end vision for their 3rd platform marketing organization, but at the same time must have the patience to see the entire process through. The path may be non-linear and there will certainly be failures and misdirection along the way, but despite the time and effort needed, the end results will pay back the marketing organization (and company) many times over. 

If you are interested in how your company’s marketing organization stacks up as this shift to the 3rd platform continues, reach out to me directly at smelnick (at) IDC (dot) com.

You can follow @SamMelnick on Twitter

B2B Audience Segmentation Strategies that Work

As companies develop buyer-centric communication, one of most important questions is – how do we effectively group buyers into segments? We perceive that somewhere between the one-size-fits-all dinosaur and the unicorn-like “market of one” exist segmentation strategies that work better than others. But which ones? The secret is discovering self-identifying groups.

 
Great segments are built around groups that have naturally formed and are already connected.
 
For B2B marketers, the most effective audience segmentation strategies are vertical industry (e.g. hospitals, banks, retail), job function (e.g. CFO, head of HR, VP of Analytics), and geography (e.g. location, language, culture). In some cases, communities of interest can also be valuable. Communities of interest evolve around passions and may exist only online.  Examples of communities of interest relevant to B2B marketers may include those interested in security or privacy or a tech company’s installed base. These attributes are ones that buyers will not only easily recognize about themselves but tend to be the stimulus for group formation.
 
Using self-identified groups as a primary segmentation strategy has two huge benefits.
  • Content will be more relevant and can be leveraged and streamlined. Self-identifying groups such as the ones described above respond to the same value propositions. They tend to have similar opportunities and/or problems. They will have similar compelling reasons to buy and are served by similar solutions. They tend to have similar business models, organizational structures, and environmental conditions. They share a common vocabulary. They ponder the same questions. They read the same editorial. They understand the same stories; respond to the same examples and analogies. They react to the same warnings. You can create highly relevant, effective, content and sales messages for these groups and that content will work hard.

  • The social network will market and sell for you. People with the attributes described above (vertical industry, job function, geography, communities of interest) are connected in social networks.  They go the same trade shows and recruit each others’ executives. They respect the same experts and analysts and use the same suppliers. Social media has revealed to the world what we all know from our own buying experience – people rarely make big decisions by themselves. We seek help and advice from those we trust. We look for stories about how “people like me who have had this problem” have succeeded or failed. We collaborate with like-minded adventurers to try something new.  Imagine your message as a small marble. Throw your marble onto a Kansas wheat field.  Throw another. What are the chances that those two marbles will hit each other? Now imagine throwing your marbles into a shoe box. They bounce into one another with the slightest jolt.  Already connected groups create an echo chamber that can dramatically extend your own outreach effort
 

Consider company size, buying role, and risk profile as secondary audience segmentation strategies.

 
  • Buying role and risk profiles are very useful but used alone are insufficient. Within the overarching audience segmentation strategy, you may want to create sub-segments such as different kinds of buyers and influencers (e.g. financial buyer, technical buyer, decision-maker, researcher, or advisor) or risk profiles (e.g. early adopter, majority, conservative).  Content will be less relevant and you will get virtually no support from the social network. Both of these segmentation strategies are helpful. Buying role helps identify the different objectives and questions that must be answered by content. Risk profile is useful for content tone.  For Early adopters tend to respond well to opportunity-oriented messages (“look how great you can be!”) whereas conservative companies tend to respond well to risk-avoidance messages (“look how much pain you won’t feel!”). However, unless you are a very large company with brand dominance and a horizontal solution, these strategies are less effective by themselves for winning new business than those described above.

  • Company-size segments help sales but not marketing. Dividing buyers into tiers defined by company size such as enterprise accounts or small and medium sized business (SMB) may be a useful strategy for some business decisions. It informs sales management tasks such as territory definition, quota setting, and sales methodology selection. Company size is also useful for pricing strategies. However, Wal-Mart and GE have little in common other than size and complexity. However, company size provides almost no support for audience messaging.
 

For B2B audience segmentation strategies, your ideal group is the triple crown of vertical, functional role, and geography, or in some cases, communities of interest.  Your particular situation may have some unique requirements.  However, whatever segmentation approach you consider, make sure it passes the litmus test – self-identify as a group that experience similar problems and shares a social network.

The Customer: The Most Important Statistic in Marketing – Everything Else is Just Offensive Rebounds

Let’s start with a story that relates to marketing today. When my brother in-law was trying out for his high school basketball team, the coach sat all the players down at the end of one practice and asked them, “What is the most important statistic in all of basketball.” My brother in-law, quite confident his answer would be correct, raised his hand and answered “Points scored.” The coach stared at him for a few seconds and responded, “No. Offensive rebounds.” For those of you who are familiar with basketball, you know that is a ridiculous statement – while offensive rebounds are important, the final score determines the winner, and thus is inarguably, the most important statistic in basketball.

For marketing, the customer is the final score


Today in marketing we are in an exciting phase with so much change happening, but also so much opportunity. The current atmosphere is a scary proposition for some, yet energizing for others. This energy has brought enthusiasm to many areas within marketing that are touted as “the most important.” While areas like marketing technology, big data and analytics, and content marketing are INCREDIBLY important, ultimately, they are only a portion of marketing and not the full picture. In the end the most important “statistic” is the customer. The buyer ultimately judges and scores you, so remember, how well you provide value to your customer will determine whether you win or lose.

Highlighting this customer focus, in our 11th annual marketing barometer survey we asked over 75 senior level marketing executives to “compose a tweet on the future of marketing.” We then took those answers and created a word cloud (see above). Low and behold, the two largest words that came up were “Customer” and “Buyer”. These executives, whether intentional or not, understand that the customer/buyer will determine the final score. So remember, while different marketing practices may have incredibly important functions, in the overall game of business, they are all just offensive rebounds. 

Follow Sam Melnick on Twitter @SamMelnick

80% of Your Customer Data Will be Wasted

Larger and richer collections of customer data are increasing available. That’s the good news. But most of that data is wasted. That’s the bad news. Poor data practices remain one of the biggest hurdles to marketing success.

Here are four ways that companies squander data and recommendations about how to stop the waste:

Data is Missing: A huge amount of customer data is available but is just not collected. Your ultimate goal should be to capture interaction and behavioral data at every touch point.
 
What to do: Acquire the data. Invest in marketing technology and services that capture data and in data management technology to store it for analysis. IDC finds that tech marketing leaders invest more than three times the amount of funds in marketing technology than their laggard cousins.  Big data is the marketer’s friend.  Providing lots of data to your analysts will enable them to predict the next best offer, discern buyer preferences, determine marketing program attribution, improve conversion rates, and much more.

Data is Unavailable: Some customer data is captured in company systems, but is trapped where marketing can’t access it. Marketing needs information on customers from a broad array of sources from both inside and outside the enterprise. Sales data, purchasing data, and customer service data, are examples of internally available data critical to seeing the full customer picture.

What to do: Aggregate the data. C-Suite executives must rush to the aid of marketing if they want to get full value from the function. To stop measurement at the MQL or even sales “closed loop” is insufficient for the full customer picture. Pay particular attention to converting unstructured data into structured data so it can help drive the content customization and delivery process.

Data is Junk: Sometimes customer data is captured, but is meaningless.

What to do: Analyze the data. You must be able to separate the signal from the noise. The first step is to gain a baseline understanding of the journeys taken by your best customers.  This point of view will give you a filter. CMOs need to invest in the tools and skills needed to gain insight from the data and tell a relevant business story.

Data is Late: Some meaningful data is captured, aggregated, analyzed – but the whole process takes too long for any relevant action to occur.

What to do: Act on the data. The point of data investment is to develop a rich understanding of the customer’s context so the most relevant response (typically content) can be delivered to them. In a digital dialog, a response is expected on the other side of every click.  Data needs to be made readily available to decision engines and content management systems so that they can take action.

IDC 2014 CMO Predictions

The Chief Marketing Officer cannot avoid broader responsibility as the digital customer experience bursts traditional boundaries. IDC predicts that by 2020, marketing organizations will be radically reshaped. The core fabric of marketing execution will be ripped up and rewoven by data and marketing technology.

What actions will you take in 2014 to gain the most from this future opportunity? Here are the IDC CMO Advisory Service views on the long-term industry trends and new themes that may be on the horizon that will most impact the role of the CMO.
 
To hear more, listen to a replay of our December 17th webinar.
  • Prediction 1 – The CMO role becomes “open for definition” as today’s CMO job description becomes considerably more complex and critical.
  • Prediction 2 – Innovative CMO and CIO pairs will throw out the rule book when it comes to IT’s support of Marketing
  • Prediction 3 – By 2020, the Marketing function in leading companies will be radically reshaped into three organizational “systems” – content, channels, and consumption (data)
  • Prediction 4 – The best marketers will understand that “Content Marketing” does not equal “Thought Leadership”
  • Prediction 5 – Multi-channel coverage becomes an opportunity and a challenge area, as CMOs integrate media silos
  •  Prediction 6 – 80% of customer data will be wasted due to immature enterprise data “value chains”
  •  Prediction 7 – By the end of 2014, 60% of CMOs will have formal recruiting process for people with data skills
  • Prediction 8 – Only 20% of marketers will receive formal training on analytics and customer data management
  • Prediction 9 – Fragmented marketing IT point products and low adoption rate will inhibit companies’ ability to win customers
  • Prediction 10 – Digital marketing investment will exceed 50% of total program budget by 2016

Will a Robot Make Your Marketing Job Obsolete?

Cars with no drivers.  Airport ticket counters with only touch-screens. Surgery with no doctors. Automation has taken over human jobs since the industrial revolution. But this trend may be accelerating with the “Great Restructuring“. Which marketing jobs will automation make obsolete?

Time magazine recently published an article titled The Robot Economy which highlights the types of jobs that will flourish (and which won’t) as automation expands. Time says,

“If your job involves learning a set of logical rules or a statistical model that you apply task after task – whether you are grilling a hamburger or issuing a boarding pass or completing a tax return – you are ripe for replacement by a robot.”

Marketing automation is one of the fastest growing sectors of the technology industry, growing at 11.8% in 2012 according to the IDC 2012 Worldwide Marketing Automation Vendor Share Report. Most marketers would agree that marketing automation drives gains for their companies – improved customer engagement, greater marketing accountability, better pipeline management, etc. But is it good for marketing people? The jury is out on whether automation is reducing marketing headcount.  On the precipice of the 2008 downturn, the IDC Tech Marketing Benchmark showed a decline in marketing headcount as a percentage of total employees to approximately 1.5% and the number has sat roughly at that level for the last few years.

Winners and Losers in Marketing Jobs? Nate Silver’s book, The Signal and the Noise, is about making better decisions using analytics. In a chapter about chess, Silver summarizes a 1950 paper by MIT’s Claude Shannon on the benefits of a computer in making decisions versus the benefits of a human.  Claude Shannon said that computers are better at decision-making because:

  • They are very fast at making calculations
  • They won’t make errors, unless the errors are encoded in the program
  • They won’t get lazy and fail to fully analyze a position or all possible moves
  • They won’t play emotionally and become overconfident in an apparent winning position that might be squandered or grow despondent in a difficult one that might be salvage

 Claude Shannon said that humans are better at decision-making because:

  • Our minds are flexible, able to shift gears to solve a problem rather than follow a set of code
  • We have the capacity for imagination
  • We have the ability to reason
  • We have the ability to learn

 Silver concludes that the reason why a computer like IBM’s Deep Blue could beat a chessmaster is that chess is a deterministic game, that is, there is no luck involved. In deterministic situations, where there is perfect information and perfect knowledge of the rules, computers do a better job.  However, wherever there is uncertainty, a better decision will be made if humans help out.

Future proof your career. To ensure you head your career in a confident direction, gain competency in the following types of marketing skills:

  • Solve problems that have never been solved before:  Work that is genuinely non-routine, creative, or paradoxical – such as people or customer management, strategy development, and design.  However, be warned that being creative does not let you off the hook for learning to use data to inform the creative process.
  • Analyze for insight:  While analytic tools will do most of the heavy lifting for us, humans will give meaning to the data patterns as well as to create models, frameworks, and stories for using the analysis.
  • Make unstructured decisions: Unstructured decisions are those where no explicit process for deciding can be put in place – such as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). Almost every category of marketing has jobs like this. Put yourself in the line of fire, where there are tough trade-offs, and information is ambiguous. 
  • Persuade: Automation can take over lead nurturing by listening to online data, analyzing it for behavior patterns, and responding with the most relevant selection from a content catalog.  However, blending a human with automation may get you better results.  A leading tech company found that although they can go straight through to purchase using automation, that adding an inside sales person to the conversation increased deal size by 3x.

What ideas have you seen marketers implement to help future proof their departments?