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In the Age of Social, Marketing Belongs to the Masses

By now, many of us are familiar with the ever-popular Gartner stat, which says that by 2017, an organization’s CMO will spend more on IT than its CIO. The trend has resulted in CMOs and CIOs working together on new marketing technologies more than ever before. But in reality, it’s not enough for a CMO and CIO to work together—executives across the entire C-suite should work hand-in-hand with the CMO to ensure marketing efforts reach the entire organization.

So the question remains:  What brings these line-of-business executives together?

The answer is customer experience. In fact, a recent IBM IBV study found that, when determining business direction, CEOs view customers as second in influence only to their C-suite counterparts. Because customers have such a heavy influence over business strategy, it’s critical that brands start to provide—and not just market—a great customer experience. But as most marketers know, great customer experiences don’t just happen on their own. Executives across the organization need to help craft and deliver value for customers throughout the entire buying experience.

Gone are the days when brands were built through carefully calculated and controlled marketing campaigns. Today, the customer experience has a direct effect on brand reputation, which means marketing is virtually in the hands of the masses.

CMOs need to make sure all customer touchpoints are consistent to provide a great experience, especially when it comes to an organization’s online presence. Whether it’s through comments posted on social media sites or online peer reviews, digital conversations influence the way customers view a brand for better or worse. Ninety-two percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from social media and word-of-mouth recommendations from peers over most other sources. This means a bad customer experience with a brand will likely be transmitted to a very large community. When the rest of the C-suite understands the influence of social media on the entire customer experience—and, in turn, the organization’s overall success—they will understand the need to rally around the CMO and support marketing efforts.

With customers increasingly turning to social media to communicate with peers, they also use the same channel to engage and communicate with a brand. CMOs know that if customers engage with their brands via social media, they typically spend 20 to 40% more money with that company than other customers spend. However, the rest of their organization may not understand the importance of social customer engagement. This is one key area where CMOs can take the lead in repairing a fragmented customer experience. Other business executives should learn from the CMO about how to listen and engage effectively through online channels. This approach allows brands to gain invaluable insights that not only improve the customer experience, but also the overall strategy across all areas of a business.

As digital and social mediums continue to grow in popularity, it’s critical that CMOs take the lead in synchronizing efforts across all departments and channels to ensure that the brand is providing the best customer experience at every touchpoint and every interaction.

Geoff Galat is CMO of Silverpop, an IBM Company.

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