Tag Archives: CMO Corner

6 Ways Marketing Automation Is Evolving for CMOs

As a CMO, your job is to be ready for every marketing development. You’re never allowed to stand still, because the moment you do, something in your industry will change, and you’ll fall behind the competition.

Unfortunately, turnover for marketing jobs is increasing. One survey revealed that the average tenure of a marketing CMO is less than four years, and burnout is the number one cause. Automation is the solution to avoiding this burnout. It’s one of those constantly-evolving trends that’s a hot topic for marketers. 

Many CMOs are hesitant to engage in automation because it can have negative effects, like being banned from accounts or poor engagement. However, the landscape for automation is changing, and CMOs don’t have to be as scared of automation as they once were. In fact, you should be using it to your advantage as it continues to improve. 

You have enough on your plate without having to worry about spending enough time on social media to engage with users and create a strong brand. Here are some automation advancements that you’ll likely appreciate as a CMO. 

1. Real Engagement Is Possible 

In the past, automation bots were always a problem. Many CMOs refused to work with them because they caused awkward situations, lost your followers, and even got your account suspended or banned. 

However, automation has come a long way. There are still bots and automation services that can pose problems, but many more offer high-quality services that allow you to connect with real followers and not fake accounts. For example, SocialCaptain gets Instagram followers with strategic automation. The platform gets you real engagement as a result of authentic strategies guided by AI expert algorithms. 

There are great tools for every social media platform, not just Instagram. You can free up a lot of your time by using these tools while maintaining the desired engagement from your target audience. 

2. More Accessible Data 

In an interview with, Forbes, Matt Gay, CMO for Accenture, said that data is one of the marketers’ biggest challenges, particularly when it comes to the ability to use it. “It’s got to be in a form and format that is easily accessible and useable going forward, so you don’t have to have an IT person sorting through and making static reports,” he says. 

Thankfully, there is automation to handle a lot of the legwork in data analysis. The right software tools can help CMOs not only gather data but turn it into insights that can be used for advertising and marketing purposes. 

“CMOs would traditionally use data scientists and their analytics,” Gay says, pointing out that this is no longer a necessity with today’s machine algorithms that can do more than data scientists ever could. 

“Even with analytics and algorithms, these processes are manual, slow, and not leveraging the full capability of data scientists,” he continues. “As well, since machines can process massive amounts of data quickly, they will uncover insights faster and more efficiently than humans…allowing the data scientists to use their brains more and continue to seed the algorithms.” 

It’s an incredible tool that every chief marketer should be leveraging for the promotion of their business. 

3. Provides More Context 

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have come leaps and bounds in the last few years. They can now gather contextual clues much better than before, limiting inaccurate and sometimes embarrassing mistakes of the past. 

“Brands can use automation for contextual marketing, offering more personalized interactions,” says Linda Turley, an attorney at Turley Law Firm, who has experienced this first hand. “For example, data shows you when your target audience is usually online. Then, you can set your content calendar to post content at these times,” she explained. 

Additionally, data can show you trending topics, high-performing posts on social media, and highly effective advertisements in your industry. This information gathered with bots and other automated tools can give consumers the customized experience they most desire. 

4. More Valuable SEO 

SEO was once all about the use of keywords and link building to make your content searchable. However, it’s turning into a more personalized experience where quality content that’s highly valuable is king. 

Automation offers us what’s known as semantic SEO, “which aims to decipher what kind of question the person typing words into a search bar is actually trying to answer,” says Matthew Walker-Jones of Marketing Tech News. 

These semantics add value to SEO everywhere, offering a more tailored approach to understanding and catering to user behavior. 

“This marketing technique goes a long way to improve the traffic of a website by employing meaningful metadata through the removal of ambiguity in search queries and further creates clusters of content, grouped semantically by topic rather than keywords, developing meaningfully-connected networks that better respond to user searches,” he says. 

5. Augmented Reality Changes Social Media 

Connecting with consumers on social media is getting much more complicated and involved now that augmented reality is a part of the automation chapter. More and more users are demanding augmented reality, especially on social media. 

Many brands are responding, including major makeup producers like Estée Lauder and Loreal that allow you to try on colors with Facebook Messenger bots before they make a purchase through the app. Brick-and-mortar companies are also using AR to give consumers a tour of their businesses. 

AR is not out of your reach, no matter the size of your business. Automation tools not only provide insights on the highest-performing AR platforms, but they also make them more readily available. Simple smartphone apps and software tools are affordable and provide many options for incorporating these themes into existing marketing campaigns. 

6. Improved Integrations 

In the past, very few automation tools worked together. You utilized separate tools that ignored the others, giving you an incomplete picture of the collected data. Non-integrating automation tools still exist, but they’re becoming the minority. 

This is good news because seamless integration of every automation tool you use is vital to delivering a holistic experience for the customer. 

“The strategic focus of marketing automation needs to shift from the campaign or component approach to the customer journey in totality to deliver on the seamless customer experience promise,” advises an article from Martech Advisor that focuses on where automation will be by 2020. 

By the time we reach 2020, the current marketing landscape will be completely different, thanks to the prevalence of automation. These changes continue for the better, helping CMOs focus on what’s most important while staying on top of their engagement and marketing campaigns. 

Having trouble convincing your CEO that Marketing Automation is the key to sales and marketing success? We've got you covered. Download our free guide.

5 Steps CMOs Can Take for Successful Reputation Management

Did you know that it only takes seven seconds for someone to generate a first impression about a person or organization? They’ll quickly analyze your appearance, tone, style, and other factors to form a skewed idea of your reputation. Sometimes they’re spot on, and other times they’re missing much of the story. 

As a chief marketing officer (CMO), know the reputation your company will develop through that seven-second first impression. It often dictates the potential success or failure of your organization, and your job is to protect it at all costs. There are a few key things you can do to manage your reputation and avoid making a bad impression on customers and clients. 

1. Protect Consumer Privacy 

Nothing damages your reputation more thoroughly than a privacy breach. Customers trust you to keep their information safe, and when online accounts are hacked and information is stolen, they’ll blame you for your lack of security, whether it’s a justified claim or not. 

According to a survey from Ponemon Institute, the majority of respondents believe that a data breach is worse than a chief executive scandal. Nearly 50 percent said a breach in privacy would negatively impact their impression of a brand. 

If you want to escape the negative light cast by a security breach, take steps now to protect your organization online. Start with your own virtual private network (VPN). The best VPN for your company will protect all of your data on the web by severely limiting access from unauthorized users. A VPN greatly reduces your likelihood of being hacked, and it’s a must-have at the corporate level. 

Other security steps include changing passwords often, using complicated passwords, updating software regularly, using encrypted email, setting up basic security measures, backing up to secure networks, securing devices, and other security items as advised by experts

Training employees on privacy practices is also an essential step to securing consumer information. One of the leading causes of security breaches is employees making mistakes or intentionally releasing information, so keep your employees informed to protect your business. 

2. Be a Thought Leader 

Thought leadership has the power to transform your brand if done properly. This isn’t a process that happens overnight. Rather, it’s a slow and steady building of articles, videos, comments, and conversations that establish your company as a trusted leader in a specific industry. 

Building thought leadership begins with identifying an audience that can benefit from your expertise and catering your content to that group. Speak in a voice that your audience will understand, using jargon and tone that establishes your expertise, but that recognizes you’re teaching people who want to learn more. 

“Consistency is key here,” says Mike Clum, founder of Clum Creative, a video production agency. “You want consumers to remember you, which will be difficult if you’re constantly switching tones or leaving your iconic brand out of the mix. This consistency can be used across a variety of mediums, including blogs, social media, videos, and graphics.”

As you share insights, focus more on providing value to your customers rather than on promoting your company. Not only are you more likely to reach your audience, but you’ll also publish content on more high-profile sites. Nearly 80 percent of editors say that one of the biggest problems they see with submitted content is over-promotion. You’ll get much further with valuable content than you will with shameless plugs for your services.   

3. Respect Your Followers 

It can take a lifetime to build up a great reputation and only seconds to destroy it. This is particularly true today, thanks to the pervasive nature of social media and online reviews. It doesn’t take long for word of your bad reputation to spread online.

Disgruntled consumers don’t have to be the end of your good reputation, however. You can mitigate these problems by creating a culture of respect for your followers. When you’ve established yourself as a courteous, influential thought leader, consumers often won’t believe the negative things that disgruntled consumers share. 

Respecting your followers is more of an attitude than a single action. It involves a culture of timely responses, respectful and professional comments, a strong tone, joined conversations, no overselling, and acknowledgement of positive comments. Nurture your brand and your followers, and they’ll repay you with loyalty and respect in kind.  

4. Google Your Company 

It’s hard to know the changes you need to make to your reputation if you don’t know what your reputation is. To assess how consumers perceive you, do a thorough Google search of your company. 

Start with popular review sites like Google or Yelp, and read the reviews. Although positive evaluations can reinforce what you’re doing well, the negative reviews will offer the best insights regarding potential improvements.

Keep in mind that negative reviews often stem from experiences that aren’t written. For example, someone complaining about the prices or quality of products might be particularly upset because they had a bad customer service experience at the time, even though that’s not something they mentioned in their review. Use context clues to read between the lines and get a wholistic picture of a consumer’s experience.  

Check social media as well. Monitor every mention of your brand on social media to learn what people are saying about your company and the improvements you must make.  

5. Own Up to and Learn From Mistakes

You will make mistakes; it’s part of the job. Nobody really expects you to be perfect, even your pickiest customers. Good reputation management involves preventing mistakes as much as possible, but it’s more about managing the mistakes when they happen. 

Own up to mistakes when they occur. Don’t try to cover it up or deny that it happened—consumers are smart, and they don’t like to be treated otherwise. Admit it, apologize, and then give a detailed plan for how you’re going to fix the problem and avoid this same mistake in the future. 

After that, don’t repeat the error. Learn as many lessons as possible from that experience, and use it to make your company better. CMOs who listen to and apply feedback set their company up for success nine times out of ten. 

Reputation management is a mindset. It’s an unwritten part of your job description, and when done well, it’s the gateway to success in any avenue you choose. 

You may also be interested in reading: What is a Reputation Management System & Do You Need One?

8 Ways CMOs Should Engage Millennials on Social Media

As a marketer, you’ve likely noticed the shift across the industry when it comes to targeted audiences. Millennials are now the primary group that everybody talks about and extensively analyzes on social media.

The reason for this is simple. Within the last few years, there has been a massive wealth transfer between baby boomers and their Gen X and millennial offspring. Now millennials wield a larger spending power than any other generation.

Here are 8 ways you can better reach millennials with social media:

1. Prioritize Visual Content

Millennials are visual learners. They grew up interacting with screen-based technology like television sets, video game consoles, and computers. As a result, they tend to respond best to content that stimulates their eyes. Marketers who want to attract their attention will need to do so with a strong aesthetic design.

Make sure that the images you post are always of the highest quality possible. Reach out to talented photographers and artists for potential collaborations. Also, don’t skimp on videos. It’s predicted that by 2019 about 80 percent of all internet content will be video.

2. Stay Relevant

On average, millennials spend a little over six hours each week on social media. They often use this time to catch up on the latest news, trends, and discussions. “Given the speed that the internet moves and evolves, content that seems old or outdated has a greater chance of being ignored,” says Jonathan Foley, the founder of the popular Instagram pages @Positivity, @Deep, and @Societyfeelings.

“You should constantly monitor social media to keep an eye on what’s trending. If you see a great opportunity to jump into the public conversation – for instance, if there’s a hashtag that meshes well with your brand – then go ahead.”

Exercise a little caution, and do some research first, though. It’s best to avoid highly controversial and divisive topics, or else you might risk alienating your audience.

3. Invite Participation

Millennials are active internet users. Sitting back and passively consuming content gets boring for many of them. They would rather interact with others and contribute their own thoughts and creations.

There are many ways to tap into this inclination. You could ask your viewers questions, or tell them to tag their friends in the comments. Furthermore, you could encourage them to make user-generated content and then feature it on your page. Another good way to invite participation is by announcing a new product without many details. An example is the announcement of Microsoft Office 2019. Many users on Twitter, specifically millennials, made memes of what this product could look like driving product awareness.

4. Don’t Waste Time

There are numerous claims about millennials’ short attention span. Most of them are drawn from dubious research or based on overly negative, unfounded biases. The truth is that millennials are no worse than any other generation in this area. Instead, the real problem is that a large chunk of social media marketing is poorly suited for the medium.

Social media is used more in short bursts than extended periods. This means that users judge content based on quick initial impressions. People will watch a longer video, for example, if the introduction is compelling enough; however, they’ll quickly tune it out if it spins its wheels for too long.

So, in other words, make an effort to get to the point faster.

5. Change Your Influencer Approach

For a while, it seemed as if influencers held the ultimate key to marketing to millennials. Now, perceptions are shifting. Millennials are starting to trust influencers less these days, and the reason is due to a lack of transparency.

Too many brands and influencers are failing to disclose their partnerships. As a consequence, it has shaken their followers’ confidence in their honesty and integrity. While many still might hesitate in sharing this information, being upfront is significantly less damaging than getting caught and called out.

6. Humanize Your Brand

A lot of marketers lose sight of the “social” part of social networks. The main reason so many millennials flock to these platforms is that they wish to talk to other real people. They don’t want their experience interrupted by obvious marketing from faceless businesses.

This is why some brands have found success in adopting more organic, genuine personalities online. Just take a look at the MoonPie account on Twitter. Its unique mixture of self-deprecation and weird humor has won it many followers on Twitter.

7. Support a Good Cause

Generations are reflections of the cultural environments in which they grew up. It’s for this reason that millennials are more socially conscious than their predecessors. Not only do they expect individuals to contribute to society, but brands are expected to as well.

About 75 percent of millennials say they want businesses to give back to their communities and demonstrate social responsibility. That involves working with charities, organizing awareness events, speaking out about important issues, fighting inequality, and helping the disadvantaged.

8. Treat Them Like Adults

Despite how some use the word, millennial is not a catch-all for young people. It specifically refers to adults currently between the ages of 22 and 37. Anybody who still thinks of them as teenagers really needs to update their mental picture.

Address them like you would any adult. Don’t speak in a condescending tone or treat them like they’re still children. Give them the respect that they deserve.

Make sure to also read: 3 Tips To Reach More Millennials With Your Social Media Marketing

Getting Down to Earth in Cannes: Intelligent Tires & Bottom-Up Creativity

Cannes Lions is one of my favorite events for marketing and advertising professionals. The French Riviera in June provided the perfect setting for the annual International Festival of Creativity on communication, commerce, data, and design.

With senior executives from companies like Johnson & Johnson, Lego, PepsiCo, and Pirelli, we had lively debates on two topics that I feel will make a significant impact on the creative services sector.

Technology was our first big topic – specifically, artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, and big data. I've seen the work of data scientists and creative marketers coming together to deliver really interesting innovations.

  • Lego is experimenting with voice-activated devices to help blind children build with Lego.
  • Pirelli is using sensors on their tires to understand their customers’ driving styles. We’ve heard about runners with customized footwear, but it looks like drivers will soon be able to get personalized tires!  
  • As voice-controlled devices in the home are becoming more mainstream, we also discussed the issue of security and consumer trust, which is now a key consideration for many tech developers.

Campaign magazine hosted the session. You can read more about the panel discussions here

The second discussion turned to talent recruitment and how to retain a fresh generation of workers. The advantage of diversity is particularly important to creativity. It was great to hear that our panelists shared my belief in hiring from unexpected backgrounds.

Bottom-up creativity can also give companies the competitive edge, and there were a number of comments about not allowing organizational hierarchies to get in the way of ideas from junior staffers being heard.  We also agreed that younger workers look for a sense of purpose beyond their paychecks, and companies need to keep this in mind.

Talking Talent, Creativity, and AI at Cannes Advertising Festival

In a little more than a week, industry luminaries from advertising, media, technology, and fashion will crowd the French Riviera resort of Cannes for its annual International Festival of Creativity on communication, commerce, data, and design. The festival will be packed with executives from the world’s top advertising agencies and influential marketers from a host of industries, and I hope you’ll tune in to see what Oracle has to say too.

On Tuesday, June 19, I’m looking forward to speaking on a panel exploring the impact of artificial intelligence on creative professions. On Wednesday, June 20, I’ll also take part in a discussion on how to attract and keep diverse talent and accommodate a generation of workers who value freelancing over fixed positions. And on June 21, Oracle will join a roundtable talk on the changing definition of creativity in a fragmented media landscape. You can follow the action at the conference web site and on this blog.

I’m excited to share examples from some of the world’s leading brands of how they’re capitalizing on  the Oracle Marketing Cloud. Pirelli, the iconic global maker of high-performance tires and 2018 double winner of Oracle’s Markie Award, is using the software to  transform their digital marketing efforts, shifting their focus from B2B to consumers and keeping in touch with them whether they’re online or on the road.

Heineken’s Urban Polo series in New Zealand is attracting younger audiences to smaller fields to view the traditional game, and using Oracle’s Marketing Cloud for automated chats in Facebook Messenger that convey information about matches and parties in place of a program.

Cannes Lions will host more than 4,700 companies, plus some show business stars to lighten the mood (Kevin Costner and David Schwimmer of “Friends” will speak, as will Smiths' guitarist, Johnny Marr). I hope you’ll join me in person or online to see what my colleagues from the advertising and marketing spheres are saying about their customers and industry trends. 

GDPR: Why CEOs Need to Lead from the Top Down

Oracle’s Alessandro Vallega discusses the need for cultural change to ensure GDPR compliance, and why that change must come from the top.

GDPR is now in effect. (Companies across every industry have been under pressure to become compliant since the law was introduced in 2016.) Some responded by changing their IT processes, others placed the burden on their legal team, but others only began to adapt in earnest just before the May 25 deadline was approaching.

Data protection must be treated with the right level of gravitas. It might be tempting to think you can steer clear of regulatory issues as long as you are not doing anything untoward with people’s personal data, but this is short-term thinking. GDPR may only mark the beginning of a global regulatory push to improve data protection, and regulation will only become more demanding.  

Real change requires a shift in culture. The way companies govern data has not yet caught up to the way employees use technology, which is why we still see staff taking a lackadaisical approach in many organizations. They save company information to personal devices, use (and sometimes lose) business laptops on the train, and turn to file sharing sites to share sensitive information. All these practices pose a security risk, and they are all too common. 

The cost of not complying with GDPR can be significant. Business leaders will be aware of the potential risk of non-compliance (up to 20 million euros or 4% of the company’s global turnover) but there are less obvious consequences too. Data breaches must be made public to the supervisory authority within 72 hours once a company becomes aware of them, and the reputational damage that comes with these if the company does not have a good handle on security, has its own cost.

In addition, a supervisory authority has the power to impose a temporary or definitive limitation including a ban on processing, and data subjects have the right to bring claims for compensation.

This makes GDPR a boardroom issue, but this does not mean companies can just appoint someone to take charge of compliance and let them run with it. With an imperative this important, the bucks stops with the CEO.

Business leaders must be figureheads for data protection. For an organization to manage data more responsibly and stay on top of its data in the long term, it needs buy-in from all staff. Each individual must be accountable for their actions and play their part in compliance, and this understanding must be driven from the top down.  

How can business leaders help achieve this? The first step is to make training compulsory. This could include anything from data management training, to workshops on protecting data or even running phish-baiting tests to help employees identify suspicious emails.

Incentives also help drive change. Data protection needs to be as much a part of someone’s job as doing their timesheets, so why not reward team leaders who have ensured all their staff have taken the appropriate training, or include security training as part of employee performance objectives? It will ultimately come down to HR, IT or legal teams to develop these initiatives, but the imperative must come from a company’s leadership.

For more information on GDPR and its implications for leaders across the business, check out our GDPR hub page.

What GDPR Means for CMOs: Is All the Hype Justified?

By Mark de Groot, Marketing Director, EMEA CX, Marketing Apps & CRM – Regional, Oracle

As a direct link to customers and their data, marketers will be uniquely affected by GDPR. In this Q&A, Oracle’s Marie Escaro and Kim Barlow discuss how GDPR affects marketing teams.

How Seriously Should Marketers Take GDPR Compliance?


European regulators have a clear mandate to tighten controls on the way businesses collect, use and share data, and the prospect of large fines for non-compliance is enough to make companies err on the side of caution. Marketers should take this very seriously, as a large part of their role is to ensure the organization has a prescriptive approach to acquiring, managing and using data.


Businesses increasingly rely on data to get closer to their customers. With data now viewed as the soft currency of modern business, companies have every reason to put the necessary controls in place to protect themselves and their customers.

What Does This Mean for CMOs and Marketing Teams?


Marketing teams need a clear view of what data they have, when they collected it, and how it is being used across the business. With this visibility, they can define processes to control that data. I once worked with a company that stored information in seven different databases without a single common identifier. It took two years to unify all this onto a single database, which should serve as motivation for any business in a similar position to start consolidating their data today. It’s equally important to set up processes to prioritize data quality. Encryption is a good practice from a security standpoint, but marketers also need to ensure their teams are working with relevant and accurate data.

What’s Been Holding Marketers Back?


There is still a misconception around who is responsible for data protection within the organization. It’s easy to assume this is the domain of IT and legal departments, but every department uses data in some form and is therefore responsible for making sure it does so responsibly. Marketing needs to have a clear voice in this conversation.

Many businesses are also stuck with a siloed approach to their channel marketing and marketing data, which makes the necessary collaboration difficult. These channel siloes within marketing teams have developed through years of growth, expansion and acquisitions. And breaking them down must be a priority so everyone in the business can work off a centralized data platform. 

Is This Going to Hamper Businesses or Prove More Trouble Than it's Worth?


Protecting data is definitely worth the effort for any responsible business. But GDPR is not just about data protection. It’s a framework for new ways of working that will absolutely help businesses modernize their approach to handling data, and benefit them in the long term. If we accept data is an asset with market value, then it’s only natural customers gain more control over who can access their personal information and how it is used and shared. Giving customers the confidence their data is safe and being looked after responsibly, while ensuring that data is better structured and higher quality will be good for the businesses deriving value from that data.

What Should CMOs Do to Tackle GDPR Successfully?


As with any major project, success will come down to a structured approach and buy-in from employees. CMOs need to stay close to this issue but in the interests of their own time should at least appoint a strong individual or team as part of an organization-wide approach to compliance. Marketing needs to be a part of that collaborative effort and should be working in a joined-up way, with finance, IT, operations, sales and other parts of the business to ensure all data is accounted for and properly protected.

Click here to learn more about GDPR and discover how Oracle can help.

Also read 5 Steps to GDPR Compliance - It's Not Too Late to Prepare

CMOs Should Leverage Identity Confirmation Tools to Validate Stakeholder Sign-Off

As an outside marketing consultant working in the corporate arena, much of my day is spent chasing down approvals for campaigns, ad schemes and promotions. Even career, in-house marketing gurus struggle at times with the many sign-offs that are needed to move a project forward.

Allow me to offer a brief word of advice to companies looking to leverage the fresh perspective of an outside consultant:

Please, streamline the approval process as much as possible. Most outside consultants have chosen this path because they enjoy the freedom of performing their craft outside of the traditional corporate hierarchy. Creative spontaneity is what gives a new ad campaign wings. And nothing makes me regret taking on a new client more than being subject to the whims of fifteen different stakeholders and their endless, asynchronous requests for revisions.

The First Challenge is Confirming that Sign-Off Has Been Granted

One of my more frustrating experiences came during my birth by fire into the corporate arena. Our team created a powerful brand refresh; complete with concepts for YouTube videos, new social media pages, reactive animation ads and landing pages.

The only thing that was missing was a VR campaign – something that Mack managed to dominate with their Mack Anthem rollout.

During individual conversations with each stakeholder, I gained their verbal approval to move forward. And, of course, there were requests for minor tweaks along the way. Once these tweaks were incorporated, I asked for a meeting to present our concept to the entire leadership team.

Half-way through the meeting, as I hit play on our YouTube video concepts, I started to hear some grumbling from the back of the room. For the remainder of the presentation, this low conversational buzz continued. Finally, it was time for input – something I had hoped would come in the form of a quick thumbs up.

Boy, was I wrong. Nearly every member of the c-suite started in with their concerns. It was a disaster. I had to try and rebuild the entire campaign from scratch. There were just too many objections, and each one pulled the project in a different direction. Reconciling everything would be a challenge, and it was just easier to hit restart.

I’ve since learned my lesson. Getting verified sign-off from each member of the c-suite requires a lot more than a verbal commitment from each decision-maker.

Use Third-Party Verification to Confirm Sign-Off

There are many ways to authenticate an e-signature. The main things that I look for in an e-signature solution are:

  1. Does it allow for stakeholders to sign-off from anywhere?

  2. Does it require some sort of challenge, to confirm that the stakeholder is signing-off, and not one of their executive assistants?

  3. Can I easily access the executed document from any device?

  4. If a revision is made, can I easily highlight the changes and gain an electronic sign-off for those changes from each stakeholder?

This may sound extreme, but you’ll find that when you’re working with a diverse team of decision-makers, you need them to execute their sign-off privileges responsibly. This tool, which is legally the same as a handwritten signature, grabs the attention of decision-makers. They take an extra moment to look things over and ensure that they really are happy with what they’re signing off on – something that dramatically reduces last minute objections to things they previously overlooked.

Everyone on the team, whether a stakeholder or an outside consultant, has an endless list of fires to put out – demanding immediate attention and distracting from the organizational goals. As an outsider coming into the fray, it’s best to carefully document interactions with each key decision-maker. This not only ensures that their input is taken into consideration, but helps you to earn their attention at critical moments.

For more tips, tools, and hacks to make your life as a marketer easier- join us at Modern Customer Experience 2018. ModernCX’s Modern Marketing track offers more than 200 expert-led sessions geared to equip you with new skills you can immediately apply to your work.

Register for Modern Customer Experience 2018 here


How CMOs Are Helping Healthy Food Brands Secure Market Share

Consumer demand for healthy food is at an all-time high, leading Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) to think outside of traditional marketing channels to put healthy brands directly in front of their target markets. The majority of healthy food brands are small in terms of size, compared to the established players, but with creative approaches, they are being discovered, leading to healthy growth and market share.

The more conventional marketing strategies also aren’t direct enough, leading many experts to focus on content marketing and social media. The following five steps outlined below explain the new-age strategy CMOs are using to help elevate these new brands.

1. Introduce new brands through creative social media campaigns

Brands in the health food space are forgoing the traditional launch strategies, like press releases, in favor of attracting interest across social media platforms. Brands can attract instant attention using custom videos, well-crafted content and other attraction assets to create early interest and product demand.

Many healthy food brands are relying heavily on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook initially. It’s important to master a few social media channels in the beginning, rather than on all of them. Finding success on just a few is more effective than just participating on all of them.

2. Share the brand’s story

Consumers are attracted to a brand on social media when they connect with its story—include the reason for the brand’s launch or highlight the people behind the brand so the consumer can make that personal connection.

Personal connections create loyal brand supporters who will purchase and introduce their friends and family to the brand. Every brand should have a detailed “About Us” page on their website that highlights all of this information, which can then be repurposed on social media to help share the story.

3. Create and distribute educational content assets

When creating content, CMOs are focusing on publishing assets that provide educational information, rather than content that is purely promotional. Popular content formats include information packed long-form blog posts, educational videos and infographics that consumers love to engage with and share on social media.

Every time someone likes, shares or comments on your social media content, it’s introduced to new eyes that may not be familiar with your brand. To capture a potential consumer’s attention, your content needs to provide value and something of interest. If it’s just a glorified advertisement, it won’t receive engagement or be shared.

4. Focus on specific lifestyles

For healthy food brands, the niche is smaller and may not appeal to the masses in the same way as a large brand. While there is a growing interest in healthy food, according to a HealthyYOU Vending report, there is also a very large percentage of the population that can’t afford to focus on healthy food; instead, selecting their food purchases based on affordability.

When running social media campaigns, target those consumers that tend to be active in a specific lifestyle that relates to healthy eating. For example, target CrossFit fans to place your offers and content in front of an audience that is interested in healthy food choices. Facebook offers the most extensive targeting options, making it a must-do.

5. Emphasize the ‘how’ rather than just the ‘why’

Consumers that tend to gravitate towards healthy food options are more interested in how the particular brand is beneficial, rather than why. They are fully capable of understanding that healthy food offers many benefits, but they will want to know how your particular brand is going to contribute to their health.

One popular trend is to create how-to videos that explain the benefits and give some behind- the-scene footage of the brand. This educates the consumer while building trust. It’s a very low-cost strategy that performs well.

Final Thoughts

Large food brands are slow to make the transition to healthier varieties, leaving the window of opportunity wide open for new, smaller, health-focused brands to thrive. The discovery strategy above will be continued to be used by leading CMOs in the industry, and optimized along the way, as new social media networks and content opportunities emerge.

Download The Guide to Social Media Marketing to learn how to align with your customers and followers and create a better perception of your brand. 

Strategies for CMOs to Protect the Golden Playbook

CMOs have a tough enough job as it is. The way that consumers interact with their brands is changing at lightning speed. And there’s the constant drumbeat of new technology disrupting traditional advertising channels.

To keep up with the rapid pace of change, it’s tempting to broaden the circle and find new perspectives to help create fresh marketing strategies. But, you need to balance this gut instinct with the reality that your marketing strategies are your company’s nuclear launch codes.

If a proactive competitor knows how you’ll spend your ad budget, and what the messages will be, you’re sunk.

The Threat of Corporate Espionage is Real – Especially in Marketing

Examples of corporate espionage aren’t difficult to find. However, companies usually don’t broadcast the fact that they’ve suffered a marketing team defection. So, the overwhelming majority of these events remain in the shadows.

I’ve had to clean-up the aftermath of a rogue marketing employee jumping ship. While I would never embarrass that client here, I’ll just share that the former ad placement specialist was offered a $40,000 sign-on bonus by a competitor. Eventually the employee was sued for violation of their NDA, but it was an expensive legal battle. Not to mention the cost of rewriting the entire marketing playbook from scratch.

Some of the most highly publicized acts of corporate espionage involve attacks on U.S. businesses by Chinese intelligence operatives. The relationship between China’s businesses and government is very different than the corporate / government landscape in the US.

From marketing plans to corporate negotiating strategies, the threat of a breach is always there. It’s always better to invest in safeguards, rather than suffer through an expensive clean-up. 

CMOs Need to Build a Digital Moat Around Their Marketing Intel

There are a number of ways that CMOs can better defend their marketing data against bad actors.

Data Encryption

Data encryption involves the use of complex algorithms to encode information in storage and in transit. Once information is encrypted, it can only be decoded by other authorized devices with the key. Even if the data is intercepted, or firewalls are breached, the information is unreadable.

While it is possible for quantum computers to run a series of tests until the right combination of variables are found, it would take months or even years for the mathematical puzzle to be solved.

Protecting Data in the Field

If you’re anything like me, you live a mobile lifestyle. I regularly work from coffee shops, hotel rooms and in-flight WIFI. It’s the nature of being a consultant. To help protect my privacy, and all of the corporate data my device comes in contact with, I use a VPN service that utilizes OpenVPN protocols.

This is the most private and secure type of connection because it involves multiple layers of encryption, a tightly controlled set of keys and is still being updated to compensate for emerging threats.

I feel confident servicing my clients and handling sensitive campaign data when properly secured behind a quality VPN connection.

Per-User Access Restrictions and Logs

The other important thing that I see more and more companies deploying are per-user access logs with account-level restrictions. While this is old-hat in many industries, marketing teams have, until recently, valued diverse input over data security.

After all, the hackers are going after corporate financials and customer data, not boring marketing plans, right? Wrong. Thankfully, CMOs are waking up and smelling the coffee.

The most secure companies that I work with use the same virtual data handling protocols deployed by high-level government agencies. Everytime I access an internal marketing file, my credentials are watermarked into the document. I am required to reauthenticate everytime I access the database, and anything I download or print is heavily watermarked with my personal information.  

Access logs allow for internal security teams to monitor access and quickly identify potentially compromised accounts. And per-user access levels only allow me to view a narrowly focused set of information.

Prioritize Engagement of Marketing Employees by Communicating Value

But, even with the best technology and access protocols in the industry, losing key marketing personnel can be a body blow – especially in the leadup to a busy holiday shopping season, where retail fiscal years are made or lost. And if that individual heads to a competitor, things go from bad to worse. All of the training and insight into your operations travel with the people you hire and fire.

The things that have the biggest impact on an employee’s decision to stay or leave include:

  1. The ability of leaders to communicate a clear vision to their team and gain buy-in.

  2. The opportunities for training, advancement and interesting projects that broaden horizons.

  3. The sense of respect an employee feels – something that can be difficult to balance with oppressive security protocols.

The happiest marketing teams that I’ve had the pleasure of working with operated like a team of freelancers. Everytime few months, members were offered to opportunity to jump between campaigns. This kept the team feeling engaged and excited about what was coming around the corner, and how they could contribute to the company’s bottom-line in a fresh, creative way.

If CMOs can learn to better secure their human talent, and develop better strategies to secure their marketing data, they’ll enjoy a less stressful and more productive career. Maybe it’s time for you and your CTO to grab coffee and discuss some new protocols for the new year?

Now that you know how to defend your data, learn how CMOs weigh in on other challenges, including how they can skillfully decipher, understand, and leverage the abundance of available data to engage with customers. Download The Data Driven CMO