Digital Strategy

2022 - The Year of Business Impact for Marketers

Written by
Sebastian Jespersen
2022 - The Year of Business Impact for Marketers

Dear CMO organization,

Here’s a question to start off the year: have you ever tried to do business with your own company? In other words, as a marketer in a digital-first world, have you gone onto your organization’s website and tried to order a product or find specific information?

I ask because, depending upon your experience, you may begin to see why 2022 should be the Year of Change for most marketers. Let me explain…

We are spending more of our lives conducting web-based transactions now - from shopping, to banking, to connecting with friends, through to making business decisions. A company’s web property accounts for a greater portion of business revenue and an increasingly dynamic part of the sales pipeline than ever before. As a result, marketing leadership is more business critical than ever before. And, despite two years of COVID’s disruption and uncertainty, marketers are now gaining corporate influence as management has recognized their significance in crisis response and longer-term actions.  

A CMO Survey reported in 2021 that 72.2% of companies saw the role of marketing increase in importance over the prior year. McKinsey has found that 78% of CEOs expect marketing leaders to drive growth.

These two statistics fundamentally shift the impact of marketing within the corporation. Not only do CMOs and marketing leaders now have a true seat within the C-Suite boardroom, but current reality requires them to use their new-found influence in ways that not only align with the CEO and CFO but drives the business forward. The expectations of marketing outcomes are at an all-time high, especially from the top.

Think like a CFO. Act like a CRO. Innovate like a CMO

My advice to marketers: think about how to create measurable value, discuss growth, drive operational efficiencies, and focus on pipeline coverage - and do it in a way so it not only delivers ROI, but also ARR, greater margin and stronger cash flow. This also means that marketers should stop celebrating tactical digital metrics that no longer matter in isolation. In other words, move beyond awareness. A Deloitte Study asked CMOs what they considered to be the most important measures that define “marketing success” in the eyes of the CEO. Much to my surprise, the greatest response at 51% was awareness, followed by sales/revenue (32%), media ROI (29%), lead generation (27%), and customer retention (23%). This seemed entirely upside down to me, as it indicates that marketers are still relying on their past perceived strengths— from a time before digital tools enabled them to anticipate, predict and personalize. Brand awareness focuses on mass appeal and getting in front of as many people as possible. It’s a metric that does not show purchase intent, is extremely hard to measure, and is deemed by some brands as irrelevant.

Here’s another example of an assumption that traditional marketing actions can make a business difference. While it has become standard to offer a whitepaper or other content to encourage someone to fill out a form (and collect first-party data), let’s be clear that a form response is not necessarily a qualified lead. Your sales organization wouldn’t celebrate this; it’s no more a lead than a business card in a fishbowl. Marketers must embrace the realities of the entire sales process to do their jobs properly today. And they need to experience what the average buyer goes through to make a purchase.

Yes, we’re all drowning in data, but there are some statistics that contemporary marketers must master if they want to keep their place within the C-Suite. Understanding marketing’s tangible impact on sales is crucial; without it, you will find your budgets and responsibilities ebb away. Be prepared to state to the CEO or CFO: “Our marketing efforts contributed to 40% of the sales pipeline with our current expenditure of x dollars. We are confident that we can positively affect 52% with y dollars.” This is how you maintain your seat at that top table. Marketing accountability leads to predictability, and business needs to anticipate some level of certainty to manage risk. And that’s part of your job responsibility—today and tomorrow.

Be the instigator

Intimidated? Don’t be. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to think about different priorities and change your behavior. You can control the process, just show up with a better strategy focused around creating best in class CX. Think for a minute about the experience or checking into a Four Seasons hotel or being part of the Apple family. Also consider how you buy from Amazon, stream entertainment from Netflix, or share your workout experience with Nike. In all these examples, customers receive different experiences based on what’s known about them. These are all examples of digital practices that seamlessly integrate into customers' lives, while “effortlessly” generating revenue. At Vertic, we call this Share of Life®. Today, digital business models that entangle with your customers should be more than an ambition. In fact, your customers largely want to do more with you – and especially buy from you —just focus on making it easy for them. Make it friendly and seamless. In doing so, the revenue and profits will come.

Here is a quick checklist (in addition to what you already have 😊):  

  • Connect the executive KPIs with operational marketing KPIs by creating a functional framework.
  • Act like a customer – go through the entire buying process yourself.
  • Be prepared to have a CAPEX vs. OPEX discussion with the CFO organization regarding digital investments and web properties.
  • Learn to articulate how marketing will impact growth and ARR, bring down acquisition and retention costs, shorten time-to-market, and enrich the product R&D process.
  • Create a road map of prioritized digital activities linked to value creation.
  • ….and don’t forget to use marketing to make a customer’s experience seamless!

Why not make a resolution that 2022 will be the year that marketing creates a measurable business impact and ensures that the customer experience is seamless and friendly? In doing so, you will elevate marketing’s responsibilities and play a meaningful role in influencing both the corporate performance and the long-term significance of marketing.

This is the year. Think big! If not now, then when?

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