How technology is changing the role of the CMO in 2021

30 second summary:

  • With more technology than ever before, CMOs need to bridge the gap between marketing and technology to connect with customers and achieve success for their brands
  • 44 percent of B2B marketers say digital fatigue will be one of their biggest challenges in 2021. This is a challenge for many CMOs trying to work with their teams to overcome the warp speed of digitization
  • The COVID-19 pandemic forced digital transformation overnight, and consumers are now interacting with brands in different ways to use digital channels more than ever
  • By navigating and owning the increasingly digital, social, and ubiquitous customer experience, 2021 CMOs will have a valuable opportunity to redefine their place in the C-suite and uncover their own creative yet informed path to continued growth and innovation
  • The CMO and Managing Director of the CFA Institute provide insights into the role of the CMO and how their functions are changing in the current environment

The role of the GMO is in the midst of a huge change, especially given the pandemic pushing for a digital-first focus. The role of the CMO is not easy at first, but has made it increasingly difficult over the past year. On average, CMOs are the members with the shortest tenure in the C-suite. Companies around the world are faced with growing customer expectations, smaller budgets, and changing customer priorities, and the CMO will take responsibility for how well their company deals with these pressures.

With more technology than ever before, CMOs need to bridge the gap between marketing and technology to connect with customers and create success for their brands. From social media to CRM platforms to various multimedia channels, CMOs learn to have the wealth of data and tools at hand while ensuring that they are doing the full range of their jobs.

Fortunately, the increasing need for CMOs to play an important role in technology decisions brings both rewards and challenges. CMOs are able to accomplish more than ever and play a bigger role in the way their companies work. They also get the opportunity to develop close relationships with CIOs to improve their ability to achieve their department’s goals and those of the organization as a whole.

However, this can become a challenge for many CMOs due to the warp speed of digitization. In fact, 44 percent of B2B marketers say digital fatigue will be one of their biggest challenges in 2021. With a strategic approach and the right mindset, modern marketers are stepping up quickly to directly address these challenges.

It starts with the adoption of technology

Now that we are a few months into 2021, what should marketers be focusing on? And which technologies will improve or change? Even before the pandemic, the most accomplished marketers realized that social and digital technology would play an important role in keeping up with their customers and ecosystems.

Colleagues trying to withstand the effects of digital transformation quickly found that they would lose the battle. It was amazing to see how quickly our fully integrated, engineered, cross-channel marketing campaigns at the CFA Institute produced great experiences for our members by harnessing the power of technology and making us more “digital” fluent. Our recent demand-generation campaign leverages technology to leverage data insights that have allowed us to achieve results that exceed our benchmarks.

Understand customer needs and choose the right tools for them

While the diffusion of data can feel overwhelming to marketers, data is key to unraveling the unique wants and needs of your customers. With these insights, marketers can make smarter, more informed decisions about which tools will support and exceed customer needs. For example, technology has enabled the CFA Institute to create content that our members really wanted. As a result, we’ve added hot fintech topics like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Data Science, and Blockchain to our learning offering to provide the depth of knowledge candidates and members need to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

Through regular member surveys, we were able to better understand and address the real-time requests of our customers. It’s worth noting that not every technological change has to be massive, targeted tools, and simple fixes like website improvements can be just as effective in building strong customer relationships.

Lean into social media

Social media should be every marketer’s best friend. Why? Aside from the fact that three billion people worldwide use social media, you can connect and interact with customers where they are. As CMOs allocate more marketing budgets to keep up with the increasing use of social media, especially during the pandemic, marketers are in the best position to make this a priority.

Furthermore, authenticity is everything on social media. Many CMOs are often seen as the face of their brand. When customers and partners know the person behind your brand, loyalty and trust are much more likely to follow. I’ve written at length about the importance of establishing your personal brand and how social media can play an important role in the process. The more I share who I am and what I represent, the more I can build credibility among my followers and create additional points of connection.

For social media to really work, you need to incorporate it into your daily workflow. Social media is no longer just part of the marketing mix. It really is the connection point between your brand and the audience you want to reach. With the right mindset, tools, and planning, you can use social media to become more visible, gain votes, and engage with customers on a daily basis. I can’t think of a CMO who would willingly miss these opportunities.

In summary

The remainder of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 will remain a difficult time for the GMO’s role – but aren’t they all? One of the most important things CMOs can do is stay agile, immerse themselves in and use digital technology. The COVID-19 pandemic forced digital transformation overnight. CMOs need to adapt their mindset and work practices to achieve a more collaborative role, and work with teams to embrace rapid change and address concerns.

Consumers are now interacting with brands in different ways and are finding value in digital channels more than ever. As society deepens its connection to technology and devices, CMOs’ ability to deliver future experiences will strike the perfect balance between technology and humanity.

It is clear that the role of the GMO is more to bring much more to the table than just a traditional marketing mindset. By navigating and owning the increasingly digital, social, and ubiquitous customer experience, CMOs have a valuable opportunity this year and beyond – redefining their place in the C-suite and embarking on their own creative yet informed path to continued growth and innovation.

Michael Collins is the CMO and Executive Director of the CFA Institute.