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Stage 1 Awareness Report: Attracting the Digitally Distracted Prospect

James Wheless
Global Managing Partner, Consulting & Services Integration, Tata Consultancy Services
Lakshmi Ramesh
Head, Media Center of Excellence, Cognitive Business Operations, TCS

Innovating the Brand Experience through Digital Transformation

Chief Marketing Officers have one of the riskiest roles in the C-suite, with most staying in office only 4.1 years on average.1 Diminishing budgets and higher performance expectations are compelling the visionary CMO to transform their organizations into high-value marketing engines that deliver an extraordinary brand experience at every stage of the customer journey.

This study shares fresh insights about how more than 500 enterprise CMOs in North America and Europe are creating impactful brand experiences for their audiences using digital technologies, now and in the future, with personalization that delivers customized, relevant messages for multichannel marketing campaigns. 

Personalizing the Entire Brand Experience

Our CMO Study results are being released in four condensed reports to reveal how senior marketers currently use, and plan to use, evolving digital technologies to personalize the brand experience at every stage of the customer journey.

Each report highlights what leaders do differently from the followers including:

■ The channels they use (both digital and non-digital), and the innovative ways they use those channels
■ The customer data they collect, and how they use it to personalize communications
■ The proficiency with analytics technologies used to identify prospects and personalize communications
■ The level of automation for key aspects of marketing, how much of that technology is in the cloud, and plans for the future
■ How adept are they at personalizing and up-leveling a dynamic brand experience

The Big Reveal: Hidden Marketing Opportunities for CMOs

Marketing Functions Creating Communications in Each Stage
■ Stage 1 Awareness: 100%
■ Stage 2 Prospect Conversion: 72%
■ Stage 3 Customer Support: 37%
■ Stage 4 Customer Retention: 47%
■ All stages: 19% of B2B marketers

Only 19% of B2B marketers create content across every stage of the brand experience. 

Most Marketers Limit Their Focus to Awareness

Most modern marketers state that their organizations are, and should be involved, in the entire brand experience. Our study results reveal that most CMOs act very differently. In fact, all 516 of the CMOs surveyed are involved in their companies’ efforts to generate awareness of their company’s brand, products and services among potential customers—but this participation drops considerably in the subsequent stages.

What Leaders Do Differently

According to interviews with leading CMOs, not creating content across the entire brand experience is a missed opportunity. They contend that marketing must be embedded across all four stages for it to succeed, particularly now that consumers with legions of social media followers can have a big impact on a brand’s image. At these top-performing companies, more functions are falling under the marketing umbrella. 

Marketing Can Lead the Way to Better Business Performance 

“Our marketing team handles pricing, product positioning, collateral production (internal and external), and training and learning…We also have a big influence on new product development.”
—Senior marketing executive at a large travel management service company 2019 CMO Study interview 

#1 Digital Channels Dominate in the Awareness Stage

The study results show that a higher percentage of companies are using four primary digital channels (their company websites, digital media ads, online video sites, and email marketing) to generate initial awareness with target customers than are using non-digital channels (including broadcast and print media ads). But, consumer companies still heavily rely on traditional channels such as print and broadcast media advertising.

Leaders and followers are similar in usage of communication channels except for these four:

■ Company’s mobile apps
■ Event marketing
■ Digital ads on noncompany e-commerce sites
■ Field sales force

About 68% of respondents predict that by 2020 digital personalization of communications will be more important for attracting new customers than for keeping and cross-selling to existing customers. 

#2 Marketing Leaders Are More Innovative in The Digital Channels They Use

These leaders are most likely to be B2C and B2B2C companies and are nearly five times as likely as B2B firms to run ads on such ecommerce sites (33% vs. 7%).

Mobile apps appear to be important in getting potential customers to become customers. Some 76% of leaders said they use mobile apps to create awareness of their offerings with people who hadn’t purchased their products. Only 60% of the followers do the same. 

About 40% of leaders advertise on e-commerce sites owned by other companies (like and—about twice as many as followers (19%). 

#3 Traditional Demographic Data Is Still Essential for Personalization but Digital Data Is Gaining Traction

78% of respondents say that demographic data is the most frequently used information to tailor communications in Stage 1, but 50% say that both third-party data and web traffic data are becoming increasingly important to get customized messages in front of prospects.

#4 Data on Physical Proximity of Prospects Is Popular in B2C but Not in B2B 

52% of consumer companies personalize communications using geo-location data, the information that marketers can get today from wearable or handheld devices such as smartphones and smartwatches. Across all companies, nearly four in 10 is using geo-location data. 

Only 1% of B2B companies use geo-location data to personalize marketing, another untapped opportunity. 

#5 Providing Personalized Product and Service Information Is More Important than Offering Special Deals 

■ 86% of leaders communicate to prospects by providing useful information about their offerings in the awareness stage (compared to 59% of followers).

■ 68% of leaders
also provide special offers and prices in their messages.

 In contrast, 63% of followers personalize communications primarily through special offers/deals. 

Leader Spotlight: Startup Consumer Beauty Products Company Glossier
By providing a big online audience with useful product information, the founder of Glossier Emily Weiss2 built a future customer base for a company’s whose 2018 revenue exceeded $100 million.3

Special Offers vs. Product Information

■ Automakers were more likely than other sectors to provide useful product information
■ Retailers were more likely to personalize deals
■ CPG companies were more likely to provide relevant videos

Best Practices In Action: How Leaders Keep the Customer Satisfied

Leading Manufacturer’s Digital Marketing Renaissance

Summary: To revive the brand and boost sales, this recognized manufacturer of solid surface countertops undertook a rebranding and revamped marketing strategy, empowered by digital technology. The rebranding focused on updating the product and introducing it to a new generation of customers. The team worked with an ad agency to develop a new brand message, positioning and logo.

Challenge: This company was challenged to reinvigorate its perceived “low-cost” product to update it to better compete against other countertop manufacturers of popular “engineered stone” materials (such as quartz countertops), who were gaining marketshare.

Solution: By reformulating the brand and adopting a fresh, new tagline, consumers were inspired to rethink the product’s attributes. In addition, the company also rethought their entire digital marketing strategy. A key change was reimagining the target audience for its marketing campaigns. In place of print advertising geared toward distributors and fabricators, the company now uses digital channels to target the ultimate decision makers: architects, designers, consumers and building owners—key influencers who decide the look, feel and function of the spaces being created.

Outcome: With digital marketing, the company is able to reach new audiences in a way that would have been impossible in the past. In fact, it now buys almost exclusively digital media, where it personalizes each click-through according to the potential customer’s needs. These include very focused messages in high-traffic sites that key influencers visit. The team has also cultivated about 60 design influencers globally to blog, post on social media and otherwise promote the brand.

Using the viewership data from its website, the company is able to determine which touchpoints—influencers, banners and short videos—are getting the most traction and focus resources on them. This has created an exponential impact that ripples globally with a dramatic increase in digital impressions and high-quality sales leads. The result? In the first six months of 2018, the company broke records in selling its product in North America, its biggest market. 

The result? In the first six months of 2018, the company broke records in selling its product in North America, its biggest market. 

About This Research

This short report is based on just a portion of a 45-question online survey to capture what CMOs do in the awareness stage (Stage 1) in creating communications for prospects and customers. In additional reports, we publish our findings on how the same marketing organizations are using digital technologies to personalize communications in the other three stages.

Our first release gave an overview of the initial research findings and the final master report provides a comprehensive analysis into the CMO Study results.

The CMOs we surveyed work in:

■ 11 industries
■ Companies with at least $500 million in annual revenue, with most in much larger companies
■ Firms with average revenue $10.6 billion and the average annual marketing budget was $392 million
■ About two-thirds (65%) were from consumer companies (both B2C and B2B2C firms), while 27% were from B2B companies
■ The remaining 8% worked in companies with a fairly balanced mix of B2C and B2B end customers
■ 60% work in North America, and 40% work in Europe

Research Goals & Methodology

Our research goals were to determine:
■ How technology-enabled personalized marketing content today is used throughout the brand experience for prospects and customers (in their marketing and sales campaigns, and customer support and retention initiatives)
■ The impact of such personalization and the key factors in making it effective
■ How CMOs and their organizations develop communications across all stages of the customer lifecycle

The research looks in depth at what marketers are doing in each of the four stages: what channels are being used by companies in different industries, different target end customers (consumers vs. organizations), and different countries; what data companies are using to personalize communications; how they are personalizing communications based on the data they possess on prospects and customers; and how the most successful marketers differ from the rest in channel usage, data for personalization, and types of personalization.

The study findings, based on a mix of B2C, B2B, and B2B2C, are segmented into key stages of the customer journey and have been released in 4 short reports, all of which can be found at

Stage 1 (Creating Awareness): Attracting the Digitally Distracted Prospect

Stage 2 (Prospect Conversion): Personalizing Content to Turn Prospects into Customers

Stage 3 (Customer Support): Interacting Digitally to Become Invaluable Customer Advisers

Stage 4 (Customer Retention): Using Analytics to Predict What Customers Need Next

Master Report: How Leading CMOs Captivate and Convert Customers for Life
This comprehensive report consolidates the findings and provides in-depth analysis and surprising new insights about how leading marketers differ from the rest in the innovative use of digital technologies, data, and analytics to personalize the brand experience—within, across and outside all four stages of the customer journey.

1Korn Ferry Institute study of the 1,000 largest U.S. companies by revenue, conducted in late 2016.

2Wikipedia page. Accessed March 29, 2019.

3Fortune article Dec. 11, 2018. Accessed March 29, 2019.


Get key highlights from the TCS CMO Study about how leading marketers personalize communications in the Awareness stage.

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