What’s My CMO Talking About?
As head of the entire organization, the CEO is expected to have a working knowledge of each functional area of the business. But as technology evolves at dizzying speeds, it’s not always easy to keep up. You may have thought, for example, that you understood marketing nomenclature, but now noticed that it’s getting harder to differentiate between a conversation with your CMO and your CIO. Let’s take a brief tour of some of the words and phrases your CMO is probably using these days—so you can have an informed conversation about how the marketing department fits into the strategic plan of your organization.
Martech is the buzzword created to describe the combination of marketing activities with technology. Although traditional methods of advertising and marketing (billboards, ads, radio, TV, sponsorships, direct mail, etc.) are still effective, the digital boom has paved the way for the development of a number of sophisticated digital tools that provide a depth of insight for the savvy marketer. Mass marketing via standard approaches has now been surpassed by digital marketing practices that allow for highly targeted campaigns and detailed effectiveness reporting.
It’s worth every CEO’s time to learn the basic language, approaches, and tools of the modern CMO.
Integrating data analytics with your internal customer data—typically held in a customer relationship management (CRM) database—and third-party data now gives you the ability to (1) get a profile of your customer (what they buy, when they buy, how much they are willing to pay) and (2) understand who is buying (demographics such as age, gender, income, and education level); where they are buying from (geo-location), and what motivated them to buy (discount, incentive, bundle, online content, testimonials/endorsements, etc.).
In the past, marketers relied on laborious multivariate testing (MVT) to gauge prospective customers’ reactions to different offers, different content, and so on. Now, with prescriptive analytics, market testing has largely been automated. Prescriptive analytics uses both descriptive analytics (data about the past) and predictive analytics (modeling and forecasting of what may happen in the future) to arrive at recommended courses of action, especially when combined with sophisticated propensity models.
Machine learning (ML) can also be used to automate multivariate testing by first performing a cluster analysis that groups variables before placing them into a multinomial logistic regression—essentially, a method of predicting probable outcomes given a certain set of variables. So instead of waiting weeks or months to see what actual customers do, the proper data analytics techniques can tell you what they are most likely to do in minutes or seconds. Of course, the accuracy of the recommendations depends heavily on the accuracy of your internal data and the stringency of your data governance practices.
Here are some other digital tools your CMO may be talking about:
IP Address Hyper-Targeting
Here’s a neat little development that came out around the 2016 election: IP address hyper-targeting. Every household that has an Internet connection has a unique IP address. The digital advertising tactic known as IP address hyper-targeting delivers personalized content to a website user’s mobile device or desktop based upon its physical location. IP targeting is better than traditional geo-fencing in that it targets specific households or businesses. So, for example, a political message can be directed toward a target audience’s IP addresses (based upon voter addresses in a database) while avoiding those who don’t wish to see or hear it. It works by converting physical
addresses into IP addresses and then messaging to mobile devices and desktops that use those IP addresses. Let’s say you run a B2B business and are trying to win favor with a particular company; you can determine their IP address and put your message in front of every employee registered at that IP address when they go online. (For more about how this works, take a look at www.eltoro.com.)
Converting Analytics into Directional Leads
Google Analytics can tell you a lot about how your website is received by the general public. It can tell you the number of sessions you’ve had, the number of unique visitors, your bounce rate, your most popular pages, the average time spent on your website, etc. However, this information doesn’t directly convert into leads. to uncover more about your anonymous website visitors and can help you turn Google information into directional leads.
Tools like Leadfeeder integrate with both Google and LinkedIn and take in IP address information to provide a customized dashboard that furnishes insights on who’s visiting your site. The lead dashboard will show you the names of the companies associated with the IP addresses that are visiting your website (important for B2B companies). And, although it can’t tell you the exact individual who visited, it can tell you what they looked at, how long they looked, and on what date. Software can also provide, via integration with LinkedIn, a list of the company’s employees, their titles, and their email addresses.
So, let’s say someone from Company X spent six minutes looking at one of your services. You could infer that Company X may have a need for that service. Next, you would go through the list of company contacts and select the individual or department that would most benefit from your service, then reach out to them.
Competitor monitoring and analysis can be an arduous undertaking. In the past, sporadic information would come in from a number of sources. Sales may have known something about a competitor’s pricing. Marketing may have snagged a competitor’s brochure at a trade show. Whatever was culled together told a patchy story at best.
Today, with most of a company’s information online, competitive data can be gathered, organized, and presented more easily. Software platforms like WatchMyCompetitor.com can now pull product information (pricing changes, launches, availability, retiring products), marketing information (promotions, events, website layout changes, banner changes, online ads), social media information (impactful posts and videos), and company information (personnel changes, restructuring, financial results, investor updates, new partners, new locations) and put all of it into a concise, personalized dashboard. In addition, the information is consistently updated, and you can set alerts for strategic changes. You no longer have to be caught unaware.
It’s worth every CEO’s time to learn the basic language, approaches, and tools of the modern CMO. Once you have a working knowledge of the latest developments in marketing technology, your conversations with your head of marketing will be a lot less confusing—and significantly more productive.