Data as the new currency: Three keys to CMO success in 2017
What are the martech trends that will shape digital marketing in 2017? Columnist Jim Yu believes data insights will fuel marketers' strategy and business success.
For many marketers, the web finally matured in 2016, with digital marketing the driving force behind many brands’ online success.
Marketing budgets have risen for the third year in a row, increasing from 11 percent last year to 12 percent of company revenue, according to Gartner’s CMO Survey for 2016–2017.
As chief marketing officers plan where to invest their marketing budgets in 2017, I share some insights below on marketing and technology trends that will help CMOs fuel continued digital transformation.
1. Data as the new currency
The digital universe is doubling in size every two years, and by 2020, it will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes, according to IDC. This is data that we as marketers helped create.
As CMOs become more accountable for driving and measuring success, over 69 percent of marketers now expect their decisions to be quantitatively driven by 2017.
The vast and multidimensional nature of what marketers often refer to as “Big Data” can be overwhelming. Data can become much more digestible and useful when it is broken down into bite-sized pieces to make it actionable. Data then becomes meaningful when used to drive strategy and solve important business problems.
Smart marketers will understand the chasm between the amount of data available and their ability to connect this data with business results. Deep learning technology and data insights will make it easier than ever for the CMO to understand consumer intent signals, connect the dots and bridge the marketing gaps.
Without an army of data scientists, many marketing departments will utilize machine deep-learning technology to analyze huge, complex and dynamic data sets. Identifying patterns in data in real time with deep learning will allow marketers to understand customer, competitor or market changes — and immediately turn these insights into action and outcomes.
In 2017, we will see a shift in focus from just gathering and mining data to creating new deep learning models and algorithms that connect the digital marketing dots and move the needle on overall marketing performance.
2. Search, content, mobile and local convergence
The shift to the Internet of Things (IoT) has created multiple new customer touch points that can be reached most effectively with cross-channel marketing campaigns. People no longer consume media in silos, and marketing strategies now need to reach their target audiences in multiple channels, across multiple touch points, along multiple paths to purchase.
For example, the shift to mobile-first marketing has not only transformed how marketing departments think about digital content and device types; mobile has also significantly changed the way consumers behave online. Customers are using their devices to address their needs whenever and wherever they might be, as the once-linear customer journey is now a scattered plot of multiple new moments and touch points.
While many digital marketing campaigns complement and assist each other, the real key to success in 2017 relies on the modern-day CMO taking a data-driven and disciplined approach to accelerating and integrating (with email, display and paid advertising disciplines) digital communication throughout the organization.
In 2017, a key imperative for CMOs will be to utilize rich data insights to identify and optimize digital marketing campaigns for a fragmented and sometimes disrupted customer journey. The key opportunity lies in identifying the moments when target audiences engage and converting them in those moments that matter.
3. Intelligent content creation and automation
It’s common knowledge that content has become the cornerstone of all digital marketing activity. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 70 percent of B2B marketers say they will allocate more budget for content development in 2017.
However, the real challenge for CMOs and marketing departments does not lie in the production of content; it lies with performance.
With limited time and resources, digital marketers can struggle to quickly create content on the topics that their customers really care about, and as a result, much of this content goes to waste. In fact, according to research (registration required) from BrightEdge, my employer, only 20 percent of B2C and 50 percent of B2B brands produce content that their target audience engages with.
Content creation needs to become more intelligent to create experiences that capture consumers at the right moment and the right time; it is where data science helps with the art of content creation.
To fill the production versus performance gap, technology will help marketers better understand the fragmented customer journey and tame the enormous work associated with manual data processing.
As CMOs make sense of the different touch points and customer behaviors I mentioned earlier in this article, automation then helps their marketing departments accelerate and execute with efficiency. It will also allow content marketing departments to manage routine tasks with little effort so that they can focus on high-impact activities and accomplish business goals at scale.
In 2017, marketing AND customer success will depend upon creating intelligent content — content that’s targeted, engages and converts. Machine learning and automation are the key drivers that will open up opportunities for efficiency and scale.
CMO marketing technology spending is on track to exceed CIO technology spend in 2017. Data is set to become the core driver and new currency that CMOs leverage to improve marketing success and transform the digital business.
Data, deep learning and automation will empower marketers to accelerate and scale operations in a logical and intelligent manner to win the hearts and minds of consumers in key moments that matter across multiple digital channels.