CMOs struggling to demonstrate social media's ROI

The CMO Survey.org report also finds data analytics is high on the agenda for chief marketing officers but many still aren't using these to drive fresh customer insights

A new survey of CMOs has found just 15 per cent can quantitatively illustrate the ROI impact of social media on their business.

According to the latest The CMO Survey report of US-based chief marketing officers, 49 per cent are not yet able to show the impact of social media on their business, while 36 per cent have a purely qualitative sense of its influence. Just 15 per cent have proven the impact quantitatively.

In addition, 14.5 per cent of survey respondents said social media is ‘not at all integrated’ with the firm’s marketing strategy on a scale of one to seven. This compared with 8.2 per cent who claimed social media was ‘very integrated’. The highest percentage of respondents (23.8 per cent) rated social media’s integration into marketing as five out of seven.

Despite the difficulties in gaining ROI from social media, spending growth across these channels continues to rise, and is predicted to represent 9.1 per cent of the total marketing budgets over the next 12 months, increasing to 15.8 per cent in the next five years. At present, overall social media spending is 6.6 per cent of the total marketing budget.

Current social media spending was valued at 5 per cent of the B2B product marketing budget, and 7.8 per cent of the B2B services budget. In contrast, current social media spending for B2C products was 7.3 per cent, and 7.7 per cent for B2C services.

As well as social media’s increased importance, The CMO Survey.org report also looked into how CMOs are improving their data analytics game and not surprisingly, presented a mixed story on how far organisations have actually come. While it is clear most CMOs are aware of how important data-driven marketing is to their future customer relationships, there is plenty to evidence to suggest many still haven’t got much of a foothold.

When asked if they’re using customer behaviour data collected online for targeting purposes, more than half of CMOs admitted they hadn’t yet adopted such an approach. However, 88.5 per cent said their company’s use of such data is increasing over time.

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Two-thirds of respondents still aren’t evaluating the quality of marketing analytics, and just 3 per cent claimed marketing analytics was contributing ‘very highly’ to their company’s performance on a scale of one to seven. In terms of the percentage of the marketing budget spent on marketing analytics, the reported mean average is 5.5 per cent, but this is expected to rise to 8.7 per cent in the next three years.

When it is employed, marketing analytics is most commonly used to drive decision making around customer acquisition, followed by digital marketing, customer retention, promotion and pricing. Just 13.4 per cent said analytics was being used in their multichannel marketing efforts.

The survey also asked CMOs about their leadership, staffing and executive challenges and found 66.4 per cent feel increased pressure from the CEO or board to prove the value of marketing. The CMO Survey was produced by Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and based on the responses of 410 top marketers.

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