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CMO Council: Digital Marketing A Top Priority, But Poorly Strategized

Chief marketing officers see digital marketing as a top priority, but struggle how to go about it, reports the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. The Council in a just-released study describes that marketers appear to be mired in using tactical point solutions that get small marketing tasks done. They have a hard time moving on to use more integrated, fully-deployed platforms that support multiple marketing applications.

Just 9% of more than 200 global marketers surveyed by the CMO Council in its “Integrate to Accelerate Digital Marketing Effectiveness” study (sponsored by Acceleration) say they have a highly-evolved digital marketing model with a proven and clear path of evolution. This compares to 36% who report a random embrace of marketing point solutions that are not well integrated or unified.

A lack of strategy does not belie a lack of interest—quite the opposite. Some 20% of marketers reported that they have a mandate and budget to execute, 42% reported that they have strong interest and active support at a LOB level, and 18% described it is an agenda item they have to address with their CEO, CIO, and CFO. On the other hand, some 23% of survey participants report their management is still trying to understand where digital marketing fits within their overall business.

Management enthusiasm is clearly influenced by the perceived benefits of digital marketing deployment. According to 63% of respondents, management’s interest in digital marketing migration has much to do with its potential to increase marketing performance and return on investment (ROI) through more efficient digital media channels and better customer engagement. In addition, 49% of marketers believe management is also responding to the preference of customers for digital media consumption and live, on-demand interaction with brands and companies.

“Clearly, there are lots of pins without the right pincushion to ensure digital marketing initiatives have the right underlying strategy, architecture, and technology infrastructure to meet management expectations,” notes Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council, an influential peer network of 6,000 members worldwide. “One of these is the promise of greater productivity, visibility, and accountability in marketing, which 49% of marketers noted was a key driver of management interest.”

Top Priorities
When asked which digital marketing processes and functions had the most appeal to management and LOB leaders, top selections included:

  • Customer data integration, analytics, and personalization of market interactions (62%)
  • Lead acquisition, conversion, and upselling/cross-selling of customers (60%)
  • Website performance improvement and richer engagement (61%)
  • Behavior-based insight gathering for more effective segmentation and messaging (41%)
  • Search marketing and online advertising (39%)

Relative to the solutions CMOs use to execute those priorities, point solutions lead the way. A notable 67% have found email marketing most effective, followed by website performance and interface solutions (52%), and paid and organic search (45%). Top digital marketing challenges and difficulties include lack of budget and internal resources (50%), integrating internal and external customer data (43%), and deciding which marketing applications have the most value (29%).

Marketers Go DIY (For Good Or Ill)
Perhaps self-service ad platforms have created a do-it-yourself culture among marketers. But tools are no substitute for skills or strategies.
“Marketers have more advanced technologies, data, and analytical tools at their disposal than at any other point. However, the capabilities and skills required to embrace this new digital dynamism in order to provide insight and sustainable business benefits are in short supply,” says Jacques van Niekerk, CEO of Acceleration. He further notes, “With sophisticated marketing endeavors, there is no silver bullet, and as we shift focus from the tactics of search, display, social, and mobile to the strategic value of customer data integration and ownership, the winners will be those who best architect and orchestrate their marketing resources around their technologies and customer data.”

When it comes to assessing which digital marketing platforms, solutions, and channels will provide the most value and business gain, marketers tend to look inward to their own teams to determine needs and priorities (59%) rather teaming with IT to specify requirements (32%). A surprising 77% of marketers said their primary source for evaluating and specifying marketing technologies was their own internal team. More turned to vendors and solution providers (46%) than their own IT departments (42%). However, only 14% were highly satisfied with these resources.

Among the respondents to the CMO/Accelaration survey were 22 CMO- or SVP-level marketing executives, with 33% hailing from companies with revenues in excess of $1 billion. Among them are Sears Holdings, Lucky Brand, GE Healthcare, Outrigger, Rackspace, SiriusXM, Adobe, Aston Martin, Microsoft and Best Buy.


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