The Economy is Thawing and CMOs are Charting a New Path Forward

Research reveals how marketing leaders are reacting to new economic outlook

By Alison Lindland: Senior Vice President of Strategy, Movable Ink

The first quarter of 2021 was an economic roller coaster. The world went from pandemic confusion and social unrest in January to signs of normalcy and quick vaccine wins to round out March. As a result, what marketing leaders knew two and a half months ago has dramatically changed while preparation for Q2 and even H2 take place.

Senior marketers are now bullish on the economy and their role in shepherding businesses back to profitability. According to the CMO Survey, a joint report published by Deloitte and Duke Fuqua School of Business, marketer optimism is reaching near-record heights. From June 2020 to February 2021, optimism rates went from 50.9 (a number just shy of the 47.7 recorded post-Great Recession) to 66.3. The CMOs I speak to every day tell me that budget increases started even before Q1 ended. Now that businesses are back in a growth mindset, the same marketing leaders are reporting more open roles than they had at the beginning of the year and explaining to me how difficult it is to fill key positions.

The report also found that 72% of senior leaders said the role of marketing has increased since the pandemic began. CMOs are now searching for new and innovative ways to stamp their mark on the rest of the year.

How do CMOs embrace their new influence within organizations?

Marketing budgets are expected to increase 11.5% within the next year, and it’s up to senior leaders to align their martech budget with the new customer expectation. Janet Balis in the Harvard Business Review argues that businesses are no longer competing against their competition, but “the last best experience your customer had.” Great customer experiences raise the tide of expectations across industries, especially in a consumer’s email inbox or mobile notification screen. When creating email and mobile campaigns, marketers are competing against every new message and every new notification, not just those from specific categories.

As Balis puts it, “direct-to-consumer companies were already conditioning us to expect a level of hyper-personalization since they were particularly adept with our personal data.” Now that the pandemic has influenced more customers to consume and shop online, marketing teams across all segments and industries will need to deliver “personalized experiences across the customer journey.”

Customer journey should be at the heart of any conversation senior marketing leaders have about their tech stack, mobile spending, and campaign budgets. Now that brands are competing against customer experience–and that journey has moved online–strategic spending that aligns data and marketing technology will open up a new world of possibility for personalization and experience innovation.

It’s time to rethink customer experience

There’s a deep disconnect between marketing leaders and customers that should be top of mind for every CMO in 2021. In a recent Merkle survey, 86% of marketing executives felt they “already understand and meet their most valuable customers’ needs.” Yet, when the same organization ran a consumer sentiment survey, only 35% of people surveyed felt that marketing met their needs. 

Any organization that is serious about customer experience innovation needs to plan for serious self-reflection. Are we listening to our customers? Do we know our customer segments? Are we optimizing our digital marketing to reach our customers in meaningful ways that deliver exactly what they want?

More than 75% of CMOs think it will be difficult to stay atop technological advancements in 2021. But the customer experience is now mainly digital, and people expect brands to create a holistic, streamlined digital buying journey. That takes a martech stack that delivers innovative content and personalized marketing campaigns. CMOs are positioned to take a hard look at the symbiosis of their martech stack. If your ESP, loyalty program, mobile app and other Martechs technologies are not communicating in tandem, it’s time to seek solutions that bring all those disparate data sources together to tell one, customer-centric story.

Marketing doesn’t act in a silo, especially when campaigns involve complex data implementation. CMOs have a brief window of opportunity to implement a more sophisticated customer experience–there’s no telling how long the new budget windfalls last–and no time to wait for complex systems that involve coding and long-term buy-in from tech teams. Movable Ink’s no-code solution gives senior marketing leaders an advantage if agility is a priority. New mobile and email personalizations campaigns–a marketing necessity at this point–can be iterated and implemented efficiently. With 80% of consumers saying they are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer a 1:1 experience, the right martech tools can translate into quick wins. 

Stay agile, stay focused

CMOs learned to adapt to insane challenges last year. That nimble approach to marketing is instrumental to finding success in a year with still plenty of confusion. One thing is certain. Digital marketing and customer experience are now intertwined in new and interesting ways. Merkle found that 67% of brands have implemented personalization in 3-6 marketing channels, with 73% using “insights from one channel to inform targeting in others.”

Customers expect efficient, 1:1 communications from organizations. It’s up to CMOs to deliver. 

For more information on how Movable Ink can revolutionize your email and mobile marketing campaigns request a demo today.