Few CMOs have made progress in building digital marketing capabilities

screenshot_1659-resizedPOST SUMMARY: Very few CMOs have made much progress in building a robust digital marketing capability. Only 20 percent have set up social networks for the purpose of engaging with customers, for example, even though online input is a crucial part of the dialogue between a company and its customers. The percentage of CMOs who have integrated their company’s interactions with customers across different channels, installed analytical programs to mine customer data and created digitally enabled supply chains to respond rapidly to changes in customer demand is even smaller.

When we completed our last Global CMO Study. In 2011, 71 percent of the CMOs we interviewed told us they felt underprepared to deal with the data explosion. Today, a full 82 percent feel that way. Two-thirds of all CMOs also report that they’re not ready to cope with social media, which is only marginally less than was the case three years ago.

The issue is, rather, that there’s currently a huge gap between aspiration and action. And it’s questionable whether CMOs are moving fast enough to keep up with the speed at which the commercial landscape is evolving, or whether they need something akin to a turbo boost. 

Not all CMOs are the same. In the course of our research, we identified three distinct kinds of CMO, each at a different stage on the path to digital nirvana.

The Traditionalists are just setting off. They’re challenged by the data explosion, the growth in social media and the plethora of new channels and devices; have yet to integrate their physical and digital sales and service channels; seldom engage with customers via social networks; and rarely use analytics to extract insights from the customer data they collect.

The Social Strategists have passed the first few milestones. They’ve recognized social media’s potential as a vehicle for engaging with customers, and they’re building the infrastructure they’ll need to operate in the social arena. But, like Traditionalists, they haven’t yet begun to exploit the opportunities arising from the data explosion and advanced analytics.

The Digital Pacesetters, by contrast, are much further down the road. They’re reasonably prepared for the data explosion and well placed to handle the increasingly heavy social and mobile traffic from a growing range of devices. They’re also actively putting the resources required to operate as a fully integrated physical-digital enterprise in place. And they regularly use advanced analytics to generate insights from customer data.

cmo categories


Building an infrastructure to extract insights from information is the first step in constructing a customer-activated enterprise. The second is focusing on the customer journey and designing rewarding customer experiences.

Taking action:

Start with the big picture

Create a clear vision, strategy and plan for what you’re trying to achieve. Design your activities around those areas that most need improvement: greater insight or understanding; a more consistent experience across customer touch points; deeper relationships with customers; or turning customers into loyal advocates.

Put value first

Think about how the customer lifecycle is changing and how to create value for your customers at every step on the customer journey. Take particular account of the desires and behavior of digitally empowered customers and citizens. Update your customer journey map accordingly. Don’t limit your thinking just to “social.”

Convert customers into colleagues

Make collaborating with customers, as distinct from marketing to them, the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Enable customers to share their experiences with you and with others in the customer community. The goal is to have a two-way dialog—which means relinquishing complete control of your brand, and giving the customer a voice in what your organization does and how it does it.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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