Why CMOs should enable real-time
marketing to drive sustained growth
2 A New Playbook for Chief Marketing Ocers
Data has never been more important to marketing than it is
today. Customer-data volumes are growing as digitization and
online sales accelerate. With a surge in ecommerce growth
in the past decade, ensuring a single view of the customer
has become critical to customer journeys, and the drive to
get this in place has only accelerated with the COVID-19
pandemic. In 2019, retail ecommerce sales reached $3.35
trillion, representing 20.2% growth from 2018. In 2020, it
grew 27.6%, reaching $4.28 trillion.
The rapid growth in
ecommerce has heightened the need for real-time insights
to accommodate how quickly customer behaviors change,
especially under the radically dierent social conditions
we have experienced in the past 12 months. In a time of
crisis, it is particularly important for marketers to provide
customers with personalized, relevant communications that
simultaneously consider the broader context. Increasingly,
consumers also expect instant responses from the brands
and companies with which they interact, which demands
data-driven intelligence and agility. Data-driven marketing
also provides the foundation for enhancing customer
experience and loyalty.
But are chief marketing ocers (CMOs) and their marketing
teams realizing the full potential of data-driven marketing?
Is the marketing function suciently data-driven to be able
to conduct real-time marketing? How mature are in-house
marketers in using data and technology to enable a better
understanding of new consumer behaviors and insights, and
can they respond appropriately and quickly enough?
To answer these questions, we surveyed 1,600 marketing
executives from around the world with a business-to-
consumer (B2C) focus and representing a range of industries,
including automotive, banking, consumer goods, insurance,
retail, telecom, and utilities. We also conducted in-depth
interviews with 25 CMOs and other marketing executives.
As we detail in this report, we found that CMOs understand
the imperative to become more data- and real-time-driven,
but most marketing functions do not have the capacity to
deliver results in a short time frame.
In this report, we focus on four key areas:
1. How data and technology enable marketing to achieve
its potential as a growth driver and fulll a broader, more
holistic role in a digitally disrupted environment
2. The obstacles that stand in the way of data-driven
3. What distinguishes data-driven marketers and the
benet case for being data-driven
4. Key recommendations for how CMOs can take full
advantage of data and insights
Data enables marketing to achieve its
potential as a growth driver
Over time, the role of the CMO has evolved beyond the
traditional remit of brand-building to become more holistic.
CMOs are now responsible for a wide range of activities,
including data and technology, business strategy, business
growth, and customer experience. Marketing has never been
more integral to the business. Over half (57%) of marketers
agree that their C-suite executives now see marketing not
as a cost center but as a strategic partner in driving business
growth. Given the growing importance of ecommerce
and the need for marketers to understand how customers
interact with brands and companies (and to know when
and where to engage with them), real-time marketing can
be a key enabler for CMOs to deliver on this broadened
mandate. Real-time marketing allows marketers to collect
relevant customer data, make quick decisions along the
customer journey, be more proactive in engaging customers,
support customized content, and enhance the ecommerce
The marketing function falls short of being
Challenges in capabilities, access, and talent are hindering
marketers from using data to drive business decisions and
strategy. For example, only 43% of marketers say their teams
use data to decide on a go-to-market strategy for a new
product or service and just 45% say they have a customer-
data platform that provides a unied single view of the
customer. Availability of and access to data is also a problem
for marketing teams. Forty-nine percent of marketers say
they use technology such as articial intelligence (AI) to
automate customer segmentation and grouping; however,
only 38% say that customer segment and persona data is
available to them. In addition, only 44% say they have an
adequate supply of skills in areas such as AI and machine
learning, or data analytics and data science. And less than half
(45%) say they have social digital-marketing skills.
What data-driven marketers do dierently and
the benets of a data-rich approach
From our research, we identied a cohort of “data-driven
marketers” by assessing all respondents against two broad
dimensions: data-related factors and technology-related
factors. We found that only 11% qualify as data-driven
marketers and they outperform the rest of the organizations
in four key areas:
They can drive eective real-time marketing initiatives and
extract high value from their use
They realize better business outcomes from real-time
They have well-rounded skills and expertise, including
better category and customer understanding, data-
driven skills, and soft skills such as agility and emotional
They foster creativity more eectively across a broad
range of areas, including customer engagement,
personalization, and content.
How can CMOs take full advantage of data and
Drawing on our research and experience, we believe six focus
areas are critical to ensuring CMOs are prepared for the
future in a data-driven marketing environment:
Create a clear vision for the marketing strategy
Implement a framework-driven data-collection process
Ensure talent is equipped with a baseline of data and
creative skills while allowing for specialists
Accelerate collaboration across the marketing ecosystem
Reimagine the customer journey with real-time
Integrate long-term brand building and short-term
marketing engagements.
What is data-driven marketing and real-time marketing?
For the purposes of this research, we dene data-driven and
real-time marketing as follows.
Data-driven marketing is the approach of driving marketing
strategies, campaign initiatives, and content based upon
analysis and insights derived from customer data, including
customer interactions and engagements. Data-driven
marketers process, analyze, and leverage data to ne tune
campaigns and content and marketing outputs. By taking a
data-driven approach, they also gain deeper understanding
of consumers and trends and target consumers with
personalized and relevant oers and services
Real-time marketing is marketing performed at the
moment, with an appropriate approach as suited to the
customer, and relevant to the time and place while still
driving the brand value proposition. Data-driven marketers
lead in real-time marketing with their data-driven capabilities
and ability to respond quickly thereby driving real-time
customer experience as suited to each customer’s needs,
wants, and behavior.
4 A New Playbook for Chief Marketing Ocers
The role of the CMO has evolved in new directions and
become more holistic. The traditional marketing mandate
is seen as brand-building, from brand-marketing strategy
to budgeting and ROI, but today’s marketing leaders have
additional strategic responsibilities:
90% of CMOs currently say they are responsible (either
directly or shared) for business strategy, such as dening
and launching new products and services.
Close to three-quarters (74%) have a responsibility for data
and technology, business growth (i.e., revenue and prot
contribution), and customer experience (see Figure 1).
Source: Capgemini Research Institute, CMO survey, MarchApril 2021, N=224 chief marketing ocers.
The CMO mandate has expanded
beyond traditional brand-building
Percentage of CMOs who say they are currently responsible for the following functions/competencies
Customer experience
Data and technology
Business growth
Business strategy
Direct responsibility and accountability (i.e., decision-making power, budgetary control)
Shared responsibility and accountability with another business unit/department
Figure 1. The CMO remit has broadened to become more holistic
The CMO is involved in business strategy and business-
model innovation: The vast majority (90%) of CMOs now
have some level of responsibility for business strategy and its
tactical execution:
63% of CMOs are directly responsible for dening and
conceptualizing new products and services, with another
29% sharing responsibilities.
59% say they are responsible for building/launching
new products and services and 31% say they share
43% have pricing new products and services within their
mandate and 44% share responsibilities.
Data and technology responsibilities are widespread:
Nearly three-quarters of CMOs say they have some level of
responsibility for data and technology:
36% of CMOs say they are directly responsible for
overseeing marketing technologies such as customer
relationship management (CRM) tools or marketing-
automation platforms and 45% share responsibilities.
33% say they manage customer data, with another 40%
sharing responsibility.
29% manage marketing analytics used for identifying
patterns or tracking performance within their mandates
and 38% share responsibilities.
Sharon Driscoll, CMO for global markets at IBM, elaborates on
how data has transformed her responsibilities:
Signifcant’ would describe how my responsibilities as CMO have
evolved over the past few years. The use of data has enabled
us to become real-time stewards and activators of our brand,
as opposed to being passive observers of our brand. The ability
to come to the table with knowledge that our developers and
R&D teams, for example, didn’t have, is a game-changer for us.
Marketing comes with expertise and a market dimension no-one
else has – real-time behavioral monitoring – and our value to the
organization has greatly increased.
CMOs have accountability for customer experience: Sixty-
nine percent of CMOs are responsible for certain elements
of customer experience: 28% are directly responsible and
41% hold shared responsibilities. And, 58% of them agreed
that they have increasing accountability to own the customer
experience at their organizations.
33% of CMOs say they are directly responsible for gathering
and understanding consumer and market intelligence,
trends, and insights, and 47% share responsibility.
32% say they manage loyalty programs, with another third
sharing responsibility.
20% say they are directly responsible for managing end-to-
end customer experience across touchpoints (e.g., stores/
dealers, social media, web/apps) and another 53% share
A quarter of CMOs are directly responsible for managing
customer feedback (e.g., customer service, social listening)
and another third share responsibility.
CMOs are also seen as business-growth drivers: Over three-
quarters (76%) of CMOs are responsible for business growth
(i.e., contributing to revenue or prot) – either directly or as a
shared responsibility.
Our research also shows that nearly 60% say they are
involved in critical decisions related to growth and long-
term value, such as growth strategy and new product
development. Janneke Tranas Marino, senior vice president,
private market and customer experience at Gjensidige,
a Norway-based insurance rm, says: The CMO has
transitioned from leading static campaigns to now creating
moments of trust in the customer journey. Marketing sits closer
to the business processes and has a stricter focus on business
strategy, opportunities, and challenges.
Over half (57%) of marketers also say their C-suite
executives see marketing as a strategic partner in driving
business growth, and not solely as a cost center. Karolina
Henriksen, executive vice president of red meat at Nortura,
a food manufacturer and meat and egg supplier in Norway,
has full prot and loss (P&L) responsibility for sales and
marketing. She says: My top priority is driving sustainable
growth and protability, since we are in a pretty mature
market with external forces at play, such as reduced red-meat
Signicant’ would describe how my
responsibilities as CMO have evolved over
the past few years.
Sharon Driscoll
Chief marketing ocer for global markets
at IBM