Aug 29, 2022

CMOs in 2023: Challenges, Budgets, Digital Transformation & Skills

by Digital Marketing Institute

The past few years have been a challenge for sectors across industries and for many marketers, this has seen their priorities, roles, and skill requirements change.

At the helm of this marketing evolution are CMOs, Vice Presidents of Marketing, and Marketing Directors. Our new research ‘The Marketing Evolution: Leadership, Transformation, Skills, Challenges & the Future’ found that nearly half of senior marketers report their role has changed over the past two years while 53 percent are spending significantly more on digital marketing channels. 

As senior leaders, their roles have changed to being business accelerators that drive business growth and revenue. They also need to attract and retain the essential talent to compete in an increasingly demanding customer environment (with a focus on CX) and ecommerce driven landscape. 

So in this increasingly digitized world, what are the greatest challenges for marketers and the leaders that manage them?  

What are the greatest challenges for the marketing sector?

Digital marketing at its best uses every online and offline channel available to attract and engage consumers. But as budgets get tighter and senior management demands data to make informed business decisions, this poses challenges for CMOs and other senior marketers. 

Let’s look at four of the biggest challenges reported by our survey respondents.  

1) Delivering greater ROI on marketing budget

With so much data available across digital channels to marketers, it’s become easier to measure a Return on Investment (ROI) on activities. But that also poses a challenge as 20 percent of senior marketers rate delivering a greater ROI on their marketing budget as the number one issue they face. 

ROI is crucial as it demonstrates the value of marketing activities and can help CMOs assess the effectiveness of every campaign. This will help them devise and implement better campaigns going forward based on reliable data. 

“Showing your ROI (is critical). That helps get buy-in from your leadership team if you can back up what you want to do.” - CMO, United States, Technology Sector  

For many senior marketers, ROI has become so important as it helps make decisions about the most effective marketing activities. It also provides insight into customer behavior and shows marketing’s contribution to sales. 

Our whitepaper also covers the channels that deliver the best marketing ROI, so download it now to find out more. 

2) Unlocking the power of data to drive growth

Data is one of the biggest assets in a marketer’s toolkit. It provides insight into customers, offers ways to tailor messaging and content, and allows marketing teams and their leaders to plan and implement targeted campaigns. 

The challenge for many CMOs and senior marketers is that there’s a wealth of data and often it can be difficult to know how and where to use it. Often, particularly for smaller companies, the challenge is having access to the talent required to handle the data and leverage insights. 

Did you know? 17 percent of senior marketers rate unlocking the power of data as their second-greatest challenge

In tandem, the demise of third-party cookies means that organizations need to find other ways to get access to customer data. While first-party data and zero-party data provide an effective way to do that, companies need to change their mindset and offer value to urge consumers to share confidential information. 

When asked about KPIs for 2022 and beyond, one VP of Marketing in the Hospitality and Leisure sector said it’s about “utilizing data better, (and)increasing brand awareness and customer retention.”  

3) Attracting new talent to the marketing team

It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of digital skills worldwide. Our whitepaper in partnership with The Economist Group highlighted the fact that success in marketing comes when you combine technology and talent.  

This CMO report found a drastic shortage in talent, particularly in these key areas:

  • Data analysts
  • General digital marketers
  • UX designers
  • Martech
  • CX specialists
  • PPC specialists
  • Search marketing

It’s no surprise that the majority of these roles focus on enhancing customer experience or improving visibility in an increasingly competitive online space. What’s interesting is that amongst the specialties of PPC, CX and data analysis, general digital marketing comes second on the list as a desired talent. 

The reason for this is that many businesses are on a smaller scale or have limited budgets and require marketers that know how to cover a variety of functions, from content marketing to paid search to social media marketing. 

“This is an extremely small company (less than 10 employees), so some of us wear many hats.  We have learned to rely on and implement some digital tools that make workflow and other basic day-to-day activities more efficient.” - Marketing Manager, Antigua and Barbuda, Marketing, Communications & Advertising

4) Integrating traditional & digital marketing

No matter what industry you work in, there’s a need for integration between traditional and digital marketing. Customers now come across a variety of touchpoints at all stages of the marketing funnel and need their journey to be seamless from start to finish. 

As a result, omnichannel marketing is becoming more important to CMOs and senior marketers as a way to engage and retain customers. As one CMO in the charity sector put it: “(We need an) increased understanding on the need to be omnichannel focused and digitally seamless.”

While digital marketing reigned during the pandemic, post-Covid there is a return to an investment in traditional marketing channels such as print, TV, radio, and outdoor advertising. According to the 28th edition of The CMO Survey, traditional advertising shows a rise of 2.9 percent in Feb 2022 with more growth anticipated.

The rise of traditional advertising
The rise of traditional advertising

This rise indicates a return to form for traditional channels which can be integrated with digital channels via QR codes or custom landing pages. 

Marketing skills & digital skill shortages

When senior and mid-level marketers were asked about workforce capabilities in our whitepaper both groups reported significant shortages in digital skills with the top three being data analysts (47 percent), general digital marketing skills (37 percent), and UX designers (34 percent).

And it’s a global struggle as leaders look not only to attract skilled new talent with digital capabilities but also to retain the talent they already have. This is a challenge for many companies going forward as our analysis of digital skills and job trends show that it’s an employee’s market with plenty of opportunities. Plus, organizations are willing to offer perks and benefits to get them on board. 

An added challenge for leaders is to provide training for existing and new staff that fills the gaps within a company so they can outperform competitors. 

“There’s a chronic need for more highly targeted training so that people don’t just say the right words, they can actually perform the duties attached to those words. I am seeing a big gap between what people “know” and what they can “do” and what they want to be “accountable for,” VP of Marketing, Marketing, Communications & Advertising, United States 

What’s Next for Marketing in 2023?

The future is bright for marketers, particularly those with relevant and up-to-date skills. In addition, CMOs and other senior marketing leaders can reap the rewards of their marketing activities with a data-driven, customer-focused approach as long as they have the right team behind them. 

Download our whitepaper ‘‘The Marketing Evolution: Leadership, Transformation, Skills, Challenges & the Future’ to get a full picture of the challenges, budget changes, ROI and future for marketers in 2023 and beyond. 

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