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What Your Chief Information Officer Needs To Know About Marketing

What Your Chief Information Officer Needs To Know About Marketing

Once CIOs cultivate a relationship with the marketing department, they can offer mutual respect and a common vision.

Marketers need all the regular hardware and software that gets issued by the IT department — mobile devices, productivity apps and employee portals — but the list doesn’t end there.

To be truly successful in building a brand, marketing teams need buy-in and support from technology executives who understand how their roles have changed.

In the earliest days of marketing, for example, much of the assets and collateral that was produced involved paper brochures, billboards and TV commercials. Much of this was outsourced to ad agencies and required little from the company’s IT team.

Today, however, marketing is an innately data-driven occupation. Information about customers needs to be gathered across an array of digital touchpoints. Sophisticated applications are required to analyze this data and help marketers target their campaigns at a granular level.

Marketers also need to take into account the digital habits of their customers, including the ways in which they can bring their stories to life on social media, via video or even through augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR).

Without a solid alliance between marketing and IT, this becomes difficult, if not impossible.

IT departments are perpetually trying to strike the right balance between keeping existing technologies running smoothly, ensuring that all data is properly secured, and not exceeding their budget.

This means a chief information officer (CIO) may be skeptical when marketers continue to come forward with requests to add new applications, or to take up more of the IT staff’s time in integrating disparate marketing tools into a unified dashboard.

CIOs also have to think about the other departments that count on them. Finance teams are trying to get insights from the numbers. Operations staff may be trying to automate manual work or tasks that put staff at risk. HR might need help deploying a new system to manage employee reviews.

It’s up to marketers — and in particular the chief marketing officer (CMO) — to develop a relationship with the CIO based on mutual respect and a common vision.

This is still a journey in which many CMOs are in the early stages. Even if they have enough room in their own budget to fund marketing technology purchases, there can be uncomfortable conversations with CIOs about the impact it will have on other technology across the company.

If you’re a CMO, make sure your discussions with the CIO cover off the following areas:

1. The marketing KPIs that matter, and the technology that affects them

CIOs were once judged on how often they ensured the network didn’t experience downtime. This was sometimes referred to as the “keeping the lights on” responsibility of IT leaders. Many CIO want to be much more innovative and customer-centric today, and CMOs can help them do that.

Explain how you measure your own team’s performance. This could range from marketing content that drives conversions to an e-commerce site, or leads that get generated and passed to the sales team. Walk the CIO through the best-in-class tools and approaches that help you get there, such as marketing automation.

Be candid and transparent about your goals so the CIO can recognize the role they play in helping you achieve them.

2. The most critical marketing milestones in the customer journey

Don’t just ask for a social listening tool. Show the CIO how getting a better sense of the sentiment of customers on social media allows you to respond to their pain points or answer their questions.

Walk through what happens as a customer becomes aware of your brand, begins to develop an affinity and eventually becomes loyal. What are the key technologies that help keep customers moving through this journey? If your marketing team has gaps here, the CIO should be able to see how they can fill them.

3. What an omnichannel world looks like for your customers

It might be obvious to CIOs that you need to be able to monitor and optimize what happens to customer when they visit your web site. It might be less clear how you need to be able to reach out to customers en masse through push notifications, YouTube videos and even in-person experiences such as in a store or at an event. How are you making the most of e-mail to get the right message to every customer?

CIOs must understand that your brand isn’t just showing up on all these channels, but needs to continually improve how it shows up, and the technologies that allow for optimization and personalization. This includes artificial intelligence (AI). CIOs might already be eyeing machine learning and natural language processing for other parts of the business, and they might be interested in seeing what it means for marketing departments.

4. The data-driven workflow marketers have embraced

Marketers have come a long way since the days they toted around three-ring binders and used a rolodex to keep track of their contacts.

Educate CIOs on what collaboration looks like within marketing today, including messaging apps like Slack. Demonstrate how you can use visualization tools to create more dynamic presentations and updates to help senior leadership teams assess the brand’s health.

What kind of marketing technology apps should be on your phone to record a podcast, take behind-the-scenes videos at events or even update the company’s blog? If you need a better newsletter tool to run email marketing campaigns, make your best business case.

CIOs might not be able to grant every request right away, of course, but they can work together with the marketing team to set a realistic timeline.

When the relationship is really working, though, you may find the CIO becomes far more than the person to green light a new marketing technology. They can also be a source of strategic insight, where they take what they hear about future products from the vendor community and identify tools that marketers wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.

Teach the CIO about marketing, in other words, and they might help you learn which technologies will really make a difference in building your brand.

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