Survey Results: How Do CMOs Feel They’re Doing With Digital Marketing

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During every new business meeting, clients ask about our experience with social media. Three years ago, only the occasional new business prospect asked that question. Today. we get worried if we don’t get asked that question.

Yet despite being asked that question by every prospective client, there’s often far less interest in actually conducting a digital marketing or social media marketing program, no matter what term you use.

I’ve anecdotally validated this by talking with colleagues at other agencies: When it comes to actually developing and implementing an integrated communications plan, many clients prefer to focus their PR/communications resources on traditional media. That happens even when, going into the presentations, the client has said that social media is important to them.

So I was interested when I came across a Heidrick & Struggles study that “found that the majority of senior marketing executives believe their companies are behind the curve when it comes to digital marketing.”

Results from the Digital Marketing Standard: Executive Perspectives on Digital Marketing included:

  • 60% said their companies “were behind the curve.
  • 33% felt they hired/acquired or developed the internal talent to handle digital marketing – which means that two-thirds do not feel they have the right internal talent.

The main challenges to embracing digital marketing included:

  • Legacy issues from an analog age.
  • Bricks-and-mortar mentality.
  • Lack of available resources to move quickly into the digital age.

Since Heidrick & Struggles is a recruiting company, its survey focused on hiring and developing the right talent. Which is why, a key insight for them was this: The problem for some companies is that the right hires will feel that digital marketing is perceived as 2nd place behind traditional marketing.

We’ve seen that, too. That social media is a lessor priority for some clients. Why?

According to a BrandWeek article summarized by G. Robert Bishop, a recruiter specializing in marketing hires, on his blog, The Marketing Recruiter:

“On a more granular level, the respondents rated marketing ROI, Web behavioral analyses and CRM as the most important parts of their digital marketing mix. Not many marketers thought that they were good at those functions at this point. Only 18 percent said they were “very satisfied” with their ROI analysis, only 13 percent said the same of their CRM program and 19 percent were happy with their search engine optimization.”

The need to benchmark digital marketing efforts is critical. In cleaning up my office the other day, I found lots of articles from 2006 about social media — but things have changed so much since then that the articles were like faded 1960s color photos: more color than black-and-white photos but pale color representation by today’s standards. The only point still relevant from one article I tossed into recycling: the need to develop metrics.

Three years — and many social media paradigms later — the challenge still facing CMOs remains this:

  • Determining how to use social media/digital marketing to reach their customers.
  • Developing ROI and other metrics to justify their digital marketing programs.

I’d say that’s why CMOs feel like they’re behind the curve.

Let me know what you think. You can also check out excellent summaries of a couple of articles about CMOs and digital marketing at Bishiops’ blog, CMOs And Digital Marketing Disconnect.”

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