Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, customer behavior has changed, presenting companies with the challenge of how and where to communicate with their customers and prospects during this unusual time. This has brought about a shift in how marketing is viewed by companies, with some 62% of top marketers saying that marketing has become more important during this time, per a special edition of The CMO Survey [pdf].
Here’s a look at what the survey revealed.
How Are CMOs Responding?
When asked to consider the marketing opportunities available and what activities CMOs have shifted resources to during the pandemic, 6 in 10 said they were working on building better customer-facing digital interfaces. This is as customers are showing a growing openness to digital offerings as well as putting more value on digital experiences.
This shift in priority toward digital is especially prevalent among Retail/Wholesale companies, where 8 in 10 (81%) are building digital interfaces. Conversely, just 48% of respondents from Communications firms report diverting resources to build digital interfaces.
Some 56.2% of CMOs surveyed also said they are transforming their go-to-market business models. That percentage jumps to two-thirds (67%) among both the Technology and CPG sectors, but is somewhat lower within banking companies (48%).
For some, these moves are expected to remain beyond the current crisis. A separate study from McKinsey found that the majority of B2B decision-makers believed changes to their go-to-market models would stay around for at least the next 12 months, if not longer.
CMOs also say they are shifting resources to expand into new offerings (42%) and build partnerships (41%). Some are also investing in new automation technologies to improve virtual communication with customers (34%) and improving data integration to allow for end-to-end customer tracking (25%).
What Are CMOs Asking Marketers To Do?
Marketers have been hard at work during the pandemic. CMOs reported that they are using their employees to perform a myriad of tasks. The majority have asked their marketers to get active online to promote the company and its offerings (69%), to develop new advertising and promotional strategies (66%), to reach out to current customers with information (65%) and to improve digital interfaces for customers (62%).
The extent to which marketers are being used for these objectives varies depending on the sector or industry. For example, marketers within Retail are more likely than their peers in the Education sector to be asked to improve digital interfaces for customers (86% vs a surprising 0%), and more B2B companies (73%) are asking their marketers to get online to promote their company and its offerings than B2C companies (59%).
What Information is Being Used to Guide Decisions?
Given the novel nature of the pandemic, the survey shows that marketing departments have had to improvise to generate new strategies. This means that marketing leaders need to quickly assemble data and intelligence to make decisions.
Although some top marketers say they are using quick research with customers (59%), website analytics (53%) and other external sources to inform their marketing strategy during the pandemic, most are tapping their colleagues for guidance.
The most popular sources of information have come from mining marketing team member knowledge and experiences (83%) and making use of top management knowledge and experiences (81%), while 7 in 10 (70% of) CMOs report they have used conversations with sales teams to guide their decision-making.
The full report can be found here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 274 US senior marketers in May 2020.