What Content Professionals Can Learn From the August 2016 CMO Survey


In the world of digital marketing, objective evidence is at a premium. Everywhere you look, private companies and experts are ready to offer opinions and findings, but they often have an axe to grind. That’s why the biannual CMO Survey is such an essential publication.

The CMO Survey is produced by academics, and it’s refreshing to know that when you finish reading through the findings, nobody will ask you to buy an eBook at the end.

The authors sent out questions about marketing strategies to 2956 American Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). With a 14.4% response rate, this means that survey provides a unique snapshot about how major companies are shaping their marketing efforts.

To save you the effort of wading through the entire report, we’ve picked out some key titbits for you to think about.

The Marketing Arena is Becoming More Competitive

  • 72% of CMOs foresee a “more intense rivalry for customers”
  • 62% see “more competitor price-cutting”
  • Only 18% see scope for “more cooperation on non-price strategies”

One of the standout findings is that CMOs expect the marketing sector to become more and more competitive over the next year. They are preparing for battle, not resting on their laurels.

They also think that the battleground will be based around price cutting rather than “non-price strategies” like promoting the quality and uniqueness of their products or services.

This means content writers will have to up their game. As competition heats up, the best writers will be in high demand as CMOs try to squeeze every cent out of their marketing budgets.

At the other end of the scale, it also implies that there will be no shortage of bulk orders for product descriptions in the near future, as content will be required to promote sales and build brand awareness.

Budgets are Rising Across the Spectrum

  • Marketing budgets are expected to increase in all sectors
  • Budgets increased by 6% over the last year and are expected to rise by 7.2% in the next year
  • B2C Services will see the largest rise (9.5%) but B2B Product and Services are also rising fast.

There’s no evidence that marketing spending is flatlining. In fact, companies seem to be increasing their budgets in response to greater competition.

However, not all sectors are expanding at the same rate. B2C product marketing companies lag well behind B2C services and B2B companies.

Then again, these B2C product companies (big brand names like Coke, Zara and Apple) spend a lot more on average than all other sectors. So what we are probably seeing is the other sectors catching up.

In other words, B2B companies across the board are adopting the kind of content marketing and social media strategies that trailblazing B2C organisations have pioneered.

This could mean more demand for technical content aimed at specific sectors, which will place a premium on content writers with crossover expertise.

Is the Services Sector THE Big Growth Area?

  • Marketing spend as percentage of company revenues has declined from 11% in August 2012 to 9.3% in February 2014 and 7.5% in the most recent survey.
  • B2C Product companies lead the way with 10.2% of their revenues dedicated to marketing
  • Marketing budgets in the B2B and B2C Services sectors lag behind at 6% of revenues but are set to increase much faster than B2C Products.

The size of marketing budgets hasn’t decreased, but the proportion of company revenues spent on marketing has. This suggests that marketing teams have become more efficient at turning their efforts into sales, which can only be a positive development for companies’ bottom lines.

Historically, product marketing has dominated via high-profile ad campaigns and branding exercises, but service based companies are seriously stepping up their game. According to the survey, both B2B and B2C service companies planning to increase their marketing budgets much faster than B2C product companies.

If you are looking for sectors with the potential for significant marketing growth, look to services companies. This is a pretty diverse area, ranging from cleaning companies to providers of business support and technical consultancy services.

ROI Still Isn’t an Exact Science and Social Media is a Mystery

  • Only 20% of CMOs say they can quantitatively prove the benefits of social media
  • A further 35.7% said that they had a “good qualitative sense of the impact” but no quantitative data
  • 20% of respondents felt that social media had “not at all” contributed to their firm’s performance

We all know that social media is a big deal for marketers, but not many CMOs could tell you precisely why.

Many companies are still flying in the dark where social media marketing is concerned. This is all the more surprising as 72% of companies use tools like LinkedIn or Facebook and around 55% use Twitter, while overall social media spend is expected to increase by 14.1% over the next year.

What’s going on? It could be that companies are using social media for non- marketing activities like customer support, exchanging information or recruitment.

This is related to the finding that 90% of CMOs reported that marketing’s role had broadened in the last 5 years. Marketers are engaging in a wider range of activities like content creation and management. They know these activities are important, and their bosses agree, but they can’t quite prove it yet.

Mobile Marketing Has a Long Way to Go

  • Total spend on mobile marketing is expected to rise by a hefty 118% in the next three years from 3.8% of marketing budget to 8.3%
  • The fastest increase is in the B2B Product sector (168%)

We’re constantly told that mobile optimisation is the next big thing. However, it seems like America’s major corporations haven’t gotten the memo.

Hardly any companies believe that mobile marketing actually boosts their bottom line. 39% felt that it had no effect and only a miniscule percentage (1.6%) reported that mobile marketing impacted “very highly” on their bottom line.

So don’t expect a rush of content creation orders for mobile platforms. SEO content targeted across all platforms and devices will remain dominant in the near future.

That may also be why mobile marketing will still remain a small proportion of total marketing budgets.

Marketers Need to Remain Dynamic

The main takeaway from the survey results is that marketing continues to develop and there’s no certainty about where it is heading.

CMOs are happy to experiment with social media marketing and increase their mobile marketing budget without knowing just yet whether or how their companies will benefit.

At the moment, content remains the king. Mobile marketing doesn’t come close. With the marketplace becoming ever-more competitive, high-quality content will continue to command a premium.

Written by SamUrq

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