Based on insights from 2014, it looks like 2015 will be a breakthrough year for marketers, with marketing data taking center stage. That should make marketing analytics a source of incredible opportunity—but also a real source of pressure.

The opportunity: data gives marketers unprecedented influence

In November, Forrester Research’s Sheryl Pattek and colleagues predicted that the coming year would be an unprecedented one for CMOs, if they know how to take advantage. Pattek summarized her report on her blog:

Bringing their knowledge about customers, markets, and competition to bear, CMOs will champion efforts to build a customer-centric organization culture, uniting all organization functions around a common set of principles and practices that build tighter customer relationships and differentiated experiences.

A similar line of thought emerges from executive recruiting firm Spencer Stuart, which, earlier this year, released an analysis of lengthening CMO tenure. Commenting on the study, which finds that CMO tenure has risen to a high of 45 months, the firm announced that:

The responsibility for driving revenue growth clearly now rests with the CMO and serving as the 'owner of the consumer voice' inside the company is actually a great place from which to lead.

Adding one more voice to the mix, Forrester Chief Research Officer Cliff Condon offers this view of Forrester's "45 sets of 2015 predictions for every role... from customer insights to application development to security and risk":

In my role as Chief Research Officer, one thing is now clear to me: the two roles that matter most for 2015 are the CIO and the CMO -- their relationship and joint strategy to boost the business will determine the future of any corporation.

If you thread the needle here, what emerges is that Marketing's unrivaled insights into how the customer thinks, acts, and buys—powered by technology—will prove incredibly valuable for CMOs and for the businesses they serve. Obviously, analytics is a critical piece of that technology/insights combination.

 

The challenge: data means marketers need to prove themselves 24/7

Of course, as organizations shine a new spotlight on the CMO, the attention can be a double edged sword—and measurement plays a key role here, too. Commenting on the Spencer Stuart study mentioned above, American Express CMO John Hayes told the Wall Street Journal’s Suzanne Vranica that:

Companies now “have different expectations of what marketing can do…There is an expectation that it’s more measureable, more targeted and therefore more effective. This has made everybody’s expectations higher.”

In the same article, MasterCard CMO Raja Rajamannar agrees:

Unless the CMO demonstrates the value that marketing is delivering and clearly shows the return on investment, the business owner, who is under pressure to deliver numbers, will pull funding…The CMO could find himself out of the job.

Hayes’ and Rajamannar’s comments are consistent with the findings of the 2014 CMO Survey from Duke University School of Business and others. According to the survey, 65% of marketers feel “increasing pressure to prove the value of marketing" from senior leadership.

What’s clear is that marketing data will be a critical piece of every leading marketer’s career in 2015—both as a catalyst for new prominence in the organization, and as proof that marketing, in fact, really works.

Whether marketing data is a career advancer—or something quite the opposite—is  up to each marketer and each marketing team. Which means that for many marketers, a lot is riding on good marketing measurement and analytics in 2015.

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