We said last summer marketers are a paranoid bunch. Will I go extinct? Does my work even matter?

We think a lot of that holds true today. 

It's all going to change, though. Marketers in the next three to five years will matter -- even to their organization's bottom line.

In a survey of nearly 500 marketers and CMOs conducted by Economist Intelligence Unit and Marketo, four of five marketers said their companies will classify the marketing function as a revenue driver.

That's a good thing considering right now more than 68 percent of marketers feel that the rest of their company views their department as little more than a cost center.

"We feel the rise of the marketer is echoing our marketing-first world," said Sanjay Dholakia, chief marketing officer for San Mateo, Calif-based Marketo, a marketing automation provider. "And 75 percent of marketers see themselves in the next three to five years as the owner of the customer journey and customer engagement over their lifecycle. That really speaks to notion of transformation in marketing and the rise of the marketer."

Key Findings

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What else the survey find?

  • More than 80 percent of all marketers say that their organizations will need to undergo dramatic changes in order to keep up with increased technical and consumer demands
  • Today, barely half of all marketers use data to gain insights and engage customers; but in three to five years, 81 percent say they will use data to make the connections with customers
  • More than 80 percent of marketers will rely on technology to engage customers in a conversation to build advocacy and trust over the next three to five years
  • 63 percent of marketers say that engagement is manifested in customer renewals, retention and repeat purchases
  • 22 percent view engagement in terms of love for a brand – still important, but part of marketing’s legacy skill set
  • Nearly four out of 10 marketers (39 percent) surveyed believe businesses will require new blood in the areas of digital engagement and marketing operations and technology

"There's that great Spiderman line -- with great power comes great responsibility," Dholakia told CMSWire.

If we're talking in superpower terms, then marketers will need a couple of key weapons going forward -- digital engagement skills and, from a technology standpoint, data analytics.

And this means young marketers must be empowered with technological skills, which is why Marketo partners with Cal-Poly to help the university develop curriculum for prospective marketers.

"We feel like part of our responsibility is to really start driving that message," Dholakia said. "This stuff isn’t being taunt in universities. It's a tragedy of almost Greek proportions."