We recently released our fourth annual “State of Marketing” research report. The report, which combines data collected from more than 3,500 marketing leaders around the world, revealed valuable insights.

Buckle your seat belts, because marketing’s terrain is changing. The data in the report showed us that brands’ priorities are shifting. Sixty-eight percent of marketing leaders (and 86% of top performers) agree that they increasingly compete on customer experience.

As more brands focus on the customer experience, teams are changing the way they organize and operate. Reorganization is always a challenge, but brands that pull it off are winning the scuffle for new customers, market share, and wallet share because they are able to deliver exceptional customer experiences beyond just marketing.

Brands that ignore the customer experience are running a risky business.


What do top marketers do differently?


So, what exactly are top brands doing differently that the rest of us can look to for inspiration? And how are they leading the charge across entire organizations?

First and foremost, the top marketing teams today are the ones that haven’t been afraid to disrupt the status quo. Across industries and geographies, they are sparking important changes to their operational models, from cultural shifts to the way departments are structured.

Brands that do this start by adopting a customer experience mentality. This means making customer experience a top priority across the entire business, from marketing to sales to customer service.

Next, they recognize that the customer journey does not fit into linear categories we can neatly label “web,” “social,” “email,” and so on. Sixty-seven percent of marketing leaders say creating a connected customer journey across all touchpoints and channels is critical to their success.

Finally, brands that really get it know that customer experience goes beyond marketing. They realign their operational structure so that different teams are working together to put the customer first. This means that sales, marketing, and customer service share common goals, data, and processes.


How can organizations adopt a customer experience mentality?


Step one: get started. This can be the hardest part. When an organization decides to realign itself around its customer experience, it’s a bold move. Change won’t happen overnight. You need a plan.

Check out this roadmap to customer journey alignment:


Know your customers’ lifecycles.

Work to really understand your brand’s customer experience today. This requires that you be brutally honest and truly objective. If your current experience is good, identify its strengths and build on them. If it’s bad, acknowledge it.

Audit today’s customer experience.

Find out how your brand looks to a customer on the outside. See how your brand shows up in search engine results. Scrutinize your presence on social media platforms. Scour your competition. Be sure to document everything.

Identify moments that matter.

Big decisions start with small moments. Before you decided to buy that pair of running shoes, you had to go through a series of smaller decisions. You had to decide you wanted to get in better shape and that running was the way to do it. Then you had to decide what style of shoes to look for and, finally, the brand and specific pair.

Consider key moments that represent the full range of user needs, and think about how you can be there for your customer in each moment.

Identify the most valuable journeys.

Build an experience around them. Start with your data. If you see that 75% of customers who put an item in their cart don’t complete a purchase, you might focus on building a cart abandonment journey. Then test and execute.

How can marketers drive connected customer experiences within marketing departments?

Generally speaking, customers don’t care what channel they’re using when interacting with your brand. What they do care about is that the experience is cohesive.

Marketing teams that break away from internal silos categorized by channel are better equipped to understand and deliver that cohesive, cross-channel experience. So why do so many organizations continue to structure their teams by channel?

Amit Shah, CMO of 1-800-Flowers.com, said, “Over time, we have actually given up, more or less, hiring for roles.” A better approach is to structure teams by where they interact with the customer lifecycle.

Marketing teams that toss out the traditional org chart might be better equipped to serve customers.

How can marketers drive cohesive customer experiences outside of marketing?

While marketing may be leading this charge, the change can’t stop there. An organization wide shift requires collaboration from the entire organization.

Notably, other teams that directly interact with customers, such as sales and customer service, absolutely have to be involved and invested for anyone to find success.

Top marketers agree cross-collaboration is vital to building consistent customer experiences.


What’s the role of technology?


Technology can be the boon or the bane of any organization. Where does it fit, and what technologies do you really need to improve your customer journey?

According to the “State of Marketing” report, top marketers are between 2.4x and 3x more likely to report that their current technology stack is effective at delivering:

  • Collaboration across the business

  • Collaboration across marketing functions

  • Increased productivity

  • Better analytic insights

  • Improved marketing efficiency

  • More cohesive view of customer data

Top marketers rely on technologies that allow them to capture and share information about their customers.


That’s a wrap: how to organize for success in the Age of the Customer.


So, to recap, what are the four things you have to get right to succeed in aligning your organization around your customer?

  1. Align metrics within and across teams.

  2. Audit your experience across the customer lifecycle — both within and outside of marketing.

  3. Determine how roles should align to your customers’ journeys.

  4. Walk — don’t run — as you start your transformation.

For the complete guide on realigning your organization around the customer journey, check out the webinar.

This blog is part 6 of our Trailblazer CMO series. Check out the other blogs in the series for more insights from today’s top marketing leaders.

Watch the Fourth Annual State of Marketing video to learn more about how marketers are leading the charge to transform the customer experience.