How Game Technology is Defining the Marketing of the Future By Isabelle du Plessis

Interactivity and gamification are the new heart of the ultimate brand experience

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By Isabelle du Plessis of The Mill on Aug 13 2020 – 6:00am

We live in an age dictated by screens—exposed to a world of branded content that extends far beyond the concept of traditional “marketing.” With brands competing for eyeballs and attention more than ever, how can they cut through the noise?


Advertising was traditionally dominated by the 60-second TV ad buy. However, with the rise of streaming and digital content platforms, the way audiences are interacting with brands and advertisers is changing. With a multitude of contact-points available, brands are looking for new ways of engaging with their consumer, and it’s all about interactivity and immersion. Marketing in 2020 is all about building on the traditional storytelling concepts of commercials and taking them into the experiential space, introducing consumers into the brand narrative and giving them the ability to navigate their own, independent experience.

More screens = more content, and in recent years, as we’ve seen the demand for quality content rise, budgets are getting slimmer and timelines significantly shorter, meaning creative studios need to offer new production solutions to deliver.

Enter game engines; technology that the gaming world has used for years. Creatives are increasingly leaning on the principles and processes of gaming to deliver heightened brand experiences and new ways of producing work. This is because the technology behind gaming provides ultimate creative flexibility and enables the production of live visuals that viewers can play and interact with. 

Game engines are the firepower behind the games we love, they are the technology that allows the live-play and interactivity aspect of the game. Game engines were born out of the desire to go beyond video games that were locked to precisely defined hardware systems—from mainframes in the ’50s to the stand-up arcades of the ’70s. Game engines brought gaming to PCs and consoles and then democratized development to mobile and headsets as well. 

The nature of game engines mandates constant evolution, and today they have smarter A.I.’s, better rendering and more customized tools for filmmaking and mixed reality experiences than ever before. Industries beyond gaming are increasingly seeing the power of real-time visualizations and interactive products—in architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and more recently, film, advertising and live events. According to a Forrester report, “95 percent of architects are interested in adopting real-time rendering solutions as a means for reviewing and editing designs with customers.” This is just one example of the power of gaming technology. 
Within the world of marketing and filmmaking, the benefits are twofold; using game engines can supercharge productions through virtual workflows that are collaborative and responsive. The use of this tech enables the production of graphics at an accelerated rate. This offers the visual effects industry alternative ways of working and is credited with helping generate scenes within productions such as The Mandalorian, Nickelodeon’s working title The Voxels, and the visuals on Lady Gaga’s Las Vegas Residency tour. This tech also widens the ways we engage with our audiences, through experiences built for and delivered through web, mobile, augmented and virtual reality platforms.

Game engines are completely altering the paradigm through which consumers engage with brands. It enables us to gamify content through augmented reality (think branded Instagram filters), virtual reality and live interactive experiences. By using the principles of gaming within marketing, consumers can take an active part in brand narrative, building an experience that activates emotion and memory. The huge appeal of gamified content is that it gives us agency and enables us (within parameters) to define our own narrative. We interact. We play. We effect. We choose. And it’s how modern platforms work. 

The big corporate players in this field are gaming companies such as Epic Games (makers of Fortnite) and Unity, but they would not be who they are without the masses who use their software. The community driving game engines to success are the masses of players and developers who are constantly experimenting and pushing the boundaries of this tech into new sectors such as advertising and marketing.

The nature of real-time rendering is that it can blend seamlessly into so many facets of our existence. Game engines may power the wayfinding of the future in stadiums, museums and public exhibits. It will power multiple XR experiences across the globe when augmented and virtual realities are finally democratized and widely used within education, architecture, medicine and other fields.

The real-time rendering market is projected to grow at an estimated annual rate of 17 percent. The market is projected to reach $4 billion by 2027 from $1.1 billion in 2019. The high demand for real-time rendering solutions in entertainment and media is driving the growth of the industry due to the increasing demand for immersive and interactive content through mobile devices such as tablets and phones. 

We desire interactivity more than ever in all facets of life—so as marketers and content creators, let’s listen to audiences and lean on this versatile and powerful technology to develop cutting-edge content and define the future of marketing and consumer engagement. 

Why media matters now more than ever (Source: The Drum – Thomas Minc)

Media brands around the world are stepping up to the challenges of Coronavirus. But what comes next?

The COVID-19 outbreak is a global health crisis that has upended our daily lives. With millions confined at home, agencies, clients, and the media industry as a whole will experience unknown pressures. In the world of media planning and buying, that will lead to focusing investments and partnerships on meaningful media. By creating purposeful content, or sometimes, simply financially supporting media brands that are taking the right action themselves. These are the moments when media really matters.

So, what’s the role of media within this new dynamic? With social interactions on a hiatus, media is the core tenet of our social bonds. We need to investigate the evolution of the media landscape in two steps: short-term decisions and innovations the industry made to adapt, alleviate, and support immediate needs, and later, when the dust settles, diving into the long-term changes in consumer behaviors and industry practices.

Moments like this prove that not all media are created equal and some media brands can make a genuine, meaningful difference through three missions: inform, entertain, and connect.

The informative: Some media brands have really taken the spread of the coronavirus to be the purveyor of sense and calm that the world needs. Now more than ever, to inform the population is media’s public service duty. Despite the economic factors they face, news providers are dropping their paywalls—The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, in the US to name a few. To counteract fake news, rumors, and despicable acts like hackers creating fake coronavirus maps to infect users with malware, trust in media is the strongest guardrail. Facebook is directing users looking for information to the WHO or local health authorities and prohibiting ads related to the coronavirus to curb scaremongering as well as prevent dishonest businesses from profiteering from the outbreak.

The entertaining: Some media heavyweights are upending current business models. For example, NBCUniversal will make its theatrical releases available to rent. We will investigate over the next few weeks the long-lasting impact of such decisions. Across the industry, meaningful initiatives are happening. Organizations such as the Seattle Symphony Orchestra plans to rebroadcast earlier performances and livestream new performances. TikTok challenges of handwashing dances are going viral. Italian’s TV broadcaster RAI is helping families stuck at home by significantly increasing the amount of kids and teens shows. And it’s hard to deny that by offering free premium service in Italy to ease coronavirus pains, Pornhub is being meaningful to many.

The useful: Video-conferencing companies are facilitating use by offering free services and free access to upgrades, starting with Google unlocking premium features of Hangouts Meets. Amazon Web Services has given access to its cloud computing to (AWS) to Italian companies, nonprofits and government agencies.

It is difficult to categorize every single initiative. And more are being launched by the hour. And some are just about giving everyone a much-needed laugh like the Australian newspaper NY News printing extra pages to help out in toilet paper shortage.

Media brands around the world are stepping up. But what comes next? With contestants on the current German edition of The Bachelor unaware of the situation until a few days ago, The Truman Show doesn’t feel that far-fetched anymore. Media creation could change, live entertainment might never be the same, consumer behaviors will evolve and business models will be rethought. Our next task is to look at the long-term media implications and help brands navigate the new paradigm.

Thomas Minc is global managing director, intelligence & strategy, at Havas Media Group

Modern marketing: What it is, what it isn’t, and how to do it (Source: McKinsey)


About the author(s)

Sarah Armstrong is an alumna of McKinsey’s Atlanta office, Dianne Esber is a partner in the San Francisco office, Jason Heller is an alumnus of the New York office, and Björn Timelin is a senior partner in the London office.


What does “modern marketing” mean to you? We can all probably think of a clever digital campaign, an innovative app, or some inspired creative work shared across multiple channels.

While these examples contain some of the hallmarks of modern marketing, in our view it is much bigger than that. Modern marketing is the ability to harness the full capabilities of the business to provide the best experience for the customer and thereby drive growth. In a recent McKinsey survey, 83 percent of global CEOs said they look to marketing to be a major driver for most or all of a company’s growth agenda.

Delivering on this promise requires a whole new way of operating. Marketing departments need to be rewired for speed, collaboration, and customer focus. It’s less about changing what marketing does and more about transforming how the work is done. Based on successful cases we’ve seen, we estimate that making this change can unlock 5 to 15 percent of additional growth and trim 10 to 30 percent of marketing costs.

Where to start

In our experience, most senior leaders understand that marketing has to modernize, but they are less sure what specifically that means. Too often, they focus on a handful of initiatives or capabilities and then grow frustrated when the promised value doesn’t appear.

For this reason, it’s crucial to have a clear view of what constitutes a model for modern marketing (Exhibit 1). While each of these components is familiar, we have found that the clarity of seeing them organized into a cohesive model gives leaders a better sense of how to track all the elements and how they should work together.

That clarity is crucial as leaders develop plans and programs to modernize each of the capabilities and enablers (Exhibit 2). The traditional way to create content, for instance, is to roll out periodic, one-size-fits-all campaigns that can be modified only to a limited extent. On the other hand, a modern marketing organization has systems that allow for large volumes of messages and content to be constantly created, monitored by performance analytics, and then adjusted as needed. Take personalization. It used to mean broad offerings and experiences across large consumer segments. Today, the goal is to leverage data from all consumer interactions to creatively deliver as much relevant one-to-one marketing as possible.

While most CMOs we know have made progress toward developing modern marketing organizations, many are discouraged by a lack of progress. We have found that the core issues are the absence of a commitment to the full suite of changes necessary and a lack of clarity about dependencies. Without that understanding, we find that teams tend to naturally gravitate to working on things they know best or are most excited about, ignoring other elements. This creates blind spots in the transformation process that lead to delays, frustration, and, ultimately, a loss of value. Modernizing marketing capabilities, for example, requires an upgrade of four key operational enablers. But a successful transformation won’t succeed without three mindset shifts that provide a foundation for change.

Before embarking on a modern marketing transformation, there are three mindset shifts that are necessary to enable change.

1. Unifier mindset

To drive growth, marketing leaders must work collaboratively with diverse areas of the company, from sales and product innovation to finance, technology, and HR. In fact, our research has shown that CMOs (or those in a similar role, such as chief growth officer or chief customer officer) who function as “unifiers,” leaders who work with C-suite peers as an equal partner, drive greater growth than those who don’t. Unifier CMOs adopt the language and mindset of other C-suite executives, articulate how marketing can help meet their needs, and ensure that they understand marketing’s clearly defined role. Moreover, this creation of productive, collaborative relationships doesn’t end at the C-suite. Marketing leaders should role model—and set expectations for—how each member of the marketing team should collaborate seamlessly with colleagues in other functions.

2. Customer-centric mindset

Putting customers first is not a new idea, of course. What’s different today is that marketers have unequivocal evidence that meeting customers’ needs creates value and delivers competitive advantage. Modern marketers must also be aware of the challenges of complexity and scale they must meet to achieve customer-centricity. They involve commitments to several elements: a design-thinking approach to solving customer pain points and unmet needs; a centralized data platform with a unified view of customers, culled from every possible touchpoint; the continuous generation of insights from customer-journey analytics; the measurement of everything consumers see and engage with; and the hiring and development of talented people who know how to translate insights about customers into experiences that resonate with customers.

The first step is to realize that customer segmentation goes deeper than you think. The best marketers are developing capabilities for efficient engagement across numerous microsegments. By doing this, marketing organizations can better understand the motivations and behaviors of their most valuable customers. They can also organize their efforts around acquiring more of them and creating greater loyalty.

3. Return on investment (ROI) mindset

Digital channels and improvements in analytics and data science now make it both possible and necessary for marketers to be accountable for delivering value across all channels. To operate with an ROI mindset, everyone needs to operate as if the money they are spending is their own. This means closely monitoring investments, putting in place standards to identify those not generating value, and creating a culture of accountability in which underperforming investments are scrapped. Such financial rigor will not only help marketing fulfill its mandate as a growth driver; it will also build credibility with the CFO, unlock additional investment, and demonstrate marketing’s value to the entire company. One streaming company, for example, has built into the core of its culture continuous A/B testing of hundreds of variants of its website and apps and measuring their impact on viewing hours and retention. To support this, each product team has its own embedded analytics talent.

Enablers: Operating like a modern marketer

1. Organizational design and culture: Turning mindsets into behavior

To support modern marketing behavior, companies can take a number of practical actions, including the following:

  • Incentivize group success. Since delivering value to the company is a cross-functional team sport, marketing organizations need a culture focused not just on individual achievement but on shared goals, team performance, and accountability. This means changing how marketing organizations reward, acknowledge, and evaluate talent, such as the inclusion of cross-functional team key performance indicators (KPIs) tied to individual compensation. Top talent should also feel a sense of purpose and motivation, derived from an environment that delivers energy and enthusiasm. None of this happens by chance.
  • Elevate consumer insights and analytics. Because customer-centricity and ROI mindsets are critical for modern marketers, customer insights and analytics can’t be support functions within marketing. In a modern marketing organization, they will have a prominent and visible role and a leader who reports directly to the CMO. This serves as a reminder that the voice and behavior of the customer must be at the center of everything and that no marketing activities should be executed without the backing of relevant insights and the ability to measure performance.
  • Turbocharge marketing operations. Marketing operations is a backbone function, essential for a modern marketing organization to move with speed and flexibility. To make sure that marketing spending, technology, and processes are all managed to deliver maximum impact and efficiency, the best companies have installed a marketing operations lead, also reporting to the CMO. In some cases, marketing operations will exist as a shared service or central function across marketing. In other cases, it will be distributed across numerous operating units to provide autonomous execution capabilities. We’ve seen marketing operations provide a 15 to 25 percent improvement in marketing effectiveness, as measured by return on investment and customer-engagement metrics. One global financial-services company, for example, figured out that by accelerating the delivery of IT-dependent functions to marketing, it was able to generate an extra 25 percent of revenue. That was worth $100 million per year.

2. Agile marketing at scale: Getting serious about moving beyond pilots

By far the biggest change to marketing’s organizational design is the shift to agile.

As a decentralized, cross-functional model, agile is critical for operating with speed. Even the most digitally savvy marketing organizations have experienced revenue uplift of 20 to 40 percent by shifting to agile marketing. Small teams of people, called squads, work in the same place and have decision-making authority to execute highly focused tasks. Organizing squads around specific customer objectives ensures that everyone on the team is connected to the customer. Giving squads clear KPIs, such as a volume of new customers or specific revenue goals, ensures that everything is measured and evaluated. Marketing organizations that adopt agile have moved anywhere between 50 and 70 percent of their work to this more streamlined and accountable approach, quickly cutting loose anything that isn’t creating value.

Scaling agile marketing, however, entails more than flattening out an organization chart or establishing cross-functional collaboration. Squads need to have supportive participation from departments such as legal, IT, finance, and often agency partners as well. Without this broader organizational support, agile teams are confined to small pilots with limited impact. At one bank, for instance, the legal department and controller’s office were resistant to providing staff to agile marketing teams because of competing priorities. Marketing leadership knew their agile approach wouldn’t work without the other functions, so they invested sufficient time with each function’s leader to articulate how the agile team would work, what value would be generated, and how it would support the business’s overall goals. This effort gave functional leaders enough confidence in the process that they agreed to provide people to the agile squads.

3. Talent and agency management: A constant balancing act

Given the complexity of marketing today and the range of capabilities needed, marketers need a new talent strategy built around three elements:

  • Insource mission-critical roles. While there is no single model for the functions a marketing organization should handle itself, insourcing usually makes sense when there is a desire for ownership of data and technology; when companies seek strong capabilities in a certain area; or when insourcing will greatly accelerate the speed to market and allow for the constant creation, testing, and revision of campaigns.
  • Hire “whole-brained” talent. Today’s in-house roles require a broader skill set, with a balanced mix of left- and right-brain skills. This means, for instance, content producers and experience designers who are comfortable using data, and data-driven marketers who are willing to think outside the box and move closer to consumers. McKinsey research shows that companies able to successfully integrate data and creativity grow their revenues at twice the average rate of S&P 500 companies. Most importantly, modern marketing organizations don’t need managers to manage people; they need people to manage output and track performance.
  • Foster an ROI-focused management style. In an environment where autonomous teams are given the ball and asked to run with it, managers need to be comfortable setting KPIs, overseeing output, and tracking the performance of agile teams.

4. Data and technology: An obsession for looking ahead

Marketing metrics have traditionally looked backward to unearth insights about past behavior and measure the effectiveness of current campaigns. Modern marketing organizations use data analytics to look ahead. They anticipate unmet consumer needs, identify opportunities they didn’t know existed, and reveal subtle and addressable customer pain points. Data analytics can also predict the next best actions to take, including the right mix of commercial messages (for cross-selling, upselling, or retention) and engagement actions (content, education, or relationship deepening).

To do this, data must be centralized and easily accessible so that activity in one channel can immediately support real time, or near-real-time, engagement in another. Instead of the traditional approach, where IT takes the lead in data management, marketing leaders should work with IT leaders to develop a shared vision for how data will be accessed and used. This starts with the CMO and CTO/CIO collaborating closely on a business case and road map and then rallying the needed support from across the organization.

Because the pace of change in the marketplace continues to accelerate, becoming a modern marketing organization must be a “now” priority. Leaders unsure about the need to move aggressively toward this new model might bear in mind a character in Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises, who is asked how he went bankrupt. “Two ways,” he answers. “Gradually, then suddenly.”


How Aldi boosted retail traffic while reducing its flyer drops (‘Most effective use of Mobile’ / DADI Awards 2019 / Havas Media Group Danemark)

Havas Media Group won the ‘Most effective use of Mobile’ category at The DADI Awards 2019 with its ‘GPS data/customer mapping’ campaign for Aldi. Here, the agency reveals the challenges faced and the strategies used to deliver this successful project.

The challenge

In Denmark, the distribution of flyers was poised to be taken over by one single company, creating a monopolistic situation that would inevitably translate itself into a steep price increase, calculations put the increase at 40%.


Seeing that flyer distribution was a massive operation in which Aldi was ‘carpet flyering’ (dropping a flyer in every household in any given neighbourhood) in every city where there was an Aldi supermaket without any regard to targeting, the 40% increase would not be sustainable. Moreover, a recent survey in the country revealed that more than 80% of Danes don’t read Aldi’s weekly printed leaflet.

Closing the Flyer distribution operation was out of the question because despite a low share of readers, sales modelling demonstrated a positive ROI for Aldi and other discount / retail chains, despite the low share of readers.

Taking all of this into consideration, we came to the conclusion that we needed to develop a much more intelligent and cost reduced way to distribute our flyers, we needed to find a way to distribute the flyers in areas where we knew they would convert in business for Aldi, where people would read them and use them, we needed to pinpoint and target our distribution.

Moreover, we also needed to move Aldi into the 21st century with a digital flyer that would attract younger readers, reducing their dependence on printed flyers.

The strategy

We used data and technology to provide insight to optimize the distribution model for printed retail flyers. This optimization would in turn allow us to reinvest savings into the production of a digital flyer and its subsequent promotion.

This strategy would allow us to intelligently reduce the distribution of leaflets in areas with low or no potential/customers, or ad new area if relevant for each of the individual shops. The idea was to match the distribution area with the actual Aldi customers.

With the savings from reducing the printed leaflets, we initiated a digital transformation for Aldi to give them an online presence – specifically against a younger and more connected target group.

Along with increasing the number of digital readers, the online presence also had the objective of raising Aldi’s general awareness levels, and thereby also increase the number of readers of the printed version.

The campaign

We started by digitally mapping customers that shopped at each of Aldi’s 189 stores with the help of geo-data. We did this by using mobile app-data from those customers. Once they were mapped pinpointed where they lived thanks to a key insight: their night-time location – if you remained on the same location from 02-04 am, chances where that you were sleeping at home.

We were able to pinpoint where our customers lived, including at the granular level of distances from their closest ALDI Shops: :

Before the operation, the number of flyers that where being distributed numbered 1,227,656. In Q2 we reduced flyers by 310 000, this had such a minimal impact on sales that we could not really link it to the operation. In Q3, with the knowledge, experience and evaluation from the first reduction we applied a second reduction plan (we eliminated 175K) now bringing the distribution down to 742,922 households.

With close to a 50 % reduction in flyering compared to the previous year, some stores did however experience reduced turnover, so after a detailed evaluation of every single shop, including a competitive analysis and other local influential factors, the distribution was raised to approx. 860,087.

We also developed all digital assets for the digital flyer – And launched it all the while updating and optimizing products, visuals, animations etc. on a weekly basis.

The results

  • We dropped the number of flyers being distributed from 1,227,656 to 860,087, a 33% reduction.
  • We saved ALDI a significant amount of distribution budget.
  • The number of readers of the printed flyers increased for the first time in four years by 4.9%.
  • The number of readers of the digital version of ALDI’s leaflet increased by 24.1 pct. (9.1 pct. point above target/objective, 60 pct. above target).

Additionally, we managed to reach a totally new segment thanks to the digitalization of the flyer: a much more modern, younger, urban family segment that spends more than the traditional Aldi customer. In this process it instantly became very clear that urban areas had a much higher performance, when being targeted with Aldi’s digital leaflet.

This project was a winner at The DADIs 2019.

The Evolving Role of the CMO (And All Marketers): Five Guiding Principles !

The role of marketing has undoubtedly evolved, as has the customer experience. Signing on the dotted line is now just the beginning. Businesses that understand that tomorrow’s customers care more about the journey will come out on top.


As a result, chief marketing officers (CMOs) are forced to have an entirely new set of skills in their toolkit—namely, the ability to wear many hats at once.

It’s about acting as a chief financial officer (CFO) to be strategic about when and where to invest marketing dollars for optimum ROI, acting as a product developer to ensure the solution matches the customers’ evolving technical needs, and integrating sales expertise to ensure marketing is driving leads through the funnel.

So let’s break down this evolution…

CMOs of companies of all sizes are now, more than ever, directly responsible not only for revenue but also for their contribution to profitability.

At the beginning of any planning period, every dollar requested by the CMO for Marketing’s budget needs to be justified to the CFO/CEO, and every dollar spent needs to be accounted for. But once the budget is approved, the CMO and Marketing’s performance will ultimately be assessed on a hard ROI metric by the end of the stated time period, usually 3, 6, or 12 months.

Until recently, that assessment was based on a series of volume metrics, such as number of event attendees or number of website visitors, and a choice of cost metrics, such as cost per lead (CPL) and cost per acquisition (CPA). But with increasing adoption of deep analytics and data visualization technologies, the most progressive businesses assess marketing’s performance on the revenue-based metric of customer lifetime value (LTV) divided by the customer acquisition costs (CAC), or LTV:CAC.

To calculate the total cost of acquiring a customer (CAC), all expenses need to be considered, including digital marketing, content marketing and SEO, content creation, event management, media relations, influencer marketing, creative services, website development and maintenance, personnel, and other vendor costs.

Anything in excess of 2-3X for the LTV:CAC calculation is fairly healthy; and, if that rate is sustainable, the CMO can breathe easily. The hard part now for CMOs is truly understanding where to invest precious Marketing dollars for the best ROI.

The good news is, as with every profession and school of thought, there are guiding principles with which to navigate…

1. Know your customer

The best CMOs first ask the simple, but fundamental questions: Who are our customers? How do they buy? Why do they want to buy from us? The answers to those questions will help define the foundations of the most effective CMOs—a deep understanding of the ideal customer journey, by type of customer.

With such knowledge, the CMO and the marketing team can make more informed decisions on whom to target, with what content, in what form, how often, and in what sequence.

A customer journey can range from the very simple and linear to the highly sophisticated and multilayered. When versioned by customer segment and type, the entire exercise can get complicated.

2. Choose the right tech

There are literally thousands of technology providers servicing every aspect of the marketing function. They include paid search and advertising, media relations, and content management systems; marketing automation platforms; customer journey analytics… the list goes on.

Choosing the right combination of technologies is critical to the CMO’s success and the task of delivering ROI results to the rest of the C-suite. Having a deep understanding of many of these technologies, and the often only slight differences in their functionality, is a must. One wrong decision can be costly: Many technology vendors require minimum-term or multiyear contracts, and unwanted costs will very quickly eat into positive ROI.

3. Assemble a team of athletes

Marketing as a functional area is the decathlon of business; no other area in a company has such diversity in skillsets, running the gamut from the highly analytical (left brain) to the ultra-creative (right brain). CMOs must have a deep working knowledge of an ever expanding range of disciplines or be schooled enough to intelligently and effectively direct and help those responsible on the marketing team.

The key is to hire the right people for every role. People are a CMO’s most valuable asset. Hiring the wrong person can, again, cripple the effectiveness of the marketing organization, and it can be a very costly mistake. Hire only when you are 100% sure that the person has the level of expertise that is required for a role.

The level of expertise required can vary depending on the go-to-market (GTM) strategy. For example, if PR is a critical part of the overall strategy, hiring a highly skilled and seasoned media relations expert is key. If a business is highly reliant on its website as a source of demand, then having a deep technical and creative team is preferred.

Whatever the goal, be sure to align your people resource with the marketing strategy, and hire only the best talent you can attract.

4. Craft your GTM playbook

Defining how to go to market involves making critical decisions about target market segments, ideal customer profiles and personas, partnerships, branding, campaigns, advertising (online and out-of-home), messaging, and timing and sequencing of activities.

Those decisions are not just the purview of the CMO. All those responsible for the commercial success of the business—CEO, sales and support leaders, product development and engineering leaders, and the heads of business development and partnering—have a role to play in determining the GTM plan for the business.

It is imperative that everyone be aligned around common GTM goals and objectives for a business to reach its revenue goals and beat the competition. Those need to be documented and revisited periodically during a formal operations review process to make sure the business is on track, and to change course if needed.

5. Integrate with other departments

In addition to generating revenue and positive ROI on investment dollars, CMOs also act as a service provider for many internal business functions:

  • Sales for campaign development, product training and enablement, and event management
  • Customer Success for customer marketing
  • Support for online help center creation
  • Human Resources for recruiting and talent branding

Marketing is the hub for the customer journey, and it is imperative that the CMO integrate and have transparency into other vital functions to ensure a successful end-to-end relationship.

* * *

Meaningful Marketing Case: Inside Visa’s plan to keep women’s football on the global radar

Following on from a scorcher of a summer for women’s football, Visa’s head of marketing for Europe, Adrian Farina, explains how it’s working hard to maintain the buzz around the sport as it gears up for the Uefa Champion’s League and Tokyo 2020 as part of a purpose-led brand strategy that’s already paying off.

Visa made history last year when it inked a seven-year deal with Uefa to sponsor all of its women’s competitions, including the Champion’s League and the Women’s Euros. The contract is part of a wider global commitment to the women’s game, which has also seen the financial brand enter a five-year sponsorship agreement with the US Soccer Foundation and the US Women’s National Team through to 2023.

The payments tech giant, an official Fifa partner, supported the Women’s World Cup in June too – matching its marketing spend for the tournament with the investment it funnelled the men’s World Cup in Russia 2018.

Official figures show that a combined 1.12 billion viewers tuned into official broadcast coverage of the Women’s World Cup from Lyon, France; meaning sponsors reached a record number of eyeballs.

With pitches now frosted over and the Champion’s League not kicking off until May, it’s been all too easy for advertisers put the women’s game on the bench in the meantime – but Visa’s head of marketing for Europe, Adrian Farina, says it’s firmly focused on “filling in the gaps” between tentpole events.

“We didn’t even think about walking away after the World Cup,” he tells The Drum. “The worst mistake would be for us to see this as a short-term thing.

“Many brands did that, unfortunately. They came last minute and disappeared or signed a deal and didn’t do anything to activate it, it was a good press release and that was it.

“We [aren’t just investing in women’s football] to gain press coverage, we truly believe in it. We signed a seven-year deal with Uefa frankly because it’s the longest we could sign. But we actually don’t think seven years is enough.”

To help it maintain its association with the game and fuel the buzz around it in Europe, Visa announced plans in March to support seventeen players it said aligned with its brand values of “acceptance, inclusion and innovation”. The year-round programme is designed to put Visa at the forefront of a “cultural shift” by pooling soccer stars together to create a unified voice that champions the game and inspires the next generation of players.

Among those on the European ‘Team Visa’ roster are Nikita Parris, Kim Little and Eugenie Le Sommer. The business has been supporting these athletes on and off the pitch. Last week, for instance, it gathered them together in its London HQ for a two-day summit that included training from Instagram on how to use social media to tell their stories and boost their profile. Press were also invited to speak to the players.

Though brands often feel a certain amount of trepidation about attaching themselves to sporting personalities, Farina says Team Visa has been different.

“It’s such a breath of fresh air because those discussions don’t happen. We don’t just want [to work with these] players because of how big they are, we want to work with them because of what they represent and what they can achieve. We spend zero time talking about the potential risks because they’re fantastic.”

As for how this purpose-driven initiative stands to elevate Visa’s own brand, Farina says the firm is measuring whether its association with the women’s game is helping consumers perceive Visa as a business that stands for positive change in society, instead of just a technology they use daily.

Making the Euros ‘bigger than the World Cup’

“Most of what we’re doing is visible, but there’s a lot we’re doing that isn’t visible. We’re working with the federations, working with the players, asking how we prepare for the Euros,” he adds.

Though the Champion’s League final is scheduled for May, the Uefa Euro 2021 – which will be hosted by England – is a huge priority for Farina’s team.

“We want to make it even bigger than the World Cup, that’s our ambition. We’re working with sponsors, federations, people we don’t even have a commercial relationship with just to bring more brains into the fold.”

The brand is even engaging broadcasters in discussions about how to further profile of women’s football.

“The issue right now is that there’s a lot of hype around the visibility the World Cup offers,” he explains.

“We’ll probably see [some coverage] here in England, Poland and Sweden during the 2020 Olympics because those teams are qualified [for the women’s football competitions] but then there’s nothing … the broadcasters have the rights for the big tournaments but they’re also the ones who can help fill in the gaps in between.”

Tokyo 2020 and beyond

If its Uefa deal seems short to Farina it’s because Visa is not a stranger to long-term partnerships. It’s been the official payment partner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1986 and recently extended that sponsorship through to 2032.

The brand’s global Team Visa Tokyo 2020 roster includes USA captain Megan Rapinoe and the marketer says the brand is “extremely excited” to activate around the event: “It’s a moment where the world comes together and it’s sub brand that stands for universal acceptance,” he adds.

Though the brand’s World Cup creative from Saatchi & Saatchi – ‘One Moment Can Change the Game’ – was firmly focused on telling the individual stories and advertises of the athletes it supports, Visa hasn’t yet decided if it will go down the same route for the Olympics or other major tournaments.

“We liked that narrative,” Farina says, “It’s a good platform that has potential but we don’t have the campaigns ready yet for Tokyo or the Champion’s League Final but we felt that campaign was good territory and I wouldn’t be surprised if we continued down that route.”

As for the Olympics, Farina sees potential to collaborate with recently-unveiled headline sponsor Airbnb as a “natural partner” given the pair’s investments in technology and experiences.

“It’s a business that has been flourishing, it’s focused on experiences which has an interesting correlation with Team Visa. I expect more cool things happening, especially with new sponsors like that who are in for the long run.”

“There’s a natural connection between Airbnb’s business and ours.”

The coming era of ‘on-demand’ marketing (Source: Mc Kinsey)

Emerging technologies are poised to personalize the consumer experience radically—in real time and almost everywhere. It’s not too early to prepare.

Digital marketing is about to enter more challenging territory. Building on the vast increase in consumer power brought on by the digital age, marketing is headed toward being on demand—not just always “on,” but also always relevant, responsive to the consumer’s desire for marketing that cuts through the noise with pinpoint delivery.


What’s fueling on-demand marketing is the continued, symbiotic evolution of technology and consumer expectations. Already, search technologies have made product information ubiquitous; social media encourages consumers to share, compare, and rate experiences; and mobile devices add a “wherever” dimension to the digital environment. Executives encounter this empowerment daily when, for example, cable customers push for video programming on any device at any time or travelers expect a few taps on a smartphone app to deliver a full complement of airline services.

Remarkably, all this is starting to seem common and routine. Most leading marketers know how to think through customer-search needs, and optimizing search positioning has become one of the biggest media outlays. Companies have ramped up their publishing and monitoring activities on social channels, hoping to create positive media experiences customers will share. They are even “engineering” advocacy by creating easy, automatic ways for consumers to post favorable reviews or to describe their engagement with brands.

But we’re just getting started. The developments pushing marketing experiences even further include the growth of mobile connectivity, better-designed online spaces created with the powerful new HTML5 Web language, the activation of the Internet of Things in many devices through inexpensive communications tags and microtransmitters,1 and advances in handling “big data.” Consumers may soon be able to search by image, voice, and gesture; automatically participate with others by taking pictures or making transactions; and discover new opportunities with devices that augment reality in their field of vision (think Google glasses).

As these digital capabilities multiply, consumer demands will rise in four areas:

1. Now: Consumers will want to interact anywhere at any time.

2. Can I: They will want to do truly new things as disparate kinds of information (from financial accounts to data on physical activity) are deployed more effectively in ways that create value for them.

3. For me: They will expect all data stored about them to be targeted precisely to their needs or used to personalize what they experience.

4. Simply: They will expect all interactions to be easy.

This article seeks to paint a picture of this new world and its implications for leaders across the enterprise. One thing is clear: the consumer’s experiences with brands and categories are set to become even more intense and defining. That matters profoundly because such experiences drive two-thirds of the decisions customers make, according to research by our colleagues; prices often drive the rest.2

It’s also apparent that each company as a whole must mobilize to deliver high-quality experiences across sales, service, product use, and marketing. Few companies can execute at this level today.3 As interactions multiply, companies will want to use techniques such as design thinking to shape consumer experiences. They also will need to be familiar with emerging tools for gathering the right data across the consumer decision journey. Finally, the marketing organization’s structure will need to be rethought as collaboration across functions and businesses becomes ever more essential.

What to expect in 2020

Over the next several years, we’re likely to see the consumer experience radically integrated across the physical and virtual environment. Most of the technologies needed to make this scenario happen are available now. One that’s gaining particular traction is near-field communication (NFC): embedded chips in phones exchange data on contact with objects that have NFC tags. The price of such tags is already as low as 15 cents, and new research could make them even cheaper, so more companies could build them into almost any device, generating a massive expansion of new interactive experiences. To understand that near future, review the infographic below and follow a hypothetical, tech-enabled consumer, Diane, who purchases an audio headset.

On demand marketing graphic

Taken together, the scenes from Diane’s consumer journey illustrate the four emerging areas of consumer demands we touched on above.


Marketers have gotten a foretaste of the consumer’s desire for more urgency and ubiquity. Bank balances running low? Send the consumer an alert on her cell phone. A question about fees shows up on the bank’s Twitter handle? Post an immediate response. An executive of one major bank believes that the immediacy of smartphone apps has already made brick-and-mortar contact unnecessary for many young consumers, who use a range of mobile services to manage their accounts and rarely interact with the brand physically. Yet having an entire bank in your phone may be only a baseline for the experiences on the horizon. Consider one European beverage company’s beta test of beer coasters embedded with NFC technology. A club patron contemplating a new brew can tap a coaster with a cell phone and get a history of the beer, bars where it is served, upcoming promotions, and a list of friends who have given it a thumbs-up.

In this environment, a marketer’s “publishing” extends to virtualized media such as the coaster or Diane’s headphones, which become touch points for considering and evaluating products and services. Digital information technologies, operating behind the scenes to integrate data on all interactions a consumer has across the decision journey, will provide insights into the best influence pathways for companies, while also triggering new personalized experiences for consumers.

Can I

Most first-wave digital capabilities helped people access things they already did—shopping, banking, finding information. Consumers must often settle for compromises in their digital experiences. Yet robust programming, data-access, and interface possibilities now available could make every digital interaction an opportunity to deliver something exceptional.

Consider Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s new smartphone app, which changes the house-hunting experience. A prospective home buyer begins by taking a picture of a house he or she likes. Using image-recognition software and location-based technologies, the app identifies the house and provides the list price, taxes, and other information. It then connects with the buyer’s personal financial data and (with further links to lender databases) determines whether the buyer can be preapproved for a mortgage (and, if so, in what amount). This nearly instantaneous series of interactions cuts through the hassle of searching real-estate agents’ sites for houses and then connecting with the agents or with mortgage brokers for financing, which might take a week.

The mortgage app shows how the digital environment is now integrating disparate sources of information, at low cost and at scale, for many new domains. The challenge for companies is to look beyond today’s interfaces and interactions and to see that moving past compromises will require a rethinking of aspects of packaging, pricing, delivery, and products.

For me

Some online marketers already use features in devices such as cameras and touch screens to help consumers see what apparel and accessories may actually look like when worn. Web retailer Warby Parker, for example, offers hundreds of customized views of eyeglasses overlaid on a Webcam picture of the consumer.

In the future, demands for more personalized experiences will intensify. A phone tap, a click, or a stylus jot will instantly personalize offers, using information captured on “likes,” recent travel, income, what friends are doing or like, and much more. With each interaction, the consumer will be creating new data footprints and streams that complement existing digital portraits, sharpening their potential impact. Facebook will eventually be able to mine the world’s largest database of photographs, linking individual people to their activities. Smartphones have rich data on every place where you have traveled with one in your pocket. This is just a start, and the privacy, security, and general trust implications are staggering. Yet consumers consistently show a desire to provide more data when companies use captured information to provide truly helpful feedback (you’re over budget or you are doing well in your exercise program) or to offer recommendations, services, and customization tools rather than just push what might appear to be intrusive (and creepy) messaging.


The quest for simplicity led Amazon to create a subscriber model for delivering bulky repeat-buy items (such as diapers) and Starbucks to adopt a tap-and-go approach to mobile payments. Yet many interactions remain complex and fragmented: to name just a few, finding, organizing, and redeeming online coupons; turning weekly meal plans into online delivery orders; tracking your monthly cash flow; and staying on top of your health-insurance bills and reimbursements.

Evolving technologies and consumer behavior should make it easier to redesign many complex experiences. For example, companies offering inherently complicated products or services could overlay a game interface on certain Web pages, to let consumers play at trading off different options and prices. Visual-recognition technology could allow you to scan health-care bills, receipts, statements, and appointments into one integrated calendar and cash-management system. Already, start-ups in travel, expense, and sales-force management are experimenting with approaches that streamline processes and make interactions more inviting—using touch and swipe to make changes, gestures to activate large displays, and data in phones to recognize consumers and automatically customize interfaces.

Setting strategies and building capabilities

Consumers will soon make these demands of every interaction they have with companies. Although the marketing function may often be the best conduit to get customer input and to drive decisions about how to distinguish brands, coordinated efforts across the enterprise will be needed on three levels.

Designing interactions across the consumer decision journey

Today, many companies have successfully defined and addressed customer interactions across a few channels. What they need to be designing, however, is the entire story of how individuals encounter a brand and the steps they take to evaluate, purchase, and relate to it across the decision journey. Marketing or customer research can’t do this alone. At one apparel retailer, managers from multiple functions go together into the field to do deep ethnographic research— watching how customers shop, going into their homes, and uncovering the triggers and motivations that drive behavior. These managers look for the compromises that people face as they try to get things done, probing for their higher aspirations. And the managers watch how customers react as they interact with brands.

Among the findings, the managers identified seven key “use cases”—customer situations that lead to satisfaction along different decision journeys. They found a wide range of trigger points for choosing an “outfit solution” for a social occasion, learning that shoppers became frustrated, especially online, when they couldn’t see how items would look together. Customers wanted to drag and drop items on an on-screen model or to see great combinations in advance. But that required different merchants to work collectively and the stores to bring items together on sales floors.

Cross-functional teams also came together in workshops. With third parties such as fashion bloggers and thought leaders from online-media companies, they mapped out new ways to influence the decision journeys of customers with different attitudes toward the retailer’s brand or different kinds of spending behavior. One of the most valuable outcomes was clarity on how the store’s brand positioning could guide the design of new experiences. The teams knew that their story would always be “better value than the shopper expected, delivered in a friendly way.” That meant warm visuals and messaging on the company’s Web site and across various media to reinforce the story of value to the customer. And the teams explored new ways social media could help customers show off the value they received.

Out of the work came not only a shared, company-wide sense of the decision journeys of consumers but also immediate buy-in to a wide range of initiatives that could boost market share. These initiatives are on track to provide an 8 percent sales lift above what the existing plan envisioned and were implemented more quickly because of the management team’s shared sense of engagement.

Making data and discovery a nonstop cycle

To win over on-demand customers, you must know them, what they expect, and what works with them, and then have the ability to reach them with the right kind of interaction. Data lie at the heart of efforts to build that understanding—data to define and contextualize trends, data to measure the effectiveness of activities and investments at key points in the consumer decision journey, and data to understand how and why individuals move along those journeys. To realize that potential, companies need three distinct data lenses.

Telescope. A clear view of the broad trends in your market, category, and brand is essential. Digital sources that track what people are looking for (search), what people are saying (social monitoring), and what people are doing (tracking online, mobile, and in-store activities) represent rivers of input providing constant warning signs of trouble or signals of latent opportunity. Many companies are drowning in reports from vendors providing these types of information tools, yet few have much clarity on which things they need to look for and who needs to know what.

One packaged-goods company got a jump on competitors when it saw a spike in online conversations about the lack of natural ingredients in shampoos and then recognized a corresponding rise in search inquiries on the subject. A new line of natural hair care products, launched at record-breaking speed, has become a successful early mover in a growing segment. A telecommunications company has become similarly plugged in: it now has a war room to track every online comment anywhere. Besides being better able to address—in an open, friendly, and fast way—problems that could escalate, it now has a great frontline source of line-outage signals that trigger repair crews and increases in call-center capacity.

Binoculars. Against this backdrop of market activity, few companies have a complete, integrated picture of where they spend their money, which interactions actually happen, and what their outcomes are. Most direct-sales companies (retailers, banks, travel services) measure the performance of their spending through isolated last-attribution analyses that look narrowly at what consumers do after confronting a search link, an e-mail, or an advertisement. Branded-goods companies try to throw all of their media spending together into an econometric model assessing the effects of their media mix. In the world of on-demand marketing, where multiple interactions take place along multiple journeys, last-action attribution explains only part of the impact of media spending, and media-mix models fail to account for touches and costs outside of paid channels.

What’s next? Deploying tools that rapidly assemble databases of every customer contact with a brand, companies will need to push every customer-facing function to work together and form an integrated view of consumer decision journeys. With longitudinal pictures of customers’ touches and their outcomes, companies can model total costs per action, find the most effective decision-journey patterns, and spot points of leakage. As more contacts become digitized—and they will—the data will gradually get easier to create. Getting a head start can help companies build ongoing test labs where they tune the ability to create and analyze the right data and immediately learn where to add investments. One bank has already realized millions of dollars in added value from the knowledge that weak points in the customer on-boarding process were undermining major marketing programs. Only when branches, call centers, and marketing worked together could the bank find the right fixes, improve customer satisfaction, and raise marketing’s return on investment.

Microscope. Trust is essential, and personalization can show customers they matter. They expect a brand to be a good steward and user of data about them and, increasingly, have high expectations for what a brand should know. In the example described earlier, data about Diane powers the brand’s ability to make it easy for her to share photographs, to buy a headset, to set up and manage a free Spotify subscription, to receive information about a local event, to be recognized at it, and to get additional special offers. Information about Diane is the thread that keeps all of her brand interactions immediate (now), valuable (can I), relevant (for me), and easy (simply).

Yet given the laser focus on getting programs into the market to improve performance, few marketers (or even line executives) have stepped back and pulled their teams together to work through the scenarios and customer-data models they will now need to build. Even fewer have a strong sense of what the current plans of the company’s IT department will deliver in which time frame. One company that addressed these issues has identified over 20 types of consumer decision journeys as archetypes of experiences it must support over the next three years. From those decision journeys, it has derived a core set of information capabilities it will need to build and is well down a tight road map of development that has already enabled it to launch products in breakthrough ways.

Delivering with new skills and processes

To deliver these new experiences, executive teams must rethink the role and structure of the marketing organization and how it engages with other functions. The changes are likely to cut deeply, transforming the way companies manage campaigns and communities, measure performance, provide customer support, and interact with outside agencies. It’s still early days, but consider the breadth of recent efforts.

Raising a consumer-packaged-goods company’s digital game. A European CPG company started by creating a digital-analytics group with worldwide operations. Rather than sprinkle digital experts across the globe, the company developed a unified structure with common standards for roles, common training, and digital career tracks to build an arsenal of future talent. The analytics team is part of a broader digital center of excellence that provides service support to the business units and drives major upgrades in IT capabilities. Defined commitments from managers in finance, legal, and HR help the center deal with challenges that arise as it seeks to offer customers a richer digital experience.

The company also reviewed all of its e-commerce trade accounts and decided that it needed a much more granular approach to serving customers. Says one executive, “It is not just an issue of managing our relationship with pure-play e-commerce sellers versus our traditional channels; it also is an issue of managing the online versus brick-and-mortar sides of the same traditional partner.” A new e-commerce trade team with added digital-analytic support is helping both to enhance the online-merchandising mix and to improve the placement of the company’s products in the search engines of e-commerce providers.

Finally, marketing leaders established a novel customer-relationship-management (CRM) team because they realized that the growth of the company’s mobile services, coupon programs, sampling, and social communities was finally enabling it to gather huge amounts of direct data about how people interacted with its brands. (That information had previously been available only to retailers.) These structural and talent changes led the company to realize that it needed to reshuffle its agency relationships, replacing a single brand-and-ad agency with two agencies—one for brand programs, the other for digital and CRM direct marketing. The company also brought more media and digital analytics in-house.

Reorienting a bank. At one institution, a new understanding of emerging brand challenges led to a radical change in the status of the CMO. Marketing had earlier ranked low in this sales-driven organization, where the function’s leaders focused mostly on corporate communications and brand campaigns. Now, a new CMO, much closer to her peers on the executive board, has been charged with directing the full consumer experience.

Each month, the bank’s business-unit leaders gather to talk about their progress in improving different consumer decision journeys. As new products and campaigns are launched, these executives place a laminated card of such a journey at the center of a conference-room table. They discuss assumptions across the whole flow of the journey for different consumer segments and how various groups across functions should contribute to the campaign. Where should customer data be captured and reused later? How will the campaign flow from mass media to social media and to the bank’s Web site? What is the follow-up experience once a customer sets up an account?

The bank has created a corporate center of excellence for digital marketing to give the strategy a forward tilt and to plan for needed capabilities. It has also appointed a new team of full-time executives who focus on mobile and social technologies—executives who have become evangelists, helping business units to raise their digital game along a range of consumer interactions. The first wave of fixes and new programs has already generated tens of millions of dollars in the first six months, and the bank expects these efforts to add more than $100 million to its annual margins.

The forces enabling consumers to expect fulfillment on demand are unstoppable. Across the entire consumer decision journey, every touch is a brand experience, and those touches just keep multiplying in number. To mobilize for the on-demand challenges ahead, companies must:

  • bring managers together from across the business to understand consumers’ decision journeys, to speculate about where they may lead, and to design experiences that will meet the consumer’s demands (NowCan IFor me, and Simply)
  • align the executive team around an explicit end-to-end data strategy across trends, performance, and people
  • challenge the delivery processes behind every touch point—are the processes making the best use of your data and interaction opportunities and are they appropriately tailored to the speed required and to expectations about your brand?

Executive recruiters tell us that corporate boards are looking for more people who can challenge and improve a company’s approach to social media, big data, and the customer experience. Staying ahead of the design, data, and delivery requirements of on-demand customers is much more than a marketing issue—it will be a crucial basis for future competitive advantage.

About the author(s)

Peter Dahlström is a director in McKinsey’s London office, and David Edelman is a principal in the Boston office.

Joseph Jaffe will share insights from his new book ‘Built to Suck’ … Want to know him more ? Let’s discover a 2014 Ted X: “Zero Paid Media as the New Marketing Model”


BMMA – Belgian Management and Marketing Association – has the opportunity to bring to the Belgian marketing audience one of the best marketing expert and author : Joseph Jaffe.

The event will be split in 4 parts:

  • VIP Dinner on Monday 6th (SOLD OUT)
  • VIP Morning conference (limited to 70 people)
  • Noon lunch (limited to 200 people)
  • Afternoon workshop (limited to 50 people)


Joseph Jaffe is a multiple author, serial entrepreneur and one of the most sought-after consultants, speakers and thought leaders on marketing, innovation and change.

2019 B2B Content Marketing Research: It Pays to Put Audience First

You’ve come a long way, content marketers. Today, nearly all top-performing B2B content marketers – 90% – put their audience’s informational needs ahead of their company’s sales/promotional message.

Ten years ago, when CMI founder Joe Pulizzi cowrote Get Content Get Customerscontent marketing was a novel concept for many traditional marketers. That it’s a common practice now shows how much marketers have adjusted their thinking.

90% of top-performing #B2B #content marketers put audience’s informational needs first. @cmicontent. #researchCLICK TO TWEET

How content marketers reach those audiences, where they’re investing to do it, and what they’re most concerned about are a few of the new findings presented in CMI and MarketingProfs’ ninth annual B2B Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America reportsponsored by Conductor. We present the research every fall to help content marketers plan for the coming year.

This year, we made a significant change in the methodology. We limited the survey to respondents whose organizations have used content marketing for at least one year. In addition, we qualified the respondents by asking them to confirm they are a content marketer, someone who is involved with content marketing, or someone to whom content marketing staff reports. This gave us a more experienced pool of practicing content marketers and, we feel, more robust insights.

Here are some highlights from the 2019 report.

Content marketers are successfully building trust

When you put your audience’s needs first – and create your content based on THOSE needs – what are you really trying to do? Of course, you want your content to get found, consumed, discussed, and/or shared, to generate action by your audience. You want the right people to find value in your content and subscribe to it.

But what’s happening on a deeper level when you help someone by providing valuable information? Our research indicates you’re creating a bond: 96% of the most successful content marketers agree their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource.

96% most successful #B2B #content marketers say audiences view their company as trusted resource. @cmicontentCLICK TO TWEET

Success in creating this bond isn’t limited to the most successful content marketers: 68% of all B2B marketers say they’ve used content marketing successfully to build credibility with their audience.

How you can use this insight

CMI Chief Strategy Advisor Robert Rose recently described the importance of earning not only our audience’s attention, but also its trust: “Every digital experience we create should not only reflect our focus on winning a moment of truth – where the customer is paying attention – but in deepening the trust gained (or regained) in every step that precedes or follows it.”

Earning that trust requires your content to have four essential traits, Robert writes. It must be:

  • Risk appropriate (avoid asking for something before proving the value)
  • Consistent (deliver reliable content regularly over time)
  • Personal (based on reliable information the visitor has willingly given)
  • Cumulative (building on what came before)

In short, if you want your brand to be well-regarded by your audience, give it something valuable. Be consistent. Be easy to find. Give your audience members content they want and need – when and where they’re looking for it. And make it about them, not you.

If you want to build trust with your audience, give them something valuable, says @LisaBeets.CLICK TO TWEET

Less than half of content marketers talk to customers

About three out of four B2B content marketers seek feedback from sales and use website analytics to research their audience, while 65% use keyword research.

That’s a pleasant surprise considering how often we hear that marketing and sales teamsneed to do a better job of communicating.

But relatively few B2B content marketers research their audience by talking to their customers. Only 42% say they have conversations with customers as part of their audience research.

This year’s research also found that 73% of those surveyed use or plan to use personas for content marketing purposes by the end of 2018.

73% of #B2B content marketers plan to use personas for #contentmarketing purposes by end of 2018. @cmicontentCLICK TO TWEET

How you can use this insight

Effective personas are based on research about real people. “Nothing beats the ability to get information directly from current customers,” Jodi Harris wrote in the Quick and Dirty Guide for Creating Actionable Content Marketing Personas. That’s because customers can tell you directly about their needs and preferences. You don’t have to infer them from analytics or glean them from third-party conversations.

Nothing beats the ability to get information directly from current customers, says @joderama.CLICK TO TWEET

If your team isn’t talking with customers, look for ways to make this happen. Some content marketers accompany sales reps on their calls. Some arrange phone calls with prospects and customers directly. Take advantage of in-person events your audience members attend to talk to them.

Email campaigns and educational content reign

Fifty-eight percent of respondents say they’ve used content marketing successfully to nurture subscribers, audience, or leads in the last 12 months. The top two methods are email (87%) and educational content (77%).

Email & educational content are top 2 ways #B2B content marketers nurture their audience via @cmicontent.CLICK TO TWEET

Only 23% of respondents indicate their organization is working to build community among their audience or inviting audiences to participate in discussions. 

How you can use this insight

Email campaigns and educational content done well are reliable ways to nurture relationships. Pay attention to your audience’s changing preferences, though, to spot new opportunities. Given the fierce competition in inboxes these days, you might consider experimenting with other channels, such as the blend of email and SMS messaging, as Ardath Albee described in a talk earlier this year.

Spending on content creation increased

Content creation is where respondents were most likely to report an increase in spending over the last 12 months (56%). Increased spending on content marketing staff came in a distant second (37%), followed closely by paid content distribution (36%).

Video rises, text-based content keeps pace

We organized content types into six “buckets” to examine broader use trends. As shown in the chart, more than 50% of respondents increased their use compared with a year ago in three content buckets:

  • Audio/visual (e.g., videos and webinars)
  • Text-based digital (e.g., articles and e-books)
  • Images (e.g., infographics, charts, and photos)

How you can use this insight

Which content types will generate the best results for your organization depends on many factors – the nature of your business, the demographics and preferences of your audience, your goals, etc. Don’t assume, for example, that content type buckets with a less than 50% increase won’t be valuable for your organization. Experimentation plays a big role in any content marketing initiative. For example, a podcast or a print magazine may be a great opportunity for your organization depending on your audience and resources.

SEO/search algorithms are top of mind

When asked about content marketing issues their organizations are concerned about, the top three answers were changes to SEO/search algorithms (61%), changes to social media algorithms (45%), and content marketing as a revenue center (41%).

#SEO/search algorithms are a top concern for 61% of B2B marketers via @CMIContent 2019 #research.CLICK TO TWEET

Relatively few cite emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (14%) and preparing content for voice search (13%) as a concern, though those topics capture a lot of buzz in marketing conversations.

How you can use this insight

Keeping up with changing social and search algorithms can feel like a never-ending battle. But resources that can help do exist. Earlier this year, Content Marketing World speakers shared their advice on coping with social algorithm changes. For a list of SEO resources (including experts, articles, blogs, and tools), take a look at the recap of this #CMWorld Twitter chatfeaturing SEO expert Stephan Spencer.

The story doesn’t end here

This year’s research uncovered many other new insights such as:

  • The top benefits marketers say they derive from their documented content marketing strategy
  • How marketers rate their organization’s proficiency level with using content marketing technologies – and the benefits they derive from using those technologies
  • The types of paid methods they use to distribute content – and why
  • Goals achieved over the last 12 months

View the report today to see all the findings and watch this blog for more analysis of the results.