Digital marketing’s contribution to company performance rated as down significantly

Digital marketing’s contribution to company performance dropped significantly last year, according to leading marketers surveyed in a new report. 

Deloitte’s CMO Survey found only 21% of respondents strongly agreed that digital contributed significantly to performance, down from 32.5% the previous year. The report cited higher expectations and more advanced attribution analyses as the primary culprits. This can be seen as good news because it means organizations have a better sense of what digital marketing is capable of.

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What we’re doing well. On the clearly good news front, a majority of respondents said they were doing well at:

  • Testing & Iteration: 67.2%
  • Understanding the tech roadmap:  64.8%
  • Including cross functional info:  62.1%
  • Integrating digital data: 59.0%
  • Linking digital to outcomes: 58.7% 
  • Training in martech: 54.1%

CTO issues. While 56.6% marketers reported doing well in collaborating with the CTO/CIO, only 43.4% said those executives were fully up to speed on the objectives and path to activate KPIs. 

Where we’re struggling. Other areas where marketers say they need to improve:

  • Optimizing and connecting digital marketing performance and budgets across short-, mid-, and long-term objectives: 42.1%
  • Making the CFO aware of digital KPIs: 40.0%
  • Having the the right systems in place to track customer engagement in a way that informs its marketing roadmap:  39.8%
  • Having customer information from sales, marketing, customer service and product teams integrated effectively to improve usage: 39.1%
  • Combining digital and offline data to create a unified data foundation for measuring the impact of digital marketing investments: 32.3%
  • Having advanced measurement techniques and analytics to bring more rigor:  28.5%
  • Consolidating customer intelligence to integrate customer data across all touchpoints: 27.9%

The report surveyed 320 marketers at U.S. for-profit companies, nearly all of whom were at least at the vice president level.

Why we care. It’s striking to think that, the better marketing organizations can test, iterate and link digital investments to business outcomes, the less digital seems to perform well —  for this sample at least. As the report acknowledges, the evaluation of digital performance might reflect grossly inflated expectations.

For the last two years, all the talk has been about the dizzying acceleration in digital transformation and the benefits of multi-channel digital marketing. And for good reason. But let’s also acknowledge that digital transformation is a journey and many brands are still in the early stages.

Read next: Only 11% of CMOs say they have achieved digital transformation goals

About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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