New research from performance marketing channel Wunderkind shows nearly all chief marketing officers (94 percent) look at the last two years as a critical turning point for marketers, now that the height of the global pandemic and the initial onset of the supply chain crisis are in the rearview mirror.
The firm’s first annual CMO State of the Union report, based on a commissioned survey conducted by Savanta, sought to understand how e-commerce organizations exceeding $3M in annual online revenue are reflecting on the impact and lessons of the post-pandemic era and predicting the road ahead amid today’s tumultuous retail market.
The not-so silver lining
Although the pandemic, supply chain issues and inflation have proven taxing for brands, CMOs are showing they are overwhelmingly resilient. Despite the decline of brick-and-mortar retail in the last two years, CMOs spotted areas of growth and accelerated the development of omnichannel solutions.
Research shows 73 percent of CMOs met or exceeded revenue projections and 55 percent were able to increase their overall marketing spend in the last two years. However, while 79v have shifted more of their marketing spend online, only one-third feel this shift will last and 71 percent of CMOs plan to reduce online marketing spend in the future.
“CMOs are now at a crossroad. Innovation has to continue in order to communicate the right message, maintain consumer loyalty, boost revenue, and reach digital maturity,” said Richard Jones, chief revenue officer at Wunderkind, in a news release. “While legacy technology has helped brands begin to reshape their marketing strategies, it has also created seas of disparate data and tools that aren’t talking to each other—ultimately impeding brands from unlocking additional tangible revenue streams.”
While most CMOs feel they are delivering class-leading experiences, consumer feedback reveals frustrations:
Marketing technology: Unlocking competitive advantages
With the looming deprecation of third-party cookies, it becomes even more imperative that brands leverage first-party data as a cost-effective marketing strategy to keep customers coming back. While many companies have tapped creative solutions to manage customer expectations, the report shows that without understanding how to fully leverage the technologies brands have invested in, CMOs could be leaving money on the table.
Most notably, resource allocation, in-house knowledge, measurement, and the use of first-party data are among the greatest areas of opportunity. Wunderkind found that:
- While 67 percent of CMOs rely on their own employees to adapt legacy technology to get the value they need, only 9 percent believe their tech strategy greatly enables their marketing performance
- 96 percent of brand marketing leaders believe there is a gap in knowledge of their technology
- 90 percent believe there is a gap in resources holding them back from success
- Nearly three-fourths of CMOs rely on social media and search engine statistics to measure marketing ROI, while less than half depend on customer experience statistics
- 60 percent of CMOs feel prepared for cookie deprecation, but 40 percent feel there is more work to be done
The report also points to some brands remaining overly reliant on external channels and third-party data to target, retarget and acquire new customers. In fact, while first-party data was ranked as having the least positive impact on marketing results, the conundrum remains that if marketers can’t recognize a customer for who they are and where they are, it becomes incredibly difficult to effectively scale one-to-one messages through owned marketing channels.
While the majority of CMOs are preparing for the loss of third-party cookies, they haven’t figured out how to turn it into a competitive advantage:
Diversity & inclusion remains a priority
Amid the growing pressure on brands to customize their communication and use the right channels to authentically reach their audiences, they are also experiencing continued demand to reflect wide-reaching external issues such as social justice, diversity, and sustainability. The report finds:
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) has the most far-reaching impact on consumer marketing (37 percent) when requiring involvement from the executive team on marketing strategy
- Other external factors impacting marketing teams are social issues (33 percent), environmental issues (32 percent), and governance/compliance (26 percent)
- These issues were notably more pronounced for executives, citing DE&I (65 percent), governance/compliance (64 percent), environmental Issues (50 percent), social Issues (49 percent) as their top pressures.
Pointing to a potential disconnect between how brands address macro external issues from a corporate reputation perspective compared to a holistic omnichannel marketing approach, the consistent takeaway is that brands must keep their customers top of mind.
“While many retailers are weathering the turbulent landscape, the fact remains that many marketers’ dependence on the status quo—from legacy technology and resourcing to third-party data—is holding their organizations back from unlocking new, critically-needed revenue streams,” said Michael Osborne, president at Wunderkind, in the release. “Wunderkind is a leader in helping top global brands not only unlock first-party data as cookies depreciate, but also seize the ripe opportunity that lies in a powerful performance marketing channel that also adds value for customers in a holistic brand experience.”
Wunderkind’s CMO State of the Union was established as an annual survey to gauge the pulse of CMOs at leading B2C brands. Commissioned by Wunderkind, research was conducted online by Savanta Feb-April 2022 among 107 Director+ level professionals in the US and UK working in organizations with online revenue of $3 million+ annually and in the following roles: executive, marketing, finance, information technology, or operations. Qualitative interviews were also conducted among executives VP level and above at companies with $20 million + in online revenue.