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CMOSurvey CMO Views Changing Role of Marketing Mar2021Building brand value that connects with customers, and retaining current customers, have been marketing objectives for CMOs during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest report [pdf] from The CMO Survey. The study checks in with CMOs’ priorities during the pandemic and their assessment of the success of recent measures.

In the January 2021 survey of some 350 top marketers at for-profit US companies, a sizable 72.2% of respondents said that the role of marketing had increased in importance during the last year. This is an increase from the last survey – conducted in June 2020 – when 62.3% said the same. In these latest figures, a remaining 20.3% said there had been no change in marketing’s importance in the last year, leaving just 7.5% saying that marketing’s importance had declined over the past year.

Much as was seen in a similar study in June 2020, respondents have been highly focused on the marketing objectives of retaining current customers (27.9% share naming their top objective) and building brand value that connects with customers (27.6%). However, more marketers are focused on acquiring new customers (20.8% share) now than before (14%), while a further 16.3% are focusing on increasing customer awareness of their brand.

It’s also notable that ROI has become more of a factor in the time since The CMO Survey’s June study. Back then, only 3.6% of respondents cited improving marketing ROI as their top objective. This more recent study shows that the figure has more than doubled (7.4%). Separately, a study from Ascend2 found that marketers are upping their use of performance marketing in order to increase ROI.

According to respondents, nearly three-quarters of marketers have shifted resources to building better customer-facing digital interfaces (73.6%). Consumer services were more likely to have done this, with all respondents from these organizations reporting this change. About half have shifted to transforming their go-to-market business models (52.4%), expanding into new offerings (47.9%), and building partnerships (44.5%).

COVID Marketing Strategies

When asked to rate how well the marketing strategies they’ve used during the COVID-19 pandemic have worked in the short term from 1-7 (1 = very poorly, 7 = very effectively), the largest share of respondents (33.4%) rated the strategies a 6. By industry, those in the Retail/Wholesale sector rated their marketing strategies the most effective overall (an average of 5.8), while those in the Energy sector rated their strategies the lowest (4.3).

CMOs are optimistic that the marketing strategies used during the pandemic will be important opportunities for their company in the long-term. Using a 1-7 scale (1= not at all, 7=a great deal), one-third (33.3%) rated the strategies a 6, while one-quarter (25.6%) rated them a 7.

It would appear that the pandemic has also increased CMOs’ tendency to prepare for the future. While respondents said that they spend the majority (62.3%) of their time managing the present, the percentage of time spent preparing for the future has increased from 31.5% in August 2019 to 37.7% in February 2021.

Read the full report here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 356 top marketers at for-profit US companies fielded in January 2021.

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