Each year the chief marketing officer (CMO) becomes more data-driven, performance-focused and more of a technology leader. This hybrid executive has more information at her fingertips than ever before, and is primed to leverage that big data for huge opportunities in 2015. As agents of innovation, CMOs should prepare to utilize their data to market their businesses with greater effectiveness and efficiency in the coming 12 months.  

1. Understand the principles of relevance and personalization

For marketing executives, the most important aspect of first-party data is the relevance achieved by using it. Brands have a wealth of data on their existing and prospective customers and can use this data to forever enhance and maximize their customer engagement and interactions. To create personalized and relevant interactions in the digital world, CMOs must understand and acknowledge these principles of these often misused approaches:

  • Geo-targeting does not signify personalization or relevance. Something happening in a customer’s metro area is not always relevant to him. For instance, just because this jeweler is located near a customer does not mean he cares, if he is not in the market for an engagement ring.
  • Customer segmentation does not create personalization or relevance at the individual level. Performance marketers and advertisers have abundant data about millions of customers and site visitors. Their goal, then, is to create a unique and personalized experience for each customer, which finally leads to individualization.

Additionally, CMOs should make it a priority to control both the onsite and offsite user experiences. Marketing leaders can use the first-party data they have on their customers and site visitors to deliver personalized video, display advertising and email marketing that create a highly individualized experience, even off of their website.

2. Measure performance advertising your way, not according to others

Marketers are no longer limited to only measuring their marketing return on investment (ROI) through in-session clicks. Performance marketers are becoming smarter about advanced attribution measurement and will only continue to uncover the truth of their measurable media that is driving both online and offline sales. Advanced attribution enables marketers to predict the results of each marketing expenditure.

Now, CMOs — not media partners or the industry — hold the power in determining how value is attributed to the performance marketing mix. Since the budget belongs to the CMO, it is up to her to figure out how best to measure value and hold programs accountable. Strong media partners will help brands build value based on the brand’s definition of it.

3. Focus on data quality and performance

Owning, controlling and understanding your customer data are the keys to unlocking both quality and performance. Marketing leaders should get their data plumbing in order and the data connected. Once that happens, they can begin to comprehend which data is most predictive of customer behavior and which is not, and then demand their digital media partners feed back the data from their programs.

4. Buy media from multiple sources

If a CMO’s focus is on building comprehensive engagement with customers, he will need multiple buying sources, in and out of the programmatic world, and shouldn’t allow the industry to put value on who does his media buying.

The marketing organization will continue to align with technology to serve business goals, and is, more than ever, equal parts art and science. This coming year will be all about allowing data to take form and do its job: providing both brands and their customers value and quality.