CMOs find challenges, opportunities in digital marketing

CMOs still aren't sure of the best way to measure how digital marketing is translating into results, according to a recent survey by the CMO Club.

CMOs still aren't sure of the best way to measure how digital marketing is translating into results, according to a recent survey by the CMO Club.

More than 60% of the roughly 100 CMOs the club surveyed said that the number-one digital marketing challenge facing them was measuring how the efforts impacted offline customer behavior. The second biggest challenge for the CMOs was “staying up to date” on the latest digital marketing options and tools.

The results were announced at the CMO Club's second-annual Thought Leadership Summit in New York on May 19. One CMO on the panel discussion about the survey, Terri Graham of Jack in the Box, noted the company's seeming success with its Super Bowl ad where its mascot Jack was hit by a bus. Despite being a local ad buy, it went national and viral fast as the company built up a “Hang in there Jack” get-well campaign for the mascot. The company set clear objectives before beginning the campaign, and its Web site attracted five million hits, Graham said.

Yet, she noted that measuring whether "going viral" translates as a win for the company is “an interesting dilemma for the CMO.”

“Is that success? It seems like it worked,” she said.

Another panelist, Ram Menon of Tibco Software, noted, “metrics the industry uses haven't caught up.” He suggested that the industry was using “1.0 tools” to measure 2.0 efforts.

Perhaps because of the lack of clear results, CMOs still find more value in “traditional” digital marketing tools. Nearly 80% find e-mail effective, compared to the less than 40% that find online communities effective and the less than 20% that find SMS/text useful. SEO and site optimization also ranked high, while online video and blogging ranked lower.

“This is based on today, what's most effective,” said Pete Krainik, founder of the CMO Club. Referencing the growth of Twitter in the past few months, he added that CMOs are “testing new approaches,” but the survey shows what they find most effective today, not next year.

The survey also found that CMOs are turning overwhelmingly to “peer groups” – nearly 80% - to glean more insight into digital marketing. More than half said they look to industry seminars for insight, and 44% also turn to digital marketing agencies. In comparison, only 24% look to “traditional marketing/ad agencies.”

“As a CMO, no one knows more about my issues… than another CMO,” said Krainik. “If I'm looking for recommendations for an agency, a search company…[I'm] …talking to other CMOs… it's all about lessons learned, and sharing experiences.”

The CMO Club is a relatively new organization, less than two years old. It has about 800 members. The inaugural digital marketing survey was conducted online in February and March with the help of Omniture. It aimed to not only get feedback from its members through the survey, but also to create baseline metrics and identify best practices. It will be done on an annual basis going forward, Krainik said.

Hill & Knowlton is a sponsor and partner of the Club, and its staff helped with the New York event.

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