Companies Lack Coherent Digital Strategies

Gears-A2Less than 10% of companies say they have a “highly evolved” digital marketing strategy, according to a new survey by the CMO Council. The study, involving more than 200 global marketing executives, found that more than a third (36%) admit their digital model amounts to a collection of tactical point solutions that are not well integrated.

At the same time, top management at most companies support digital marketing efforts. One-fifth of marketing executives surveyed say they have a digital mandate and budget to execute, and 42% have strong interest and active support from business line managers, while 18% say digital is a strategic agenda item they have to address with their C-level bosses.

For management, the main benefit of using digital tools is to boost efficiency and ROI in marketing initiatives. Half of marketing professionals surveyed (49%) also believe company leaders are responding to customer preference shifting to digital media consumption and live, on-demand interaction with brands and corporations.

Still, nearly a quarter (23%) say top management is still simply trying to understand where digital marketing fits within their overall business, according to the report by the CMO Council, which says it has 6,000 members controlling more than $300 billion in annual marketing spend worldwide. The study, sponsored by digital marketing vendor Acceleration, however, highlighted the types of digital techniques that companies are most interested in. These include:

*Customer data integration and analytics (62%)

*Lead acquisition, conversion, and upselling/cross-selling of customers (60%)

*Web site performance improvement and richer engagement (61%)

*Behavior-based insight gathering for more effective segmentation and messaging (41%)

*Search marketing and online advertising (39%)

Despite the buzz around emerging areas like social media and mobile, email marketing was judged the most effective digital marketing method, with 67% endorsing it. That was followed by Web site performance and interface solutions (52%), and paid and organic search (45%).

Marketers don’t seem to be putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to email marketing. The category represented less than 1% of the $31.7 billion in 2011 online ad spending estimated by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Among the survey participants were 22 CMO- or SVP-level marketing executives, with a third from companies with revenues of more than $1 billion. Among these were Sears Holdings, Adobe, Microsoft, Lucky Brand, Sirius XM, GE Healthcare, and Best Buy.

10 comments about "Companies Lack Coherent Digital Strategies".
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  1. Karen Ticktin from brandthis, May 29, 2012 at 10:06 a.m.

    What's really interesting is seeming lack of acknowledgement that consumers are totally in control and those brands that will best succeed are those that look to ensure seamless branded experiences across all touchpoints including digital.

    The true beauty of 'social' media is a brand's ability to socialize each of these key touchpoints regardless of platform.

    Social media is far more than a budget line item or vehicles across which to engage with consumers. It can be the very glue that helps consumers and gives brands a competitive edge.

  2. Lana McGilvray from blast! PR, May 29, 2012 at 3:17 p.m.

    Definitely worth digesting this research alongside the cross-sectional study that PulsePoint recently executed with CMO Club. The groundbreaking study examined the digital marketing capabilities, top challenges and priorities of nearly 400 senior marketers, agency executives and publishers.The findings hit on a glaring gap that each of the stakeholders will value from as they better understand it.

  3. Jonathan salem Baskin from Global Brand Strategist, May 30, 2012 at 3:44 p.m.

    Wow...another survey by a firm that promotes digital tools that marketers need to use more digital tools. This line of reasoning is getting old and suspect, isn't it? Where's the research that tells us that more than 90% of companies DON'T have dedicated digital strategies after many years of being hit over the head about them? Maybe there are real, objective business reasons.

    The implication that they're behind some curve or trend is just stupid. This 'data' is meaningless.

  4. Catherine Spurway from PointRoll, May 31, 2012 at 7:13 a.m.

    Another recent study and useful infographic highlighting marketing and agency challenges in line with the CMO study.

    Interesting stats from over 200 agency/brand directors and above include: 39% of marketers/agencies feel behind the digital curve and over a quarter of marketers employ 7-9 different tools to reach their audience in a single campaign.

    Full Report and infographic (click on images for pdfs):

  5. Tom Cunniff from Tom Cunniff, May 31, 2012 at 2:56 p.m.

    I applaud the 36% who admit their digital model is a collection of tactical solutions that are poorly integrated. Integration is *the* marketing question of the 21st century and is far more important than mobile or social alone. Rather than debating the potential of this platform vs. that platform, marketers should be squarely focused on learning to understand and harness the feedback loop between traditional and digital. This is the work we have ahead of us, and we should be thrilled. Right now is the most interesting time to be in marketing in more than a century.

  6. Kevin Horne from Verizon, June 1, 2012 at 2:51 a.m.

    Curmudgeonly me says now is the most FRUSTRATING time to be in marketing...because 95% of "marketers" wouldn't have any idea what your (right on) comment really means. See Karen comment #1 as proof...

  7. Jessica Estremera from DIgital Pulp, June 1, 2012 at 11:23 a.m.

    "Email marketing was judged the most effective digital marketing method, with 67% endorsing it." Well sure its one of the easiest to implement and track. Where as digital engagement on social media is hard to quantify how many friends and followers actually buy your products or services. We need more studies quantifying social media and how to best implement it in our digital strategies. Is having more than 30,000 followers considered great for engagement or is the number considered too impersonal?

  8. Dan Auito from Next Century Studios, June 1, 2012 at 12:56 p.m.

    I gave mark the answer to this article. Unfortunately he has yet to reply. Oh well, we can only offer solutions, we can't make people see the light. Dan Auito COO

  9. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, June 1, 2012 at 5:12 p.m.

    Maybe what this survey can't detect is that they aren't rushing to "fix" the situation because there really isn't market strength to be gained by perfecting ones online strategy. Just a thought.

  10. Kylon Gustin from SMR Services, June 4, 2012 at 4:24 p.m.

    This article is right on target. I found the same problem with our clients. We created a complete template (free) that helps anyone create a complete Internet marketing plan. You can download it at

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