30/09/2016 Marketing Tips

CMOs are spending more on tech in 2017 than CIOs: how can they invest wisely?

In a sneak preview of the 2016 CMO Spend report, Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman offers a stat which doesn’t surprise us - but might surprise some. 

‘For 2016, CMOs allocated 3.24% of revenue to technology spending, which is very close indeed to the 3.4% of revenue CIOs earmark for IT.’

'By 2017, CMOs are likely to spend more than CIOs.'

We want to extend this by headlining what CMOs should be considering to get this investment right – in terms of concrete return, balancing the resource scales, and future-proofing to make sure investments are not just good for 2017; but for eons.

We’ll call these the five-part battle cry for big Martech spenders, in advance of the Q4 annual executive budget presentation.

Scary. And not so catchy.  


1.    Prepare the fort for an explosion of channels

Whichever prediction metrics you observe when considering ‘how many customer channels and devices there will be in one, five or ten years’ time’ – the number is growing, exponentially. Some of these channels stick around. Some skip straight to mass adoption, and then fade from existence whilst marketers are left scrambling to reap the benefits.

The trick when planning 2017 investment is to consider marketing tech which is compatible and easy-to-sync with other components of your stack, rather than being tailored to the next big thing. By choosing the ‘Androids’ among technologies, you never have to uproot your ecosystem – but rather keep the mongrel marketing stack you want or need, comprised of anything from a fifty-year-old database you can’t get rid of, to outreach software for thermostat nests.   

2.    Take one for the customer-centric team

‘Customer experience remains very much a team sport.’

As Jake points out, this isn’t *another* stand-off between marketing and IT. This investment can be the mediator between, and a merger of separate working worlds.

As digital inches closer to real life - and everything in-between - through channel-fluid marketing activities, decision-makers need to realise that technology and tools in the coming year will no longer sit within specific departmental silos. Instead, platforms like web analytics, CRM systems, social scheduling tools and dynamic display will begin to shift towards a set of shared KPIs. Think analysts, copywriters, CRM specialists and engineers working collaboratively to deliver actions based on customer insights, rather than channel-based performance indicators.

As the CMO, the martech spending decision is all yours. But do consider the needs of a multi-disciplinary team to make sure everything adds up, rather than relying on the mutual exclusivity of ‘digital’ and ‘customer-services’.

3.    Think big, start small, scrum up

Technology investment can be scary: this is because historically, marketing technology has required months, if not years, of organisational disruptions and slowdowns. Traditionally, big marketing systems required big system overhauls and unforeseen costs. Today is different. Where marketing software can take as little as thirty days to set up, look out for agile implementation roadmaps which allow your team to start with small tests, learn quickly, tweak and continuously build. With this approach, marketing never comes to a standstill, but rather continuously grows, allowing teams to make some triumphs – and seeing those vast customer journey ambitions you never thought you’d fulfil, turn into a reality quicker – and executed with greater confidence.

4.    Go gentle with your IT resources

With CMOs armed with a new sense of fearless ambition, your CTO might recoil at the thought of bending her business-as-usual to fit with months of data exports, de-stabilising web tests, and preparing for potential data security nightmares. With this in mind, choose a tool which is designed not only for marketers to use independently once everything is (finally) in place, but which clearly draws out your map to total freedom from the outset. Ideally, minimal IT input required - and that shouldn’t mean an army of software consultancy, either.   

5.    Consider actions over analytics

There are a number of great analytics tools out there. A few media giants have got it spot on already; or maybe something new will take 2017 by storm. What is less often considered – and which should be – is a tool which can activate as well as provide insights across all customer data sources. Imagine your team being able to spot a real-time data pattern via the GA dashboard, and create a customised workflow for a specific segment, as it happens. This means being able to deliver on an insight which would otherwise simply remain a dormant observation. An insight which could create a domino effect in conversions, customer retention and see your ROI soar.

The past decade has seen marketers shift across the organisational spectrum; from creative soothsayers leaning on intuition, all the way to scientist-artist hybrids, accountable strategists, and data-driven business leaders. The 2016 evidence of CMO spend is just further evidence to support the fact that the gap between marketing and technology has closed.

It also proves that CMOs get it: the landscape is changing for customers and businesses, and they need to be ready to respond.


How can CMOs learn from practical martech application in the finance industry?