Although it was already on a positive trajectory, Covid has catapulted digital marketing into a much more strategic position within local organizations. However, while there have been huge gains from the change, the increasing reliance on discipline to drive shaky sales from the pandemic is putting additional pressure on CMOs and their teams.
Additionally, there have been many instances where, realizing that their traditional sales channels are not working, boards of directors have placed unrealistic expectations on their digital teams.
We have sometimes seen digital teams being asked to deliver 200 percent more on the same budget. This has been one of the unfortunate results of Covid, as companies have seen their normal sales channels decimated and are now pinning all their hopes on a digital miracle.
A change in conversation
According to Incubeta, the change in digital marketing requires interdepartmental support.
“The success of a CMO is based on the acceptance of the organization. Going digital without the collaborative support of the organization is setting the CMO and his team for failure. A larger budget is of very little value when implemented in isolation, ”says Chelsea Owens, Incubeta business unit manager.
Fortunately, the Incubeta team has seen remarkable improvement from local businesses that are beginning to recognize the role that digital marketing has played in building sustainability.
The shift in digital marketing has brought digital leaders and teams to the core of the business. As your strategy shifts to move closer to customer centralization, it makes sense for digital marketing teams to move closer to the core of your business. We are finally seeing significant change, where CMOs are taking their seats at the boardroom table.
Those who do well prosper
Checkers’ digital offering, Sixty60, Cape Union Mart, and Hyundai, are examples of how local organizations have successfully accelerated their digital marketing initiatives, but have also secured organizational changes to support change.
We have seen massive changes in the way leaders approach digital marketing. We are witnessing interdepartmental meetings that have never happened before. Merchandising is sitting down with the marketing team and for the first time wondering how they can support digital efforts.
The lack of synergy between departments also has a huge impact on digital agencies and how effectively they can help marketing teams comply.
We can make sure people explore and interact with the product offering online, but if a customer lands on the add to cart website and the business doesn’t have the product in your size or in the color variant you want, you won. If you lose a sale, it will damage the brand experience.
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A future that prioritizes privacy demands a new way of operating
Another change has been the extension of the mandate of the marketing team.
Marketers now need to focus on conversion rate optimization as well. It’s no longer just about getting people to the website, it’s about having content that resonates with customers. Websites are so important that, in some cases, we advise customers to ditch the old ones and start from scratch.
Observing the interplay between paid search and organic search is also on the agenda for a future where privacy comes first. Mackintosh says CMOs need to focus more on their content strategy to ensure better organic ranking, which can then be leveraged for paid search. He recommends new content, like blogs, to help keep relevance high and increase paid efforts, but again he cautions that effective SEO will require a closer working relationship with the IT department.
Owens explains that better communication with customers’ IT departments also means their team is exposed to more backend chat data and warehouse data. She says this is vital in the looming cookie-free environment, where digital teams will rely more on their own audiences and measurement frameworks.
Good news for local CMOs
For local CMOs, the good news is that the opportunity in South Africa is significantly greater.
With the right investments made in the right places, local businesses can reach entirely new markets that they may not have had before; This is especially the case when looking at the mobile penetration and increasing sophistication of the South African consumer, relevant to international markets. The growing audacity of digital brand managers is paying off. A quick-fail mentality allows brands to try new things, quickly and aggressively, and if they don’t work, they move on to the next opportunity.
Owens notes that partnership is key.
“Breaking silos within the organization and accessing support is a fundamental requirement for CMOs. But so is having an agile and reliable digital marketing partner that has the autonomy to change budgets so they can take advantage of trends, ”he says.