CFO World

State of the CMO 2019: Tenure shortens, pressure is on as marketers strive to demonstrate impact

Third-annual State of the CMO industry research program by CMO paints a picture of the modern marketing remit and function

Marketing leadership tenure is still shortening, and Australian CMOs are continuing to feel boardroom and executive pressure as many struggle to quantitatively prove their impact, according to our latest State of the CMO research findings.

The third annual edition of CMO’s State of the CMO industry research found average tenure across marketing leadership respondents came in at 2 years 5 months in 2019, down from 2 years 10 months in 2018 and 2 years 11 months in 2017.

One argument for declining tenure has been the continuing disconnect between CMO’s expectations of their role, with those of the CEO. And certainly, when CMO separated out the 64 per cent of CMOs directly reporting to the CEO from this year’s figures, we found tenure fractionally improved (2 years 7 months). What’s more, across last year’s CMO50, CMO’s list of Australia’s most innovative and effective marketers, average tenure sat at 3 years 7 months.

For many, a big stumbling block is that CMOs still struggle to demonstrably prove value and effectiveness. In this year’s State of the CMO, six in 10 marketing leaders said they can prove marketing’s ROI impact quantitatively, while 32 per cent reported a good qualitative sense of marketing’s ROI impact but lacked quantitative results. The remaining 9 per cent haven’t yet been able to show marketing impact either way.

And CMOs are feeling the pressure as a result. Across respondents, 52 per cent agreed board and CEO pressure had increased in the last 12 months, while 43 per cent suggested pressure was about the same as last year.

Another key aim of this year’s report was to understand what it is CMOs believe CEOs want from the marketing function. Top of the priority list this year is playing a direct role in corporate growth initiatives (59 per cent), followed by enabling a new plan for customer acquisition (48 per cent). In a sign digital transformation remains a work in progress for many Australian companies, four in 10 respondents also said leading digital transformation initiatives was another focal point.

Despite corporate rhetoric, customer-centric priorities appeared further down the scale, including improving customer experience programs (32 per cent) and enabling a new plan for customer retention and advocacy (27 per cent).

In terms of ownership, 70 per cent of respondents stated digital commerce and strategy was a function reporting into the CMO, and 63 per cent of marketing leaders have customer and market analytics reporting into them. CMOs also proved the most common customer experience owners within their organisations, and 57 per cent of respondents said they were working to build customer engagement knowledge in their function.

What’s also in no doubt is CMOs own the customer technology budget. Nearly one-third have sole purchasing power, and over half control at least 80 per cent of the dollars spent on customer technologies.

State of the CMO is an annual industry research initiative aimed at understanding how Australian marketing leadership is evolving. This year’s research was sponsored by Bold360.

The report took into account key aspects of the CMO position and marketing function, encompassing the professional standing of the modern marketing leader, their technology procurement remit and investments, functional responsibilities, the extent of their role as digital and customer owners within the business, and skills and functional priorities.

First launched by CMO in 2017, State of the CMO is a benchmark on what it means to be a CMO in Australia and the transformation of this position. Respondents were all Australian-based marketing leaders, and 64 per cent directly reported to the CEO.

Key highlights from this year’s State of the CMO are available in CMO’s latest print magazine edition, which hit desks this week. If you’d like to subscribe to the magazine, please email: cmo_subscriptions@idg.com.au

To download a complimentary free digital version of our State of the CMO report, please register or login here.