Four Top Priorities for Financial Services CMOs in 2019

We’re now well into the era where marketing must be a revenue driver (not a cost center). CEOs throughout financial services expect this. Long term, CMOs can’t become revenue drivers by optimizing bottom-of-funnel customers – they must build meaningful relationships that will transform prospects and one-time buyers into customers for life.

It’s a tall order – and it reflects the way expectations have shifted in recent years. To meet these changing expectations in 2019, CMOs must focus on the following four priorities.

1.   Customer Experience

As Deloitte LLP CMO Diana O’Brien pointed out recently, today’s customers compare you not just to your competitors but to every other brand they interact with. If your customer experience isn’t as good as Amazon’s, Uber’s and Netflix’s, you’re missing the mark.

Luckily, you don’t need Amazon’s marketing budget to compete with its customer experience. The key? Focus on winning customer trust.

Today’s consumers switch screens 21 times per hour. Attention spans are miniscule. To engage customers, we can be increasingly outrageous or race to the bottom on prices – neither of which is sustainable – OR we can build trust.

An exciting headline may win your attention for a few seconds. A trusted friend will get your attention whenever they contact you.

That’s where CMOs should position their brands: not focused on winning eyeballs, but on engaging in an ongoing conversation.

CMOs understand this: they rank excellent experience as customers’ top priority, above price, product quality and innovation. Research concurs: 54 percent of customers have cut ties with a company solely because of a bad customer experience.

The marketer’s role, then, is no longer about telling the brand’s story but about cultivating the kind of experiences that inspire customers to tell that story. How? Hyper personalization.

2. Hyper Personalization: Winning Trust

Ten years ago, “personalization” meant including someone’s name in an email. Today, customers expect much more. To achieve hyper personalization, CMOs must focus on humanizing their data so it powers the organization to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.

With humanized data, an organization can use a customer’s life experiences as the starting point and communicate based on each life phase or life event.

Humanizing data requires CMOs combine data-driven insights with the creativity that has always powered marketing messaging. Right now, CMOs aren’t enthusiastic about their own performance when it comes to humanizing data, ranking customer data inclusion at just 3.7 on a seven-point scale.

To improve this integration, which will enable deeply personal communications at scale, CMOs must find software that collects data seamlessly across the organization so that insights are available when the brainstorming starts.

But software alone isn’t enough.

3. Activating Employees as Brand Ambassadors: Building & Maintaining Trust

As customer experience stewards, CMOs must make 2019 the year of employee empowerment. Already, CMOs consider finding the right talent the biggest organic growth driver – ahead of operating model, stakeholder alignment, technology and data.

The right talent is essential to combining data analytics with creative messaging: marketing employees must be both “right brain” and “left brain” thinkers.

But engagement can’t be confined to marketing. Every department’s employees must be empowered to live the brand’s values in every customer interaction.

The tech help desk must be aware of the organization’s customer experience goals.

Salespeople must be empowered to listen and have customer conversations that don’t lead directly to sales. They should have the authority to personalize their customer communications.

When customers interact with empowered, aligned employees, they enjoy a consistent experience, which helps build their trust in an organization.

4. Growing the Pie: Winning More People’s Trust

Today, 52.3 percent of marketing spend goes to market penetration strategy (selling more to existing customers) while only 14.5 percent goes to market development and just 10.6 percent to market diversification.

In 2019, CMOs must focus on reaching new customers. Yes, selling to existing customers is cheaper, but there’s a ceiling to how much an organization can grow by cross-selling and upselling.

Tapping into expertise that outside firms already have lets organizations make faster inroads into new markets and categories. That means a shorter ramp to ROI for CMOs responsible for driving revenue.

In 2019, Make Marketing Spend Your Organization’s “Trust Fund”

Every item here centers around winning and building customer trust. In 2019, think of marketing spend as your organization’s “trust fund:” you’re both investing in earning and building customers’ trust and creating a rich pipeline of lifetime customers that will contribute to revenue for years.