Chief marketers are optimistic about the current business environment; they also believe they can achieve senior management's goals this year, according to a recent report from the CMO Council.

The findings were based on data from a survey of 525 global chief marketers (CMOs, executive vice-presidents, senior vice-presidents, and vice-presidents, depending on the top marketing title in each organization).

Some 81% of respondents say they believe management mandates for top-line revenue growth and market share in 2014 are realistic and attainable.

Moreover, 55% plan headcount additions this year, compared with 22% who expect reductions. Just 10% say they believe their own jobs are at risk.

Most chief marketers surveyed (54%) also have increased budgets this year compared with 2013.

Below, additional key findings from the report.

Digital Focus and Spend

  • 59% of chief marketers list "digital marketing makeover" (involving platforms, programs, and people) as the number one transformational project in 2014.
  • Top areas of digital marketing investment include email marketing, website performance optimization, mobile applications, lead management, website design and development, and search marketing.
  • Improved efficiency and campaign effectiveness is cited as the top reason for deploying new digital solutions and cloud-based services.
  • More than 70% of respondents have allocated between 10% and 30% of their budgets to digital marketing this year.

Effectiveness and Performance

  • Just 6% of respondents give themselves an A+ in digital marketing performance; 54% believe they are "getting better by growing capabilities and improving measurement."
  • 63% plan to maximize the impact and value of marketing through improved customer segmentation and targeting this year. However, only 6% see themselves as leaders in big data management, compared with 62% who view themselves as just keeping pace or lagging behind competitors.
  • 63% of marketers rate the contributions of their agency partners as extremely valuable or pretty good. However, 66% are planning to make one or more changes to their agency rosters in the next 12 months.
  • 41% of respondents say they will change some the agencies they work with this year because of a lack of new thinking; 40% plan to switch because business results and outcomes did not meet their expectations.
  • Asked to rank the most effective ways to brand and generate demand in their market, 48% of respondents cite search-optimized website marketing; events and trade shows are also seen as highly valuable.

Relationships With Peers

  • Nearly 30% of survey participants say today's CMO is equal to other C-level peers, and another 45% say that is sometimes the case. Only 20% say the CMO is not equal to other C-level decision-makers in status and influence.
  • 69% say they are trusted, strategic members of the C-suite and/or increasing their stature and credibility with key business leaders.
  • CMOs are most inclined to partner and interact with chief financial officers (58% do so), chief information officers (53%), and chief sales officers (51%).
  • Increasing collaboration with Sales and/or channel organizations was listed as the top professional objective for the majority of respondents this year.

About the research: The report was based on data from a survey of 525 CMO Council members around the world (50% based in North America, 19% in Europe, 18% in APAC, 5% in Africa, 5% in the Middle East, 3% in Latin America); 41% of respondents are focused on B2B markets, 23% on B2C, and 35% hybrid.

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image of Ayaz Nanji

Ayaz Nanji is a digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Media, a marketing agency specializing in content and social media services for tech firms. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji