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5 key marketing challenges to be managed in 2014

Author's avatar By Danyl Bosomworth 10 Apr, 2014
Essential Essential topic

New research shows key concerns of CMOs in modern marketing

It’s fair to say that marketing jobs vary quite drastically. I get to see that from an agency perspective every day. Where one marketer may get applauded in one organisation, the same actions in a different organisation might get them fired. It’s not as though there’s a ‘right’ answer to the marketing challenge, either. There are so many variables - market, brand age, business size, product, budget, belief systems and biases, let alone the senior management.

That said, with marketing evolving at breakneck speed, in the wake of changes in consumer behaviour and technology adoption, it’s always useful to look at what’s got the attention of other marketers to help inform our priorities.

Research source and methodology

In this new research by Deloitte and ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, they’ve distilled the responses down to the key drivers. Quick caveat: Let’s take this for what it is, broad insight since it’s one of those limited studies (only around 200 people), in organisations with huge budgets. The marketers who will test and waste more budget than we’ve had in the last 3 years combined - it's an invaluable perspective.

The five key drivers for marketer’s attention

Here's our summary of the main issues marketers are seeking to manage today given the increasing impact of digital:



  • 1. Top-line revenue growth: 53% of CMOs feel an increased pressure to create revenue growth. There’s no question I see more of this, more pressure for marketing to be accountable directly to top-line revenue growth. To demonstrate the value of the marketing budget.

Marketing priorities 2014

  • 2. Owning the customer experience: This is my "favourite" finding - nearly a quarter of the surveyed CMOs feel underprepared to manage major customer service touch points. I find this strange considering the very definition of marketing (to attract, nurture and grow a customer’s value to commercial and mutual gain). Direct marketing was putting ‘customer retention’ before ‘customer acquisition’ decades ago, so what happened?The research reports that the ownership of digital channels, where the majority of the customer experience is, is what’s creating that challenge. Perfect. Relief even - would you want to leave that all to sales and customer services?
  • 3. Get real-time: For our customers, it’s now a real-time world. They get the content they want, whenever they want, on whatever devices are convenient to them at that time. And yet many marketing teams remain locked around old-school campaign calendars, led by internal processes and procedures that made sense in 1980. Web personalisation and marketing automation were the top two areas where surveyed, suggesting that it’s high time to shrink the lag between customer action and brand reaction.

Areas of organisational focus

  • 4. Know the metrics that matter: Keeping your job in marketing (in most organisations anyway) requires ROI, it requires proof. Proof requires metrics, and 53% of surveyed CMOs said ROI was the key metric. So what’s the R in ROI? What does ROI truly mean, and how is it calculated? What matters to each business will be different, and different again based upon the perspective of the person asking the question. What you measure, you manage, so be sure to be measuring the right thing.
  • 5. Data-based Insights requires more specialist business intelligence resource: 52% of CMOs responding indicated a greater need for team members with data and analytics expertise, finding this talent is the number-one area where CMOs felt underprepared. Yet hiring them is just the first step. In order to do something with data it needs turning into insights to drive strategic decision making, enabling marketing teams to truly optimise, improve targeting and personalisation.This finding was mirrored in this other recent CMO survey.

The key take-away here? Strategic marketing matters

As I re-read the research, here’s what I see - business leaders want their marketing function to show leadership, commercial accountability over spending budget on ‘promotion’. And, as marketers, we’re all feeling at least some of that pressure. That leadership function has no excuses anymore either, there’s more data and market intelligence than ever before, more ways to connect with the consumer than we know what to do with.

Here’s the crux of the challenge, as marketers we have to make decisions out of a more complex choices and situations - this is precisely where marketing has changed and why you get paid, marketing strategy has become paramount to make decisions and filter the vast technical, tactical and targeting options available to us. Even the big boys have to deal with it. As Uncle Ben told a youthful Peter Parker:

“With more power comes more responsibility”*

And that seems fair enough, too.

*That’s Spiderman's uncle not the rice guy if you weren’t sure 🙂


Author's avatar

By Danyl Bosomworth

Dan helped to co-found Smart Insights in 2010 and acted as Marketing Director until leaving in November 2014 to focus on his other role as Managing Director of First 10 Digital. His experience spans brand development and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side for nearly 20 years. Creative, passionate and focussed, his goal is on commercial success whilst increasing brand equity through effective integration and remembering that marketing is about real people. Dan's interests and recent experience span digital strategy, social media, and eCRM. You can learn more about Dan's background here Linked In.

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