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Research Confirms Retail CMOs Are in a Tough Position

A new Nanigans research report, The Retail CMO Pulse Check, takes a hard look at retail marketing leaders’ attitudes about their roles. The survey of 100 digital advertising decision-makers — including CMOs at some of the largest online retailers in the U.S. — found that despite marketing being held accountable for growing online sales and market share, roadblocks such as increased demands, organizational challenges, and external market forces are impeding success.

Retail marketing leaders who took part in the survey revealed their top three priorities as: improving ROI/boosting sales (27%), customer acquisition and retention (24%), and expanding/increasing market share (24%). These priorities underscore the pressure senior-level marketers are under to show results as competition and customer expectations both intensify.

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“Ecommerce companies grow by two main ways: customer acquisition and better monetizing their existing customers. Digital advertising is critical to both. However, the digital advertising ecosystem is siloed, complex and controlled by industry giants,” said Ric Calvillo, co-founder and CEO of Nanigans.

“To succeed in this environment and stay laser-focused on what matters, CMOs need to start driving incremental revenue and stop counting clicks.”

Fifty-eight percent of marketing leaders have seen their roles become fragmented among different executives.

As marketers try to take action on their priorities, they face organizational challenges and a competitive job market, making it difficult to keep talented employees and maintain stability within the marketing department. According to Nanigans’ research findings:

  • Forty-two percent of respondents predict they will interview at other companies within six months
  • Over the past seven years, respondents report their companies have had an average of 2.6 CMOs
  • Fifty-eight percent of marketing leaders have seen their roles become fragmented among different executives
  • Ninety-three percent of marketing leaders sometimes or often need buy-in from non-marketing executives on growth-related initiatives
  • Less than a third (30%) of respondents strongly agree that the measure of success for the marketing organization is clearly defined and known across the company

“Our research findings speak to the confusion and transformation taking place in marketing today. It’s unclear who owns this critical business function, especially as new roles emerge such as the Chief Digital Officer or Chief Growth Officer,” Calvillo said. “To maintain order and drive growth, modern CMOs need independence and autonomy, setting clear metrics and objectives across the organization.”

Related post: 3 Moves Ecommerce CMOs Must Make

There are also numerous outside market forces moving to the top of the CMO’s agenda, and adding to their list of concerns.

The top three topics that marketers are actively having conversations about, according to our survey, include:

  • Data privacy and security (58%)
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning (53%)
  • Regulation and compliance, including the General Data Protection Regulation — GDPR (47%)

If CMOs want to escape the vacuum of being in an influencer role and demand more control and autonomy, they should be discussing the topics highlighted in our survey and incorporating them into marketing plans.

Click below to walk through an interactive presentation of the survey data.

CMO pulse check survey