CMO Confidence Climbs Despite Need for Increased C-Level Collaboration

Marketers must forge strong relationships with the rest of the executive suite in an effort to empower and enhance their company's customer-centric culture in the coming year.

Marketers often hold the key to customer centricity, for their access to data and insight allows them to operate alongside the pulse of consumer behavior. Yet, while these leaders possess the tools and knowledge necessary to enhance customer experience and engagement, CMOs and senior marketing professionals continue to wage an uphill battle as they fight for equality among their C-level peers.

The CMO Council's 8th annual "State of Marketing" report explores where marketers currently stand within the average enterprise and how they expect their role will evolve over the next 12 months. Sponsored by NetBase and Infor, researchers polled 525 global marketers to develop an in-depth view of marketing vitality and direction worldwide. Overall, chief marketers are confident that they will meet management's revenue and market share goals for the coming year, as the economy continues to pick up pace. However, many are still struggling to obtain their desired level of influence within the executive suite.

The following statistics provide an overview of how marketing leaders currently function within the space and their plans and predictions regarding strategy and spend for the year to come:

  • While 81 percent of the global marketers surveyed believe management mandates for top-line revenue growth and market share are realistic and attainable within the next 12 months, only 26 percent claim that they're halfway toward achieving these goals. Though 30 percent of respondents claim today's CMOs are equal to other C-level peers, 45 percent feel that this is only sometimes the case, and 20 percent believe CMOs aren't equal to other C-level decision-makers with regard to status and influence.
  • CMOs are most likely to partner and interact with chief financial officers (58 percent), chief information officers (53 percent), and chief sales officers (51 percent), though many are collaborating with chief HR officers (41 percent) and chief operating officers (40 percent) at an escalating rate.
  • Sixty percent of chief marketers rank "digital marketing makeover" as their number one transformational initiative for the year ahead, for only 6 percent of respondents would give themselves an A+ when it comes to digital marketing performance. Fifty-four percent, however, claim they're getting better by growing capabilities and improving measurement.
  • Of those polled, 63 percent plan to maximize the impact and value of their marketing initiatives through improved customer segmentation and targeting. Only 6 percent consider themselves to be leaders in Big Data management, while 62 percent admit that they're just keeping pace or lagging behind competitors.
  • Even though 41 percent of respondents feel challenged by insufficient budgets, 54 percent expect to see budget increases within the next fiscal year. Only 27 percent believe their budgets will remain the same.
  • Fifty-five percent of those polled expect headcount additions within the coming year, while 22 percent foresee reductions. However, only 10 percent believe their jobs are or will be at risk.
  • Of those senior marketers surveyed, 75 percent received salary increases or bonuses within the past year, and 83 percent expect to receive such compensation if they perform well over the next 12 months.

Key takeaway: Overall, 69 percent of chief marketers claim they're considered to be trusted, strategic members of their company's C-suite and continue to increase their stature and credibility with key business leaders. Though the technical majority, this number remains alarmingly low, for chief marketers are increasingly responsible for supporting their organization's customer-centric culture. Chief marketers bring vast amounts of consumer feedback data to the table, empowering the executive suite to implement marketing strategies that drive action and improve customer experience. However, by working closely with CFOs to make the case for marketing spend, and CIOs to ensure marketing automation gains and ROI, CMOs are poised to build partnerships that will enhance the enterprise from the inside out. Supportive internal relationships are the backbone for outward success. Thus, within the next 12 months, both CMOs and their C-level peers must make an effort to break down the barriers that hinder collaboration as they work to build one cohesive enterprise.