Modern Marketing Benchmark Survey: 6 Surprising Findings

Did you go into marketing because you thought it would be creative, but it ended up being all about the data?

Do you ever feel that as a marketer, you’re more valued for your analytical ability and technical chops than your creative skills?

It turns out you’re right—well, half-right.

Yes, marketers are under more pressure than ever to collect vast amounts of data, analyze it efficiently, and share the fruits of this analysis with their peers and superiors.

And yes, technology is playing a greater role than ever in the daily activities of just about every marketing professional.

But no, creativity isn’t taking a back seat. In fact, most marketers are expected to be equally tech-savvy and creative.

That’s one clear finding of the recent Chief Marketer and Oracle Modern Marketing Benchmark Survey. This study analyzed how leading companies and brands are dealing with today’s top marketing issues and opportunities. The survey also helped us get to know what today’s modern marketer is like and how his or her day-to-day landscape is changing.

Here are six of the most surprising insights we gleaned from the survey.

Insight #1: 80% of marketers are using data and analytics to inform their decisions more than they did two years ago.

We were hardly shocked when 87% of respondents said that one of their top marketing goals for the upcoming year is to use data more successfully (participants could choose more than one response). But it’s a welcome surprise to learn that four-fifths of marketers are feeling increasingly comfortable with the data-driven aspects of their job.

So, has creativity taken a back seat to data? Only slightly, if at all.

Insight #2: 85% of marketers say that “creating more innovative marketing campaigns” is one of their top goals.

Some 85% of respondents said that “creating more innovative marketing campaigns” was a top goal for the coming year. At a glance, it would seem that creativity ranks just behind using data more successfully.

But we see that 80% listed “generating new ideas for my brand/products” as a top goal. And in digging a bit deeper, we notice that respondents had the opportunity to rank goals from 5 (highest priority) to 1 (lowest priority). In a first-place tie for highest priority were:

  • Creating more innovative marketing campaigns: 44%
  • Generating new ideas for my brand/products: 44%
  • Generating sales: 44%

In the race to innovate and be data-driven, marketers clearly aren’t losing sight of the need to generate revenue. Just as significantly, we can see that as they juggle the seemingly contradictory priorities of using data and being creative, marketers are still trying to do justice to both.

Insight #3: Marketers feel far greater pressure to drive sales than to generate leads.

The traditional role of marketing is to generate high-quality leads and pass them on to Sales, right?

This may still hold true—but according to our survey, more and more marketers are being held accountable for sales generation, not just lead generation.

Some 72% of survey respondents said that generating sales is one of their highest priorities, whereas just 46% put generating leads near the top of their list.

Break it down further, and you’ll see that as we mentioned above, 44% listed generating sales as their highest priority. Just 23% did likewise for generating leads.

In an interesting side note, only 39% of respondents have a larger marketing team than they did two years ago. An equal number have remained the same, while 22% report a smaller team. Today’s marketers, then, are truly being asked to do more with less.

Insight #4: Only 53% of marketers say their marketing objectives are always related to their company’s business goals.

It’s quite a conundrum: although 80% of marketers are making more data-driven decisions than two years ago, these decisions don’t always appear to be in line with corporate objectives. Just over half of respondents reported consistent alignment between corporate and marketing goals, while 28% said they are “sometimes” in sync and a startling 19% responded “never.”

It could be that the corporate and marketing leadership teams simply speak different languages. But the responses to the next question underscored an even more serious problem.

Insight #5: Only 33% of marketers always pre-determine KPIs before launching a marketing campaign.

We’re not sure if partial credit counts here, but 57% of respondents did say that they “sometimes” determine KPIs before a campaign. Still, these responses would appear to indicate that despite the fact they’re using data to inform more of their decisions, many marketers are still flying blind when it comes to defining the success of campaigns.

Of course, this doesn’t mean marketers aren’t bothering to measure their results.

Insight #6: Marketers are measuring more—and more effectively—than ever.

Our survey revealed that 76% of marketers are measuring the same or more areas of their campaigns compared to two years ago. And 68% of respondents said they’re measuring more effectively now than they were then.

It follows, then, that when asked for the top three areas in which technology is improving marketing, 69% listed data analytics. (The next highest choice was “optimizing content” with a paltry 31%.)

Marketers clearly see the importance of measuring results and believe they have the tools for the job. They report that they’re getting better at analytics—but still fear that they’re out of sync with corporate objectives. Perhaps the next step for many organizations, then, is to have corporate and marketing leadership sit down and agree upon the KPIs and other metrics that really matter—and then make sure these metrics are tracked and reported on consistently within the company’s marketing platform. 

There’s a lot more to learn from the Chief Marketer and Oracle Modern Marketing Benchmark Survey. Why not read it yourself? Download your free copy now.

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