Improved customer targeting and conversion via analytics, enhanced digital marketing structures and capabilities, greater alignment between marketing and sales, and greater accountability will be the leading strategic mandates for marketing in the year ahead, according to the just-released fourth annual "State of Marketing Report" from the CMO Council.
These directives are seen to support overall corporate priorities, which are now shifting from cost control/preserving market share in a troubled economy to growing share, increasing top-line growth and enhancing brands/products as the economy improves.
The results are based on responses to a "marketing outlook audit" (46 questions) from more than 600 senior marketers drawn from the Council's 5,000-member global affinity network. Respondents come from every major world region and are representative of most vertical industry sectors and company sizes, according to the Council.
Most of those surveyed (nearly 63%) said they report directly to the CEO, president or COO -- a larger proportion than in the past, which in itself speaks to "closer internal alignment" between marketing and top general management, notes CMO Council Executive Director Donovan Neale-May. Another 21% report to a regional VP, general manager or division/business group head.
Fully 62% of respondents said they will focus on analyzing customer data to improve segmentation and targeting, 46% on investing in digital demand generation and online relationship-building, and 44% on better qualifying and tracking lead conversion. In addition, 38% reported exploring alternative media and new routes to market.
More than a third (35%) said they expect to undertake "transformational" marketing projects this year, 8% said that such projects have been proposed but not yet approved, and 19% said their companies are "considering" such major initiatives.
Among the 35% planning transformational projects, the most commonly cited were: "digital marketing makeovers" including platforms, programs and people (46%); sales/marketing organizational alignment (4%); customer data integration/analytics initiatives (32%), marketing performance measurement initiatives (31%) and lead qualification/harvesting systems (28%).
Nearly half (47%) of all respondents expect overall marketing budgets/spending to increase (with 20% indicating increases of 1% to 5%, and 4% expecting greater than 20% increases), while 31% expect no budget change in 2010.
Spending will be directed primarily toward programs that drive top-line growth, including lead generation/qualification, customer retention and monetization. Corporate branding/identity building rank third among priorities, but new product launches and sales pipeline optimization are also a major focus, as is social media interaction, now ranked sixth among perceived opportunities/business needs.
For all of the emphasis on organizational transformation, most executional/operational spending will go toward marketing-specific systems or processes, in areas such as automated or hosted services for email systems (47%), social networking or online community-building platforms (40%), Web site design/development tools (35%), and lead management systems, Web analytics and online surveying/ research capabilities.
In fact, planned investments in back-end process improvement, such as overarching platform solutions, are by and large not substantial. Nearly half (47%) report that their companies will spend less than $50,000 on such initiatives this year, 18% project between $100,000 and $500,000, 6% between $500,000 and $1 million, and just 1% over $5 million.
Shift to Digital Media: Agencies Threatened?
In contrast to 2009, most also expect their media budgets to stay the same or increase -- but those expecting greater than 5% gains indicate that this reflects investment in social media, interactive/ Web marketing, SEO and SEM, and mobile communications.
About 44% expect to increase social media spending by up to 5%, and another 27% expect to increase this spending by more than 5%.
A continuing shift toward digital representing greater portions of spend is clear: 11% expect to allocate more than 30% of their marketing budgets to digital channels/media/programs, and another 37% will earmark between 10% and 30% for such digital efforts.
This -- combined with the fact that most of the overall respondents indicated that the majority of both digital initiatives and customer analytics work will be handled in-house or by specialist firms and outsourced service providers -- could point to trouble for traditional agencies "with limited suites of standardized creative and media services," who are likely to see their budgets and clout with clients decline, notes Neale-May.
"As companies seek to establish marketing platforms that better integrate their disparate digital initiatives, and gain more self-sufficiency, visibility and control over accountability, the power is shifting back to the client side, where the data reside," he tells Marketing Daily. "Specialist outsourcing resources, including offshore entities, are eager to assist them in tying these digital marketing pieces together."
On the other hand, fully 58% of responding marketers reported having no intention of switching their various types of agencies in the year ahead, and most ranked their agencies as "pretty good" (35%) or "extremely valuable" (18%), versus 7% viewing agencies as "under-performing."
Furthermore, based on agency functions, only 8% indicated they are expecting to change advertising agencies, whereas 18% expect to change Web design/development agencies, 14% public relations agencies and 12% interactive marketing agencies.
"Advertising, public relations and other agencies that have remained too focused on traditional media or are perceived as offering 'bolt-on' or relatively unsophisticated digital media solutions are those that could increasingly be at risk as companies shift emphasis to digital and seek greater integration and control," sums up Liz Miller, VP, marketing programs and operations for the Council.
The full 2010 "State of Marketing" report, sponsored by Deloitte Consulting LLP and Exact Target, can be purchased/downloaded at www.cmocouncil.org. A free, downloadable executive summary is also available.