When was the last time you paid attention to, let alone acted on, a marketing message? You’re not alone. Cord cutting, ad blocking, second-screen multitasking and an average attention span of eight seconds — now shorter than that of a goldfish — means that being heard isn’t just difficult, it will soon be close to impossible.
To stay relevant will require moving from renting attention to building loyalty. Yet there is internal competition to own loyalty. Nearly a quarter of the Fortune 100 now have a chief customer officer. Chief marketing officers have a clear choice: drive the loyalty agenda across the enterprise or risk becoming a tactical messaging team pushed below the executive level.
According to MediaPost‘s OMMA, ad recall is just 20 percent of what it was three decades ago. But even when that message is recalled, it’s not trusted. Edelman’s 2016 Trust Barometer shows that only 53 percent of people trust what they hear from business. Media is equally distrusted at 49 percent. Instead, millennials put their faith in user-generated content and their own personal networks.
We are also witnessing an era of exponential change. The rise of the intelligent agent (think Siri or Alexa) combined with an encyclopedic knowledge of a person’s every interaction is empowering organizations like never before. Marketers are gaining the unparalleled ability to build personalized conversations, but only when they earn permission to do so. Change is rapid and it can be seismic. In the last 12 months, Hearts & Science, a new agency established by Omnicom, won $5 billion in annual billings at P&G and AT&T by building a new in-house data platform to knock out long-standing incumbents.
The old marketing model is in decline and five trends are emerging that the new generation of CMOs needs to master.
1. Experience dominates message
Advocacy metrics will be significantly more valuable than brand-funnel metrics. Beside Earned, Owned and Paid buckets will rise Shared — how users share their authentic experiences. The“Share a Coke” campaign led to a 2.5 percent increase in sales. While storytelling remains important, it increasingly needs to be delivered across all touchpoints. For the CMO, either they develop consulting skills to influence the customer journey outside their silo or they risk being eclipsed by the chief customer or chief experience officer.
2. Radical personalization turns marketing into a service
Multi-touch attribution and the ubiquity of personal data will enable the savvy marketer to provide the right information at the right moment and in the right context. This will help shift the message from a frustrating interruption to a valuable service for the customer. And the winners will be the leaders in technology and analytics rather than media.
3. The best learning machine wins
Marketing will pivot from structured campaigns to a portfolio of dynamic conversations and experiments that are constantly optimized. USAA is testing a technique using AI technology to understand how and why members get in touch. So far the program has helped USAA improve its guess rate from 50 to 88 percent, by matching the broad patterns of customer behavior to those of individual members.
Your position in the data flow will also matter, with those closest to the customer gaining greater insight and speed to market. This will require a more agile organization and the confidence to give greater control to intelligent agents. As most companies can’t win the battle to top the data flow, they’ll need to create occasions where they’ll create and hold unique insight that provides an edge over competitors.
4. Trust and permission will be everything
Today, customers are willing to share their information if it results in a better service. But at some point in the future there will be a data event, a scandal at the scale never before seen, that will force customers to become intimately aware of their most valuable asset — data.
At this point, trust will become the single most important attribute for a brand. Lose it and you lose access to personal data. Lose access to that data and you’re no longer relevant. Lose relevance and you drift into invisibility in a world where interruptive marketing no longer works. In other words, trust will be the difference between making money and not. Yet today, the answer to the question, “I trust this brand with my data,” shows a staggering range of results from 14 to 65 percent. Transparency, authenticity and simplicity will be essential to avoid making promises that a brand can’t deliver in the hunt to build trust.
5. Brands will bifurcate into commodities and tribes
The days as a marker or subconscious shortcut for brands are numbered. The rise of the omnipotent consumer is leading to a bifurcation in how brands will develop. On the one hand there will be brands that act as a community to believe in and belong to. On the other there will be the commodities — brands doing a solid job being relevant but failing to build an emotional connection. While commodity brands may survive in heavily regulated or scale-efficient markets, we’ll increasingly see tribe brands use their stronger emotional connections to gain closer connection to the data and conversations that drive purchase occasions. Tribes thrive through their authentic and focused definition of who they are and what they represent, something the marketer is best suited to define within organizations.
The transformation of marketing is already underway. Salesforce’s “2016 State of Marketing” report shows that high-performing marketing teams are eight times more likely than underperformers to be leading customer experience initiatives across their business. Likewise, 53 percent of high performers are heavy tech adopters versus only 7 percent of underperformers. This isn’t just a question of capability, it’s a change in mind-set. Creativity remains critical but will have to be personalized and better informed by data, and work faster.
Every CMO should be asking themselves the following questions
- How will I deliver my objectives in a world where the performance of interruption marketing will quickly decline?
- Do I have the right talent in my team to navigate that change?
- What role should technology play and what’s the right balance between keeping it in-house and outsourcing it?
The CMO that has a clear vision for the future role of marketing can set the agenda with their leadership and put in place the technology, the people and the organizational design to master the changing marketing landscape and navigate the shift from renting attention to building loyalty.