While a CEO may still hold the centre of attention in any given business, the path to glory is being paved by a new voice within the boardroom, the CMO.
Not merely a typical marketing head honcho however, rather a digitally focused leader that delivers new levels of innovation across the organisation.
Never before have CMOs yielded so much power to drive tangible results throughout the customer lifecycle, creating new buyers for the channel in tandem.
“Ultimately, my primary focus is customer satisfaction and the customer experience, which drive business outcomes,” Commonwealth Bank group executive group marketing and strategy, Vittoria Shortt, said.
“One of the key pillars to deliver this purpose is to combine cutting edge marketing technology practices with creative executions.
“The strategy requires the team to be highly tuned to new technology, analytics capabilities and the competitive environment.”
In heading a business unit formed in March 2016, Shortt oversees specialists across a range of marketing and strategy disciplines including CommBank’s data analytics centre of excellence.
“The team works very closely with colleagues across all the business units to deliver to our vision — to excel at securing and enhancing the financial wellbeing of people, businesses and communities,” Shortt explained.
“We continually challenge, disrupt practices, question and apply the latest thinking, adapt and pioneer new ways to engage with customers.”
Internally, Shortt said this plays out with the development of a range of self-service tools for marketers that provide them with a simple automated tool to assist with annual planning and campaign pre-analysis.
“We’ve recently built a self-service tool to automate post campaign results that helps us understand the performance of all of our direct marketing campaigns in near real- time,” Shortt explained.
“The tool offers drill-down capability to understand the performance of specific test cells within a campaign, or a drill-up view of the total performance of all customer engagement activities.”
Externally however, CommBank is focused on how it uses technology to drive innovations in the customer experience.
“For example,” Shortt explained. “Camera pay allows customers to use their phone’s camera to scan a code to send and receive money to their CommBank account.
“This enhancement speaks to an element of our brand promise, to make it simple and easy for our customers to meet their banking needs.”
For Shortt, a key priority is to build a team with “world-class” digital marketing capabilities.
“But this requires more than a system or a shift to in-house services,” she cautioned. “Without engaged, informed and future- thinking marketers and business partners, the business benefit will not be realised and the marketing team will be ill-equipped for the future.”
Backed up by strong recent financials — with a record half-year profit of $4.91 billion — more Australians are choosing to engage with CommBank through digital channels, illustrating how a traditionally stuffy industry is moving with the technological times.
Currently, CommBank has 5.8 million customers using digital, with 25 per cent of new account openings also coming through the platform.
In addition, 53 per cent of total transactions (by $) are now digital with 80 per cent of logins via mobile.
“This provides a significant opportunity to deliver a more personalised digital experience, which in turn demands a step change in how we make use of our customer data and shapes our investments in marketing technology,” Shortt explained.
“Continuous improvements in technology and investments in technology are a significant lever we use to improve customer satisfaction and experience.”
As one of the country’s largest financial institutions, CommBank operates a customer marketing transformation (CMT) program, which has been in place for over 12 months and focuses on how to use customer data more effectively to inform media buying, improve targeting and lift message relevance.
“As part of this we bought our programmatic trading and paid search capabilities in-house, which has set the scene for evolving data capabilities beyond pure performance, and enhancing digital media measurement in an increasingly fragmented digital landscape,” Shortt added.
Reflecting the advancements made by CommBank, in organisations across Australia and the world, marketing is now responsible for critical customer-facing, revenue-generating systems and applications.
According to Gartner findings, marketing budgets increased to 12 per cent of company revenue in 2016, from 11 per cent in 2015 with 57 per cent expecting investments to increase further in 2017.
As the marketing leaders’ mandate broadens, tech spending is fast approaching the levels of the IT department to the point that in 2017, CMOs could spend more on technology than CIOs.
A seemingly striking observation in years gone by, but today, marketing has new-found control of technology buying decisions.