Predictions 2018: 5 ways the CMO role will change

Marketing analysts and technology predict what the changing role of the chief marketing officer will look like in 2018.

Experts warn that as pressure mounts to deliver more business growth and meet customer expectations against a backdrop of tighter budgets and economic conditions, the role of the CMO will need to rapidly evolve in 2018.

According to Forrester’s 2018 CMO Predictions, growth defines next year’s core marketing narrative, with CMOs expecting further disruption and an even faster pace of change driven by customer needs and rapid advances in technology. This will intensify pressure on CMOs in the New Year to prove their mettle as catalysts for change or suffer the effects of organisational complacency.

For Forrester VP and research director, Michael Barnes, 2018 will favour marketing leaders who take aggressive action and drive growth and innovation.

“How can you step up? Fight complacency and broaden the scope of your remit to match the demands of empowered customers,” he says.

By the end of next year, Forrester expects nearly half of CMOs globally – and an even higher percentage in Australia – to go further in leading their firms’ customer experience efforts. This means CMOs need to rethink the way brand and CX teams collaborate.

“CMOs need to start to further break down the silos between brand and CX teams to ensure customer experiences align with brand promises,” Barnes says.


Chief growth officers will replace CMOs

One of Forrester’s key predictions is that 2018 will signal the rise of the CGO to replace ineffectual CMOs. It’s a trend driven by CEOs facing a stronger need to install executives with broader remints who can lead a force of change during slower economic growth.

Globally, brands like Coca Cola have already scrapped the CMO position entirely in favour of a CGO, and Forrester suggests it’s a burgeoning trend CMOs can only abate by leading strategic growth initiatives.

“In 2018, CMOs will either step up as a leader of growth or quietly cede influence to another c-suite member, such as a chief growth officer,” Barnes says.

For CMOs to win the trust of CEOs and earn their place at the boardroom table, Sonder Communications founding partner, Angus Frazer, advises leaders to take on more commercial responsibility and accountability for revenue.

“Simply alluding to vague brand value strategies is not enough for the modern CMO, who has entered an era of extreme accountability,” Frazer says. “CMOs will be required to be far more answerable for revenue growth and the identification of new revenue streams.”

According to Frazer, CMOs should also expect to carry the expectation of ‘exponential efficiency’ in 2018 more than ever. He describes this as marketing continuing to improve its efficiency and cement itself as a vital force for commercial growth.

“CMOs will be under pressure more than ever to find new, innovative ways to unlock and exploit the greatest value from their own media and marketing assets,” he says. “This will involve making better use of owned media assets, better value extraction from partner businesses using owned media and, where appropriate, the profitable and responsible monetisation of owned media assets.”

Anaplan A/NZ marketing manager, Stefano Masiello also see greater emphasis placed on results, not only in terms of return on marketing investment, but also the ongoing affect through the business.

“The focus will move from MQL [marketing qualified lead] to sale, taking into account the cost of sale, margin and profitability,” he says. “By correctly measuring the numbers, marketing will have greater accountability and in turn, proof of value.”


Holistic brand management

Another new reality setting in is CMOs better managing brands holistically, ensuring consistency between brand promise and the experience delivered. This means optimising ad spend and reinvesting in high frequency, emotion rich, connected experiences – a mandate for the CMO to speak fluent CX.

One of the ways this is materialising is through the digital advertising supply chain shake-up. In 2017, it started with Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Chase, and moving forward to next year experts agree other CMOs will feel an onus to achieve more while cleaning up the media supply chain.

“A year ago, P&G’s CMO Marc Pritchard made what was unquestionably the most influential speech of the year for brand marketers,” Inskin general manager for Australia, Matt Newcomb, comments. “In it, he told CMOs they would need to get into the weeds and help clean up the media supply chain.

“We’ve seen a lot of progress in the last 12 months, but equally, there remains much to do. Ad validation and quality assurance remains top of the list: Is my ad brand safe, viewable and seen by a human?  As we head through 2018, marketers will not just need to satisfy these hygiene factors but also begin to ask effectiveness questions – what impact did my ad have on my brand?”

At the same time, increasing demand for transparency across various levels within business will mean CMOs need to be ready to look at adtech and martech in a more holistic way.

“No doubt, adtech and martech are still existing in silos for many brands as they were brought into a company’s marketing mix with different goals and management objectives,” MediaMath country manager for A/NZ, Yun Yip, says. “Marketers today must look at how adtech and martech can exist in a more holistic way to target the right consumers.

“We will see more and more marketers bringing the two together and deploying it in-house, creating more seamless and synchronised customer experiences across touchpoints and channels.”


Increased CIO/CMO collaboration

The feverish pace of technology changes shows no signs of subsiding in 2018. As a result, Forrester predicts CMOs and CIOs will need to collaborate more closely to drive martech strategy and monitor technology budgets more responsibly in the face of increased budget responsibility.

“The roles of the CIO and the CMO have never been more important to that of an organisation than in 2018,” Public Media chief digital and technology officer, Jason Tonelli, claims.  “In 2017, we found there was a lot of discovery of what customers have available to them in terms of technology, and through this, the coming together of information technology teams and the marketing teams to collaborate and ideate on infrastructure solutions that drive business growth have come to the fore.”

According to Tonelli, single adtech and martech solutions such as Oracle, IBM, Salesforce and Microsoft will all have a bigger and expanded role to play in these conversations in the New Year.

“In addition, CMOs will look to companies such as Google and Adobe to work with and collaborate on projects that see the core business infrastructure be leveraged further into advertising platforms to create richer advertising moments and storytelling,” he adds.


The customer-obsessed CMO

As customer behaviour continues to adapt with the advent of voice-based interaction, Forrester predicts an even more complex customer matrix will form, requiring harmonisation of existing experiences with intelligent agents like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. This will position the CMO who drives ‘customer obsessed’ transformations at the forefront of innovative growth.

“CMOs will turn this into an opportunity to remould their organisation to be customer obsessed, prioritising talent that can conceptualise innovation and growth, and farming execution-oriented specialist work out to partners,” Barnes says.

Experts agree this means CMOs must focus on a strategic, organisational and technological mindset guided by empathy for a customer who will absolutely demand this level of intention in 2018.

“CMOs are now the ultimate guardians of a deep understanding of their customers, sometimes more than the CEO,” Publicis Media A/NZ CEO, Matt James, says. “The responsibility to extract organic revenues from existing customers and understand where to drive demand for new growth has become a complex task.”

For Malwarebytes APAC marketing director, Leslie Beckman, providing great customer experience in 2018 remains fundamentally based on consistency across all touchpoints – whether that be online, in person, via influencers or in product/service use.

“Customers will not even differentiate if their experience is as a consumer or a business,” she notes. “While this sounds obvious, it can be challenging to the organisation that manages each of these areas in different departments, with different metrics for success. Superb CX comes when consistent messaging is driven from the top and celebrated across the organisation with excellent communication and collaboration.”

According to LogRhythm senior regional marketing director for APAC and Japan, Joanne Wong, every CMO’s goal is to create seamless, synchronised and customer-centric experiences for their audiences across all channels and touchpoints. 2018 will only heighten that responsibility.

“More importantly, CMOs want to maintain access, control and accountability of these touchpoints,” she says. “I think bringing madtech [convergence of martech and adtech] in-house allows for that. CMOs on this path will not only drive cost efficiencies for their organisation, they will have full control over the customer data for personalisation and analytics throughout the full customer journey.”


Pressure to be transformative and agile

According to Forrester, not only are CMOs now in control of the fastest growing technology budget, the demand for a superior CX and brand relationships has also added the burden of maintaining more emotion-rich connections with customers, while driving digital transformation and agility.

“For 2018, we’ll also see CMOs growing increasingly frustrated with the timeframes and inertia implicit in ‘digital transformations’ and become more attuned to buying sharp episodic ‘value events’ that meet their needs for rapid, provable value,” DPR & Co Agency principal and founder, Phil Huzzard, says. “This, in turn, suggests rising interest in agile agencies capable of blurring the lines between themselves and the client through innovative models such as HiHo [half-in, half out], where agencies become part of the client during periods of high activity.”

Tibco marketing director for APAC and Japan, Alan Ho, stresses digitisation will signal further pressure on CMOs to break down silos and propagate digital transformation.

“Digitalisation, mobility, and IoT have transformed the way we understand our customers while, at the same time, marketers are being challenged by the speed of change,” he says.  “Ultimately, marketers will need to move away from operating in a silo, propagate the value of digital transformation across the business and then lead digital transformation initiatives in an organisation to drive customer experience.”

In 2018, the most successful CMOs will recognise and work around the fact that fixed scopes of work won’t work and will only become more ineffective in 2018, digital agency Butterfly’s CEO, Liz McLean, believes.

“Agile ways of working, managing teams, upskilling, and developing budgets will enable organisations to truly innovate and deliver services that meet customers’ needs as they also change – CMOs that are constrained to set budgets from the start will only limit the impact and value their activities will be able to deliver,” she says.

(Source: CMO Australia by IDG)