In good times and bad, businesses rarely waver in their pursuit of growth. Investors expect it, and C-suite success depends on it. According to Forrester’s Q4 B2C Marketing CMO Pulse Survey, 2022, revenue growth is the single most important outcome that defines CMO success. At this particular moment in time — when digital consumers evolve at a break-neck pace, recession prognostications flip-flop daily, generative AI (genAI) frenzy grips every business function, and a US presidential election year looms — the only guarantee is more uncertainty.
C-level executives who maximize value for their customers will generate value for the business. Now is the time to plan to activate the customer-obsessed growth engine, which requires the alignment of all customer-facing functions, investments in insights, and the tech needed to fuel the engine. According to Forrester’s State Of Customer Obsession Survey, 2022, respondents at enterprises with high levels of alignment across marketing, customer experience (CX), and digital report 2.4x higher revenue growth and 2.0x higher growth in profitability than those with some or no alignment.
The CMO and their teams are uniquely positioned to be the maestros of this movement to alignment. They represent the voice of the customer, understand the evolving tech landscape, and balance intuition with analysis to deliver brand experiences that inspire devotion.
As we enter planning cycles for 2024, marketing executives must steer clear of “growth at any cost” and make strategic decisions about their budgets that maximize return. Our recent survey of US marketing decision-makers found that 88% plan to increase their overall marketing investment in the next 12 months. It will benefit marketers to forge close relationships with their digital team, who will likely be spending their expanded 2024 budget on initiatives close to marketers’ hearts, including new conversational interfaces, genAI, and expanding the digital skills of teams across the organization.
The Planning Guide 2024: B2C Marketing Executives report provides recommendations for where to invest, where to pull back, and where targeted experiments might pay off. Three, in particular, will help turbocharge your customer-obsessed growth engine with technology and insights:
- Invest in operational discipline and governance. New technologies, platforms, and touchpoints continue to flood the B2C marketing landscape. Fifty-six percent of US B2C marketing leaders already say they’ve used generative AI in their marketing efforts. Informing and governing marketing activity in this environment requires a tight link between financial planning, creative production, downstream execution, and marketing performance. Investing in operations lays the foundation for rapid adoption of and value realization from transformative technologies such as genAI. As genAI creates a minefield for brand reputation and misinformation, CX’s work understanding customer sentiment will become a more critical part of the loyalty equation. CX budgets in 2024 are likely to only slightly increase, with one in five CX leaders expecting the budget to decrease. This makes it a great time for marketing and CX to pool resources and tackle the issue together.
- Overhaul your customer data strategy. The challenges of acquiring customer data go far beyond the status of the third-party cookie. Marketers are already losing access to customer data through the growing number of US states passing privacy-protecting laws and via consumers who use privacy-oriented browsers and extensions that limit data sharing. Marketers must reevaluate and refine their customer data strategy to explicitly define what data they want and how they’ll use that data to transparently create value for the customer.
- Experiment with new ways to gather primary consumer insights. The 24-hour news cycle and always-on internet access can influence consumer decision-making in an instant. While surveys and focus groups are still excellent tools to gather consumer insights, new digital research technologies reach consumers more effectively and efficiently in the moment. Quantitative tools have expanded their tech platform offerings beyond survey programming to include methodologies like concept testing, qualitative one-on-one interviews, and ad testing. In collaboration with your CX colleagues, balance longitudinal studies necessary for gaining deeper customer insights with quick insight-gathering tools to validate lower-priority business decisions.
For details about marketing executives’ budgets and all 10 areas where we recommend increasing and decreasing investment, check out our complimentary Planning Guide 2024: B2C Marketing Executives. And don’t miss our complimentary Planning Guide 2024: Customer Experience and Planning Guide 2024: Digital Business And Strategy.