27 Nov 2023 - Dennis Egen

The Role of CMOs in Driving Digital Transformation Solutions

CMO With endless online options, user experience (UX) is increasingly being identified as a differentiating factor when consumers choose to engage with a brand. In response, businesses are continuing to increase the resources (time, personnel, and finances) they dedicate to digital transformation (DX) to enhance their customer interactions and experiences. Marketing Officers (CMOs) can fill a unique role in digital transformation as marketing professionals emerge as key players in enhancing and designing DX approaches.

You may be wondering, “What does marketing have to do with digital technology?” Digital transformation involves collecting customer data to better understand their behaviors and preferences to continually improve UX. 

Since CMOs are concerned with improving and maintaining brand relevance and message, this user information can inform and accelerate marketing approaches and decisions for improved results. In short, CMOs have the opportunity to integrate web marketing opportunities with the full potential of digital transformation platforms.

Marketing, CMOs, and Digital Transformation

Marketing professionals are experts in interpreting and applying customer data and research to enhance messaging and client connections. Armed with data, they are positioned to understand, represent, and anticipate the customer's perspective and select products, services, and goods that will promote company growth. Adding digitalization as an additional marketing tool adds a competitive edge to elevate brand reputation and user experiences to carve out your space in the market

As marketing leaders, CMOs can use their influence and expertise to guide organizational strategies to shape the customer experience. Embracing the technological capabilities of digital transformation allows CMOs to be:

  • Decisive in making data-driven and technologically backed decisions
  • Understand shifts or trends in customer preferences and behaviors to inform approaches
  • Able to adapt strategies to meet the changing preferences and behaviors of consumers in the digital realm. 

Additionally, research has shown that companies that see the greatest return on their digital transformation investment don’t simply rely on technology as a quick fix. Instead, they adopt digital marketing strategies throughout their organization and view digital transformation as a powerful tool for furthering those strategies. CMOs cultivate direct relationships with fellow C-Suite executives. Their goal is to promote organizational understanding and adoption of digital marketing and transformation strategies. This collaborative effort aims to maximize both user experience and overall company outcomes. 

CMOs cultivate direct relationships with fellow C-Suite executives. Their goal is to promote organizational understanding and adoption of digital marketing and transformation strategies. This collaborative effort aims to maximize both user experience and overall company outcomes. 

The connection between marketing expertise and digital transformation growth is clear. CMOs can act as leaders to maximize this marketing and technology relationship by supporting other marketing team members and interdisciplinary collaboration.

The CMO’s Role in Digital Transformation

Now that we understand the big-picture relationship between marketing and digitalization, let’s dig deeper into the specific role CMOs have in championing digital transformation.

  • Own and guide user experiences and customer journeys to enhance personalization. As mentioned above, customer experiences are increasingly emerging as a differentiating factor for growing companies. With several competitors vying for online attention, customers are more likely to interact with brands that provide a streamlined experience and resonate with their wants and needs. CMOs can own the company’s commitment to personalization approaches to improve customer experiences, helping the company to transcend and distinguish itself from competitors.
  • Monitor and improve approaches informed by user experience data. One of the key benefits of digital transformation is improved tracking of consumer preferences, client behaviors, and webpage performance. CMOs can utilize this important information to continually evaluate and adapt marketing and user experience approaches to remain relevant and desirable to the customer. Examples include using data to reduce checkout time, streamline product information, or tweak brand messaging.
  • Be willing to learn from both achievements and nonsuccesses. Creativity is a key part of keeping a brand fresh, innovative, and timely. Digital transformation allows companies to test new approaches and track their impact. CMOs should model openness, creative ideas, willingness to learn from the success or shortcomings of new strategies, and responsiveness to adjust using digitalization tools as needed.
  • Forge connections with other C-suite leaders. Companies with C-suites who embrace digital transformation see better results. CMOs can take time to share the value of digital transformation, how intentional marketing efforts can maximize digitalization benefits, and how adopting these views into the company culture can advance stakeholder interests. By gaining buy-in from other leaders and stakeholders, CMOs can tremendously contribute to the added success of digital transformation efforts.
  • Partner with digital transformation experts. It’s likely no surprise that leaning into industry-leading technologists and high-quality platforms can increase your return on investment. When paired with a well-thought-out branding strategy, having these experts and tools can amplify your outcomes. As leaders, CMOs can help to identify in-house specialists, seek out third-party partners, and establish training or continuing education opportunities as needed. They can create resources and opportunities for learning to help fill knowledge gaps and keep skills current.

Potential Challenges for CMOs

As change leaders, there can be great excitement and buzz around digital transformation innovations. However, changing a company culture can take time. Here are some things CMOs can consider to help ease the transition and introduction of new ideas.

  • Focus on your organizational strategy rather than relying solely on the technology. Without an intentional, organizational plan or strategy, enabling technologies won’t reach their maximum potential. It is better to view these innovative digital platforms as tools for effectively implementing marketing and customer experience approaches rather than being a magical UX solution.
  • Maintain a shared vision and high-level view of digital transformation. When thinking about marketing and digital transformation, it can be easy to slip into common digital marketing activities without considering their role in the big picture. CMOs can effectively steer digital transformation by maintaining a high-level perspective, setting strategic goals, and leveraging marketing expertise to enhance user experience. This involves guiding individual steps that contribute cohesively to broader objectives such as strategy alignment, brand image enhancement, and improved customer journey.  
  • Acknowledge the natural growing pains of introducing change to a work culture. With any organizational change, you will encounter a spectrum of reactions. From early adopters to late acceptors, individuals naturally respond differently to change depending on how adventurous or conservative they may naturally tend to be. To support the diffusion of innovation throughout an organization, CMOs should focus on making changes relevant to team members, compatible with company values, easy to understand, and observable in their outcomes.

Empowering CMOs: Navigating Digital Transformation for Enhanced Marketing Impact

Engine Room understands and values the potential impact of digital transformation as well as the valuable role CMOs play in maximizing results. As marketing leaders, CMOs can guide organizations in leveraging digitalization technology to improve customer experiences, support brand differentiation, and meet company goals. To learn more about how CMOs can achieve this, download Engine Room’s complete guide to digital transformation.

Digital Transformation Guide