February 2018 CMO survey results: Changes and trends in marketing priorities

What’s on the mind of marketing leaders?

Keep up with the latest trends in the business and the future of marketing through our CMO survey.

The CMO Survey finds marketing priorities include more spending, more hiring—and more reliance on new tools

Time to shine

The latest issue of the biannual CMO Survey finds growing confidence among organizational marketing chiefs—charting positive expectations about the economy, their own operations, and their embrace of digital tools such as analytics and social media.

Overall marketing priorities

Overall, their outlook appears positive. Just over half (51 percent) say their optimism for the US economy has grown in the last quarter, and marketers expect their own budgets to grow over the next 12 months, most notably in the energy industry. Overall, they predict a 7 percent increase in spending on marketing capabilities. They also say they will hire 7 percent more marketers in the next year—with a focus on people whose experience with marketing technology, combined with overall creativity, can break through the clutter to connect with customers. Overall, more than half (56 percent) intend to either hire or train new people with the skills to bolster their organization’s marketing abilities. This is consistent with the report that 73 percent of the companies represented say they will grow organically, primarily through hiring.

Marketing technology trends

Alongside new people, marketers are adding new technology muscles. While the amount they spend on analytics and other technologies has not increased dramatically since the survey first measured it in 2012, what has increased is the degree to which marketers rely on these tools to make decisions—up from 30 percent then to 42 percent now.

Embracing social media

The survey puts the maturity of social media as a tool into sharp relief. Social media spend is up 243 percent since 2009, and expected to expand another 71 percent in the next five years, according to the results. Many marketers aren’t just spending more on these channels—they’re pulling them closer to the core. The amount of social media work they entrust to outside agencies is only 19 percent. For those companies that use social media, the most common use is for brand awareness (46 percent). Meanwhile 23 percent of respondents say they can prove the impact of social media quantitatively. Even as the use of social media grows, many marketers say they do not feel digital marketing has diverted attention away from more fundamental marketing strategies.

Defining the future of marketing

Marketing leaders, in general, say they are not responsible for innovation or the development of new products, but they are experiencing higher levels of overall responsibility in their organizations. In carrying out this responsibility, they have evolving customer priorities to satisfy. Since the August 2017 survey, “excellent service” (28 percent) has overtaken “superior product quality” (25 percent) as the top customer concern marketers say they face across industries. They also expect brand building (8 percent) and CRM (8 percent) to be growing concerns over the year ahead.

Time to step up

With 69 percent of marketers saying they’re optimistic about the overall US economy, and a record number of companies in which respondents say marketing has the lead role in brand (91 percent), this may be a time that presents opportunities for marketing leaders to increase their presence and impact. The growing power of digital tools can play a central role in making it happen.

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About The CMO Survey

Deloitte supports the CMO Survey—conducted biannually since 2008 by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business marketing professor Christine Moorman—as a measure of how marketing leaders are navigating this brave new world. The survey reports on their priorities and plans enabling marketers to compare staffing, budgeting, and investment areas, and identify potential trends.

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