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IBM: CMOs Struggle to Keep Up With Digital, Social Marketing

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Most of the world's top marketing executives understand the dramatic shifts occurring in the way they engage with customers, but still struggle to manage the change, according to a new survey from IBM: 79% of CMOs expect a high or very high level of marketing complexity over the next five years, but only 48% say they feel prepared to cope with it.


Below, additional findings from The 2011 IBM Global Chief Marketing Officer Study, which polled 1734 senior marketing executives worldwide on the challenges they face in meeting the increasing complexities of marketing today.

Game Changers

Data explosion (71%)—the increasing volume, variety, and velocity of data available from new digital sources such as social networks—is now the top challenge among the CMOs surveyed, followed by social media marketing (68%) and the growth of channels and device choices (65%).



Meanwhile, over one-half of CMOs say (56%) say they are unprepared to meet ROI accountability demands, while 54% are concerned with global outsourcing pressures.

Sources Influencing Strategic Decisions

Most CMOs say they plan to increase the use of social media in the next three to five years, but few now rely on social channels (e.g., blogs) to help them develop strategic decisions.

Instead, most CMOs rely on traditional sources of information such as market research (82%), corporate research (81%), competitive benchmarking (80%), and customer analytics (74%) to make strategic decisions.


By contrast, relatively few CMOs are exploiting the full power of digital marketing: Only 26% are tracking blogs, only 42% are tracking third-party reviews, and only 48% are tracking consumer reviews. That's largely because the tools, processes, and metrics they use are not designed to capture and evaluate the unstructured data produced by social platforms, according to IBM:

Even so, 56% of CMOs view social media as a key engagement channel.

Increases in Marketing Investments

Moreover, eight in ten CMOs (82%) say they plan to increase the use of social media over the next three to five years, while similar numbers plan to up investments on customer analytics (81%), customer relationship management (81%), and mobile applications (81%).


SEO (62%) and email marketing (46%) rank lower on the priority lists of CMOs over the next three to five years.


Looking for great digital marketing data? MarketingProfs reviewed hundreds of research sources to create our most recent Digital Marketing Factbook (May 2010), a 296-page compilation of data and 254 charts, covering email marketing, social media, search engine marketing, e-commerce, and mobile marketing. Also check out The State of Social Media Marketing, a 240-page original research report from MarketingProfs.


Other key findings issued by IBM:

  • Measuring return: 63% CMOs say return on investment (ROI) on marketing spend will be the most important measure of their success by 2015, but only 44% say they feel fully prepared to be held accountable for marketing ROI.
  • Getting prepared: Asked which attributes they will need to be personally successful over the next three to five years, only 28% cite technological competence, 25% cite social media expertise, and 16% cite financial acumen.

About the study: Findings are from The 2011 IBM Global Chief Marketing Officer Study, which surveyed 1,734 CMOs in 19 industries and 64 countries face to face, between February and June 2011. The respondents came from a wide variety of organizations, ranging from 48 of the top 100 brands listed in the 2010 Interbrand rankings to enterprises with a primarily local profile.


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