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CMO role evolves to better enable mobile-driven personalized experiences

Mobile is not only changing how brands interact with customers, but also the knowledge base required for chief marketing officers to be good at what they do.

With mobile penetration growing, savvy marketers know they need to be able to leverage these personal devices to deepen their relationships with customers. As mobile can drive new customer insights, CMOs must be able to harness this data so they can create the kind of one-to-one marketing that mobile enables.

?When the advent of Internet and Web-based marketing, the science in marketing started coming to the fore,? said Glenn Pingul, vice president of products at Globys, Seattle.

?Mobile has taken that tenfold because a byproduct of mobile penetration is that now you have all of these people who have devices that are highly personalized,? he said. ?So instead of marketing to people in banner ads that are still kind of mass oriented, now you have the ability to get your hands on the data that enables you to really deliver one-to-one marketing.

?So for people to market on mobile is requiring a much greater level of sophistication. It is the new kind of geek marketing.?

Under pressure
While strong quantitative skills are increasingly important for CMOs, a recent report from IBM shows that these top level marketers are currently struggling with understanding the data provided by mobile about their customers.

The report found that CMOs and ecommerce leaders recognize mobile as critical to their business objectives, yet two-thirds of them said they do not have a strong understanding of the mobile user experience.

As mobile use continues to grow, this lack of understanding is a big risk for companies as 89 percent of customers choose to do business with a competitor following a poor customer experience, according to IBM.

One of the challenges marketers face with mobile is the many channels it opens up, such as the mobile Web, applications, SMS, push notifications, advertising, search, location-based targeting, QR codes and more.

The proliferation of mobile marketing tactics does not seem to be slowing down. At the same time, mobile is enabling marketers to blend their digital and physical experiences.

?This large potpourri of mobile marketing tactics places immense pressure on CMOs and marketers to have an immense range of knowledge, expertise and strategy," said Jay Henderson, global strategy program director at IBM Smarter Commerce.

The customer experience
The struggle to better understand customers extends beyond mobile and across the entire omnichannel experience.

However, the significant skills required to understand and manage the wide array of mobile tools available to marketers suggests that those who master then are well positioned to play a key role within an organization going forward.

?We know that mobile represents an important and effective set of marketing tactics given its ability to drive contextual interactions,? Mr. Henderson said. ?As mobile marketing matures, as physical experience and mobile experience converge, and as mobile becomes a more important and established part of the marketing mix, it seems obvious that this will be natural training ground for the CMOs of the future.

?Because mobile marketers are experts in contextual and location-based marketing, I think CMOs with a mobile background will be able to infuse this relevant contextual marketing across marketing channels and tactics and dramatically improve the customer experience,? he said.

Quantitative vs. qualitative skills
The changing role of the CMO is evident in the wireless carrier industry, where the focus is shifting more to maintaining an existing customer base and away from acquiring new customers, as mobile penetration is approaching saturation levels in many markets.

In the past, the traditional CMO rose up through the ranks as a brand marketer and was focused on working with an agency.

However, in order to be able to manage a customer base of mobile users, these marketers now need to be more intimately aware of the underlying data about their customers and how they use the service.

For example, the CMO at one North American wireless carrier used to be the company?s chief technology officer, per Mr. Pingul.

The evolution in marketing skill sets is being reflected in the makeup of marketing departments as well, where it is increasingly common to see computer scientists on staff not to do analysis, but to do marketing.

Mobile is not the only factor driving the growing requirement for CMOs to have quantitative skills. At many companies there is also a growing focus on requiring marketing departments to justify their investments by being able to demonstrate results through quantitative analysis.

?A lot of the focus has shifted to understand the customers that they have and the value that the customers they have bring,? Globys? Mr. Pingul said. ?And that has changed the pressure on them to be much more quantitative, much more analytic and much more data driven.

?What you are seeing, is that the marketers that are rising through the ranks tend to be much more quantitative oriented,? he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York