CMOs Confident in Their Strategic Thinking, Need Most Help With Digital Marketing

May 19, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Business of Marketing | Internal Collaboration | Marketing Budgets | Staffing

SpencerStuart-Marketing-Leaders-Greatest-StrengthsDigital marketing – including social media – is the skill that the greatest share of CMOs believe is most important to their marketing team’s success today, per results from a recent Spencer Stuart survey of 150 marketing leaders. Data analytics and insights, along with strategic thinking, round out the top-3 most important skills. Trouble is, they’re also the three skills most difficult to find when building a team.

Indeed, data analytics and insights skills are among the most challenging to secure when building a team, per 57% of CMO respondents. Not far behind, 51% rate strategic thinking as being among the most difficult to find.


There’s a gulf, though, that seems to exist between strategic thinking and those two other skills – digital marketing and data analytics. Whereas 71% of CMOs think that strategic thinking is among their greatest strengths as a leader (the top strength identified), just 17% feel the same way about digital marketing, and even fewer (14%) share that confidence with regards to data analytics and insights.

As such, when it comes to the areas where they feel they need the most development as a leader, digital marketing (42%) and data analytics (40%) are the most commonly cited, with strategic thinking (4%) last on the list.

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Of course, CMOs believe that a strategic mindset will be the most important future skill expected of them, according to prior research from Spencer Stuart. Even so, an analytical orientation appears to be growing as a future requirement, per the same study.

More recent data – released last year by Spencer Stuart – found that data and analysis-driven decision-making was a quality that a majority of CMOs would like to see more of in their team’s culture.

This most recent study indicates that the top barrier to building a strong marketing team is budget constraints (33%), though a shortage of talent (29%) is close behind. The largest talent gap, according to previous research? Analytics!

Meanwhile, in other highlights from the Spencer Stuart survey:

  • By far the most common way by which CMOs develop their marketing team is through performance reviews (73%), with cross-functional assignments (49%) and internal training (46%) trailing;
  • Almost 6 in 10 marketing leaders don’t think their teams have the skills needed to manage the increasing demands placed on the marketing function today; and
  • More than 7 in 10 plan to shift from marketing into a broader General Manager role as part of their long-term career goals.

That last point makes sense given the strategic mindset that CMOs are most confident about. Recent survey results from the ANA, McKinsey and GfK indicate that client-side marketers are taking a bigger role in shaping business strategy and influencing product innovation and new business models at their organizations. An earlier study from the EIU and Marketo found that in the next few years, marketing is more likely to be shaping company strategy.

About the Data: The Spencer Stuart data is based on a survey of more than 150 marketing leaders across industries.

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