How global marketers are getting through 2021

by Louise Burgers. Marketing technology is where 70% of global marketers are putting their spend.

by Louise Burgers. Marketing technology is where 70% of global marketers are putting their spend in 2021. The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council surveyed its global marketers to find out what their most important areas of strategic focus are this year, in a report entitled, How to get it done in 2021. In fact, two thirds of marketers actually anticipate growth in spend. The CMO Council has 16,000 members in 10,000 companies worldwide and its members control $1 trillion in marketing spend.

“The most relevant and compelling areas of conversation among our members right now are all about ROI, efficiency and revenue optimisation,” noted Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. “This means being more focused on digital marketing transformation, creating value from customer data, and upgrading customer engagement and experience.” The 70% of marketers who are investing in marketing automation this year, will invest in customer analytics and insights (53%); campaign execution and GTM (37%); and marketing operations and measurement (35%). Retaining talent is also a key focus and only a quarter of marketers surveyed by the CMO will cut staff or restructure.

In fact, their most important areas of strategic focus will be: 50% will focus on the customer journey, acquisition and conversion; 36% are planning around digital growth strategies; 35% on campaign execution and measurement. In terms of improving organisational performance, marketers will prioritise working more efficiently with other teams (49%); lowering the costs of doing business (40%); and better targeting and localising their campaigns (36%). Further key findings from the CMO Council, reveal:

  • A surprising 65% will increase marketing spend in 2021; just 10% will reduce their budgets, while 24% expect no change.
  • A large percentage of marketers (70%) report significant or growing investments in marketing technology in 2021 to improve effectiveness.
  • Most important areas of marketing automation and transformation will be sourcing and using customer data insights, executing campaigns more effectively, as well as improving operations and performance.
  • Just a quarter of marketing leaders say they will downsize or re-structure their marketing organizations in 2021 – in contrast to 64% who will not.
  • Working more effectively with lines of business is the number one priority for marketing leaders, who are also keen to lower cost, increase efficiency and do a better job of both globalising and localising campaigns.
  • Over half of marketers surveyed want to optimise their customer journey; and more than a third want to boost acquisition and conversion rates through better data-driven interaction and digital innovation.
  • Interestingly, across company sizes, regions and industries, priorities remained consistent: marketers are looking to increase spend and automate; likewise, they are looking to save costs through efficiencies rather than through staff cuts.


Louise Burgers is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


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