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Are CMOs slacking in mobile?

The role of today?s chief marketing officer has fundamentally changed. Knowledge of digital and mobile is more crucial than ever and many CMOs are currently struggling to understand today?s increasingly tech-savvy customers.

CMOs need to better understand that reaching today?s consumer is not about traditional marketing. It is increasingly about creating contextual and relevant experiences that engage with customers and that begins with mobile.

?Today?s consumers live in a mobile first world,? said James Citron, chief marketing officer of payvia. ?Unfortunately, many CMOs typically focus most of their spend on analog and thus, are struggling to respond to the meteoric rise of mobile.

?And for those who have been bombarded by coworkers, peers and media to adopt a plethora of shiny tools, with the promises of higher company sales and customer loyalty, mobile uptake has been faster, but the ROI may not have caught up to its budget,? he said.

?The truth is, of the wide range of mobile marketing tools, only a handful of them actually produce high results across the entire marketing funnel ? from reaching new customers, to driving sales and loyalty ? and they aren?t usually the shiny ones.?

Understanding the space
While mobile Web, text message marketing and personalized mobile content continue to show high ROI, CMOs have too often been focused on creating one-off products, and not integrating mobile well enough across all customer touch points.

There are many reasons why chief marketing officers may be slacking in mobile.

The first of which is a digital disconnect between digital natives and the CMO who occupies the executive suite.

CMOs who are not digital natives need to embrace their digital and mobile-savvy colleagues, provide them the platform and freedom to test, prove and launch their digital strategies.

Then, there is the fear of big data.

The scariest thing for a traditional marketer is to know that every campaign can be tracked, measured and critiqued.

The top CMOs embrace this challenge by creating frameworks to distill the volume of data created by their programs.

?They are creating analytics tools to isolate the key variables of a successful program and utilize them to drive their future marketing strategies and campaigns,? Mr. Citron said. ?CMOs are vital to the development of a great, customer-focused mobile experience. 

?They are uniquely positioned to understand their company, their customer, what motivates them to align with the brand, while also understanding the business goals needed to craft truly successful mobile programs,? he said.

Moving forward, CMOs need to embrace their mobile customers and create experiences akin to how their customers are using mobile today.

Consumers are creating mobile content, communicating with their friends and family through messaging applications and trying to buy products from their mobile devices.

?When creating marketing strategies that truly fit today?s consumer behavior, CMOs can create relevant experiences that will resonate with their customers and drive the relevance, engagement and loyalty that marketers strive for,? Mr. Citron said.

Divided market
According to Vanessa Horwell, chief visibility officer of ThinkInk, Miami, FL, today?s CMOs are divided into three segments.

The first is those operating within large companies where they have the cash flow on hand to invest in an all-encompassing mobile marketing program.

The second group consists of CMOs in smaller companies that embrace risk-taking behaviors and support mobile endeavors.

The final segment comprises of a broad middle section with tight budgets who struggle with defining what they want out of a mobile strategy and who, thanks to a well-entrenched post-recessionary mindset, remain highly risk-averse.

?While mobile is often trumpeted as the be-all and end-all for marketers, advertising budgets haven?t overwhelmingly switched to the mobile medium ? at least not as compared to what earlier forecasts predicted,? Ms. Horwell said.

?My view is that many CMOs find mobile overwhelming ? not just as it relates to cost of implementation, but the challenges associated with what type of mobile strategy or campaign is needed,? she said. ?Mobile marketing has become an extremely sub-segmented marketplace including everything from ad networks, analytics, app developers, mobile CRM, RTB, social and so on.

?Many of these services are offered by multiple vendors, and not necessarily under one roof.  Those who embrace mobile may be unwilling to be beholden to so many third parties simultaneously. And even if they choose an in-house approach that too requires considerable resources, talent and deep knowledge.?

Although many CMOs are struggling, they are still absolutely critical.

Charged with selling a mobile experience at the enterprise level, it is a CMO?s job to seek buy-in from CEOs and others across the entire business.

However, they are not the whole story.

Each department in an organization has its own ideas of how mobile works best for its needs.

Successful mobile experiences require more than a tick in a column marked ?Yes for mobile.?

And, CMOs must understand how mobile affects every aspect of the business and the bottom line impact.

?CMOs need to better understand their customers and gain increased granular insights into their shopping and engagement behaviors in order to craft a mobile experience that meets their needs,? Ms. Horwell said. ?Things like what percentage of customers are iOS or Android users are important first steps.

?Another area that CMOs should be addressing is whether to focus on mobile Web or app investment ? or even both,? she said. ?Some industries, as we?re seeing in the hotel sector, are finding that apps are not as effective as having a mobile-optimized site.

?So part of the CMO?s role is to understand which mobile formats are optimal for their customer segments. Mobile is proving to be a very effective channel from which to gain this knowledge. But brands won?t know what mobile strategy to implement unless they have this data. But they have to start without being afraid and not look back.?

Key role
A recent Gartner forecast predicted chief marketing officers will outspend chief information officers on IT by 2017, and a great deal of that spending will be used to facilitate optimal mobile experiences.

With this, marketing CMOs and professionals are playing an increasingly visible role in technology discussions as they understand the audience and are key to shaping the desired digital experiences.

?CMOs today are very aware of the importance of mobile,? said Devanshi Garg, chief operating officer of Icreon Tech, New York. ?Evidently, CMOs have worked hard to set the stage for mobile marketing but sometimes need assistance on how to define their core value proposition and on the strategic implementation of their mobile marketing initiatives, which is where the conversations needs to shift towards.?

?When it comes to CMOs and their mobile marketing strategies, if 2012 was the year of mobile awareness, 2013 will be the year of mobile execution.?

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York