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Marketing is All About the Customer Journey!

In today’s ever-changing business world, CMOs are now responsible for forging a bond with new customers, retaining existing customers, and expanding the relationship with all customers. This article provides a brief discussion on the ways in which marketing executives are expected to shape the customer experience. It also offers insight on what service providers can do to deliver extra value to these executives.

By Barb Pellow
Published: October 16, 2014


A number of new job titles are emerging within today’s corporations, including Chief Customer Officers, Chief Experience Officers, Chief Client Officers, and Chief Digital Officers. These title changes are indicative of the new roles for marketing executives. They imply that the CMO is the executive responsible for forging a bond with new customers, retaining existing customers, and expanding the relationship with all customers.

Digital technology has clearly changed how businesses sell their offerings, in addition to opening up a tremendous number of new channels and strategies that are required to reach customers. All channels are on in today’s digital world, and this brings a requirement to deploy new marketing strategies that deliver a meaningful customer experience—a true customer journey.

The Rebirth of the CMO

An August 2014 Harvard Business Review article entitled Rebirth of the CMO discussed three critical changes in the role of CMOs that print service providers need to understand:

  1. CMOs will depend on data-driven insights to drive growth. CMOs will be seeking techniques to gather insight about the market as well as the consumer journey. According to a 2013 survey from DataMatics, companies that extensively use customer analytics are more than twice as likely to generate above-average profits than those that don't. They outperform their peers across the customer lifecycle, are 9 times more likely to enjoy better customer loyalty, and are 23 times more likely to outperform their less analytical peers on new customer acquisition.
  2. CMOs need to deliver the right strategies and processes to carry out their vision in a multi-channel world.The majority of customer communication projects address service experiences across multiple channels (web, face-to-face, mobile, social, telephone, etc.). The future of marketing will be based on evaluating communication channels as well as mapping and optimizing journeys for customers. Marketing continues to change, and previously fragmented campaigns must now become seamless experiences. In a world where everything is connected, personalization is no longer a feature—it’s an expectation. Designing a process that enables all channels to work together builds on each channel’s respective strengths and prevents customers from falling through the gaps. The Harvard Business Review article states, “Point solutions that specifically focus on the call center, the store, or the website can no longer cut it in our multi-channel environment. Delivering excellent customer journeys can increase revenues by up to 15% and decrease costs by up to 20%.” Some marketing experts now consider their CMOs to be the organization’s Customer Journey Officer.
  3. The CMO will be the organizational glue that delivers change. All marketers share a common goal—to better engage empowered individuals. Armed with data, marketers are expected to act as change operators. They must use information to better understand customers, improve satisfaction, and develop upselling strategies. This same customer insight needs to be used to shape new product offerings and identify the right customer-facing skills. According to the Harvard Business Review article, “The CMO must sit down with the head of sales, the COO, the Customer Service Center Leader, and others to map out what exactly customers do on a given journey, which function has responsibility for which interaction, and what each party needs to do to ensure a consistent and excellent customer experience. With so many parts needing to come together to deliver on a customer journey, the CMO has to operate as the ‘glue’ across the organization.”

What Does this Mean to the Printing Industry?

There are three key elements that service providers should consider as they build out their strategies to participate and support today’s CMOs.

1. Understanding Data is Integral to Success with Marketing Executives

The CMO’s success is linked to data-driven marketing insights. For example, a detailed understanding of customer behavior by channel, geography, and season can assist in developing long-term business strategies as well as short-term marketing and merchandising decisions. Service providers need to understand data, data mining, and data analytics. They must also have the right partnerships to help marketing executives with building out responsive and insightful campaigns. Service providers like Chicago-based SG360° are building teams to collaborate with marketing executives. The firm has appointed Luke Heffron as Senior Vice President of its EMPIRICALinsights division. As an early innovator of data-driven direct marketing, Heffron’s focus is on helping clients develop effective marketing programs in terms of acquisitions, retention, win-backs, and loyalty. The emphasis is on the individual customer and understanding his/her viewpoint about a brand while integrating communications across channels.

2. Cross-Media Isn’t Enough Anymore… It’s the Customer Journey

Now that consumers are armed with mobile technology, organizations need to deliver a journey that moves the customer from initial contact to purchase and then retention. This journey must highly personalized, and service providers need to have theorganizational structure (e.g., the right partnerships) to deliver the content and strategy to execute optimized and personalized content across every channel and every device.

Marketers want providers that will experiment with strategies to synergistically utilize media. The initial delivery vehicle to drive engagement may be print-based (e.g., direct mail, catalog, poster), but it should link to other channels as part of the overall journey. For example, the printed piece could direct the recipient to an online site that is critical to the success of the overall campaign. Marketers might also want to explore options like QR codes, NFC tags, social media, and augmented reality to make print a more engaging part of the customer journey.

To facilitate this process, Minneapolis-based GLS acquired an agency called Next. The company is working on solutions for Precision Marketing, which is uniquely designed to support the customer journey. The concept around Precision Marketing is that organizations need a strategy that respects the way that buyers investigate and engage today. Next, a GLS Company, flips the traditional marketing paradigm. It works with clients to make brand connections at every stage of the consideration journey. In today’s world of customer empowerment, marketing engagement must acknowledge changing buyer behaviors.

3. Accountability Still Counts!

Although big brand marketers are often perceived as experts in tracking results, this isn’t always the case. As the number of channels increases, so do the complexities associated with tracking results. The concept of Marketing ROI is critical in the C-suite. More than ever, marketing executives want to know which communications and channels are the most effective. If you can bring more value in terms of measurement and metrics, you can become a more effective marketing partner.

The Bottom Line

CMOs still need help, and this means opportunities for savvy service providers. If you don’t have the expertise to handle every aspect yourself (and few companies do), participate by establishing partnerships. Be selective yet thorough, develop a clear understanding of the customer’s business objectives, and establish the drivers for consumer behavior.

The key principles that you should understand are as follows:

Marketers and service providers must accept that the balance of power between the buyer and the seller has changed.

The economy, technological advancements, and cultural changes will continue to drive cross-media direct marketing opportunities.

Customer engagement and interactivity will be essential to marketers of all types. It is important to establish a balance of print, mobile, online, and social components.

Campaigns need to communicate with customers and prospects through multiple channels. They must deliver an experience and a meaningful journey.

Communication strategies need to create uniquely powerful opt-in preference-driven databases to enhance future communications.

Rather than trying to tackle everything at once, use a phased cross-media approach. Select third parties (e.g., other print manufacturers, integrated marketing software companies, list houses, agencies, data mining personnel, and analytic partners) to build out your capabilities. The whole process is a journey not just for the end consumer, but also for service providers that are willing to step up to the challenge.

A digital printing and publishing pioneer, marketing expert and Group Director at InfoTrends, Barbara Pellow helps companies develop multi-media strategies that ride the information wave. Barb brings the knowledge and skills to help companies expand and grow business opportunity.

Please offer your feedback to Barb. She can be reached at barb_pellow@infotrends.com.


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