Presenting today with Marketo's CMO, Sanjay Dholakia, gave us the opportunity to talk about what CMOs (both B2B and B2C) need to do to transform marketing into a growth engine. Here's a little retrospective on our conversation in case you missed it. 

In 2010, Forrester introduced our "age of the customer"(AOTC) research and defined four investment imperatives needed to better win, serve, and retain customers in this digital age.

Marketo focuses here, not just as a marketing technology provider, but as a practitioner as well.  They've been talking about Engagement Marketing – the evolution from mass marketing to transactional to customer engagement — for more than a year, and practicing it for much longer. Now their advice is as easy as … well … learning your alphabet. 

Forrester's research shows that technological change reduces competitive barriers. Building and sustaining customer relationships is the exception. In some ways, technology actually enhances relationship creation and maintenance. Top firms recognize this and get customer-obsessed to beat their competition.  By investing strategy, budget, and energy in the following four areas, they:

1) Turn big data into business insight – Big data is big news: 38% of 3000+ business and technology decision makers spend more than $10M on data and analytics in 2014 – and expect to continue to do the same or more this year. In the mix, predictive analytics are growing rapidly, with 65% of respondents claiming to use this technology today.

2) Transform the customer experience – Forrester's Customer Experience Index shows that CX leaders out perform CX laggards on stock market performance during the past 7 years — leaders enjoying 78% growth on average during this period versus a negative 3% decline in stock price for laggards on average.

3) Embrace the mobile mindshift – Mobile-first is the new interaction imperative and Forrester predicts 45% of consumers across the world will use smartphones by 2019. Despite this, only 42% of apps/websites are designted from a "mobile first" perspective. (That gives you 4 years to catch up….)

4) Accelerate their digital business – This is the flipside of customer experience and answers the question "how do you get there?" For CMOs, cotent will become the key currency in in this transformation delivered as the fodder for personally, contextually relevant interaction. This will be a challenge since, while 86% of marketers believe they use content strategically, almost 2/3 of decision makers (62%) say the content they get from their supplier's sales teams is useless.

Sanjay honed in on the impact of marketing here by explaining that customer engagement is the outcome of customer obsession.  To get there, you need to learn the ABCs of customer engagement, which means using marketing to buld lifelong relationships:

A – As individuals.  This is all about moving from mass messaging to microsegmentation.  And communicating using the channels buyers prefer individually.

B – Based on what they do. For marketers, this is about listening in and following the customers' lead, whether in the physical or digital world.

C – Continuously over time. Recognize that customer relationships have a life cycle and needs change over time.

D – Directed toward an outcome. This is about recognizing that there are different outcomes that matter, especially when you focus on the customer's outcome first.

E – Everywhere they are. Omni-channel, Internet of Things, contextual… all boil down to giving buyers what they want when/where they need it.

To get more customer engaged, check out the recording of our webinar, and (of course) look for my upcoming report on Make Your B2B Marketing Thrive In The Age Of The Customer.