by Tom Kaneshige

CMOs Must Capitalize on Digital Moments of Engagement

Nov 17, 20143 mins

Thanks to access to the latest technology, CMOs have become managers of a potentially prosperous customer journey that runs from initial contact to building loyalty. So why are digital marketers feeling alone and overwhelmed?

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Imagine that a CMO at a hospital delivers an emotionally powerful television commercial touting wellness. Because many consumers watch television with a tablet in hand, the CMO also runs a Twitter campaign as the commercial airs. The commercial sparks a Twitter conversion.

Now the CMO can identify Twitter users who watched the commercial. And so the CMO follows up with highly targeted emails to those users promoting various illness-related Webinars of interest based on their Tweets. The Webinar motivates some people to make a preventive care visit, which ultimately results in fewer visits to the emergency room — the hospital’s least profitable department.

“I can see that entire journey, from the television commercial to the preventative care visit,” says CMO Sanjay Dholakia at Marketo, a provider of marketing software. “Marketers have control of the relationship and are ascending to the driver’s seat.”

[Related: CIO-to-CMO Transition of Power Is Becoming a Reality]

It truly is a marketer’s world these days.

Armed with cutting-edge technology, marketers have become managers of a long and potentially prosperous customer journey. From initiating contact to converting a sale to creating loyal customers, marketers have become the most important people inside a company. The old era of mass marketing — one message for everybody — has been replaced by a new era of engagement.

Marketers Aim for ‘Moments of Engagement’

Along the customer journey, marketers and customers meet at critical moments of engagement. These can be the moment when someone opens an email, visits a website, stops by a booth at a trade show, calls the call center, or any other myriad interaction with a company.

The customer journey’s final destination is multi-dimensional, says Dholakia. For starters, most marketers aim for conversion, or a sale, followed by retention and renewal. Beyond conversion, marketers want customers to use the product or service as often as possible. Loyal customers who become advocates carrying the product’s flag on social networks and customer reviews are priceless.

[Related: CMOs Paralyzed By Paradigm Shift (and CIOs Aren’t Helping)]

Because CMOs know the identities of customers whenever there’s a digital moment of engagement, they can analyze which kinds of digital engagement activities make the most sense and what customers to invest in. For instance, CMOs who buy AdWords used to value them based on how many clicks they got. By seeing the customer journey in its entirety, today’s CMO can dismiss AdWords with high click volumes in favor of AdWords that are more likely to lead to sales.

CMO Alone on the Digital Marketing Island

With all sorts of new technology to manage the customer journey and assist capitalizing on moments of engagement, you’d think CMOs would feel pretty confident — but they’re not. The marketing tech landscape has erupted over the last few years, with some 3,000 vendors pitching their wares in a complex ecosystem still trying to define itself. Digital marketers feel overwhelmed.

“It often feels like a very lonely place for CMOs and heads of marketing who are trying to navigate this stuff, but you’ve got a lot of peers in the same place,” Dholakia says. “Marketers can get together and talk to each other and share best practices… It’s about building a life-long, durable, personalized relationship with someone at scale, and it’s become the basis of competitive advantage.”