CMOs Plagued With Widening Gap Between Strategy, Execution

Customers are more connected than ever before, but companies are failing to keep pace with expectations for frictionless experiences.

Only 7% of more than 250 marketers surveyed are able to deliver real-time, data-driven engagements across both physical and digital touchpoints, according to new research from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and RedPoint Global. Only 5% are able to see the bottom-line impact of engagements in real-time, primarily due to the current processes requiring manual transport of data and intelligence from disconnected systems.

“Empowering the Data-Driven Customer Strategy: Addressing Customer Engagement From the Foundation Up” highlights the gaps between strategy and execution that continue to prevent marketers from creating real-time engagements with customers.



In an attempt to provide engagement capabilities, companies have willingly adopted a number of new technologies, and the marketing technology stack has continued to grow. In the past five years, 42% of marketers have installed more than 10 individual solutions across marketing, data, analytics or customer engagement technologies, and 9% have brought on more than 20 individual tools or solutions.

During that same time, marketers have gone through numerous rounds of “rip and replace,” with 44% of marketers indicating that they have spent more than 25% of their marketing budgets to replace existing technologies. And despite the implementation and discarding of various data and customer experience solutions, only 3% of marketers believe they are totally connected and aligned across all systems, with data, metrics and insights flowing seamlessly across all technology platforms. 

While the customer wants to see real-time responses and reactions to their behaviors, marketers are still dealing with complex processes and offline data, which is delaying their access to the intelligence they need to create the next best action with a customer, said Liz Miller, senior vice president of marketing for the CMO Council.

“These delays are further increased due to a lack of clear ownership over the customer experience strategy as a whole, with multiple teams and departments battling for customer attention across a growing, fragmented landscape of data and engagement systems,” Miller says in a release. 

In order to create truly connected experiences, marketers need to define a clear owner of the data-driven customer strategy. Of the marketers surveyed, 78% agree that the CMO should be the catalyst and driver of this strategy. However, only 19% are actually charged with the full burden of developing the customer strategy today, with 51% instead developing customer engagement strategies through individual teams, on either an organized or ad-hoc basis. 

When asked specifically about the gap between strategy and execution, marketers point to two key issues: fractured execution systems and siloed customer data. Only 6% of marketers believe they are able to get a complete view of their customer from all available data sources. Just 7% of the marketers surveyed are able to leverage in-line analytics to drive real-time decision-making within the engagement platform to deliver better experiences.

Only 8% of marketers have been able to implement and onboard systems in an effort to establish a best-of-breed model of technologies and platforms. A high number of marketers (43%) agree that they are not lacking data; rather, they are missing the ability to transform data into real-time action. 

In addition to the capability gaps cited in the research, marketers identified key roadblocks that are preventing their organizations from implementing a truly data-driven customer strategy. They are budget limitations (54%), failure to embrace a customer-centric culture (43%), lack of senior-level support to spark change and advance the customer experience agenda (32%) and lack of a solid data foundation upon which a customer data strategy can be built (31%).

The study is based on the findings of a survey that was conducted during the first quarter of 2017, primarily among marketers within consumer-focused industries including finance, retail, CPG, travel and hospitality.

2 comments about "CMOs Plagued With Widening Gap Between Strategy, Execution".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, March 21, 2017 at 8:56 p.m.

    This brings into discussion what the role of the CMO is.   Traditionally it has always been about 'building the brand'.   Sales were the domain of the CSO or more recently the CRO.

    So it surprises me that the article states that the CMOs reported that "Only 5% are able to see the bottom-line impact of engagements in real time".

    Big successful brands aren't built from focussing on the bottom-line in real time.   In fact, I doubt that the gross majority of brands could capture and report the 'bottom-line' in real-time.

    So what is this fixation on something that either can't be measured in real-time, or can only have a proxy in real-time, when the focus should be on building the brand.

  2. Craig Konieczko from LBi, March 25, 2017 at 1:31 p.m.

    This is a great point, John, and I couldn't agree more. We are marketing in a data-first era, even to the detriment of brand building. You make a great point about how the role of the CMO has shifted to be accountable to the bottom-line, and thus for choosing and implementing technology that drives "real-time" targeting and conversions.

    I ask how much of this is the tail wagging the dog, in that the mar-tech industry, e.g. Adobe, etc. and all of the 'engagement' agencies out there have a lot to gain in pushing Marketing departments to be held accountable for sales, and tech- and data-driven engagement being the means to that end. If a mere 8% of marketers, as of 2017, have implemented these systems successfully, then something must be off.

    My hunch is that 1) CMOs are being sold a false imperative, 2) customers don't really want to engage with brands in the way that agencies talk about engagement, and 3)  the capability to collect data is far ahead of the capability to use data as of the state of the art today.

    You also point out an interesting organizational tension, in that having been sold this bill of goods, CMOs and marketers now willingly take on the assignment of owning customer strategy head to toe, when in fact that really should be focused on buillding brand. 

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