CMO role shifting with advent of digital marketing tools

As customer relations becomes more of a priority in today's business environment, technology that gives marketers a clearer picture of the customer is shifting the CMO's role in the organization, according to a report from analytics software provider SAS and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

"A growing shift to digital marketing also provides a rich foundation for data-driven customer insight," said Wilson Raj, global customer intelligence director at SAS. "CMOs are in a prime position to be champions for the voice of the customer—if they shore up digital and customer analytics skills across the marketing organization."

A poll of 389 executives last July by "Voice of the customer: Whose job is it, anyway?" found that while more than half of respondents (51 percent) said that customer relationship management was the most important investment for their companies, only 19 percent strongly agreed that their company was customer-centric.

Respondents indicated the CMOs (19 percent) trails sales (31 percent) as the "voice of the customer" at their companies. However, CMOs who leverage the insights that data can provide are in a unique position to champion customer needs, the report said.

 "CMOs who can translate customer insights into real value for each part of the business can get everyone working towards the same goal—and secure their own standing as a strategic player in the C-suite," the report said.

It will be difficult to change the mindset that sales is the "owner" of the customer at companies—particularly in B2B companies, where marketing is often at the beck and call of the sales team.

But this is changing. Last week, Fast Company's Drew Neisser pointed to the efforts of two CMOs—in particular Sap's Jonathan Becher—who are looking to change the marketing culture at B2B companies.

Becher broke down departmental silos and encouraged his team to prioritize the customer by eliminating empty "marketing speak" and truly getting to know them as individuals. For example, he downsized the number of events SAP held, focusing on engagement rather than number of attendees as a metric, in response to customer needs, Neisser wrote.

"When Becher took over as CMO, he heard from customers that they received as many as 50 different emails about SAP events and products in any given month; at one point, Becher even realized that multiple events were scheduled in the same week within a few blocks of the same customer. As you might suspect, this marketing onslaught did not endear SAP to its clientele," he wrote.

SAS's study, meanwhile, chronicled the challenges marketers face in helping their organizations emphasize the customer.

"The C-suite's high expectations of the CMO—to meet the significant challenges of the new era of marketing and increase revenue—leave the CMO little time to focus on the customer, however," the report said. "In fact, just 19% of CMOs play a leading role in connecting customer-facing functions—a key step in the journey to customer-centricity."

But there is a lot of opportunity for B2B marketers—just take a look at the efforts of those like Becher to understand how marketing's role is changing at B2B companies.

For more:
-See this Fast Company article

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