CMO 2.0: How to Pick the Right CMO for the Digital Age


A study by Whitlier and Morgan found many CMOs core competencies are underdeveloped for the digital age.

It’s not so surprising.  After all, personalized online shopping at Netflix and Amazon and programmatic ad campaigns have changed marketing more in the past few years than marketing changed in the previous 50+!

As a result, most marketers still create marketing campaigns targeting a mass audience. This is a major disconnect, as most consumers — thanks to Netflix and Amazon — want personalized experiences. No wonder so many companies are struggling to succeed in the digital age.

Unfortunately, there’s no “quick fix.” The fact is, the proliferation of new marketing technology tools has dramatically changed the required core competencies to be successful.

Because of this learning curve, requiring a strong commitment from marketing leadership, few CMOs and their marketing organizations are able to take full advantage of big data, predictive modeling, and create a martech stack that will enable them to deliver personalization at scale.

What’s the solution?

The key to surviving this disruption requires a new kind of marketing leader, with the right core competencies to craft a vision and strategic roadmap for success.  A Chief Marketing Officer must have deep experience and a track record of success engaging with data, predictive modeling, technology, and brand building to maximize rapid growth.

Put simply, this new age of digital marketing is “targeted marketing on steroids.” The fusing of data analytics with the ability to deliver personalized content in the right digital form blends the principles of brand marketing and direct marketing.  The pool of CMO candidates with that broad skill set is severely limited. Thus, most companies are stuck doing 20th century marketing in the second decade of the 21st century.

CEOs must hire a CMO who has core competencies in three areas: predictive modeling, martech stack creation, and content personalization at scale. The CMO will then be fully equipped to change marketing in three ways. First, marketing will need to shift their organizational structure to an agile ecosystem of internal and external partners. Second, they must scale personalized content through predictive modeling. And third, they need to build out a best-in-class martech stack with an open architecture that is future-friendly due to its Lego approach to connectivity.

How to orchestrate this new digital marketing ecosystem?  The traditional notion of managing a roster of a single media agency and a few creative agencies is obsolete.  The digital marketing world features “omni-channels” requiring capabilities in SEO, PPC, social, programmatic, email, retargeting, and content management, all of which need to be closely coordinated to be effective.  Experience using dashboards with KPIs, and predictive modeling to deliver personalization at scale with agile brand management is mandatory to be an effective CMO.

All marketing associates must function as an interconnected “agile ecosystem.”  The real complexity comes in orchestrating all the team members into behaving in an agile manner.  For this model to work, the agile operating model is a must.

Why is it important to get a CMO with the core competencies mandated by the digital age?  Getting personalization at scale right through predictive modeling will:

1) Reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent

2) Lift revenues up 30 percent

3) Increase the efficiency of marketing spends by almost 30 percent

4) Deliver the experience consumers demand

Disruption is the new normal. As a result, getting the CMO selection right is critical to great results.

How Personalized Marketing Can Increase Your e-Commerce Sales


Point, click, buy? If only it were that easy.

In his book Successful Advertising, penned in 1885, Thomas Smith famously said that a prospect has to see an ad 20 times before they are finally convinced to make a purchase.

This typical customer journey – from ignorance of a product or service to a sale – is sometimes condensed into the “Rule of Seven,” stating that, on average, people need to see something seven times before making a purchase.

What does this have to do with personalization? Well, considering the mercurial nature of Internet surfing, you can’t always count on your web visitor to stay on your website long enough to see your message seven times. In fact, you might be lucky if they see it just once!

This is where “remarketing” comes in. By creating advertising that “follows” a visitor once they leave your site, you create that all-important frequency that drives them from an initial impression (one they may not even have remembered!) to a purchase.

But this is only one form of personalization.

Personalization is also important while prospects are on your website, and particularly if they return to it. The first visit, if tracked, provides a wealth of information that can be leveraged for subsequent visits. Where did they go? Does their journey align with any other previous customers?

In other words, if your current visitor has shown an interest in A + B, and 90% of prior customers who liked A + B also liked C, shouldn’t we show the new customer C, as well?

Personalization can be even more powerful once a customer is logged in, and we know (presumably) even more about them. If their purchase history shows they bought Widget A, we wouldn’t want to show them Widget A again. Rather, we might show an accessory for Widget A. Or, if we know they bought Widget A two years ago, we might recommend they upgrade to Widget A 2.0.

Surprisingly, relatively few companies are making use of the incredible power of personalization to boost eCommerce. According to Econsultancy & Adobe, 63% of companies surveyed do not have the ability to target personalized web content in real time. Even more shockingly, roughly 1/3 of those surveyed didn’t believe it was important!

Another aspect of personalized marketing is, of course, email. According to Forrester, 30% of eCommerce repeat purchases come from email marketing. This can be everything from “empty cart reminders” to emails tailored to the behavior of almost any (registered) user on the web.

The upshot of all this? Not just eCommerce success, but a rise in customer satisfaction, as well.

According to a research by Invesp, 53% of online shoppers find customization to be valuable, and 45% of shoppers prefer to shop on sites offering personalized recommendations.

If that isn’t enough, personalized ads have a conversion rate 10 times higher than “one-size-fits-all” ads. Which means customers are finding what they’re looking for.

Talk about an undeniable recipe for success. When vendors and customers are happier, it’s a “win-win” that creates a good experience for both parties, and can even boost brand loyalty in the process.



Mapping Your Customer’s Journey: A MarTech Adventure


How do your customers find you? And once they find you, what do they want?

Knowing the answers to these questions gives you extremely powerful insights into understanding how to convert visitors to your website into paying customers. Just as importantly, it also helps identify what your visitors don’t want.

What frustrations are your prospects experiencing while looking for what they need? As we know, the moment a customer becomes frustrated, they start looking for another business that understands their needs better.

“The moment a customer become frustrated, they look for another business”

Fortunately, no matter how varied each individual prospect’s journey may be, most prospects follow a familiar pattern. Their journey is defined by “touch points.”

Common touch points along a journey may be as simple as this:


The first touchpoint, “Google search” (68% of all searches are with Google) is addressed by implementing an SEO strategy that ensures people looking for your product or service actually find the relevant pages on your website.

The second, “Landing page,” is addressed by User Experience (UX). Do they find what they’re looking for immediately, or do they have a sea of information to swim through? If they see too much information, or information that’s not relevant to what they’re searching for, they may back out immediately. (This is called “bouncing” away from your site, without clicking any further.)

“Do they find what they’re looking for immediately?”

The third, “Browse site,” delves deeper into UX. Once they find what they’re looking for, do they know what to do next? Is the messaging compelling, as to WHY they should choose you?

Is the cart visible? Does it work properly? Are there discount codes visible, to add incentive? Some companies, like VistaPrint, have elevated the practice of discount codes to a fine art, offering discount codes seasonally, for first-time shoppers, repeat shoppers: almost every reason imaginable.

The fourth, “Email signup” – assuming this is part of your desired user journey – begets obvious questions: Do they know WHY they should sign up for emails? Do they know how? Is it easy to opt in (and opt out)? All of these smaller moments will not only affect the likelihood of a sale, but will also affect the user’s impression of you and your brand.

The fifth, “Receive email,” asks whether the email they’re receiving is truly relevant to their needs. In the case of an educational institution, were they browsing nursing courses, and now receiving information on piano lessons? Are the emails graphically pleasing? In a sea of competitors, do they compel a purchase?

Finally, “Make purchase.” At this stage, the first cycle of marketing is complete. But an effective marketing strategy demands the customer be marketed to again, with content relevant to their first purchase. In fact, thanks to that first purchase, we have a much more informed idea of what truly matters to this customer.

Mapping the journey encompasses analytics and personalization. By mapping user flow, from landing pages to subsequent pages, we form an idea of whether our goals are aligning with actual user experience. (Are they going to pages that have low value simply because of the way our navigation is organized? Conversely, are the most important pages hardest to find?)

In terms of personalization, the “2.0” approach is to guide each user individually based on what we know about them from their actions once on the site. This is accomplished by assigning a cookie to each visitor, which forms a history of where they go on the site, and then populates the next pages of the site based on that history.

This creates a truly “customized” experience for prospects.

Only by listening carefully to our customers — by seeking to understand their entire journey — can we serve customers effectively, by helping deliver what they truly need.

Personalization at Scale: The Right Message, at the Right Time

Personalization is the approach of choice for leading brands. In fact, personalization is a large part of what has made some of the world’s biggest brands the enormous successes they are today.

Amazon knows what you want to buy. Netflix knows what you want to watch. Why shouldn’t an educational portal know what courses you’re interested in taking? Or, better yet, what courses you haven’t thought of yet?

“Why shouldn’t an educational portal know what courses you’re interested in?”

Since I was recruited as CMO of UCLA Global Online and UCLA Extension, I’ve had a vision to create an educational portal that’s as easy — even as fun — to use as Amazon or Netflix. One that understands your interests and acquires a sense of your passions and objectives, by analyzing your behavior, comparing your behavior to that of similar website visitors, and utilizing every other tool in the algorithmic tool belt.

“I’ve had a vision of creating an educational portal that’s as easy as Amazon or Netflix.”

Such a portal has never existed for education. This is why, at UCLA Global Online and UCLA Extension, we’re building one practically from the ground up.

Why is personalization at scale so important?

In the olden days (in Internet terms, anyway: meaning not so long ago), websites were mere buckets of information. In a sense, they were imagined as not much different from books or catalogs: they were just made of pixels rather than paper. Visitors came by and tried to find the information they needed, and — except for the ability to send a message or sign up for a course — that was the end of it.

The modern concept of a website as being embraced by UCLA Global Online and UCLA Extension is rather different. In a sense, there is no home page. Rather, there is a framework into which information flows, based on where the user has been before, what they do when they arrive, and where they go next.

“The site is a framework into which information flows.”

Much like your Amazon or Netflix homepage won’t look the same as that of your friends, the UCLA Extension and UCLA Global Online homepages will “speak” to you on a personal level. They will motivate you to complete a certificate you may have started, by showing you what courses you have remaining, and display your progress toward your goal. It will even help you explore new opportunities you may not have thought of. (Yes, you like nursing science. But did you know 80% of people with similar interests also studied to become an anesthesiologist — which pays considerably more? And that they often enjoy Renaissance painting, as well?)

The goal is not simply to monetize, but to inspire.

When finished, UCLA Global Online and UCLA Extension will serve as an educational concierge, helping visitors improve their educational and job prospects, and even help them tap into undiscovered talents.

Point. Click. Learn.

As the big brands have already discovered, the future of marketing is not talking “at” customers, but listening intently to them. When you understand their needs, you’re able to speak to them: at the right time, and with the right message.


Challenges in the Continuing Education Landscape

As a globally recognized brand, UCLA strives to deliver a world-class student experience. Our goal at UCLA Extension is to use best-in-class solutions in a unified way to deliver that experience.

The competitive landscape in education has reached new levels. The commoditization of information means we can no longer rely solely on the UCLA brand to sustain our business. Students care less now about where they get their information from and are more focused on convenience, ease of use, and price when deciding where to go to school. With the widespread popularity of MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) and YouTube educational videos, the continuing education industry has been experiencing multiple challenges.

  • Converting new students and retaining existing students
  • Delivering experiences tailored to a wide spectrum of students
  • Competing with nontraditional education platforms and solutions
  • Creating an online experience that differentiates an organization from its competitors

Within the Continuing Education industry and in the online space, there are three trends that affect the potential student today.

  • Skills Building: the scale and diversity of the independent workforce is expanding. There is a greater emphasis on building specific skillsets and supporting learning journeys over the long term.
  • Consumers want to utilize their time on their terms: student-driven learning is putting students in control of when they learn, how they learn, and who is involved.
  • Perception of Parity: Alternative education providers have entered the market, meeting the needs of those most interested in gaining a new skill set on their own time.

To be competitive, educational organizations must excel in all areas. First and foremost is instruction, along with marketing, customer service, and the overall student experience. At UCLA Extension, to be a competitive player, our digital strategy focuses on attracting new students, as well as retaining the ones we already have. We use demographics, geographic data, our target audience’s behavior patterns, and psychographics to understand their needs, likes, and wants. Engaging our audience with relevant content in the right place at the right moment will take the consumer through the decision process of awareness and consideration, and, as a result, convert the consumer into a student.

Introducing: UCLA Global Online (G.O.)

A year ago, I was recruited by UCLA to create a global digital marketing ecosystem as their first Chief Marketing Officer. Since then, I have been keeping busy working with a team to bring UCLA to the digital forefront of education all over the world.

As a globally recognized brand, UCLA strives to deliver a world-class user experience. It is the goal at UCLA  that we use best-in-class solutions in a unified way in order to deliver that experience.  Real time personalization of the customer experience is the holy grail of digital marketing. From this desire to deliver a world class personalized user experience, we have recently launched UCLA Global Online.  I’m excited to introduce it to you all.

Watch my video introduction of UCLA G.O. below, and of course, be sure to GO check out UCLA Global Online.

Mike Buczkowski’s UCLA Global Online Short Introduction from Mike Buczkowski on Vimeo.

Digital Transformation Pt. 2

Is Your Digital ecosystem an Engine for Growth?

It could be, if you fully integrate your digital technologies to turn it into a 21st century ecosystem.

Unlock the growth potential

Most companies value chains are no longer fit to compete. Linear and static, they struggle in today’s constantly changing marketplace. An integrated digital ecosystem equips your organization for growth.

Leaders integrate their technologies to create broad visibility. They see revenue opportunities sooner and know where to capture incremental growth.

Smarter value chains

Leaders leverage analytics to make their value chain smarter than the competition.

Plug-and-play network

Leaders integrate big data, digital, social technologies for scalability and business insight. They can add (or shed) vendors or suppliers and invest in (or divest) businesses as required.

Speed as the currency of the future

By integrating their digital ecosystem, leaders are more intelligent and faster than the competition.

Plug into the network

Plugging into the digital ecosystem means capitalizing on the interconnectedness of all your functions. Focus on how the critical value-creating activities, across functions, will come together as a whole to drive profitable growth.