Economic conditions are raising the heat on marketers, with most saying they’re feeling increased pressure to prove ROI. Perhaps in response to external market forces, B2B CMOs at enterprise companies are changing tack, pivoting from focusing on innovation and integration to growth, according to the Digital Connections 2.0 report [pdf] from Modern.
Last year, Modern’s survey of B2B CMOs found that integration (36% share) and innovation (34%) were the most commonly cited impacts that respondents aimed to deliver in their current roles. This year, however, those have faded considerably, cited by only 13% and 17% share, respectively.
Instead, B2B CMOs are much more focused on growth: 3 in 10 this year indicated that this is the primary impact they aim to deliver, triple the share from last year (10%). This brings to mind recent research in which CMOs planned to hire more growth marketers amid market pressures.
Meanwhile, there’s also been a dramatic increase in the share of B2B CMOs who this year aim to deliver a better customer experience. At 21% share of respondents pointing to this as their primary aim, this goal has been cited by more than 4 times the share of respondents as last year (5%).
As the analysts note, “the top priorities now are how they can affect growth through better customer experience and efficiencies,” citing results showing that almost 3 in 4 are prioritizing impact on the bottom line over more future goals.
The focus on the customer experience emerges in other results, too. When asked their strategic priorities over the next 18 months, almost half (48%) of B2B CMOs surveyed cited a better customer experience, marking a more than 50% relative hike from the 31% who responded the same last year. Additionally, improving the customer experience has risen as a key driver behind marketing technology strategies, cited by 42% this year versus 25% last year.
MarTech Use Improves as Skills Gap Narrows
For B2B CMOs surveyed in the US and UK, developing a technology strategy is the top marketing technology priority in the next 18 months. Interestingly, despite past indications that martech capabilities suffer from a skills gap, this year closing the digital skills gap is the lowest-rated martech priority.
That comes amid encouraging signs in martech utilization. Just 37% of respondents this year say they’re using less than half of their stack’s functionality, down from two-thirds who felt the same way last year. Moreover, almost one-third (29%) believe they’re using more than three-quarters of their tech’s functionality, up from just 4% who concurred last year.
Recent research has likewise found confidence on the part of marketers (moreso in the US than in the UK) with regards to utilization of martech capabilities.
It seems that the skills gap might have narrowed. Fewer CMOs this year cite human factors – either lack of knowledge or resistance to change – as the main culprits for not fully utilizing their tech stacks. Instead, data and integration challenges emerge as the top reason for the tech stack being underused.
As regards under-utilization, Marketing Automation and CRM platforms have the most room to improve, with the former also the area with the biggest skills and capability gap. Perhaps as a result, 1 in 5 said that Marketing Automation will be the focus of their marketing technology spend over the coming year.
For more, check out the full report here [pdf].
About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 300 CMOs at B2B companies with 1,000 or more employees in the US and UK.