CMOs who have struggled mightily to establish the foundations of their online marketing practice are finding to their chagrin that a new set of daunting challenges awaits them.
A new survey from the CMO Council notes that many online marketers have successfully launched the three amigos of online marketing–email marketing, Web site and search marketing, and social media engagement--but are struggling to move to the next steps.
“Integrate to Accelerate Digital Marketing Effectiveness” points the way to the future of online marketing--a brave, new world focused largely on the integration of platforms with heavy customer partnership and heightened IT and CIO involvement. The survey, of 200 global marketers and sponsored by Acceleration, found that most corporate management teams are fully supportive of digital marketing investments.
“Online marketing is the hot, new area of management focus,” said Donovan Neale-May, the CMO Council’s executive director, in an interview with CMO.com. “It’s becoming more central to decision-making. Marketers are becoming more self-sufficient.”
With cloud computing and big-data activities impacting CMOs, the role of IT vis-à-vis marketing also is changing. “IT doesn’t have as much control,” Neale-May said. “Marketers are becoming more self-sufficient. Some are even hiring their own IT people.”
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Global marketers seemed to be all over the map as they work to redefine the respective roles of marketing and IT in their organizations. Some 48 percent of the CMOs said they are still seeking insight into existing infrastructures, while 37 percent are working to understand the role of legacy IT systems in interfacing with new marketing solutions. The study found that just 32 percent of marketers are teaming with IT in developing initiatives.
One company that has developed a happy and productive relationship between the new evolving marketing and IT activities is Aston Martin. “We’ve modeled an architecture that fits our organizational size and makes it easier to deal with the complexities we face. . .there is no real barrier between the marketing and IT teams,” said Markus Kramer, the firm’s global marketing director, as cited in the CMO Council-Acceleration report.
The survey also noted that market researcher Gartner Group has predicted CMOs will outspend CIOs by 2017. Neale-May observed that 49 percent of the survey respondents said a key driver of management interest is the “promise of greater productivity, visibility, and accountability in marketing.”
The survey revealed a wide range of acceptance among top managers (C-level positions), with 20 percent of CMOs stating they have a mandate and budget to execute their programs, while another 42 percent have received strong interest and active support. However, 23 percent said their management was still trying to understand where digital marketing fit in their organizations. “It is clear that digital marketing is a hot topic around the C-suite table,” the report stated.
Particularly enthused about the emerging promises of online marketing are line-of-business (LOB) heads, many of whom are seeking new ways to roll out new products in a depressed economy. When asked to cite the processes that appealed most to them, about 60 percent of the LOB respondents listed:
- Customer data integration, analytics, and personalization of market interactions.
- Web site performance improvements and richer online engagements.
- Lead acquisition, conversion, and upselling/cross-selling of customers.
Many LOBs also said behavior-based insight for improved segmentation and messaging was also important, as was search marketing and online advertising optimization.
Many marketers in the survey appeared to be stumped by efforts to use customer data and integrate it into their platforms. “Everybody wants to integrate customer data,” Neale-May said. “But it’s a tough deliverable. There are multiple sources of data.”
With more and more customer data being generated, it becomes harder to determine what function in an organization has the mandate to leverage use of the data. The data can be owned by different sources, even by outsourcing firms in foreign countries, making the challenge critical. And there are the obvious privacy issues.
Neale-May suggested that any “customer-centric” firm seeking to pinpoint the various customer sources across its organization needs to establish a taskforce to understand the phenomenon because the challenge is so complex.
A nearly universal complaint among survey respondents concerned the shortage of talent--experts conversant with the rapidly emerging technologies important to CMOs. A total of 23 percent of the survey respondents said recruiting of top-flight digital marketing specialists was a particular challenge for them. The relatively new digital marketing field is compounded by the proliferation of technologies being introduced to CMOs.
“The capabilities and skills required to embrace this new digital dynamism in order to provide insight and sustainable business benefits are in short supply,” said Jacques van Niekerk, Acceleration CEO, in a statement. “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.”