Being a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) today is one of the most challenging roles in the C-suite. Whether your organization targets consumers or other businesses, your current and prospective customers are bombarded with more information than ever before. And, the sources of information available to research their options are more numerous than at any time in history. Consequently, breaking through the noise to win customers, and then maintain their continued loyalty, can seem an impossibly daunting task.
Thankfully, with the increased complexity of a CMO’s role, there are also increasingly powerful tools to help accomplish your goals. One of the most important tools available to marketers is master data management – more specifically, customer master data management. Customer master data management enables organizations to consolidate and link customer data across the enterprise to create a single source of truth (i.e., a “Golden Record”) and provide a comprehensive 360° view of each customer, that gives each department and business unit across your enterprise the most up-to-date and accurate information about your customers.
While there is no panacea for all the obstacles a CMO might face, my own 20+ years of marketing experience has shown me the importance of having accurate and reliable customer data. Customer master data management is one of the most valuable tools in the toolbox for many reasons, but here I outline the first two of top five challenges (i.e., the Top 5 “C’s”) I’ve faced in my career and how customer master data management can help overcome them. The final three will be included in a subsequent post.
Top 5 CMO challenges to solve with Customer Master Data Management
CMO data challenge #1: Content
As the old adage goes, “Content is king.” And, its reign continues. However, in today’s information-rich market, our customers and prospects have different expectations than in years past. For your content to break through the cacophony of diverse voices vying for your customers’ attention, it must be tailored to their individual needs at any point in time and delivered via their medium of choice. Customers expect deeper, more personalized experiences regardless of whether they choose to interact via an in-store employee, online or on social media.
Content that’s personalized to specific roles, chosen media and current stage in the buying process is much more likely to break through the noise. But, you can’t accomplish this unless you truly know your customers. And, you can’t have deep, insightful knowledge about them when this data is spread across various siloed applications and systems (e.g., CRM, ERP and marketing automation) with no mechanism to manage duplication, inaccuracies or errors.
Addressing this is even more challenging for those in technology, where we increasingly market to both IT and line-of-business users. Gartner put it this way: “As sales reps (and other customer-facing employees) engage with prospects and customers, they need to maintain situational awareness of who they are engaging with and where they are in their buying process. The messages they use will need to change based on the situation, in some cases significantly, and less so in other cases.”
Customer master data management provides a powerful answer to this challenge, helping you consolidate, cleanse, enhance and govern critical customer data across the enterprise, ensuring data consistency and facilitating easier control and management. The more accurate and complete your customer data, the more insight you have, and the better you can deliver content that moves the needle by catering to their needs.
CMO data challenge #2: Clarity
As you work on overcoming the first challenge to deliver personalized content, CMOs and your teams will likely come face-to-face with a second challenge. Clarity and visibility are critical to achieving full and accurate knowledge of your customers. Ironically, customer data is not enough to fully understand them. For a true 360° view, you need access to all pertinent data domains (e.g., product, location, supplier, asset). More than a proverbial “golden record,” a 360° view is about customer preferences, the products (and product combinations) they like, how and where they like to shop, etc.
To gain the most significant advantage over competitors, work with a master data management vendor that can deliver insight across all data domains on a single integrated platform.
Customer master data management is critical to achieving this kind of clarity. However, to gain the most significant advantage over your competitors, you’ll want to work with a master data management vendor that can deliver insight across all these domains on a single, integrated platform. That way, data isn’t siloed in separate systems; it can be shared and interconnected to provide bidirectional feedback that maximizes the value of your data across the board.
Customer preferences can be fed back into the product management and marketing workflow to create the most likely upsell opportunities that will generate more revenue. It can also save your organization unnecessary overhead costs, as deliveries can be scheduled from suppliers that are closest to the customer’s location to minimize shipping costs.
CMO data challenge #3: Culture
Of course, working together across the enterprise takes more than just shared data. It requires a shared vision, mission and culture. As more organizations race to create a successful digital transformation, they are finding that the entire organization also needs some skin in the game, which presents its own set of challenges. As Forrester Research wrote in a recent report on digital transformation: “The largest barrier to a successful transformation is the culture of your organization. Cultural alignment is a huge enabler of change — when done well, it greases the skids; when poorly executed, it can stop transformation dead in its tracks.”
Fortunately, the very subject we’re discussing here – knowing the customer – can also provide a tool for overcoming the culture challenge. Advice from leading digital innovators in a recent Forrester report support this: “Invoke the voice of the customer at every stage. The Financial Times uses customer engagement as a key performance indicator (KPI) to align marketing, sales, editorial and product teams on one clear goal. Accessible tools put data in the hands of employees so that everyone can understand the impact of their job on customer engagement. The Financial Times deliberately slowed its website to gauge customer reaction, subsequently investing in market-leading site performance. Such quality improvements are paramount for customer growth and retention.”
As you can see, getting everyone on the same page in terms of customer engagement provides its own benefits in transforming the organization. If everyone is focused on the same goal, activities that formerly competed for resources are now pulling the rope in the same direction.
CMO data challenge #4: Compliance
Managing ongoing interactions with customers has always been challenging, but it’s never been more difficult than today. In light of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, poor customer data management can lead to more than bad experiences for our customers and slow processes for our employees; it leads to increased risk for our business.
This increased risk is not limited to companies in the EU. According to a report from PwC, companies in the U.S. are also investing heavily in compliance with GDPR. While 24% of U.S. organizations plan to spend under $1M on GDPR preparations, 68% say they will invest between $1M and $10M, while 9% expect to spend $10M+.
CMO data challenge #5: Customer loyalty
Addressing the previous four challenges will ultimately support you in addressing one of your most important goals; maximizing customer loyalty. The more you know about your customers, the more empowered you will be to meet and exceed their expectations. If you haven’t invested in the people and tools you need to gain an in-depth, 360° view of your customers, you’re falling behind.
Your customers’ expectations are continuing to increase and are becoming more complex. Without complete and accurate customer data that you can trust, your customer service will suffer, your contracting process will slow, your marketing activities will flounder and, ultimately, customer loyalty will wane. And, when that happens, the five challenges I’ve outlined above will not seem so daunting, because the very survival of your company will be in question.
Luckily, there’s no need to let that happen. Taking the time to investigate and invest in a customer master data management solution will help you overcome these CMO challenges today and for many years to come. Book a product demo today and see how customer master data management can help your organization.
 Source: Gartner. Tech Go-to-Market: Develop a More Comprehensive Content Strategy to Meet the Needs of Business Buyers. Todd Berkowitz, Tad Travis. July 2016, Foundational November 2017.
 Forrester. Accelerate Your Culture Practices for Digital Transformation. Michelle Beeson, Jacob Morgan, Alyson Clarke with Martin Gill, Meredith Cain. February 2018.
 Forrester. Apply Cultural Patterns From Leading Digital Innovators. Jacob Morgan, Alyson Clarke, Michelle Beeson with Martin Gill, Edoardo Zavarella, Sam Bartlett. February 2018.