They say that “change is the only constant”. It’s fair to say that in the 20 years I’ve been in marketing positions, the role of the CMO has changed completely.
CMOs are increasingly secure in their c-suite position and are expecting to achieve revenue and market share goals set by management in the next year even while they’re still battling with data, customer engagement and digital marketing concerns.
The new global State of Marketing study from the CMO Council, the eighth edition of the annual survey, found 81 per cent of marketers believe management mandates for top-line revenue growth and market share are realistic and attainable this year. This is despite the fact that only 26 per cent are halfway towards achieving these goals.
In addition, 55 per cent are planning headcount additions, and 54 per cent expect budget increases. This compares to 22 per cent who expect budgets to decrease.
The association’s report also found 30 per cent of respondents believe the CMO is now equal to other c-level peers in regards to stature and influence, while 45 per cent said this was sometimes the case. Twenty per cent said the CMO is yet to attain equal status. Only one in 10 marketers saw their jobs as at risk or on the line.
In terms of c-level relationships, the report found 58 per cent of CMOs are inclined to partner and interact with CFOs, a reflection of their heightened accountability through data and marketing automation, followed by CIOs (53 per cent) and sales chiefs (51 per cent).
An increasing trend is alignment with HR and chief operating officers (40 per cent). Across the board, 69 per cent said they are trusted and strategic members of the c-suite and are increasing their stature and credibility with key business leaders. Just over half of respondents reported directly to a CEO, president or chief operating officer.
“A big benefit to marketers is the growing level of collaboration and interaction with functional heads and line-of-business leaders,” CMO Council executive director, Donovan Neale-May, said following the release of the findings.
“This is giving marketing more weight in strategic decision making and also ensuring organisational alignment around the customer experience given marketing’s increasing ownership of customer data and insight.”
There are of course many challenges still facing CMOs. Forty-one per cent of respondents are challenged by insufficient budget, and many admit they still struggle against senior management mindset of marketing’s strategic function along with change-resistant cultures.
In the high-profile area of data and customer analytics, only 6 per cent see themselves as leading big data management, while 62 per cent view themselves as only keeping pace or lagging behind their competitors. And most are overwhelmed with the rising number of digital marketing solutions, touchpoints and silos of data inside and outside their organisation.
As a result, customer analytics topped the list of most sought-after skills to be recruited by global marketers in the next 12 months. Improved customer segmentation and targeting was highlighted by 63 per cent as the way to maximise the impact of their marketing activities.
A key achievement cited by more than half of respondents over the past 12 months was their effectiveness in uplifting digital marketing capabilities and improving engagement with customers online. Against this figure, 60 per cent listed a ‘digital marketing makeover’, involving platforms, programs and program, as the top transformational project for the year ahead, and only 6 per cent gave themselves a top mark in digital marketing performance.
At present, 70 per cent of marketers have allocated between 10 and 30 per cent of their budgets to digital marketing. Top areas of investment are email marketing, website performance optimisation, mobile applications, lead management, website design and development, and search marketing.
The State of Marketing report was based on responses from 525 global marketers to a 50-point assessment conducted during the first quarter of 2014.
In its executive summary, the CMO Council noted chief marketers are increasingly becoming champions of customer-centric cultures, as well as digital change within their organisation.
“They are not only deepening relationships and collaborative with c-level peers, but also leading a broad enterprise shift to digital engagement with customers, commercial partners, channels and field organisations,” the report authors stated.
“Increasingly, chief marketers are… the architects of elevated customer experience through better synergies between back-end operations and front-line interfaces. They have the data, knowledge and acumen to make smarter, more informed decisions and bring voice-of-the-customer insights to executive conversations to help direct strategy.”
The full State of Marketing report was released a month after CMO Council shared the findings of its first global <i>CMO Compensation Report</i>, which found the highest paid marketing leaders have developed strong alliances with the CIO and CFO.
According to that report, CMOs earning the highest levels of base compensation are those focused on driving business performance through key metrics such as top-line growth, market share and efficiencies.
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