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While CMOs answer the demands of today, they must also anticipate and prepare for future trends. To give you a peek into the future, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released a report, The Path to 2020. The report provides a glimpse of what top marketing trends to expect in 2020.

The EIU based their findings on a global survey of 499 CMOs and senior marketing executives. Plus in-depth interviews with leading CMOs. Here are highlights of key changes CMOs should expect over the next few years.

The science-backed CMO

Marketers spent the last 10+ years focusing on understanding customers more deeply for greater personalization. Now it’s time to use that knowledge to drive engagement, and do it at scale.

“Today, the primary task of CMOs is to deeply understand customer buying behavior and intent; deeply understand the context of where someone is in their decision journey; be able to predict what they’re most likely primed to do next; and be ready to influence them at the right moment.” —Jonathan Martin, CMO, Pure Storage

In other words, marketing is now responsible for getting and keeping the customer. Which means the CMO’s job now includes marketing, sales, and customer service.

To do this successfully, a CMO must combine technology and sharp analytical skills with traditional marketing creativity. Which explains why more marketing leaders are coming from computer science or statistics backgrounds.

Marketing’s priorities for 2020

From now until 2020, marketing’s top priorities continue to be personalization and engagement. But survey respondents believe this is increasingly more difficult. The main two reasons cited are: 1). Rapidly-changing technology; 2). Marketing channels created by connected objects and locations.

Adding even more complexity, technology enables customers to move back and forth across mainstream and counter-cultures. So you must effectively speak to both, and across multiple channels.

Considering this, CMOs report they will focus on interactive channels. The top three channels in 2020 are:

  • social media (63% of respondents)
  • the World Wide Web (53%)
  • mobile apps (47%) and mobile web (46%)

Customer experience is core

Marketers are no longer purveyors of information. Thanks to social media and search engines, customers can access pricing and other product information on their own. So customers already know what you can offer them.

Because of this, CMOs realize that to improve personalization and engagement, you must concentrate on the customer experience (CX). With the ultimate CX goal of engaging customers with compelling, contextually relevant experiences.

“You’re no longer marketing AT people. You’re influencing them in an environment where they’ve already had a chance to form a view.” —Kristin Lemkau, CMO, JPMorgan Chase

Providing higher CX isn’t just good for the customer, it’s also good for the company. When the EIU compared customer experience leadership with marketing performance, the EIU found that 2 out of 3 CX leaders are also marketing performance leaders.

The relationship between CX and the bottom line hasn’t gone unnoticed by other business partners. Nearly 86% of marketing executives surveyed said they expect to own the end-to-end customer experience by 2020. Because of this:

  • Nearly 90% of survey respondents believe marketing departments will exercise significant influence over business strategy by 2020.
  • Nearly 80% say marketers will exercise the same influence over technology.

New trends for building personalization

As customers become more self-sufficient, companies are adopting new ways to build brands through personalization and engagement. Here are a few trends.

Move past the “big idea”
In the past, marketing centered around the “big idea.” That is, a single concept that expresses the brand or product across all audiences. Today, CMOs use data and analytics to create “big capabilities.” That is, understanding the immediate context of a person. And then personalizing their end-to-end customer experience across platforms, devices, and locations.

Know your “best truth”
A single, best version of customer truth is a synthesized image of the customer. It’s derived from many different data points including psychographics, purchase behavior, customers’ devices, and viewed content. CMOs use this image to anticipate where the customer will be, and to guide their actions.

Be valuable by being useful
How can your brand, product, or service be useful to a customer? The consumer products company, Unilever, showed how through their online video channel called All Things Hair. Unilever partnered with Google to analyze over 11 billion global annual searches related to salon styling and hair care. From their analyses, Unilever created targeted content for their video channel.

Talk to customers directly, not thru ads
By 2020, more marketers expect they will interact directly with their customers through technology and personalization. Fading are the days of indirect interaction through media and advertising.

Cut through the noise by making less noise

As marketing continues to rely more on data and analytics, CMOs work within a new model. One that’s based on creating value through personalized customer experiences. Unilever CMO, Keith Weed, believes this model cuts through the info-packed marketing environment better than advertising. “Brands need to help people simplify life so we all don’t go mad as this world becomes more complex. I believe that people who focus on that will unlock the true power of data,” says Weed.