The return on investment will be the main indicator of marketing results. However, half of managers have difficulties in providing data that reflects this return

The majority of the top marketing managers (Chief Marketing Officer in Anglo-Saxon terminology) recognizes that the way in which their companies relate to their clients is undergoing a radical change and questions whether their organizations are prepared to adequately manage this transformation. This conclusion is reflected in the study “From the challenge to success: the transformation of marketing in the digital era”, based on a survey of more than 1,700 marketing directors from 64 countries, the largest survey among executives in this field conducted until now. Of these 1,700 executives, 91.

In addition, the research reveals that the indicators that measure the results of the marketing departments are also changing. Nearly two-thirds of the marketing executives interviewed think that in 2015 the effectiveness of marketing departments will be measured by the return on investment. However, half of the respondents acknowledge that they do not feel sufficiently prepared to provide the numbers that reflect this return.

According to the study, 82% of marketing directors plan to use social networks to a greater extent during the next 3 to 5 years. However, to design marketing strategies, only 26% monitor the content published on blogs, 42% of the opinions of third parties and 48% of the opinions of their consumers.

Approximately, 90% of the data generated in real time are unstructured. Marketing managers who know how to extract the knowledge behind them will be in a better position to increase revenue, reinvent customer relationships and build new brand values, according to the study.

The new digital environment allows anyone to post a video or leave an opinion on the web. This fact supposes a radical change in the role of the consumer, who acquires a more active role and with greater capacity for influence. This transformation has led to a transfer of power over the brand from the company to the consumer and demands that the marketing function be transformed, its professionals acquire new skills and employ new tactics and tools.

However, according to the report, more than 50% of marketing managers think that they are not sufficiently prepared to handle these issues – from the new social media to the greater proactivity of the consumer and influence – and indicate that they will have to make changes. fundamental in their traditional methods of brand and product marketing.

The managers surveyed emphasize that customer relations are their priority and recognize that real-time data are a complementary source to obtain market information. However, 80% of respondents say that they continue to use mainly traditional sources of information, such as market research or comparative studies with competitors (benchmarking). In addition, 68% say that strategic decisions are made focusing mainly on the analysis of sales campaigns.

The study concludes that, just as it happened with the irruption of the Internet in business a decade ago, the progressive adoption of new social media will represent an opportunity to increase revenues, improve brand values ​​and reinvent customer relationships. . Four challenges

According to the report, there is a consensus among the interviewees about the challenges they face:

  • Explosion of data : 90% of the data produced in the world have been generated in the last two years. The managers surveyed place the management of data -from new sources such as social networks and other traditional sources- in their main priority. But the difficulty they face is how to extract valid information from the huge volumes of data and how to use this information effectively to improve their products, services and customer experience.
  • Social platforms : Facebook has 750 million active users, who publish an average of 90 pieces of information per month. Twitter users send 140 million tweets per month and the 490 million YouTube users upload more videos in 60 days than what the three largest television networks have produced in 60 years. 56% of respondents see social media as a fundamental channel of relationship with customers but still have difficulties in extracting the knowledge that is hidden behind the unstructured data that consumers or potential consumers produce.
  • More devices and channels : the number of devices and contact channels with customers (mainly smart phones and tablets) has skyrocketed. This increase is becoming a priority for marketing departments. Mobile commerce will reach, according to estimates, 31,000 million dollars in 2016, which means a growth of 39% from 2011 to 2016. In addition, it is expected that the tablet market will reach about 70 million tablets in everyone at the end of this year and that this figure reaches 294 million in 2015.
  • Geographic changes : emerging markets and younger generations, with different patterns of consumption and access to information, are transforming the market. In India, for example, the middle classes are expected to go from representing 5% of the population to over 40% in the next two decades. Marketing departments should adapt their strategies to these emerging middle classes.

The importance of “ROI”

Nowadays, marketing managers have to cover more areas than ever before. They have to manage more data and, also, from different sources, understand and commit to more informed and more influential clients, adopt and adapt to new and sophisticated technological tools and, in addition, be accountable from the financial point of view to your companies.

In fact, 63% of respondents believe that the return on investment (ROI) will be the main way to measure the results of their departments in 2015. However, only 44% feel fully prepared to provide these dates.

Traditionally, marketing managers have not been asked for specific figures that measure the return on investment. However, given the current economic volatility and pressures to improve profitability, organizations can not afford to give “a blank check” for marketing initiatives. Marketing executives recognize that they need to quantify the value that their shares generate to the business, both from investments in advertising, new technologies or any activity.

The growing importance of ROI also reflects the scrutiny that the organization is doing about marketing departments, which, in turn, is a reflection of the increase in its influence in the company. Marketing managers are undergoing an evolution similar to that of financial managers, who in the last decade have gone from being the “treasurers” of the organization to becoming strategic advisors.

Lack of influence in the 4Ps

Increasing the importance of the ROI of marketing actions will make marketing managers gain influence in the “4Ps”: promotions, products, positioning and prices. The managers surveyed say that they already have a lot of influence in the design of promotional activities, advertising, external communication and initiatives in social networks. However, they reveal that they have a minor role in the rest of the 4Ps. Less than half of respondents influence strategic elements of the pricing process and less than half influence product development or channel selection.

To gain ground in these areas, the top marketing managers should improve their training and skills in the digital, technological and financial field. But it is surprising that, according to the report, some are reluctant about it. When asked what attributes they considered necessary to succeed in their companies over the next five years, only 28% mentioned technology, 25% social media and 16% financial aspects.

About the study

The report “From the challenge to success: the transformation of marketing in the digital age” has been made from a survey of more than 1,700 marketing directors from 64 countries and 19 sectors of activity. This is the largest survey among executives in this field conducted so far. Of these 1,700 executives, 91. The interviews were conducted between February and June 2011 and the responses come from organizations of all sizes. 48 of them are among the 100 most recognized brands according to the Interbrand classification.