Top Challenges CMOs Must Overcome To Be Successful In 2018


Gartner, SiriusDecisions and Cognito have all recently published studies that provide insight into CMOs priorities in 2018. In comparing the three studies, which include direct input from CMOs on their stated priorities and spending forecasts, several common CMO priorities stand out:

  • Elevating customer experience (SiriusDecisions)

  • Attracting new buyers (Gartner & SiriusDecisions)

  • Content Creation (Cognito)

  • Analytics (Gartner)

While these priorities are not all to surprising, if CMOs are going to make good on these promises (there are others, but these were the most common), then they must first overcome some key challenges.

Address The Data Issue

The foundational element that will make or break the success for most marketing initiatives is the state the data and according to recent research this foundation rather unstable:

  • 83% of organizations stated their data is old or outdated (DemandGen Report)

  • Only 23% of organizations are satisfied with their ability to leverage customer data to create more relevant experiences (Salesforce.com)

  • The average data quality of B2B organizations is “questionable” and is an “impediment to growth. (Dun&Bradstreet)

Whatever the excuse for the erosion of data, CMOs will simply not execute against their priorities if they continue to ignore this problem. Data is fundamental to gaining buyer insights, delivering customer experience and getting value from analytics.

CMOs would be wise to dedicate the necessary resources to implement a data governance approach and potentially look to invest in a Customer Data Platform (CDP) that serves as a single source of truth for the data spread across multiple systems and in so doing will improve the value they are getting from this invaluable asset.

Focus on Relevance

By all accounts and numerous research reports, the future looks bright for content marketers. Once again the forecast shows more will be spent leading to an increase in the volume of content created. However, like most challenges, simply throwing more money and creating more does not lead to success, yet year over year the insanity continues.

According to a recent study by Beckon as written about in VentureBeat, branded content creation is up 300%, yet only 5% of that content is truly making an impact. The lack of content effectiveness has also been showcased by the latest Content Marketing Benchmark study that was recently published by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

Content plays a key role in attracting new customers and the delivery of customer experience across the various customer touch points, but the idea that creating more will equal relevance is absurd.

CMOs intent on being good stewards of their dollars need to take the time to conduct the necessary research and gain insights into their buyers and customers and message to them specifically. Getting hyper focused with content will not only provide better results, it will most likely lead to less of spending allowing CMOs to allocate dollars to other high impact areas.

Invest In Improving Marketing Skills

According to the State of Marketing Report by Salesforce.com, "marketing

leaders today say 34% of their budget is spent on channels they didn’t know existed

five years ago — and they expect that to reach 40% by 2019". This highlights the rapidly changing face of B2B marketing.

As the role of marketing continues to evolve and grow more complex due to the sophisticated customers we serve, most marketing leaders are delinquent in properly enabling and equipping their teams with the necessary skills to succeed. In fact the following is true:

  • 67% of marketing leaders told SiriusDecisions that they spend a paltry $1,500 or less annually on training.

  • Cognito reported that Nearly 40% of survey respondents believe their team has limited or extremely limited (39%) expertise in communications and marketing technology.

If CMOs are going to be successful heading into 2018 on their key initiatives, they must invest in the personnel who are being asked to execute against the priorities of new customer acquisition, customer experience, content marketing and analytics. This requires more than paying for a conference or two and necessitates a clear approach to on-going training and skills development.

2018 is fast approaching and research shows that CMOs continue to seek ways to become more strategic and serve as a growth engine for their companies. While these key initiatives can help their cause, they must first address some root cause challenges if they are to be successful.

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