1. Customers prioritize trusted relationships
Customers’ focus on trusting relationships has increased by 47% since this question was first asked in 2009. The challenge for marketers is to exercise this trust opportunity to create brand attachment that delivers purchases for the company into the future. The strength of a trusting relationship may lie, in part, in the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and 79.1% of marketers believe that customers are monitoring their social activism, outreach and investments during the pandemic.
2. Online and digital bets pay off
Online sales have grown to the highest level in The CMO Survey history. They now constitute 19.3% of sales—a 43% increase over just three months ago. Small companies (those with fewer than 500 employees) are taking advantage of selling online, with ecommerce accounting for 26.1% of sales. Importantly, marketers expect this increased focus on digital to be a permanent shift from pre-pandemic days. Investment in Online and Digital is seen as an investment is future equity.
3. Take advantage of increased activity on Social Media
Social media has been an important tool for marketers to stay engaged with consumers: Some 84.2% of marketers say they have used social media for brand building and 54.3% say they have used it for customer retention during the pandemic. Given this focus, marketers have increased their investment in social media budgets by 74% since February—increasing as a percent of marketing budgets from 13.3% to 23.2%.
For the first time in CMO Survey history, the rated contributions of social media to company performance rose—up 24% since February. This is an important finding because social media contributions have previously remained flat and at average levels since 2016, despite rising investments.
The challenge for marketers is to maintain and expand these successful social habits and migrate them across to mobile even as customers increase their movements due to relaxed state and local mandates.
4. Marketers need to do more with fewer people
Some 62.3% of marketers report that marketing has become more important during COVID-19, reflecting the focus on using digital tools and interfaces to connect with customers. However, 9% of marketing jobs have been lost, leaving marketing departments to do more with fewer people.
This is expected to continue into the next year, with planned marketing hiring dropping to the lowest point in CMO Survey history and going negative for the first time ever (-3.5%). These leaner marketing organizations have shifted their focus during the pandemic to important strategic activities.
The challenge for marketers is to maintain their momentum as they continue to stretch their resources.
5. Marketers learn pivot lessons
When asked, “To what degree was marketing prepared to face the pandemic and its economic impact?” (on a scale of one meaning there was no plan and seven meaning there was a strong plan in place), marketing leaders admit that preparation was not a strength. Scores average 3.8 with 43% rating their preparedness between one and three.
This need has not been easily forgotten as marketers rate the ability to pivot as new priorities emerge as the highest-ranked skill that they will look for in future talent hires, followed by creativity and innovation skills and navigating ambiguity.
The challenge for marketers will be to maintain this pivot-ready mindset among their teams once things calm down.
Tech may be a good sector to study, as this industry improvised more than most. Several distinctive strategies stand out: Tech companies conducted rapid research with customers (82%) and performed website analytics (71%)—higher than any other sector. Tech companies also turned to employees to generate new product and service ideas at high rates (62%—only the education sector was higher).
To see the original AMA article, click here.