How the digital revolution has changed the marketing organization – The Drum

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July 26, 2022
Digital has transformed nearly every aspect of how we work. The modern marketing organization is no exception, as detailed in a recent study conducted by CommerceNext in partnership with CommX. Using insights from the report, the team at Bloomreach explains how digital is changing the structure and focus of marketing teams, and why that’s not a bad thing.
Digital’s impact on marketing — on any industry, really — is no new story. For years, marketers have continued to adapt as new digital channels, tools, devices, and more have changed what it means to execute impactful marketing campaigns. However, as digital transformed how marketers do their jobs, it also began to transform the marketing organization itself. And that change is continuing to play out in real-time. From its role in the customer journey to its data capabilities to its KPIs — with digital at the forefront, marketing teams are changing. Here’s why that’s a good thing.
In many organizations, e-commerce operates separately from marketing, with a vice president or senior vice president of e-commerce that reports directly to the CEO (or sometimes a COO or CRO). Yet the continued proliferation of digital channels within marketing is showcasing the need to break down silos between commercial operations and digital marketing. In some organizations this has already resulted in organizational changes, such as moving e-commerce under the CMO. In others, it has simply led to long-needed collaboration, with marketing and e-commerce leaders beginning to work hand in hand to drive digital success.
This is good news for customers. When e-commerce and marketing operate as one, brands are able to maintain consistent storytelling across the consumer journey. By working in tandem, an email marketer can guide a customer to the e-commerce site, a merchandiser can guide them to the right product, and a CRM manager can guide them toward a future purchase — yet it all feels seamless to the customer. With these teams more closely aligned, customers are getting the frictionless cross-channel experiences they want.
Customer and product data can offer critical insights for marketers looking to build more personalized, effective campaigns. And while many organizations have long collected this information, it is often handled among different departments, with some of the most critical customer data points handled by IT. This can make it difficult for marketers to maximize.
In today’s digital world, though, marketing organizations recognize that this kind of data isn’t a “nice to have,” nor can they wait for data analysts to fill their requests. Digital has become the first channel that many customers use to interact with a brand, whether for research, inspiration, or eventual purchase. In order to attract and retain those customers, marketers need to be able to create experiences that speak to their individual wants and needs, which cannot be done without data. As a result, they’re adopting technology like customer data platforms (CDPs) that provide them with faster access to the insights they need, allowing them to build personalized, data-driven campaigns without having to rely on other departments. Some marketing organizations have even taken it a step further, hiring their own data scientists/analysts to help make sense of the growing number of data points being (responsibly) collected. Either way, the power of data is put into marketers’ hands, meaning customers benefit from even more relevant digital experiences.
Certain KPIs will always remain important to retailers, namely sales, traffic, and conversion rate. However, as omnichannel becomes more prevalent, paid media grows more expensive, and customer loyalty grows more elusive, marketing teams are recognizing that other KPIs tell an important story too. Customer lifetime value (CLV), in particular, has taken on a larger role in proving out ROI, with many marketers recognizing that simply looking at traffic and conversion is no longer sufficient. Particularly as customer acquisition costs (CAC) rise, marketers are beginning to showcase the value of repeat purchasers.
Digitally-influenced store sales is a metric taking on greater focus, too, though it remains difficult for many teams to measure. While retailers haven’t quite cracked the code to monitoring this metric, the fact that it's being recognized as important is a testament to how digital (and as a result, omnichannel) has transformed the way marketers think about their success.
It’s easy to point to the major ways in which digital has changed the way we work. Internet, email, collaboration apps such as Slack and Teams — it was obvious how these digital innovations changed our day-to-day roles. Yet digital has had far more nuanced impacts on the modern marketing organization, and will continue to do so in years to come. While new KPIs may not feel quite as seismic a shift as the onset of email, it’s important to recognize the long-term impacts of these changes. The transformation of marketing organizations today is what will empower them to succeed in the future — to deliver better customer experiences, more impactful campaigns, and ultimately, better business results. That’s definitely a good thing.
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