As a social strategy consultant, I spend my days immersed in the shifting currents of the digital marketing landscape. And let me tell you, having spent the last month reading through various trend reports, 2024 is shaping up to be an interesting year.
It isn’t just adapting to new technologies such as artificial intelligence and external forces impacting the market (hello, inflation), either.
One report, the Digital Connections Report produced by Modern, surveyed 300 CMOs at large B2B companies in the US and UK to reveal their objectives, challenges, and ambitious aspirations for the next 18 months. I found this one particularly insightful, and it sparked my curiosity to go beyond the statistics.
So, I dove into the real-world perspectives of CMOs in my network. While the data provides an overarching view of key strategic focuses, I wanted to hear directly from Chief Marketing Officers on how they approach setting goals and overcoming obstacles within their unique business contexts.
In this article, I share key findings from Modern's report as well as insightful thoughts from my one-on-one discussions to uncover how today's top marketers are positioning their teams for success in 2024.
The Top Priorities
1. Commercial Growth
According to Modern's report, driving revenue and short term growth is at the top of the priority list for CMOs in 2024. Nearly 75% of surveyed CMOs cited short-term company commercial growth as their most pressing priority for the next 12-18 months, above longer-term goals.
This focus on immediate commercial impact indicates CMOs feel increased pressure from CEOs and boards to demonstrate ROI through metrics like monthly recurring revenue and quarterly sales results. And after some recent industry conversations like the Solo Stove situation of 2023 (and how the CEO was fired when sales didn’t meet expectations) this is understandable.
To achieve ambitious revenue goals, CMOs are focused on executing highly targeted, data-driven marketing campaigns powered by their technology stacks, which can also be seen as a separate priority for the year.
Some of these commercial growth strategies in 2024 will include:
- Personalizing messaging and offers using AI-enabled customer segmentation
- Optimizing websites for lead capture
- Automating processes to move prospects through the funnel
Emerging technologies like predictive analytics and account-based marketing powered by quality first-party data will be key investments for boosting pipeline and conversion rates in 2024. However, CMOs must balance these short-term lead generation wins with longer-horizon priorities like brand awareness and customer loyalty.
2. Customer Experience
Closely linked with commercial success is the priority of customer experience, as better experiences are going to be key to delivering commercial growth. In fact, 21% of CMOs said better customer experience is at the top of their priority list, compared to last year when only 5% of CMOs cited this.
This mega increase puts a spotlight on the need for brands to be more customer-centric: always thinking about how to meet evolving customer needs and expectations.
The rising consumer demand for personalized, seamless interactions across all touchpoints has prompted CMOs to invest significantly in enhancing customer service. Strategies for 2024 will include:
- Consolidating marketing tech stacks to break down data silos
- Implementing new tools like customer data platforms (CDPs) to create unified profiles
- Optimizing journeys through predictive analytics and AI-driven testing
Customers engage with brands through so many fragmented channels today, thus implementing seamless experiences will be what sets you apart.
However, CMOs face major hurdles in executing bold customer service visions. For example, legacy systems often hinder integration of new tech. Change management and proper training on how to action data-driven insights also remain challenging to implement at many organizations. As a result, many CMOs will push for technology investments and organizational transformation.
3. Revising the Tech Stack
With the marketing technology landscape expanding, revising and optimizing MarTech stacks stands out as another top priority for CMOs in 2024. According to Modern’s report, 37% of CMOs are looking to increase the role of MarTech by expanding stacks, improving capabilities, and closing the skills gap.
The aim for most CMOs is not just to continue expanding their stacks by adding more solutions. The focus is on consolidating platforms, breaking down silos, and improving integration between these tools to overall boost ROI and team adoption. CMOs will be prioritizing what they already have to work even better, before acquiring new technology and marketing software.
While nearly half of surveyed CMOs acknowledged the need to refine and develop their marketing technology (MarTech) strategies, it's safe to say that technology's role in marketing will only grow in importance. Make sure you know which MarTech jobs to hire in 2024 to use this tech to its potential.
The Top Challenges
1. Inept Use of Customer-Centric Platforms
While customer-centric technologies like marketing CRM software and marketing automation platforms are essential for delivering personalized experiences, many CMOs are struggling to implement these tools effectively. Many CMOs have taken notice that these platforms have been underused within their organizations but realize how necessary it is for delivering enhanced customer experiences.
CMOs often invest heavily in these customer-centric tools but fail to realize the full benefits due to poor change management and lack of proper training. Activating platforms to augment customer experiences requires an organizational commitment beyond just purchasing the technology.
2. Skills Gap with Marketing Automation
While marketing automation platforms are indispensable for delivering better customer experiences, many CMOs are struggling to build proficiency within their teams to fully leverage these tools. In fact, 22% of CMOs cited a lack of knowledge and resistance to change from marketing teams as key factors inhibiting the full utilization of MarTech stacks.
For CMOs planning to invest in marketing automation this year, recognizing the value of these platforms will require overcoming internal expertise gaps.
Upskilling team capabilities will be critical through increased training and education on automation tools. However, MarTech vendors also have a role to play by providing more hands-on guidance and best practice resources, as CMOs will rely on their support with training and expertise.
With the right internal focus and external support from tech partners, CMOs can work to close the marketing automation skill gaps.
The CMO Balancing Act
Today's CMOs face a balancing act of driving commercial growth, elevating customer experiences, and keeping pace with emerging marketing technologies. While priorities like revenue generation, customer service improvements, and optimizing MarTech stacks top the CMO agenda, turning these goals into realities will require overcoming several challenges.
An essential first step is aligning your team around strategic priorities for the year ahead. A clear roadmap focused on revenue, customer engagement, and MarTech adoption will provide direction amidst digital transformation. With the right priorities, plans, and people, CMOs have potential to accelerate growth.
The landscape for CMOs in 2024 will undoubtedly continue to evolve. Be sure to subscribe to The CMO newsletter to get all the latest insights to your inbox.