Chief Marketing Officer

Microsoft US CMO Explores Marketing Digital Transformation

Valerie Beaulieu, Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft US, discussed her company’s digital transformation efforts during her presentation at the 2019 CMO Forum: B2B Marketing in the Digital Era in San Francisco on January 31. In her presentation, “Marketing Digital Transformation: The Case of Microsoft,” Beaulieu described Microsoft’s approach to drive digital transformation and revamp its B2B marketing.

Microsoft is a globally recognized technology brand, but the business struggled to deliver a consistent message to its customers. Also, Microsoft failed to provide a consistent customer experience across all platforms.

Ultimately, Microsoft revamped its B2B marketing and used digital transformation tools and technologies to engage with its target audience. This helped the company streamline its global marketing efforts, as well as find the best ways to deliver a consistent message and outstanding customer experiences.

“It was impossible to identify Microsoft to a brand personality and brand attributes,” Beaulieu indicated. “So, we centralized all of our global marketing into one place … and ensure it is contained at one level.”

Microsoft built an infrastructure that ensures the business can view customer activities. The company developed this infrastructure from the ground-up, and in doing so, made it simple for its marketing team and other business departments to gain deep insights into its target audience.

“If you want to do good demand generation, you need to have the infrastructure that allows you to maintain a 360-degree view of your customer at all times,” Beaulieu stated. “You need to tag all of your marketing activities so you can follow the [customer] journey.”

Today’s CMOs often are tasked with developing B2B marketing strategies. Yet CMOs sometimes lack the time, resources and support they need to create strategies that deliver meaningful business results. As such, CMOs have the shortest life in the C-suite, according to Beaulieu.

CMOs face intense pressure to deliver unprecedented customer experiences. At the same time, CMOs are tasked with driving innovation, keeping pace with customer patterns and behaviors and helping their respective businesses drive sales. If CMOs cannot accomplish their goals, they risk being phased out of companies in the foreseeable future.

For CMOs, it is paramount to provide personalized customer experiences, even in the B2B space. If CMOs prioritize personalization, they can deliver exceptional experiences that match customers’ expectations. CMOs also can use personalization technologies to foster customer experiences that differentiate a brand from its rivals.

“In the B2B space, our customers now expect the same experience they have as consumers,” Beaulieu noted. “You’re no longer compared to your competitor; you’re compared to the experience I have as a consumer.”

CMOs must understand customer expectations, too. B2B customer expectations are constantly evolving, but CMOs that leverage data analytics can identify customer patterns and plan accordingly.

Data analytics enable CMOs to learn about a business’ target audience and discover unique ways to engage with this audience. Various data analytics tools and technologies are available, and they can be implemented at businesses of all sizes and across all industries. Plus, data analytics tools and technologies help CMOs see how a business stacks up against its rivals and explore ways to distinguish a brand in a competitive global marketplace.

“The level of expectation is very pervasive in the expectation of the B2B space,” Beaulieu said. “Even if we are in the B2B space, we need to compare ourselves based on what would be the experience as consumers of our customers.”

Meanwhile, getting executive buy-in often proves to be difficult for CMOs. To overcome this hurdle, CMOs can leverage customer data to obtain a wide range of customer insights. Then, CMOs can provide executives with customer insights to make data-driven market projections and foster innovation.

“[Executives] expect that the CMO will be the master of all data within the company,” Beaulieu stated. “And [the CMO] needs to keep abreast of all the innovation in the market … to capture the customer at the right moment.”

Understanding the customer journey is crucial for CMOs as well.

CMOs must build awareness to engage customers. Furthermore, they must ensure customers are empowered throughout the customer journey. With the right processes and technologies in place, CMOs can provide customers with memorable experiences at each stage of the customer journey.

“We need to continue to deliver on the awareness and reputation of our companies, nurture positive sentiment for the brand … and build trust,” Beaulieu pointed out. “And we need to make sure we are enabling [our customers].”

Delivering a consistent customer experience requires collaboration between CMOs and all other business departments. If business departments work together to deliver a consistent customer experience, they could help a company foster long-lasting customer partnerships.

“We need to make sure that the entire company – starting from the top and down to everything that we do – is aligned to deliver a consistent customer experience,” Beaulieu said.

Visit Argyle Executive Forum's 2019 Marketing Leadership Forum: The New CMO, Where Performance and Brand Intersect in New York, NY on Oct 22, 2019

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