Driving growth has increasingly been a growing expectation of the CMO role, but now B2B CMOs are supporting growth initiatives with new skills, tools and a renewed focus on audience-centric campaigns. New research from SiriusDecisions shows that global CMOs are supporting their organizations’ growth objectives by aligning internal teams on buyer centricity, developing employee skills and analyzing KPIs that tie audience engagement to revenue.
The 2017 Global CMO Study, which surveyed roughly 270 CMOs from B2B organizations, in which more than half (53%) earn $50 million or more in revenue, revealed that the main priorities for CMOs focus on driving growth within their marketing strategies and teams.
Specifically, the study showed that the top priority for CMOs was “determining the best [marketing] strategy and driving a best-in-class planning process” that aligns marketing investment decisions to product, sales and business goals.
“Before you can really progress and move your company and function forward, the first thing that has to be known within the company is how you plan to grow,” said Barbie Mattie, Senior Research Director for Emerging Growth Strategies at SiriusDecisions. “This comes into play when you're doing any organizational design, an annual marketing plan, your campaign planning and when you're doing channel marketing. That's the first piece of information that everybody has to know so they can align to have the company plans to grow.”
“Increasing the revenue coming from existing customers is another area of importance for CMOs,” said Mattie. “Organizations are placing an emphasis on growing and retaining the customer base particularly as more cloud-based solutions emerge. This also helps support the product to audience-centric shift in focus.”
CMOs Driving Growth With An Audience-First Mindset
Global CMOs and their marketing teams recognize the need to keep current and prospective customers engaged, and are leaning towards more audience-centric tactics and programs to do so. The fact that growth through new buyers replaced growth through new markets as the main way B2B companies plan to grow — which was a 10% increase over the 2016 study — is one data point that supports the shift to audience centricity, according to Mattie.
“In the past decade, the buyer's journey has taken center stage, and with the increased maturing of demand creation, CMOs are in a situation where the engine is built, so now they’re looking at where revenue is coming from,” she said. “It’s not surprising that much of the revenue is coming from the customer base and CMOs are adjusting their growth strategies, priorities and investments because they may have become over-rotated on demand creation to acquire new customers.”
This is also supported in the data by the fact that the number one priority influencing the marketing strategy is enhancing the customer experience, which saw an 18% increase in priority compared to SiriusDecisions’ 2016 study. Combine that with the fact that the number-one reputation tool planned for purchase is customer intelligence management is another signal in the data that supports that shift.
To promote better engagement with current customers, the survey noted that the top-three marketing trends CMOs plan to implement over the next two years, on a relative 100-point weighted scale, include:
- Interactive content/visual storytelling (13.2);
- Marketing for mobile devices (11.1); and
- Customer communities to drive customer engagement (11.0).
Marketing Orgs Leveraging Audience-Focused Dashboards To Measure Success
As the focus shifts from product-centric to audience-centric strategies and messaging, the way B2B organizations measure their marketing efforts is also evolving to highlight the metrics that matter. To continuously tie company growth to marketing efforts, CMOs are adopting new dashboards that focus on analyzing audience engagement and their path to purchase.
According to the SiriusDecisions survey, the biggest challenges CMOs noted will hinder their ability to successfully measure marketing’s contribution to revenue include insufficient processes (25%) and data (18%). Also, 16% said that their measurement efforts are not tied to business objectives.
Enhancing Employee Skills To Better Engage Customers
To build on the need to better understand current and prospective customers, global CMOs are also looking to add and enhance their teams’ current skills.
The majority (79%) of B2B organizations surveyed offer some sort of skills training or professional development services for marketing enablement. However, the majority do not have a dedicated, formal role or function within the marketing team responsible for identifying the required B2B competencies and providing necessary training. Forty-four percent ranked enhancing skills as the number one organizational priority.
Close to one-third (32%) of CMOs surveyed said they have a unique department within their organization with the task of handling marketing enablement. Another 30% said they have dedicated virtual marketing enablement teams or committees in place to help continuously enable marketing efforts. Only 7% said that they do not have a marketing role or function focused on marketing enablement.
The study found CMOs looking to bridge the skills gap are challenged with lack of investment. More than two-thirds (67%) of CMOs spend either $1,500 or less annually — per person — on training. That is diminutive knowing that 53% of respondents work for organizations that average $50 million or more in annual revenue.
Mattie noted that one of the first ranked skill enhancement areas is reporting, measurement and analytics.
“The fact that CMOs must ensure their organizations can deliver insights that drive decision-making and effectively communicate marketing impact are fueling the requirements for more advanced reporting, measurement and analytic skills.”
Also tied for the top skill desired by growth-driven CMOs are skills around campaign strategy. The research shows that marketing leaders recognize the need for strategically coordinated marketing efforts that optimize their ability to reach, engage and influence their potential buyers.
“This requires campaign strategies that align reputation, demand creation and sales enablement activities,” said Mattie.