April 30, 2012

In a new study from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, senior marketers report digital marketing has become a key topic of conversation and strategic agenda item with C-level executives and line-of-business (LOB) leaders. However, most marketers appear to be struggling to move beyond the use of tactical point solutions to more integrated, fully deployed platforms supporting multiple marketing applications.

Just 9 percent 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 percent who report a random embrace of marketing point solutions that are not well integrated or unified.

It appears most corporate management teams are fully supportive of digital marketing investments, with 20 percent of marketers stating they have a mandate and budget to execute, 42 percent saying they have strong interest and active support at a LOB level, and 18 percent noting it is an agenda item they have to address with their CEO, CIO, and CFO. On the other hand, some 23 percent 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 percent of respondents, management’s interest in digital marketing migration has much to do with its potential to increase marketing performance and ROI through more efficient digital media channels and better customer engagement. In addition, 49 percent 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 with 6,000 members controlling more than $300 billion in annual marketing spend worldwide. “One of these is the promise of greater productivity, visibility, and accountability in marketing, which 49 percent of marketers noted was a key driver of management interest.”

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 percent)
- Lead acquisition, conversion, and upselling/cross-selling of customers (60 percent)
- Website performance improvement and richer engagement (61 percent)
- Behavior-based insight gathering for more effective segmentation and messaging (41 percent)
- Search marketing and online advertising (39 percent)

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 percent) rather teaming with IT to specify requirements (32 percent). A surprising 77 percent 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 percent) than their own IT departments (42 percent). However, only 14 percent were highly satisfied with these resources.

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

“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.”

The CMO Council’s in-depth analysis of how its 6,000 global members are driving digital marketing performance with the right platforms, people, and processes was conducted in the spring of 2012 and is sponsored by Acceleration, a leader in efficiently designing and delivering practical, high-quality digital marketing solutions. Among the respondents are 22 CMO- or SVP-level marketing executives, with 33 percent 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, Best Buy, and many others.

The study also highlights the most prominent drivers behind digital strategies used by marketers, their involvement with IT, the process for making a business case for digital expenditures, how companies are measuring the effectiveness of digital efforts, the process for evaluating and deploying new digital strategies, challenges with integrating and aligning digital investments, and much more.

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