ROI, Innovation, and Security Top CMOs’ Concerns

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Marketing executives and brand managers likely aren’t getting a lot of sleep these days. A number of very pressing technological and process issues, including return on investment (ROI), data security, automation, and artificial intelligence, top the list of challenges that keep them up at night, according to a recent survey from Brand Keys.

The top five challenges were ROI (97 percent); Big Data, big tech, and big security issues (95 percent); establishing consumer trust (95 percent); addressing innovation, AI, technology, and marketing automation (92 percent); and consumer expectations regarding privacy and transparency (90 percent). 

It’s not surprising that marketing executives are so worried about proving ROI, given that most are measuring the wrong things, according to Robert Passikoff, president and founder of Brand Keys. More specifically, he asserts that these leaders are focused too much on social media metrics, such as likes, shares, and retweets, which rarely translate into engagement or revenue. 

“As the landscape has gotten more complex, with more platforms, particularly digital ones, the kinds of things that people have fallen back on are less than accurate when it comes to looking at a real bottom line,” he says. “[These things] may be an interesting measure regarding how entertaining something is, but entertainment is not engagement.”

Passikoff also sees a connection between innovation and ROI, noting that some executives might shy away from bringing on new technology just because it could be difficult to prove the ROI right away. Another big reason for that is that technology today moves so quickly that it can be hard to keep up, let alone prove a bottom-line impact. 

When it comes to security, privacy, and transparency issues, Passikoff says that with more data comes more responsibility. Today, more than ever before, marketers need to be concerned about data protection, which also involves transparency into what they’re planning to do with the data, how it will be used and shared, and where it will be stored, he says. 

Passikoff sees an unbreakable bond between the data issue and the consumer trust issue, saying that the two go hand in hand. “You essentially have to look and see what drives trust in your category and what can you do from either a delivery perspective to engender that trust or from a positioning position to engender that trust,” he says. “There isn’t a single answer; it really does come down to being category- and brand-specific as to what you need to do.”

Outside of the top five, some of the other concerns cited by top marketing executives included creating relevant and engaging advertising content and storytelling (88 percent); developing long-term strategies that align with corporate growth goals (80 percent); and truly engaging with audiences instead of just identifying and finding them (80 percent). 

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