What CMOs Know: They Expect An Uptick In Digital Spending This Year

CMOs are reasonably optimistic as they move into 2021.

For starters, 48% feel business conditions will be positive this year, up from 20% in 2021. Granted, 35.6% say conditions will be negative, but 62.5% believe marketing budgets will increase YoY, according to the 2021 CMO Survey, a study by Chief Outsiders. 

Moreover, 94% of businesses will be doing more digital advertising, up from 80% last year. And 91.6% say companies are far more prepared to strategically pivot now, versus pre-pandemic.

Yet those serving companies are under new pressures, and 75% see private equity limited partners are more demanding of growth, up from 61% last year.

But there are growth challenges for private equity portfolio companies, the top five being: 

  • Attracting growth minded talent
  • Adopting sales and marketing technology 
  • COVID-19 lockdowns and other measures
  • Retaining talent
  • Unfavorable legislation and trade barriers



Chief Outsider surveyed 68 CMOs with Fortune 500 experience, serving clients at over 1,200 enterprise and mid-market companies.

The top five digital spending priorities are organic search, content marketing and email marketing, followed by paid search and social media.  

The top five digital content tactics are blogging, video, case studies, newsletters, webinars and online events.

Only 15% of businesses believe people are not making at least some portion of their buying decisions online, and 33% believe that from 51%to 1005 of customers’ decisions are now online.

AI and predictive analytics will have a broad effect on

  • Customer targeting and segmentation 
  • Qualification and prioritization of leads
  • Predictive modeling of customer behavior.

Meanwhile, 78.5% of CMOs say it’s difficult staying ahead of technological advancements. It sounds like a lot, but tit’s down from 88% a year ago.

The biggest direct-consumer and direct-to-business increases will be in:

  • Healthcare 
  • Retail 
  • Entertainment 
  • Financial services 
  • Travel and hospitality

At the same time, 26.9% of businesses expect to bring more marketing agency work in-house to reduce costs -- but that’s down from 35% in 2020. 

Meanwhile, 31.7% of CMOS think customers will be 60% down the sales pipeline before engaging with salespeople. An 16.7% think prospects will be 40% down the pipeline.




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