Why Your Next CEO Might Be Your CDO

The primary job of a CDO is to help a company become more fluent in digital channels and infuse a digital DNA into the culture of a company. The end goal is to have all departments feel as comfortable in the digital medium as with print and events.

I’ve been a Senior VP of Digital, Executive VP of Digital, and Chief Digital Officer (CDO) the bulk of my 25-year career. I’ve served in this role for B2B, enthusiast, and book publishers … and in privately-owned, private-equity-backed, and publicly-traded companies. I have always said that the “Chief Digital Officer” is merely a temporary role, so a recent article from FIPP discussing CDOs becoming CEOs caught my eye.

In a media company, I believe the primary job of a CDO is to help a company become more fluent in digital channels and infuse a digital DNA into the culture of a company … from content and production, to audience development, marketing and sales. You might even have a fully separate digital department during this transition time to help execute the strategy while the rest of the company is learning and still focused on the traditional parts of the business.

The end goal of a CDO is to have all departments and personnel feel just as comfortable in the digital medium as with print and events, and to look across all potential channels options for the best ways to serve their readers and advertisers. A company has turned the corner when the digital innovation no longer comes from the CDO and the digital department, but from the “traditional” editors, sales, production and audience development teams. If this culture transformation is successful, the responsibilities for digital will be re-integrated into their rightful departments within the company.

When this transition happens, a CDO is no longer really needed to lead digital innovation or execution. Instead, the role of the digital team changes to more of an IT function focused on customer-facing technology: hosting, web / app development, systems integration, data management, and internal user support and training. The CDO either must shift to more of an CTO/CIO role overseeing digital technology and operations or find another CDO opportunity elsewhere.

There is one other option, however … the CDO could transition into the CEO role.

If you have been a truly successful Chief Digital Officer, you have a unique perspective on the entire media company. Typically you have worked closely with the CEO and CFO and been involved with C-suite and board-level strategy, decision-making, and communication. You understand the financial and business dynamics of the company, not just for digital, but for the legacy parts of the business as well. You have a clear picture of your customer base, what drives revenue, the cost factors, the competitive landscape, and your key business partners and vendors.

You have also interacted closely with all departments of the company. You’ve learned how editorial, production, ad sales, ad operations, marketing, and audience development all work, understand how they fit together, speak the language of each department, and have heard their needs and ideas. You’ve had to communicate a vision that they understand, believe in, and can rally behind. Leadership and communication skills are critical.

But a good CDO is also so much more than just a digital technology advocate. They realize that, while digital is critically important to the future of any media company, it is only part of the picture and must fit with the rest of the business. The goal isn’t so much to drive digital specifically as it is to grow the entire business.

Given all of this, the Chief Digital Officer is perhaps more uniquely equipped to take on the role of CEO than any other person within the organization. Certainly there is even more that a CDO would need to learn to successfully make the transition. But I believe that what happened at Hearst with Troy Young taking over as CEO and Jeff Litvack taking over as CEO of AdWeek are bell-weather moments for the publishing industry. Personally, I expect to see even more examples of CDOs becoming CEOs in the coming years.

Omnichannel Customers Are 2X as Valuable – How to Make Them Yours

With so many trying to sort out an “omnichannel” marketing strategy, I thought it would make the most sense this month to provide some structure around what it is, the best way to take the “buzz” out of the term, and provide a framework for thinking strategically about this new mandate in marketing and strategy. For starters, here’s a simple idea, or “true north,” you can use to drive your own marketing strategy as you embrace the omnichannel consumer. “Put the Customer First” and build your “omnichannel strategy” around them.

With so many trying to sort out an “omnichannel” marketing strategy, I thought it would make the most sense this month to provide some structure around what it is, the best way to take the “buzz” out of the term, and provide a framework for thinking strategically about this new mandate in marketing and strategy.

For starters, here’s a simple idea, or “true north,” you can use to drive your own marketing strategy as you embrace the omnichannel consumer. “Put the Customer First” and build your “omnichannel strategy” around them.

Let’s remember, connecting with, engaging and finding the right new customers are where customer value is created and realized in omnichannel marketing. Optimizing that value comes through studying and tuning communications, improving your relevance and becoming more creatively authentic, not in the boardroom, but in the eyes of your customer.

Today, marketers appreciate that consumers engage on multiple platforms, devices and channels—the ones they want, when they want. With mobile devices being a spontaneous window into their thoughts and an outlet for their wants and needs as they arise. What’s a bit more subtle and more often missed is the objective and capability to respect the way your customers choose to engage and buy across them in a scalable manner—as it will either fragment their relationship with your brand or galvanize it.

Consider Kohls. Not exactly a high tech player in most folks’ minds. However they now deliver an omnichannel experience that deepens relationships with them. Recently, my wife received a promotion by direct mail (I doubt if she remembers when they asked for her phone number the first time, making the connection between the POS and her online purchases), she had it in hand as she went to the website to browse. Later, she used another promotion from her email right at the POS with her iPhone.

In a single engagement with the brand, she hopped across three channels, not including a customer service call by phone. As a consumer, she didn’t even notice—she just expected it to work.

Similarly, OpenTable will consistently get you to a good restaurant based on where you’ve dined before, and what your current online browsing and mobile location is. You probably do it all the time. Your relationship with that brand hops between mobile, desktop and point of sale effortlessly—but as a consumer, you’re not exactly impressed: You expect it to work.

As a result, effective omnichannel organizations have become “stitched into” the lifestyles of their customers. Moreover, this supports the creation of competitive advantage in the measurable, trackable, digital age.

Omnichannel Means Understanding the Customer
Putting the customer first obviates really knowing and understanding your customer in more meaningful and actionable ways. Not just with an anecdote of the “average customer,” but with legitimate, fact-based methods that are built on a statistical and logical foundation. This is the basis for the “absolute truth” that your omnichannel source is dependent on.

This, too, is no small task for many organizations, but it’s becoming more “doable.” And it has to be—because your competition is thinking and investing in this path, and it’s not a long-term, viable position to not have an actionable strategy to miss the boat on knowing your customer in a way that is valuable, actionable and profitable.

But first, let’s clear up some of the confusion that we’ve been hearing for at least a year now: Is omnichannel more than the buzzword of 2015, or is it something much more important?

Multichannel
At the most basic level, “multi” means many. As soon as you adopted your second or third channel, be it a catalog or an e-commerce website, your organization became a multichannel organization. Multichannel came quickly—as it’s not uncommon that the majority of a customer base has made a purchase across more than one channel—whether you have that resolution or not is another matter, and often requires a smarter approach to collection.

Digital growth is accelerating channel expansion. With the explosion of online and digital channels and the rapid adoption of mobile smartphones, tablets and now wearables, digital can no longer be viewed as a single channel. We now have the merging and proliferation of digital, physical and traditional channels.

Many marketers have experienced as much challenge in juggling an increasing number of channels as there is opportunity. But digital channels, of course, are more measurable and challenge the traditional approaches by bringing a greater resolution and visibility for some, and confusion for others.

Key factors in leveraging, managing, and maximizing those channels include:

  • Competencies developed in the organization
  • Identifying third-party competencies, especially in digital partnerships
  • The culture of the organization
  • Support for change and innovation in marketing
  • The depth of technical capability in an organization

As channel usage expands, data assets “pile up,” though most of the data in its raw format is of limited practical use and less actionable as one would hope. From the inside of dozens of IT organizations, the refrain is common; “We’re just capturing everything right now.” Creating marketing value would require strategists and the business units.

Omnichannel Is the Way Forward
While most organizations are still working through mastering their channels and the data they perpetually generate, the next wave of both competitive advantage and threats have come with them. The customer learns what works for them relatively quickly and easily, adopting new channels and buying where they want, how they want. Those touches are often lower touch, and introduce intermediaries, and are surrounded by contextual advertising, often from competitors.

Omnichannel buyers aren’t just more complex, they are substantially more valuable. We’ve seen them be as much as twice as valuable as those whose relationship is on a single channel. Perhaps this a reflection of the greater engagement with the brand.

Delivering that omnichannel experience will require more thought, focus and expertise than before. It requires the integration of systems, apps and experiences in a way that’s meaningful—to the customer—and that of course requires an integration of the data about those purchases and experiences.

To serve the business, the Omnichannel Readiness Process has six components, each of which require thoughtful consideration:

1. Capture—many organizations are aware that they need to capture “the data.” The challenge here is shifting to what to capture, and what they may be missing. The key challenge is: It’s impossible to capture “everything” without understanding how it can and should be used and leveraged. How that data is captured in terms of format and organization is of great importance.

2. Consolidate—In order to act on the omnichannel reality, we must have all our data in one place. In the ongoing effort to find the balance between cost, speed and value, “silos” have been built to house various data components. Those data sources must be consolidated through a process that is not quite trivial if those data sources are to create value in the customer experience and over the customer lifetime.

3. Enhance—Even after we’ve pulled our data together into an intelligent framework and model, built to support the business needs, virtually every marketer is missing data that consumers generally don’t provide, or don’t provide reliably on a self-reported basis. “Completing the customer record” requires planning and investing in appropriate third-party data. This will be a requirement if we’re to utilize tools and technology to mine for opportunity in our customer base.

4. Transform—much of the data we need to perform the kinds of analysis and create the kinds of communication that maximize response now, and the customer value over time, utilizes the derivation of new data points from the data you already have. Here is one example: Inter-order purchase time. Calculating the number of days between purchases for every customer in your base allows you to see whose purchase cadences are similar, faster, slower or in decline. On average, we’ll derive hundreds of such fields. This is one example of how a marketer can “mine” data for evidence of opportunity worth acting on and investing in.

5. Summarize—The richest view of a customer with the best data in its most complete state is a lot to digest. So to help make it actionable, we must roll it up into logical and valuable cohorts and components. Call them what you will—segments, personas or models—they are derivative groups that have value and potential that you can act on and learn from.

Many marketers traditionally spend 80 percent to 90 percent of their time and effort on getting their data to a point where it serves both the omnichannel customer and their brand. However, marketers can do better with emerging tools and technologies.There is no replacement for solid data strategy that is built around the customer, but efficiencies can be gained that speed time-to-value in an omnichannel environment.

6. Communicate—The prep work has been done, you’ve found the pockets of opportunity, now it’s time to deliver on the expectations the omnichannel customer holds for marketers. At this juncture, we need to quickly craft and deploy messages that resonate in ways consumers will think about their situation and your brand. They must address the concerns they have and the desires and opportunities they tend to perceive.

Omnichannel customers expect you will recognize them for their loyalty and their engagement with your brand at multiple levels, and that those experiences will be tailored in small ways that can make a bigger difference.

They expect your story to better-fit with their own, if not complete it. That sounds like a dramatic promise, but the ability to know your customers and engage them in the way they prefer, and at scale, is upon us.

Keep It Relevant to Your Business
This entire process must include of course, the answers to key business questions about the types of discoveries we’d make and questions we’d answer with it—for example, does the Web cannibalize our traditional channels? (Hint: It surely doesn’t have to).

That said, we’ve learned to start with the most basic questions—and are not surprised when there are no robust answers:

1. How many customers do you have today?

2. Do you have a working definition of a High Value or Most Valuable Customer?

3. If so, how many of those customers do you have?

4. How many customers did you gain this past quarter? How many did you lose?

a. Assuming you know how many you lost, what was the working definition of a lost customer?

5. How many customers have bought more than once?

6. What’s the value of your “average” customer, understanding that averages are misleading and synthetic numbers are not to be trusted? But we can measure where other customers are in terms of their distance from the mean.

7. Who paid full price? Who bought at discount? Who did both? How many of all the above?

8. For those who bought “down-market,” did they trade up?

9. How many times does a customer or logical customer group (let’s call them “segments,” for now) buy? How long, on average, is it between their purchases? And the order sizes, all channels included?

10. All this, of course, gets back to understanding more deeply, “Who is your customer?” While all this information about how they engage and buy from us is powerful, how old are they? Where are they from? What is relevant to them?

Now, even if a marketer could get the answers to all of these questions, how does this relate to this “Omnichannel” Evolution?

Simple. It only relates to your customer. Of course, they are the most important actors in this business of marketing—in fact in the business of business. What this really means is deceptively simple, often overlooked, and awesomely powerful:

Omnichannel Is Singularly Focused on Customers, Not Channels
It’s about the customer, and having the resources, data and insights at your disposal to serve that customer better. Virtually all of your customers are “multichannel” already. Granted, some are more dominantly influenced by a single channel. For example, online through the voice of the “crowd.” But even then, the point of omnichannel only means one thing: Know your customers across all the channels on which they engage with you. Note the chasm between having the dexterity to examine and serve customers across all the channels, and just knowing their transactions, behaviors or directional, qualitative descriptors.

So “knowing the customer” really means having ready access to actionable customer data. Think about it. If your understanding of your customer data isn’t actionable, how well do you really know your customer in the first place?

Considering the 10 questions above, and evaluating the answers in terms of the most important questions about your customers, is a solid starting point.

When you’ve worked through all of these, you’re now ready to create experiences and communications for customers that are not only relevant, but valuable—to your customer and to the business.

When you’re adding value and are channel-agnostic, as you must become, you’ve achieved the coveted omnichannel distinction that market leaders are bringing to bear already.

Not only is this an impressive accomplishment professionally, it surely is—but remember—it’s the customer we have to impress.

5 Tips for Effective Multichannel Campaigns

Your audience is in more than one place—you need to be too. Multichannel marketing means reaching your audience across more than one channel. A good multichannel campaign could be the key to your marketing success. Customers these days rarely communicate with any brand through one channel alone. These tips will help you craft your multichannel marketing campaign to not only include the latest digital channels, but also direct mail.

Your audience is in more than one place—you need to be too. multichannel marketing means reaching your audience across more than one channel. A good multichannel campaign could be the key to your marketing success. Customers these days rarely communicate with any brand through one channel alone. These tips will help you craft your multichannel marketing campaign to not only include the latest digital channels, but also direct mail.

5 Tips for effective multichannel campaigns:

  1. Start with your goal: Some common goals are to promote a product or service, increase sales, generate inquires or leads, brand awareness, build relationships, etc. Have your goal or goals clearly in mind so you can plan every stage of your campaign to best meet them. Laser focus on your goals will give you better results.
  2. Who is your audience: Before you start building your campaign, know who you’re talking to. Use sources such as previous campaigns, customer feedback, demographic information, and website or social media metrics to build a clear image of your audience. Make use of customer profiles to focus on your ideal customer, their wants and needs, and the kind of message that appeals to them. The more targeted the message the better your response will be.
  3. Choose channels carefully: A multichannel campaign doesn’t mean using every possible channel. Rather, figure out which combination of channels is likely to resonate best with your target audience. Use what you know about their past interactions with you, to help you make that decision. Pick the channels that will give you the most bang for your buck. Remember that the newest channels that have a lot of buzz, may not be the best channels to reach your audience.
  4. Consistent messaging: A good multichannel campaign gives your audience a consistent experience across channels. The value you offer them and your brand voice should remain consistent across channels. After all, your customers don’t think in terms of channels, they think in terms of what your message means to them. Make their transition between channels (such as scanning a QR code to go from direct mail to online, or clicking your email link) seamless.
  5. Vary delivery: Consistency is important in a multichannel marketing campaign, but that doesn’t mean saying the message the exact same way in each medium. Each channel has its own best method of communication. The essence of your message will be the same, but the way you convey it in a 140 character tweet will differ greatly from how you say it on your direct mail piece.

Planning a multichannel campaign takes time and effort. By breaking the process down into clear steps and always keeping your goals and your audience in mind, you can plan a campaign that will put your message in front of the right people, at the right time and in the right way. One reason that direct mail is so effective in a multichannel campaign, is that it facilitates the cross over from print to online. Direct mail can drive online engagement and still have all of the tangible benefits. The fact that it can be highly targeted, kept for long periods of time, used over and over, and then easily shared with others is a real bonus. Get started on your multichannel marketing campaign today.

Melissa Campanelli’s The View From Here: What the IBM/Coremetrics Deal Means for Marketers

Arguably the biggest news of the week in the online marketing world was the announcement that IBM, the granddaddy of technology companies, will acquire Coremetrics, a leader in web analytics software.

Arguably the biggest news of the week in the online marketing world was the announcement that IBM, the granddaddy of technology companies, will acquire Coremetrics, a leader in web analytics software.

The acquisition will enable Big Blue to help its customers gain intelligence into social networks and online media sources through a cloud-based delivery model. Then, they can incorporate this insight into their processes to create smarter, more effective marketing campaigns.

“With this acquisition, we are extending our capabilities to give clients greater insight about customer behavior and sentiment about products and services, and give true foresight into their future buying patterns,” said Craig Hayman, general manager, IBM WebSphere, in a press release.

This isn’t the first time a large technology company catering to enterprises has purchsed a web analytic company in an effort to expand their online marketing offerings. A few years ago, Google bought Urchin, for example. And last year Adobe bought Omniture.

But what does this all mean for marketers? For one, it validates the growing importance of digital channels and online marketing.

“Less than a year after the acquisition of Omniture by Adobe, IBM’s announcement today represents overwhelming testimony to the value of online marketing technology as a core piece of an enterprise strategy,” said Alex Yoder, CEO of Webtrends, a Coremtrics competitor. “In today’s world, the growing importance of data-driven decision making is not a luxury, but a minimum requirement to competing in today’s markets. Businesses, governments and nonprofits all realize that facts and insight let them point their innovation and resources in the proper direction.”

While Yoder went on to say that Webtrends leads the market in open standards and detailed customer information — and that his company has seen a 51 percent increase in new business bookings year over year — he added that it will be interesting to see how the acquisition “ultimately impacts enterprises looking to understand data across the multiple digital channels that comprise today’s marketing landscape.”

Responsys, a partner of Coremetrics, said in a prepared statement that the web analytics firm has taken an innovative approach to managing and leveraging the vast amounts of online customer data that today’s companies generate, and that “IBM, as the largest business technology company in the world, is sending a strong message that these capabilities must be considered part of the core ‘stack’ required to be successful in an increasingly digital world.”

Responsys went on to say that this acquisition is “raising the bar” for the industry by helping make advanced online data and marketing solutions a central and established aspect of running a business.

What do you think about the acquisition? Let me know by posting a comment below.

How Moms Shop Online

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d take a look at what moms are doing online today.

To do this, I turned to Digital Mom, a two-part report published earlier this year by Razorfish  and CafeMom.

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d take a look at what moms are doing online today.

To do this, I turned to Digital Mom, a two-part report published earlier this year by Razorfish and CafeMom.

Razorfish surveyed 1,500 digital moms — or moms who used at least two Web 2.0 technologies and actively researched or purchased online in the three months before the survey was conducted in October 2008.

Razorfish and CafeMom’s goal was to learn more about the digital mom. How does she use digital technology? Do her habits differ by age? What are her motivations for engaging in social media and other emerging channels? How should marketers engage her?

The report was chock-full of interesting and surprising information.

One key finding from the report is that more digital moms today interact with social networks (65 percent) and SMS (56 percent) than with news sites (51 percent). And just as many can be found gaming online or via a gaming console (52 percent).

Which technologies digital moms use, however, depends on factors such as the mom’s age, the age of her children and motivation.

Moms less than 35, for example, are more likely to use newer communication platforms like social networks, SMS and mobile browsing. Moms 45 and older are more likely to use online news, consumer reviews and podcasting.

What’s more, online video consumption is highest among moms with children 12 and older — the group that’s also more likely to be online monitoring their children.

Online purchasing habits
Compared to nondigital media such as magazines, newspaper and radio, digital channels continue to influence digital moms in their purchasing decisions, according to the survey.

Answers to questions for digital moms who researched or purchased products online in the three months prior to being surveyed revealed the following information:

• the gap between TV and digital channels in creating initial awareness of a product is closing;
• Web sites, search engines and friends/family, along with social influence channels and magazines, are more used and trusted for research and learning than any other sources;
• social activities play an important role in influencing digital moms; and
• emerging channels like mobile and podcasting also influence different stages in the purchase funnel, although it varies by vertical, and penetration is still relatively low.

What does this all mean? If you’re an online marketer targeting moms, understand that this group is pretty Web-savvy. In many cases, digital moms are using some of the newest Web 2.0 technologies to communicate with friends and family and help make purchasing decisions. So go ahead, test a variety of these Web 2.0 tools when marketing products or services to moms. You may be surprised by the results.