Gartner Predicts 2013: Digital Marketing Pushes Marketing Executives to
a More Strategic Role
Three key predictions for 2013 and beyond from technology research and advisory firm
1. Starting in 2013, digital marketing will be one of the top three imperatives
on 100% of CEO agendas.
Analysis by: Jennifer Beck
Each decade, a new concern hits the CEO radar. In the 1980s, it was
globalization. In the 1990s, it was attracting and keeping the right talent. For the
past decade, operational agility and integration has dominated. Circa 2010, CEOs
started losing sleep over the impact of consumer technology and its ramifications
on IT and all enterprises' many constituents.
Gartner's 2012 CEO survey added some new topics of discussion: disruptive
innovation, the continued consumerization of technology, the always popular tug-
of- war between investments in revenue building, and the persistent need for cost
The strategic priority that trumps them all is the acceleration of enterprise
growth, which has kicked off initiatives for market penetration, market expansion
and opportunities to diversify. Right behind are concerns about time to market,
permission to play, brand impact, and the ability to market more effectively
through the integration of paid, owned and earned media channels.
As CEOs pursue various growth initiatives, they are paying particular attention to
how industry rivals are "dropping the cost floor" and challenging industry rules of
competition. As are their peers, they are lured by the low cost of entry associated
with digital marketing channels and techniques. So, the opportunity is there for
the taking as CMOs carve out the award-winning acts they'll perform while
they've got the spotlight.
Gartner analyst, Steve Prentice, interprets this year's CEO survey findings by
suggesting CMOs proactively explore emerging markets and other sources of
growth, even if those markets are unfamiliar, or even seem radical. He says that
strong brand values, an open mind, and local knowledge can minimize
marketing's steep challenges.
As CEOs pursue innovation through digital, they will soon discover gaps in their
organization's digital business strategy. Leading marketing executives will step up
to fill that gap, using this opportunity to carve out budget for pilots and
experiments — to build an innovation pipeline of ideas and initiatives. Call it
marketing R&D, or the marketing think tank. Strategic marketing executives will
not be afraid to act on ideas and tactics that are so new and different that they
can't yet be supported by data.
Run on the assumption that an educated executive audience works to your
advantage. There are plenty of self-appointed critics today, with just enough
information, armed with the latest news article, to be really dangerous when it
comes to decisions on digital marketing strategies. Clue them in to the facts, the
options, and the course of action that links back to their strategic business goals.
Don't get caught up in rapid deployments that aren't market-ready, with
premature calculations about potential outcomes and making promises you can't
keep. Sell them on experiments, pilots and bounded risk projects. You can learn
quickly with digital marketing techniques at a lower entry cost than many
Got data? Big, bad, yours or theirs — the availability of free information from the
social Web will put new pressure on your IT organization to deliver better insight,
with formats other than spreadsheets and at frequencies that accommodate the
time value of that insight. Put your data requirements at the top of the CEO
agenda and presell those demands with your CIO over lunch. Assume your CIO is
not ready to accommodate your new curiosities when you reveal that you are less
interested in what has happened than in what will happen.
2. By 2016, marketing organizations will source 80% of their technology needs
externally, disintermediating internal IT.
Analysis by: Yvonne Genovese
Most information marketing needs to make strategic decisions originate outside
the organization, from agencies, social and mobile platform providers, marketing
business process outsourcers, data brokers, and email marketing houses. Internal
IT is ill-equipped to help marketing capture, process, manage and interpret the
data coming from social and mobile experiences.
Most marketing executives have their own capital and expense budget for
procuring technology and technology-enabled services. Many are exercising it
aggressively. Two-thirds of companies have the equivalent of a chief marketing
technologist reporting to the CMO. As marketing budgets continue to grow as a
percentage of revenue, the portion representing acquisition of marketing-related
technology and services will expand to challenge that of internal IT.
As digital marketing and digital commerce take a strategic role in enabling
growth, more advertising and search campaigns, brand measurement, analytics,
social and mobile projects (and of course, websites) will be sourced externally.
CMOs are comfortable using external sources — everything from crowdsourcing
to digital agencies. CEOs will also continue to use federated networks of freelance
experts (many come from the firm's investors, for example a venture capital firm
will often provide a short-term marketing executive to get marketing off the
ground while the CEO conducts a search for someone full time).
Three Gartner primary research surveys conducted within the past year affirm
marketing's role as a major buyer of technology and technology-related services.
But, marketing can't afford to travel at "IT speed." Nor can it afford the burden of
outdated systems when better alternatives from marketing services providers
exist. The internal IT function is playing catch-up — torn between a traditional
governance and operations mentality and the desire to participate in revenue
For the next three years, marketing will purchase technology and services
independently of internal IT — coupled with decisions to recruit a chief marketing
technologist (or add such duties to a marketing operations manager, or the digital
The debate over internal IT's role in the procurement of strategic marketing
technology will continue to play out. Many will divide responsibilities (for
example, customer databases or ERP-linked systems will go to IT, while
customer-facing applications will go to marketing's strategic providers). It may
well take some combination of the CMO, CIO or CEO being replaced to bring
marketing and internal IT into agreement on how front- and back-office systems
Assess your sourcing organization's capability to solicit and procure products and
services from the type of providers you'll need to fulfill your strategic marketing
goals. Grow them if you need to. Understand your pricing options, and be
prepared to ask marketing service providers for innovative billing structures that
base compensation on such things as performance or revenue recognition.
Identify common ground with your peers, especially the CIO and the heads of
sales, product development, and line-of-business P&L executives. Prepare your
business justification and lead with revenue growth, increased profitability, new
customer acquisition, customer retention, and other CEO and Board of Directors'
priorities. Don't compromise your pursuit of fulfilling the CEO's business
objectives for the sake of harmony.
Start migrating to a more data-driven, decision-making environment. Review
your portfolio of strategic marketing activities and identify where and how
insightful data is generated in the pre- and post-sales phases of your customers'
buying cycles. Think ahead to where new sources of digital data will come from —
and how you will use new insight to advance true business advantage (not just
3: By 2015, one-third of B2B CMOs will be accountable for a P&L.
Analysis by: Laura McLellan
Many digital marketing and sales channels are merging, as B2B marketers take
responsibility to find and close prospects online through well-executed digital
campaigns. Marketing is then recognizing the revenue and selling expense, which
inevitably has a better P&L than when sales is involved. Marketers are also
closing significant post-sale deals (upsell opportunities, for example) without the
involvement of a traditional sales channel.
Improved and expanded use of owned, purchased and derived marketing
analytics is helping digital marketers target prospects who are willing to purchase
via digital commerce. Marketing is increasing its use of badged and externally
sourced chat and phone-based labor to develop and close business, as well as
refining its abilities to continue social marketing-driven post-sales customer
engagement, independent of sales.
2013 marketing budgets show an increase in spending on product development,
as marketers take responsibility for developing full life cycle offerings that can be
marketed and sold online. Many CMOs tell us they won't take the top marketing
role unless they are responsible for, or heavily influence, the product
Many sales budgets may be reduced as B2B marketers become skilled at
converting prospects to customers (without involving a traditional sales channel).
The resultant savings may be divided among marketing, product development
and internal IT, with some portion falling directly to the bottom line. Marketing's
ability to obviate sales is creating consternation with the direct sales force and
indirect sales channel partners, but marketing-driven revenue will only continue.
Many marketing organizations are the de facto digital experts given their
aggressive ramp-up of technical hires. But marketing will always be a mix of art,
science and innovation. Those that move the majority of their resources into
data-driven marketing may regret it later if they eliminate too much of their
Enlightened marketing executives are assuming a stronger role in product
development as they tire of "throw it over the wall" scenarios that relegate them
to glorified marketing communications managers. As CMOs demonstrate
knowledge of markets, customers, and competitors better than anyone in the
company, they also are being invited to play a key role in defining new offerings,
packaging, pricing, and rethinking old sales strategies. For example, marketing is
moving toward four strategic metrics: profitability, revenue, market share, and
Articulate a clear vision for how your marketing function is making strategic
contributions to drive growth. Study the best practices, processes and
organizational models of CMOs who have a P&L now in your own vertical industry,
and those that are adjacent. Don't overengineer — find something that works well
enough and make it better later.
Put data requirements at the top of your list; if you can't drive all marketing or
customer analytics, at least be a thought leader and active participant with other
groups involved. Remember, much of the data will come from marketing efforts
you execute or fund. Investigate external marketing service providers that can
support your efforts in this regard. Hire a small cadre of data analysts to lead the
way who are capable of interpreting the results and making strong
recommendations for change.
Don't fall into the chief revenue officer (CRO) trap. The last thing a good CMO
needs is a diversion into fixing what many feel is the organization's most
inefficient function —namely sales. Neither do you want marketing reporting to a
CRO who comes from sales — unless you work in a company that views
marketing as a tactical function. Build a supportive working relationship with the
head of sales as you do with every member of the executive team.