AI in CMO Strategy: Transforming Marketing Leadership


The Gist

  • AI transformation. AI in CMO strategy is accelerating the shift from sales enablement to buyer enablement, providing tools for hyper-personalization and predictive analytics.
  • Marketing revolution. AI in marketing enables CMOs to develop alternate attribution models and drive personalized experiences, redefining customer engagement.
  • Generative boost. Generative AI is enhancing the productivity of marketing teams by taking over data analysis tasks, allowing professionals to focus on strategy and innovation.

A group of chief marketing officers (CMOs) say artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping several key functions of their role — from strategy, tactics, and staffing to customer engagement and metrics. They believe embracing, understanding, and applying AI in marketing as leaders is critical to effectively using their data and channels to reach customers. The CMOs shared with CMSWire various details on those effects AI is having on the marketing C-suite: 

1. AI in CMO Strategy

Michael Park, CMO at the Santa Clara, California-based digital workflow company ServiceNow, said AI is “arriving just in time” to accelerate enterprise marketing’s evolution from sales enablement to buyer enablement. 

Four major goals of effective customer experience (CX) are understanding buyer pain points, mapping the buying journey, personalization and continuous improvement fueled by customer feedback, according to Park.

Two robots play chess with their hands visible above the chess board and chess pieces, suggesting the growing role of AI in CMO strategy.
As the reach of artificial intelligence grows, AI in CMO strategy is impacting the role. LS Visuals on Adobe Stock Photos

Park said companies enable those fundamental CX goals at larger scale and in greater depth with generative AI’s capabilities: most notably, cross-system data summarization, hyper-personalization, predictive analytics, real-time sentiment analysis and ultra-fine segmentation 

Jennifer Chase, EVP and CMO at the Cary, North Carolina-based analytics software company SAS, said AI can develop biases, and it is important for the “sake of responsible marketing that marketers own the responsibility for inclusivity in AI.” 

“Biased data and biased models mean biased results and mitigating that falls squarely on the shoulders of the marketing team,” Chase said.

Chase said “explainability is important,” and as such, SAS is implementing model cards — “like the ingredient list on your food but for AI” — to give both technical and non-technical marketing users a comprehensive understanding of their AI models around accuracy, fairness, interpretability and drift.

Model cards can help ensure AI algorithms are “staying on track ethically” and “inclusivity continues to be a mainstay” in marketing programs, she said.

Michelle Huff, CMO at the San Francisco-based provider of UX insights UserTesting, said the company has begun to explore and experiment with AI “across the entirety of our business.”

Huff said UserTesting is “diving deep” into understanding data protection and privacy with the overarching objective of discerning how AI can help differentiate it, achieve more with fewer resources and build experiences for customers.

“We CMOs are frequently the frontrunners in organizational innovation, contemplating how to distinguish ourselves from the rest,” Huff said. “AI can be a monumental ally in this endeavor.

“There’s a wealth of data over the years showing how organizations have leveraged technology to secure a competitive edge and fuel business growth. My strategy is to ensure that we continue to be innovators and early adopters.”

Monica Ho, CMO at the San Diego-based multilocation marketing platform SOCi, said AI’s “foresight” allows CMOs to predict market shifts, comprehend consumer patterns, and assess campaign prospects, “paving the way” for strategic resource deployment and more precise targeting. 

“Consequently, CMOs gravitate toward a more customer-focused model, personalizing each interaction to cater to distinct customer needs and requirements,” Ho said.

Related Article: AI in Data Analysis and the Evolving Role of the CMO

2. AI in CMO Tactics

Park with ServiceNow said generative AI helps marketers “avoid the damage they feared in the new age of cookieless browsing.”

Park said AI-powered hyper-personalization, predictive analytics, and cross-system summarization of data allow marketers to develop alternate attribution models, drive personalized relevance, create value triggers to attract buyers to companies’ sites, and deliver such rich, supportive CX that buyers “willingly disclose their identities because they’re hungry to learn more.”

Ho with SOCi said AI’s advanced analytics provide a “tactical edge” by enabling more detailed customer segmentation by processing and analyzing vast amounts of data to identify customer patterns, behaviors and preferences. 

For instance, she said marketers can use AI to cluster customers based on their browsing habits, interaction with previous marketing campaigns, sentiments expressed on social media, and product review patterns.

Mahesh Kumar, CMO at the Campbell, California-based data observability platform Acceldata, said AI can help marketers analyze customer conversations at scale to understand pain points, inform product direction, and identify objections as well as optimize digital spending and expand a company’s content.

Johann Wrede, chief experience officer at the travel and expense management company Emburse, added that customers are beginning to use generative AI to search the web and gather information.

“So we need to think about getting our message seen beyond search and social now,” Wrede said. “As marketers, we need to ensure that product information provided by AI is accurate and based on information coming from us — as opposed to being inferred or pulled from unofficial sources.”

Related Article: Finally, a Data Book for CMOs Detailing Data Monetization Strategies

3. AI in CMO Team Staffing

Park with ServiceNow said AI “supercharges” the marketing talent “we worked so hard to attract,” making our highly skilled people even more productive and effective, doing more with their resources. 

When it’s properly applied, generative AI speeds and amplifies “resident excellence,” he said.

Park said skilled marketing professionals are seeing generative AI can already do many tasks that require data analysis, synthetic creativity and problem solving. 

“To keep ahead, professionals know they’ve got to evolve with AI, and they are,” Park said.

Considering how many skills enterprise marketing teams now comprise — from data scientists to right-brain creatives — CMOs should adopt a “CEO mindset,” he said.


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