4 standout priorities for CMOs in the next quarter (and beyond)


2020 was a year packed with unprecedented challenges for CMOs and marketing teams worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic and the ramifications this had on consumer behaviour caused brands in all industries to adapt their approaches on the fly, while often having to contend with restricted budgets.

Following the first few months of 2021, many of those challenges remain. COVID-19 is still with us. The economy continues to fluctuate. The only certainty at the moment is constant uncertainty.

This arguably makes the work of CMOs both more important and more difficult than ever before. With many still hindered by budget cuts and getting to grips with this new reality, there is a pressing need for clearly defined goals to maximise the potential of this next quarter and to set a strong foundation for the future.

If this is a situation you find yourself in, our Global Sales Director Justin Diver has identified 4 critical areas that CMOs should focus their attention to in the coming quarter to reap the greatest benefits now and going forward.

4 priorities for CMOs in 2021

  • Make digital transformation a core focus
  • Explore technology that can deliver more for less
  • Build stronger bonds with your existing customers
  • Lead the charge on empathetic, cause-driven marketing

1. Make digital transformation a core focus

Digital marketing is nothing new, it has been a priority area for marketing teams for several years – but now the pressure to present the best possible digital experience to customers is overwhelming.

The availability of physical stores and premises is guided by COVID-19 regulations and, with no real certainty over when these will disappear entirely, they have to be disregarded for at least the next quarter.

Instead, the priority of CMOs is to deliver a better, more cohesive digital experience to consumers. This is reflected in a recent survey by Gartner, which revealed that 51% of CMOs plan to focus on these experiences heavily in 2021, and 48% intend to introduce new digital sales and service channels as part of their offering.

With consumers limited in how they can interact with brands, the onus is on brands to make these touchpoints as engaging and seamless as possible. Because, any negative experiences quickly lead to a loss of brand loyalty.

Around 65% of consumers will switch to a competitor after they have 1-2 poor experiences with a brand – 88% will switch after 1-3 bad experiences (CCW)

What does this mean in practice for CMOs? It means now is the time to evaluate their existing digital platforms, identify any areas of weakness, and determine opportunities that will improve these channels for their consumers:

  • Audit your digital channels and assess the user experience they offer
  • Confirm that all messages and collateral going out online is consistent with your brand’s identity
  • Explore the potential to extend your research on social media platforms
  • Examine if you know enough about your consumers’ online habits, and if there are ways you can find out more
  • Investigate and test digital strategies – artificial intelligence, customer loyalty programs, virtual sales, virtual conferences, voice of customer programs, etc.

Fundamentally, it is vital that any CMOs who still think of e-commerce as a nice-to-have use the next quarter to revise their opinion. Especially in the current landscape, it is now central to the overall customer journey, but it won’t end when COVID-19 is in our rear-view mirror – these events will shape customers’ expectations in the long term.

This is why CMOs must prioritise cementing their digital strategy. However, be selective with what areas you focus on. Gartner’s survey identified that many CMOs were interested in rescaling or reinventing many of their digital strategies during 2021, but the time, effort and resources this takes would be unfeasible. The end results would be an overstressed and overworked marketing team, and a muddled, incohesive approach.

Instead, as CMO, your responsibility is to identify the areas of your brand’s digital platform where you can make the biggest positive transformation or drive the greatest return on investment, based on your understanding of your customers and industry.

2. Explore technology that can deliver more for less

In order to best manage this difficult balancing act, CMOs should explore the potential of technologies that will enable them to produce more content and meet the growing expectations of customers while minimising expenditure.

Marketing spend in 2022 is predicted to be 30% smaller than at the end of 2019 (Forrester)

This could include software that improves your team’s workflow like Zapier, all-encompassing marketing automation tools like Hubspot, or a platform that richly enhances your team’s ability to produce a vast number of on-brand assets in-house like BAM by Papirfly™.

Regardless of what technologies you look into, the core message is that it’s time for CMOs to introduce ways they can continue to enhance the strength of their brand and meet their KPIs, while helping their organisation save time and money during this challenging period.

In addition, look at opportunities to consolidate your existing tools and software where possible in your bid to balance the books. Rather than spend heavily on a range of separate, single-function tools, focus on software that is multi-purpose and can streamline the way your team works.

3. Build stronger bonds with your existing customers

It can cost companies up to 7 times more to acquire new customers than retain their existing customers (Neil Patel)

In Gartner’s survey, they identified that CMOs will prioritise their existing customers, whether that is promoting their existing range of products and services, or introducing new offerings for repeat consumers.

There is a lot of logic behind this technique. Again, with budgets tight and the means of reaching new customers restricted to the crowded digital domain, the most cost-efficient approach would be to drive more business from your existing audience. It is true that a brand’s most loyal 10% of customers will spend up to 3 times more than the other 90%.

It is a low-risk stance that can potentially reap great results in this time of uncertainty. But, what can CMOs do this quarter to help enhance their relationship with their current customers to keep them returning for more?

  • Prioritise consistency across all marketing materials – anything that fails to reflect the identity you’ve established across your customer base could result in a loss of trust
  • Introduce customer loyalty programs and time-based discounts to encourage repeat business from your most loyal customers
  • Assess your current customer service process and whether it is fulfilling the needs and expectations of your audience
  • Focus your budgets towards remarketing efforts for your customers and those you have on record, but might have dropped off for a while

By focusing your efforts on making the experience for existing customers as engaging and reassuring as possible, your organisation can harness their greater spending power to keep revenue coming in during this period, before adjusting to the pursuit of new customers when the future feels more secure. 

Plus, taking these steps now will help new customers feel welcomed and increase the likelihood of them sticking around when they engage your business.

Ensure that this approach is driven by data, and not just risk aversion. If there are significant reservations about your existing audience’s ability to generate enough revenue in accordance with your company’s aspirations, then your strategy should pivot towards attracting more awareness towards your brand.

4. Lead the charge on empathetic, cause-driven marketing

How brands responded to COVID-19, as well as major societal movements like Black Lives Matter, had a powerful bearing on how current and prospective customers view them today. At a time where people are becoming increasingly sceptical of advertising, the media and politics, they are seeking reassurance that the brands they engage with share their values.

Arguably more than at any other point in history, consumers expect brands to have a voice during these incidents, and to practice what they preach in terms of their purpose and values:

68% of consumers expect brands to be clear about their values
46% of Millennial customers expect brands to be brave with their views
54% of consumers expect brands to be actively involved in social conversations

On top of this, research suggests that consumers are willing to pay more for brands that they consider ethical, or at least in alignment with their own outlook on these important issues.

This means the days of watching in silence to avoid offending certain customers are over. In fact, staying silent can potentially be more damaging to your brand. Particularly among younger audiences, silence speaks louder than any words can, and they would show more respect to brands that take a clear stance on matters.

How should CMOs address this factor in the next quarter and beyond? Above all else, it will be their responsibility to craft and guide their organisations on how they should react to these events when they emerge, and what action they take in the aftermath.

This will obviously depend on your brand’s unique values and identity – you won’t always believe that your company should have a stance on the matter. But, if your brand prides itself on its environmental credentials, people will anticipate you to have a say on climate change. If you promote diversity and inclusion, they will expect a statement or response on movements like Black Lives Matter.

As CMO, you should spearhead any cause-driven marketing your brand pursues, ensuring that everything created is tactful, authentic, and perfectly aligned with your values. If it doesn’t meet these key criteria, it is very possible for your empathetic marketing to generate the wrong kind of emotions – as numerous brands have demonstrated in the past

Make discovering BAM by Papirfly™ your next priority

We hope that Justin’s insights will benefit your brand and your overall marketing efforts in the coming quarter and beyond, as we continue to live in a time of uncertainty. One thing is clear though for CMOs in this challenging landscape – the need to generate consistent collateral is as pressing as ever, even if budgets are tighter than before.

BAM by Papirfly™ can make all the difference in overcoming this hurdle and helping you achieve your priorities for the short and long-term futures. Gain everything your team needs to create, share and store an infinite number of on-brand assets in-house, across all platforms, with no design expertise necessary. All in one platform, with one single license fee.

Find out how BAM can help you fulfil and exceed your content production objectives – and so much more – by talking to our team today.