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A company's approach to customer integrity begins at the ground floor: with corporate digital strategies.

Why CMOs Need Solid Digital Policies

Phillip Reinhardt

Modern Chief Marketing Officers have plenty of responsibilities in 2019. Today’s C-level corporate executives aren’t only responsible for marketing initiatives, alone. Rather, they’ve taken up the mantle as creative developers, development orchestrators, customer support leaders, and business partnership leaders.

Each year, research teams like Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey examine the modern CMO’s role in growing businesses. From spending habits to job scope, CMO habits shift in proportion to the modern business climate’s own needs. Recently, the climates CMOs are responsible for have shifted again. Now, the customer experience has been prioritized. With it, of course, grows the responsibility of marketing teams—who’re the de facto ‘owners’ of consumer groups.

As CEOs become increasingly customer-centric, they’re doubling down alongside CMOs—forming a kinship which rivals many classic C-suite allegiances. Such a shift has changed the necessities of CMOs, of course. Today’s marketing leaders need to not only think in the terms of CEOs—but to engage customers on grounds which align with overarching CEO approaches to the industry.

Modern Customer Economics: The Digital Forefront Today's CMOs need to consider the economic impacts of e-commerce, beginning with the most loyal customers.

Traditional marketing approaches still hold true, of course: Loyal customers are good customers. Still, not all loyal customers are the right customers. It’s the modern CMO’s job to master consumer economics—segmenting the most profitable consumers, or ‘royals,’ from consumers likely to bring a business forward—or ‘loyalists.’

High-value customers churn less, spend more and are less sensitive to price shifts. They’re also less expensive to acquire and push products to. Not only do they make retention easy—but they’re likely to recruit new consumers via their brand advocacy. It’s easy to see why the Internet has become the forefront of modern marketing: It’s the one hub where consumers, regardless of brand affiliation, tend to communicate with businesses and other customers alike.

The New CMO

A Chief Marketing Officer’s primary role, within a business, isn’t what it used to be. We live in a constantly shifting climate of product awareness, brand initiatives, consumer outreach initiatives, and user-generated media. Third-party content providers, like bloggers and YouTubers, have more influence on a brand’s reputation than ever before.

In the past, a business’s CMO was mostly in charge of the following:

-Brand management

-Advertisement

-Market research

Because modern marketing needs have shifted, however, many digital marketers find themselves focusing on customers—as well as competition—more than ever. Today’s consumers are more diverse than ever, contributing to one of the most complex marketing climates ever seen.

As such, the modern CMO has become responsible for harnessing the power of the Internet-of-Things. Machine-to-machine communication—or M2M—is just a single cornerstone of the IoT. The way the Internet compares interconnects and provides information is constantly growing—serving as a major engine for crafting new products and services.

Because most businesses can harness the IoT easily, a rise in competition has stalled digital progression from providing all consumers with dynamic app-driven appliances, smart-homes, and fully integrated digital experiences. Simply put: Big companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google have pulled ahead by an incredible degree—and businesses capable of following in their wake are far and few between.

Push Marketing is Losing Power

The modern CMO’s place in the marketing landscape is further transformed by the way consumers are searching, and purchasing, products. Millennials were born and raised in the technology age. Unlike previous generations, however, they’re not impacted by ‘push’ marketing strategies.

Marketing professionals suggest they’re filtering out commercial messages, and advertising, more than any other generation. By picking and choosing what, when and how they receive what they want, Millennials are pushing the industry’s bottom-line ethical standards to new limits. Word-of-mouth drives everything in the modern purchasing world—and Millennials are only sticking to trusted sources: social network reviews.

While push marketing is losing its inertia, brands aren’t completely without marketing hope. Brands on Facebook have the best connectivity tools around for connecting Millennials with products and services. Millennials might not be relying on Facebook-centric marketing pushes, but they’re still following brands on Facebook to hear about their newest innovations.

The Policy Implications of Big Data

It’s easy to see the impact data and information have on modern consumers and businesses alike. More than ever, big data plays a role in a business’s marketing engagement strategies—as well as the modern CMO’s overall resource pool of effective strategies.

It’s time for CMOs to get serious about their digital marketing policies—because the deluge of data presented to many companies is difficult to handle. Two-thirds of today’s CMOs might believe that investing in new tools and technologies is key to pulling ahead—but too few are keeping up with the many privacy policy needs big data reveals. Unfortunately, less than one-third of CMOs consider it necessary to alter privacy policies related to customer data usage.

Unfortunately, C-suite business tactics don’t always translate to digital success. Your company’s reputation might be on the line—and not maintaining high digital policy standards might damage your business in the long run.

A great example of this is Elon Musk’s Twitter missteps. The Twitter account’s prospective corporate statements have cost Tesla a $20 million SEC fine. Tesla also utilized an artist’s content without permission. Musk’s decision to delete his company’s Facebook account, merely on a whim, has also resulted in costly fallout for the company.

Another example exists in the now-popular United Airlines security case: A passenger refused to forfeit his seat to United’s maintenance workers—and the airline’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, subsequently praised United’s employees for adhering to procedures. A filmed video of the incident went viral—and United suffered some disdain in the eyes of the public.

The Dangers of an Ever-Present Online World

While the above examples might seem insignificant at first glance, they’re rather telling of the business world’s volatility when digital policies—or lack thereof—impact professional atmospheres. Ironically, it appears that a business’s smartest individuals, those occupying C-suite roles, unfortunately, contribute to some of the missteps associated with digital initiatives, marketing campaigns, and social media presence.

Sometimes, C-suite savviness simply doesn’t translate well to the digital world. Social media, mobile, websites and everything in between are constantly changing, after all. It isn’t rare for executives to simply prioritize their business’s building blocks as opposed to the online side of things—which, of course, might make sense from an administrative perspective.

The name of the game is digital customer service, which is a strategic imperative in 2019. Unfortunately, its adoption by most businesses is hindered by delivery strategy weaknesses, incomplete measurements and a failure to distribute responsibilities evenly throughout the modern C-suite. Some experts even suggest that 70 percent of a business’s customer-service contacts should be approached via digital solutions. In one case, a European telecommunications company managed to lower its costs by an astounding 30 percent, losing no revenue—by simply migrating aspects of its customer-service operations into its digital-care programs.

E-Care and the Modern Business Customers purchase goods and services when a brand's digital policies align with their overall message.

Digital customer care—or e-care—is gaining ground in financial and banking services, but it has also become prevalent in other industries. E-care focuses on the delivery, maintenance, and growth of quality customer service in several vital digital spaces:

-Social media

-Web-based user accounts

– Smartphone applications

Across the Internet, businesses are finding viable alternatives to typical call centers and 24/7 facilities—saving time, money and—most importantly—their reputation. There’s an ever-increasing demand for these services by customers, too, as the overall usage of digital platforms to research, review and broadcast products and services are increasing themselves. From a financial perspective, e-care is one of the most cost-saving customer service options around.

E-care takes a while to develop, of course. In most cases, it isn’t enough to simply add digital options to a business’s existing customer-service channels. Often, e-care is approached in a one-to-two-year multistage transformation effort. It requires the same degree of planning and enforcement as a business’s major product launches—often requiring a powerful strategic initiative driven by heavy C-suite support, which relies on the success of CMOs.

CMOs Approaching New Responsibilities

Digital policies require a lot of care. E-care, itself, isn’t necessarily bound to customer support alone. A company’s entire culture, from the ground up, must implement marketing and management procedures which both benefit and maintain the integrity of customers in digital forefronts.

Digital policies can be on a self-serve basis, but they should involve a mixture of online presence initiatives and customer-service agents. The rewards of adopting a powerful set of digital policies are well worth the effort, of course. For a CMO to achieve the best digital policy standards around, they can do several things.

One: Taking an Omnichannel Approach

Digital policies, in the past, approached potential problems from a multichannel approach. This approach leaves gaps, however, in today’s persistent digital world which seamlessly connects all channels.

It’s a good idea to take an outside-in approach to customer care—crafting new policies with an omnichannel view. Consider the customer’s journey, their behaviors and their preferences. When implementing the policy, maintain an approach which expects evolution—and be ready to augment your business’s policies on an as-needed basis.

Two: Focus on the Right Data, Not Big Data

Data-driven insights and actions are important—but more isn’t necessarily better. As such, your business’s digital policies shouldn’t cut corners to achieve as much data as possible. Big Data is talked about a lot, but the acquisition of Big Data can breach the modern consumer’s right to privacy.

It’s easy to accidentally overcomplicate things, utilizing sophisticated methods for creating the perfect data-driven inferences about customer goals and needs. The more complicated the approach, however, the more complicated your policies will need to be. Instead of taking this approach, consider asking consumers questions based on progressive profiling techniques—and exchange value whenever possible. Doing so will prioritize the customer’s value of themselves and your brand alike—resulting in an easier acquisition of data which relieves the stress of over-complicated policies which stumble due to their own weight.

Three: Make Policies Which Contribute to Brand Promises

Your brand’s promises should never be static. They need to be maintained every day, even when the environment around them changes—and it will. If your brand has a disconnect between its promises and its deliveries, customers will notice. They’ll also share their experiences with other consumers.

Modern CMOs should adopt in-house mechanisms which contribute to the management and monitoring of customer experiences and brand promises alike. Lead by influence, not authority. Between company growth approaches and the many marketing opportunities available, you can transform your brand into a customer-first entity. If you take care of your customers, your customers will take care of you.