May 12, 2021
CMOs have a little more than three years to show their worth. The average CMO tenure fell to 40 months last year — the lowest since 2009 — according to executive search firm Spencer Stuart. The median tenure, which may be a better indicator, is only 25.5 months.
That’s just not much time given the swath of challenges facing marketers, from seamless omnichannel to hyper-personalization to data analytics. Not to mention marketing still has to execute on everyday blocking-and-tackling tasks.
Chief marketers are stretched and challenged like never before. The global pandemic has disrupted markets, operations and customer behaviors, accelerated the march to digital and empowered the self-reliant buyer. Now companies are looking to marketing to help them emerge from the ashes. The battle cry is, “Grow revenue!”
A newly released CMO Council report found that marketing leaders are responsible for nearly half the company’s revenue, up from around 10% a few years ago. The report, “Rising Above The Fray,” also found that more than half of CMOs aren’t very confident they’re going to hit their numbers — and neither are their CEOs.
The key finding in another CMO Council report, “Scaling the Value of the CMO,” sheds light on the reason for this lack of confidence: 86% of senior marketers believe lack of leadership depth and capabilities has resulted in missed revenue, growth and customer acquisition opportunities.
A chaotic customer journey has flipped much of the sales action to the top of the funnel, yet companies haven’t caught up to this fact. They’re not giving marketing enough resources. Meanwhile, marketers are trying to figure out what levers to pull to get revenue flowing through the digital channel while navigating landmines with senior leadership.
“The pressures mounting on marketing organizations are only increasing,” says Pete Hayes, principal and CMO of Chief Outsiders. “That’s not a bad thing. Corporations are counting on marketing for delivering more of the sales function, with more precision, driven by more technology, while buying behaviors change and markets dynamically shift.”
What are CMOs doing to get ahead of the disruption? Plenty.
For starters, they’ve identified problem areas and priorities. According to a CMO Council report, “Getting It Done in 2021,” the top five areas of improvement include:
1. Customer journey, acquisition and conversion
2. Planning around digital growth strategies
3. Campaign execution and measurement
4. Demand generation and pipeline
5. Actioning on customer data insight
With limited resources, marketers should go deep on only a handful of strategic initiatives, such as digital experience, content strategy and omnichannel. Marketers also understand they need to leverage data analytics for customer journey, acquisition and conversion; segmentation and personalized messaging at scale; and actioning on customer data insights in the moment of need.
MarTech is the great enabler for many of these priorities. Seven out of 10 marketers are increasing their MarTech spend this year, primarily on analytics, insights and intelligence. CMOs across the board are building MarTech and data literacy skills inside marketing organizations to make sure their investments pay off.
Marketers must also be fearless in experimentation, testing and iteration — that is, they must be willing to take risks to win the revenue game. If experiments don’t pan out, the mantra is, fail fast and pivot quickly. It’s all about rising to the revenue challenge with confidence and courage.
Tom Kaneshige is the Chief Content Officer at the CMO Council. He creates all forms of digital thought leadership content that helps growth and revenue officers, line of business leaders, and chief marketers succeed in their rapidly evolving roles. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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