The CMO Survey Blog

Why Companies Should Compete on Privacy (and What Customers Can Do to Help)

The CMO Survey reports that 40 percent of companies use customer information collected online for targeting purposes and 88.5 percent of chief marketing officers expect this practice to increase over time. At the same time, CMOs have very low levels of concern about how the use of online customer data infringes upon privacy. Specifically, when asked, “How worried are you that this use of online customer data could raise questions about privacy?” on a scale where 1=not at all worried and 7 is very worried, the average response was 3.5. The Figure shows the full distribution.

Figure. CMO concerns about use of online customer data and privacy questions
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At the same time, a recent by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 86 percent of Internet users have taken steps to remove or mask their digital footprints — ranging from clearing cookies to encrypting their email. Fifty-five percent have gone even further to avoid being observed by specific people, organizations or the government.
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Big Data’s Big Puzzle

Companies are spending big dollars on big data. Approximately 5.5% of marketing budgets currently are spent on marketing analytics and this is expected to increase to 8.7% in the next three years as reported in The CMO Survey. Expectations are running high and many companies are trying to figure out how to crack the code to generate good strategic insight from the data.

I’m in favor of the trend to capture and use data to drive decisions. However, that is where the problem lies. As the stash of data grows, companies are using a smaller percentage of it. I first asked the question, “In what percent of projects does your company use available or requested marketing analytics before a decision made” in February 2012 and the result was 37%, which I thought was the bottom. However, when asked that same question in August 2013, the percentage dropped to 29%. Figure 1 shows the continuous decline over the last 18 months.

Figure 1. Percent of Projects Using Requested or Available Marketing Analytics
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This finding is not completely unexpected, however. Reviewing the thirty-year history of research on this topic, usage rates have always been low for many types of marketing information—marketing research, advertising research, and, now, social media research. This marketing analytics utilization gap is a challenge to big data’s contribution to the bottom line.
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Chief Marketing Officer Optimism at Four-Year High; Proving the Value of Marketing Remains Elusive

New results from The CMO Survey offer encouraging predictions about the future of markets and document ongoing challenges to marketing excellence and leadership. The 410 top marketers surveyed in August report their highest levels of optimism for the overall U.S. economy in four years. On a scale of 0-100, with 0 being the least optimistic, CMO scores came in at 65.7. This is nearly a 20-point increase over the same measure taken in August 2009 near the low point of the recession. Almost 50% of top marketers answered they are “more optimistic” about the overall U.S. economy compared to last quarter. Back in 2009, the optimists came in at just 14.9%. “Pessimists” went in the opposite direction with those reporting to be “less optimistic” dropping from 59.3% in 2009 to 13.2%.

Now for the rough news. Demonstrating the impact of marketing spending remains a challenge for marketing leaders. Only one-third of top marketers surveyed report their companies are able to demonstrate quantitatively the impact of their marketing spending. This percentage worsens when considering social media investments. Only 15% of CMOs surveyed report proven quantitative impacts from their social media marketing expenditures. Another 36% respond they have a good sense of the qualitative impact, but not the quantitative impact. Almost half of the CMOs surveyed (49%) have not been able to show that their company’s social media activities have an impact on their business (Figure 1). Despite this, marketers are expected to increase expenditures in social media from 6.6% to 15.8% over the next five years (Figure 2). (more…)

The Utilization Gap: Big Data’s Biggest Challenge

Big data’s the buzz. It’s in the press, all over the web… heck, it even has its own hashtag– #bigdata. CMOs recently reported that the percent of their companies’ marketing budgets devoted to big data will increase from 6% to 10% over the next three years. Multiply this 66% increase across all of the other areas Big Data is showing up in companies (e.g., supply chain management) and you have a sizable strategic expenditure. The bigger the company, the larger this increase. In data collected from The CMO Survey, companies with sales revenue of $10B or more will spend 13.7% of marketing budgets on marketing analytics in three years while companies with sales revenue of $25M or less will spend 9.2%.

Despite this big spend, there are reasons to worry that Big Data is not delivering its full strategic wallop. When asked to report the percentage of projects in which their companies use marketing analytics that are available and/or requested, CMOs report a dismal 30% usage rate. This number has decreased from 37% a year ago. So while companies are spending more on Big Data, less of it is being used. (more…)

In Search of Marketing Excellence: Ten Differences Between High-Performing and Low-Performing Companies

Marketing excellence—marketing leaders strive to attain it and marketing professors try to dissect it. For the first time, The CMO Survey-August 2012 asked top marketers “How would you rate your company’s marketing excellence?” on a 7-point scale where 7=one of the best in the world, 6=a leader but not one of the best, 5=strong, 4=good, 3=fair, 2=weak, 1=very weak. The mean score was 4.4 (standard deviation=1.4). Figure 1 contains the full distribution of responses.

Figure 1. Marketing Excellence Ratings in Companies

Over time, The CMO Survey will develop a longitudinal database and provide more definitive answers to the questions surrounding marketing excellence. However, using only the August 2012 data, I can share some of the performance, spending, strategy, leadership, and organizational choices/outcomes that are and are not correlated with marketing excellence.

To generate these insights, I classified companies participating in The CMO Survey according to whether they performed above or below the mean on the marketing excellence question. The high-performing group (n=184 firms) has a mean marketing excellence score of 5.52 (s.d.=0.66) and the low-performing group (n=170 firms) has a mean marketing excellence score of 3.22 (s.d.=0.88).
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Six Reasons Marketing Budgets are on the Rise

Marketing budgets as a percent of overall firm budgets and as a percent of firm revenues are both on the rise as noted in my prior post. Why are firms spending more on marketing? Here are six reasons I see in The CMO Survey™ data and in my research.

  1. New jobs: Marketing appears to be taking a leadership role in managing social media activities in companies. Given social media spending as a percent of marketing budgets is expected to rise from 7.6% to 18.8% over the next 5 years, this means new funds are flowing toward marketing.
  2. New skills: Companies plan to increase marketing training by 3.7% in February 2012 to 7.2% in August 2012. In particular, I see many companies in investing in programs to build marketing capabilities. A good example is GE’s Experienced Commercial Leadership Program, which develops cohorts of young marketers for the company. Another example is Becton Dickinson’s Marketing Excellence Initiative, which provides non-marketers with a big dose of training in key marketing tools and processes.
  3. New knowledge: Big Data has captured the imaginations of leaders in companies big and small. The ability to leverage information about customers in order to deliver and demonstrate value opens the door for marketers to fill the role as analysts and “data whisperers” as McKinsey calls them. As noted by McKinsey in its Chief Marketing and Sales Officer forum, “Data whisperers are those analysts who can coax meaning and insights from the increasingly sophisticated and massive data sets available today.” (more…)

Marketing Analytics: What Gets Evaluated, Gets Used

“What gets measured, gets managed” is a well-known management maxim. However, for marketing analytics, results from The CMO Survey suggest a slight twist on this adage to “what gets evaluated, gets used” (see cmosurvey.org/results/ for a complete set of reports).

To look into this topic, I asked top marketers two questions. The first was “In what percent of your projects does your company use available or requested market analytics* before a decision is made?” The average score was 37.2% of the time. The more important point is that 62.8% of the time managers are not using marketing analytics that are available or that have been requested!

To understand how the use of marketing analytics is related to the quality of marketing analytics, we could ask managers to rate the quality of marketing analytics and examine whether this is correlated with use of marketing analytics. However, if most managers are not using marketing analytics, measuring quality impressions is problematic—specifically, we would only be examining users of marketing analytics, which is not a representative view of what all potential users think about the quality of marketing analytics.

Given this, I took a different approach and asked top marketers to answer a second question, “Does your company formally evaluate the quality of marketing analytics?” 67% of top marketers answered “no.” To examine the relationship between the evaluation and use of marketing analytics, I calculated the mean marketing analytics’ usage level for companies that do and do not evaluate marketing analytics. As shown in the Figure 1, this difference is substantial, with marketing analytics used only 32% of time in companies that do not evaluate marketing analytics and rising to 49% of the time in companies that do evaluate marketing analytics. This difference is also statistically significant. There is no way, of course, to determine the causality of these two indicators—greater use is likely to affect the propensity to evaluate marketing analytics and greater evaluation of marketing analytics is likely to improve its use. Regardless, what gets evaluated, gets used.
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Using Marketing Analytics: I Do, Therefore, I Think

I recently reported that The CMO Survey found companies expect to increase the marketing analytics portion of their marketing budgets by 60% from 5.7% to 9.1% in the next three years. This is a monumental increase especially given that marketing budgets overall have grown only 8.3% over the last two years. While impressive, the true mark of whether marketing analytics is going live up to its expected role as a critical strategic asset cannot be measured by spending. Instead, we have to consider how marketing analytics affects what managers do and think and how well they perform.

To gauge this impact, the February 2012 CMO Survey asked top marketers to answer this question: “In what percent of your projects does your company use available or requested market analytics before a decision is made?” The average score was 37.2% (95% confidence interval: 31.5%-43%). This means that 62.8% of the time, managers are not using marketing analytics! By this measure, marketing analytics must do more. If not, its funders will place bets on other strategic weapons they believe will allow the company to serve customers better and to pull ahead of competitors.

Company Use of Marketing Analytics in Decision Making

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Spending on Marketing Analytics

I added a special section focusing on marketing analytics to the February 2012 issue of The CMO Survey. With all the talk about “big data” and the billions of dollars companies appear to pouring into capturing, processing, and leverage customer data, I thought it would be a good idea to examine where companies are on a few key issues and also where they expect to be over time on this strategic investment.

I asked top marketers to report what percentage of their marketing budgets they spend on marketing analytics. I think this is a reasonable request given that 70% of all top marketers state that the marketing analytics group reports to them. Results indicate that companies currently spend an average of 5.7% of their marketing budgets on marketing analytics and that this number is expected to grow to 9.1% in the next three years. This 60% increase represents a sizable shift. To put it in perspective, marketing budgets overall have grown 8.3% over the last two years. This growth varies by company size and industry sector. Looking at Table 1, we can see that, in general, current marketing analytic spending levels and expected growth levels correlate with company size (measured as revenues). There is a trough near the middle for companies between $500M-$999M, but otherwise the relationship is positive and significant. Examining sector differences in Table 2, we see that services companies, overall, spend more on marketing analytics now and will remain ahead of product companies in the next three years. From these figures, service companies appear to understand the “big data” opportunity and believe they can leverage it to create more value for their customers.
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