B2B Highlights From the Latest CMO Survey

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The findings of the latest CMO Survey by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, the American Marketing Association, and Deloitte were published a few days ago. The latest results are based on responses from 323 marketing leaders at U.S. B2B and B2C companies. Sixty-eight percent of the respondents were affiliated with B2B companies, and 97% were at VP-level or above.

The CMO Survey is conducted semi-annually, and it’s a valuable resource for capturing the views of U.S. marketing leaders regarding the overall economic and competitive environment, and major trends in marketing. In addition to overall results, survey findings are reported by four economic sectors – B2B product companies, B2B services companies, B2C product companies, and B2C services companies.

In this post, I’ll discuss some of the major findings in the February 2019 edition of survey. Unless otherwise indicated, the results discussed in this post are based exclusively on the responses of B2B marketers.

Driving Growth is the #1 Challenge

Driving business growth has become the top challenge for marketing leaders in all types of businesses. The CMO Survey asked participants to rank their three biggest challenges in order of importance. The following table shows the top four challenges identified by the entire survey panel and by B2B respondents. The table shows the percentage of respondents who ranked each challenge first in importance.











Measuring Marketing Impact Remains Challenging

Demonstrating the financial impact of marketing activities remains a significant challenge for many marketers. As the above table shows, surveyed marketing leaders identified proving ROI of marketing activities as their fourth highest rated challenge.

The CMO Survey also asked marketing leaders how they demonstrate the long-term impact of marketing spending, and the following table shows how B2B marketers responded.

As this table shows, only 35.4% of respondents from B2B services companies, and 24.0% of respondents from B2B product companies say they can prove the long-term impact of marketing quantitatively.

Given these findings, it shouldn’t be surprising that B2B marketers ranked marketing impact as their top C-suite communication challenge. Seventy-three percent of respondents from B2B services companies, and 67.3% of respondents from B2B product companies said demonstrating the impact of marketing actions on financial outcomes is challenging when they are communicating with other C-level executives.

Mixed Signals on Marketing Analytics and AI

Analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have been hot topics in B2B marketing circles for the past few years. The findings of The CMO Survey provide important insights about several aspects of these topics.

B2B marketers expect to increase their spending on marketing analytics over the next few years. Respondents from B2B product companies said they are currently spending 6.6% of their marketing budget on analytics, and they expect the percentage to increase to 11.6% over the next three years. Respondents from B2B services companies currently devote 7.3% of their budget to analytics, and they expect the percentage to grow to 13.3% by 2022.

The CMO Survey findings also show that despite their commitment to analytics, B2B marketers don’t believe that analytics currently have a big impact on company performance. On a 7-point scale (where 1 = no impact, and 7 = a high impact), respondents from B2B product companies gave analytics a rating of 3.7, and respondents from B2B services companies rated the impact of analytics at 3.8.



The survey also found that the use of artificial intelligence in B2B companies is still relatively limited. The survey asked B2B marketers how they are using AI in their marketing activities. The following table shows the top six activities identified by B2B survey respondents.

As the table shows, a majority of B2B marketers report using artificial intelligence for content personalization, and about half say they are using AI to gain customer insights. Less than 40% of marketers are using AI for most of the remaining activities.

Top image source:  The CMO Survey (www.cmosurvey.org).

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