Mobile and social are not critical to your marketing department's ROI — least according to the marketers participating in a survey just released by the CMO Council. 

Only 5 percent of marketers rated a mobile-first campaign execution to optimize mobile engagement as critical to revenue and profitability. And just 7 percent look at social engagement channels, including click-to-buy and social service plug-ins, as critical to do the same.

Not Important?

Wait a minute. Isn't mobile the next big thing? Internet Retailer reported that in 2015 the final tally on U.S. mobile commerce sales will total $104.05 billion, up 38.7 percent from $75.03 billion in 2014. It's now 30 percent of all U.S. e-commerce sales. And isn't social the perfect way to spread word-of-mouth goodness about your brand?

But these marketers aren't buying it.

"The fact that only 5 percent of marketers felt that mobile was a key area of focus in driving customer profitability is alarming," CMO Council officials wrote in the report, “Predicting Routes to Revenue” (subscription required).

The CMO Council teamed with MarTech provider Pegasystems of Cambridge, Mass. in the survey of 150 marketers across a diverse range of industries during the second half of 2015. Respondents were primarily based in North America and Europe and hail from B2B (60 percent), B2C (13 percent) and hybrid (27 percent) organizations. 

More than half (56 percent) of respondents hold positions of VP or higher within their organizations, and half of their organizations earn $250 million or more in annual revenue.

The finding on social wasn't completely shocking for officials at the CMO Council, a global network based in San Jose, Calif. It includes executives who provide thought leadership from senior corporate marketing leaders. "This is likely reflective," officials said in the report, "of marketing’s tendency to use social as more of a listening tool than an engagement channel."

Some agree social media is none other than a listening tool, while others don't.

More Troubles

There's more doom and gloom from the marketers in this report. Marketers have yet to churn consumer data and analytics into actionable insights that help them anticipate and predict and prepare for what’s ahead. Only 5 percent of marketers say they have mastered the ability to adapt and predict the customer journey and what actions will derive maximum value. 

The numbers also indicate other struggles:

  • 20 percent feel they are only able to predict the next best action and struggle to move beyond that first step
  • 14 percent admit they were completely missing the mark to deliver on brand promises
  • 66 percent said their success in delivering brand promises is hit-or-miss
  • 48 percent indicate that data is collected and analyzed but remains separate and is not well-aligned
  • 3 percent say their current data sources are integrated and totally aligned, delivering a comprehensive 360-degree view of the customer

"I wish I could say that we saw a huge shift that we're getting revenue from every single personal engagement," Liz Miller, senior vice president of marketing for the CMO Council, told CMSWire. "But sadly the reality is that marketers are still struggling to really get the greatest reward for their organizations from every customer engagement."

Why So Low?

liz miller headshot

So whose fault is it? The tech or the marketers? Why aren't these marketers able to use the vast amount of data and drive home personalized experiences that actually translate into profit?

Miller said the tech is smarter. Marketers are smarter. We should be acing this, right?

"The challenge," she said, "is that while our mindsets have changed and our strategies have changed, oftentimes the way in which we go about executing hasn't necessarily made that shift. Far too often we look at our engagement with customers as a series of campaigns that we stitch together and call a customer journey. And that's the mindset that really needs to make a seismic shift in this coming year."

Marketers must look at how lifecycle customers engaging across every touchpoint. They must begin to drive not just a great campaign but better decisions for everyone across organization. Are we empowering the front line with next best experience and content? Are we empowering customers to define their own adventure as they go through their own experience with us?

Jeroen van Rotterdam, chief technology officer and vice president of engineering for EMC’s enterprise content division, said it best last fall at the Hippo.Connect Boston Conference: Who should own the customer experience? Well, the customer. 

"Step away from that campaign brain a bit and look at that lifecycle," Miller said.

Tough Task

Personalization doesn't come easy. And it doesn't always work

Jake DiMare, digital strategist for Boston-based Agency Oasis and a CMSWire Reader Advisory Board Member, told us in December 2014 that the problem with personalization is "getting there as an organization is not only complex, it's a lot of work."

"The biggest hazard," he added, "is failing to understand how much work is going to be involved and believing technology is going to be a magic wand."

Matthew Nolan, director of product marketing for Pegasystems, told CMSWire in an interview this week marketers need analytics and the ability to use predictive models in a timely manner order to achieve personalization.

matthew nolan

And that's just the start.

Where are marketers looking for customer data? In the CMO Council survey, 74 percent of marketers said they look to their website to better understand customers, with sales data and CRM-based customer information coming in at a close second (68 percent). They also use customer satisfaction surveys (57 percent), social media feeds (53 percent) and social media listening (49 percent).

"You have to balance the customer needs with the business needs," Nolan said. 

"One of the really hard parts is data integration, connecting all aspects of the customer profile and identifying them accurately and consistently on each channel they engage with you. A lot of marketers aren't prepared to do this because of the data silos they face. Not all of the data comes with a name, rank and serial number. It's really complicated to piece together all those sources in real time so that you can personalize."

Title image by Jose Felise