The role of modern marketers and CMOs is unrecognizable from what it once was. In the past, advertising, brand building and corporate communications defined the heart and soul of the marketing operation. Today, marketing is a central player in the development and execution of key strategic initiatives that drive significant business value and define the future of the business.

Last week, 6sense VP of Product Amar Doshi hosted Business Online Director of Analytics Eric Ramos for a webinar, The 5 Priorities of the Data-Driven CMO, that reviewed this well known but not always well-explored topic. We set out to outline the main areas of investment for the modern CMO and found that by looking broadly at marketing’s role, we gained clarity about marketing’s purpose in the modern enterprise.

Today’s marketing team cannot hang their hat on driving awareness and consideration of the products and services provided by their business. Marketing is charged with delivering a relevant and timely experience to customers and prospects alike throughout the entirety of their engagement with a business. To achieve this ambitious end, marketers must prioritize and invest in 5 key areas:

  1. Data

Data is coming at us from all sides today. Marketing campaigns generate engagement that can be tracked in automation tools and delivered to us via 3rd-party vendors. Sales teams record and track scores of data points in CRM tools. Our own websites and products are constantly generating information on the behaviors of our prospects and customers. The problem is that in many cases, while we’re much better at gathering data than we’ve ever been before, we’re not much better at analyzing and understanding it.

That’s why CMO’s are beginning to prioritize data by:

  • Hiring a data officer who can build a team that will bring the right skillsets into marketing to understand customer data.
  • Gaining access to and connecting key systems of data that will help an organization to understand the entire customer lifecycle, not just what happens before a sale.
  • Driving a culture of data hygiene and management that builds a strong foundation for data-driven marketing.
  • Uncovering and filling gaps in a company’s data to better understand their existing clients and gain visibility into prospects that have not yet meaningfully interacted with their brand.
  1. Alignment

Your customers and prospects don’t care where one team’s responsibilities end and another’s begin. What they want is a seamless experience that is relevant to their business needs. Where many marketing teams fall short of this goal is by failing to establish close relationships with sales, customer success and product teams in their organization.

To do this properly, marketing teams need to:

  • Ensure that they’re understood across the entire business, not just within their team. The language used to describe the work and objectives of marketing should not only align, but be well understood by other teams.
  • Define the metrics and goals shared across the entire company quantitatively and agree on them cross functionally so that an objective truth ties the varied teams together. Qualitative objectives are important, but only if they’re built on the basis of measurable results.
  • Use their shared language and goals to create a holistic customer experience across the customer facing functions, products and digital experiences delivered by your company.
  1. Data-driven decision making

While getting the data and using it to create team alignment across the organization are important steps, at the end of the day the major goal is building a data-driven decision-making process for your organization. Everything from your website user experience to the pieces of content shared by your insides sales organization can be informed through the use of customer data.

To begin the journey to data-driven decision-making:

  • It’s important to identify a narrow set of business priorities within your organization that can maximize the impact of data. Focusing on delivering results with a specific use-case will increase the chance of success and implementation across the organization.
  • Create a focused roll-out plan that includes the right stakeholders and starts from the shared goal of arriving at a data-driven process that improves marketing outcomes.
  • Think through the system integrations that will enable data-driven decision making to occur in a particular part of your marketing and sales process. How will media buyers, sales development reps or your account executives make better use of their limited resources as a result of data-driven insights?
  1. Metrics and measurement

The most powerful aspect of data-driven decision making is that if you close the loop, data-driven decisions will create better results, that generate better data and in turn, allow you to make better decisions. Having a solid metrics and measurement framework in place will allow the modern CMO to prove and improve meaningful business impact driven by marketing.

To bring the data-driven journey full circle, CMOs should:

  • Build the right team of data developers, analysts, BI experts, marketing technologists and data-driven marketers. From understanding the data to operationalizing it within your marketing stack, demand gen programs and content, you need a team that can not only understand the data, but also use it.
  • Create dashboards that give visibility into business metrics like cost of customer acquisition, ROI for specific marketing channels, the time it takes for a lead to convert into an opportunity in your pipeline and marketing-influenced models that show deeper analysis than first and last touch attribution.
  1. Continuous piloting of new technologies

More than anything, marketing’s new strategic role has positioned it as the function that responds to the changing buying behaviors and business needs of the market. To accomplish this task, marketing will need to create a process to continuously test and implement new processes, technologies and approaches to not only capture demand, but also shape the direction of an organization’s strategic vision.

To do this this, marketing must develop a marketing stack with the customer at the center:

  • This can be done by outlining all the possible touchpoints with which your customers interact and all the data your customers create through these interactions. This exercise will not only help you understand your customer better, but also all the ways in which your company shapes your customer’s experience of your brand.
  • The technologies you invest in should map back to the strategic goals and initiatives of the business and be measured on how they improve the customer journey.
  • Once you’ve gone through this process a few times, you should have enough information to create a framework for the continuous piloting of technologies that take every new investment through an ideation process of: identifying business outcomes, connecting them to business and technology trends you want to explore, developing the executable concept and taking the initiative through implementation and ROI.

What struck us most as we explored this topic, is that while the journey is complex the goal is simple: the creation of a relevant and timely delivery of experiences to the customer that helps them achieve their business goals. So the next time you think about your role as a marketer, remember that your job is well beyond driving consideration of your company’s products and services. Today, marketers are the connective tissue between the market and their company, defining the customer experience and setting the strategic vision of their organizations.

Join us for our next webinar, Bending the Revenue Curve with Predictive-Powered Personalization, hosted with Optimizely on August 25th where we’ll explore how predictive-driven personalization can power your company’s ABM strategy.