What Excelling as a CMO in a Data-Driven World Looks Like

New data creates possibilities and challenges

The explosion of data-driven marketing tools has changed the role of the CMO. Brands expect their CMOs to be analytical thinkers and creative geniuses, in tune with their audience and on top of cultural and media trends.

It’s a huge job, but with the glut of tools available to them, it should be simpler than ever for a CMO to create and execute brilliant advertising campaigns.

CMOs now have the means to know absolutely everything about their target audiences and the performance of every piece of content, and they can craft concepts that resonate with consumers. New delivery, targeting and measurement capabilities also allow them to deliver the content at the perfect place and time.

On the other hand, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There is no hiding. A great ad isn’t a great ad unless it generates results, and everyone expects the marketing team to have the KPIs to prove it. Competing for consumers’ attention and finding them across devices in a fragmented media market isn’t easy either.

It’s difficult, but the new types of data available make it a little easier. So how does all this new data fit into the CMO’s changing role? And, more importantly, how can it help them thrive?

Dollars going to marketing technology

One place to start is mar tech. It’s one of the largest areas of investment for marketing teams, and accounts for a third of marketers’ budgets, according to Gartner’s CMO survey. That’s a big chunk, and it makes assessing marketing technology one of the most important and often most challenging, aspects of the CMO role. Your ability to understand and leverage marketing technology can either give you a distinct business advantage or leave you playing catch up with competitors.

Programmatic is a key component of your mar tech investment. A recent survey by Econsultancy found that 29 percent of brands run programmatic operations in-house. This means a growing number of CMOs are tasked with building programmatic infrastructure and processes.

To manage and evaluate programmatic campaigns, you need an entirely different skill set than leading, say, a print campaign. You need to be data-driven to get more value from every dollar you spend.

Leveraging quality location data is one way to get more from your mar tech investment.

With the proliferation of mobile devices comes unparalleled access to data on real-world behaviors. You can reach people where they are, in a way that reflects where they are going, based on where they have been.

Location data has multiple uses across the marketing lifecycle. You can use it to inform your brand strategy and ad creative. You can build and target audiences based on patterns or real-time whereabouts, using customizable geofences. And you can improve your measurement and optimization by connecting cross-channel marketing and measuring campaign foot traffic.

A recent study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Factual found that by using location data, marketers can increase foot traffic by improving scale, accuracy and reach, which ultimately improves profitability. In fact, marketers that use Factual activated campaigns increased profits by $2.5 million over three years, per Forrester’s findings.

More than marketing

A second factor is the rise of the customer-centric approach. Here is where a CMO’s in-depth customer knowledge is vital, not only to marketing but to customer experience, customer service, sales, retention and product development.

Marketing is the unit charged with mapping the customer journey, but with a customer-centric approach, every area of the business needs to understand the path to purchase. Location data can be critical here too and tell you where customers go before or after they visit your store.

The role of the CMO is also increasingly collaborative. They work closely with your product, sales, IT and finance teams. This is due in part to the sophistication of the mar tech stack.

Marketing tools, including location data, have far-reaching implications. Observations from the marketing team can benefit nearly every aspect of the business, from customer service to product development. For example, location data can be used to launch new apps or products, inform decisions about where to open new locations and to build out competitive benchmarking.

With Cannes around the corner, many CMOs (including me) are thinking about what creativity means in 2019, and what it takes to excel as a brand and CMO. Everyone there will know that today’s brand marketers do much more than create ad campaigns.

They make important decisions about technical adoption, mastering programmatic, mapping the customer journey and sharing data-backed findings across departments. Location data helps marketers do their jobs better. And these days, a win for the marketing team is a win for the entire organization.

Brian Czarny is CMO of Factual, responsible for driving all aspects of marketing for Factual, including strategy, brand, communications, product marketing and growth. A senior marketing and product veteran, he brings more than 20 years of marketing experience with fast-growing technology companies.