The Gist

  • Embracing constraints. CMOs focus on creativity, digital technologies and new markets amidst economic uncertainty.
  • Tech stack consolidation. Marketers seek efficiency by integrating applications, databases and vendors.
  • Data prioritization. AI-driven personalization and data platforms emerge as top marketing investments.

Even as the US economy teeters on the edge of recession and endures sudden shocks like the recent demise of the Silicon Valley Bank and the implosion of Bitcoin, most marketing departments indicate they will not be cutting their budgets.

“There is a mindset shift in how CMOs think about economic uncertainty,” said Scott Mager, CMO of Deloitte Consulting, “and that is how constraints or challenging environments can inspire creativity. In our Global Marketing Trends report, we highlight three areas that CMOs are focused on: new digital technologies and platforms, expanding into new markets, and enhancements to personalization.”

Related Article: Silicon Valley Bank Collapse: Unraveling the Impact on CX and Startup Ecosystem

Martech Budgets on the Rise

Over 63% of CMOs responding to a November 2022 survey survey by the martech certification and events company LXA, said they anticipated that their marketing technology budgets would be increasing over the next 12 months. This was up 2% from 2021.

There are a lot of reasons why cutting budgets during uncertain times is a bad idea, said Forrester Principal Analyst Joe Stanhope. For one it’s very hard to restart marketing programs once they have been dismantled. Also, when times are tough, brands need to keep communicating with customers in order to maintain trust.

Most of Stanhope’s clients (63%) tell him that budget increases will be in the single-digit range for the 2023/2024 budget cycle.

Where Marketing Dollars Are Going

Even though most (91%) US CMOs polled by MarketingCharts said their current tech stacks are more than adequate to meet their goals, many will be looking to increase efficiency by consolidating their mix of best-of-breed applications, siloed databases and multiple vendors into a more integrated whole, said Stanhope.

A February International Data Corporation (IDC) survey of 105 companies with over 1,000 employees found that more than half will be increasing their marketing spending in 2023 with the largest portion going toward marketing administration and management solutions.

“The marketing technology stack has become extremely complicated, difficult to use, and not very agile,” said Stanhope. “Now companies are thinking about, ‘How do I get the most of my current investments? What gaps do we absolutely have to fill in and prioritize? How is this going to make our processes and workflows better and … really making the tools work together?’”

Related Article: Economic Downturn Ahead: 4 Ways to Trim Your Martech Stack

Learning Opportunities

Data, Personalization and AI Take Center Stage

Another area of focus in 2023 will be on data and how to use it to enhance personalization. So much data is coming in so fast and is spread out across the organization that consolidating it around a single view of the customer is becoming increasingly important in a world where customers are interacting with brands across multiple touchpoints (even during a single interaction or transaction) at any time of day or night.

“Our Global Marketing Trends report highlights that CMOs are focused on new digital technologies and platforms and creating greater personalization,” said Mager. “With AI at the forefront, the ability to improve personalization at scale becomes monumentally better ... as our survey shows that almost 40% [of respondents] were looking to deploy those capabilities this year and generative AI probably increases that percentage.”

To help alleviate the burden of so much data and make it more accessible for decision making, CMOs are becoming increasingly interested in data platforms from the likes of Salesforce and Adobe, said Stanhope. 

According to the LXA study, 67% of respondents said they were planning to invest in digital commerce platforms; 59% said they will be investing in digital experience platforms; 54% said marketing and analytics were on their radar; 49% indicated that they would be investing in customer data platforms; and 46% said they would be spending money on content management systems.

Where Are Marketing Leaders With Generative AI?

And, finally, there is ChatGPT and generative AI. While not quite ready for prime time, these technologies are high on every CMO’s list of new tech to watch. Announcements of how this technology will be integrated into the products and services that CMOs rely on for customer engagement and content creation are occurring almost daily. This constant drum beat of new capabilities will almost certainly increase now that OpenAI has released ChatGPT 4, which is considered to be much more capable than its predecessor, ChatGPT 3.5.

“The impact of generative AI in marketing is going to be very significant, very shortly,” said Mager. “People I speak with compare generative AI's disruption as on par with the launch of the commercial internet altogether. That said, CMOs need to think about how generative AI can advance specific business objectives or support specific marketing needs. The spend on generative AI will most likely rise rapidly as CMOs understand how generative AI can be applied and address those business goals.”