CMO Spend Survey Deep Dive: Insights and Analytics as Key Enablers of Marketing Strategy

December 4, 2019
Contributor: Laura Starita

A closer look at the budget for marketing insights and data analytics shows that marketers continue to develop partnerships and in-house skills to enable data-driven decision making.

Marketers continue to view both data-driven competitive insights and marketing analytics as key enablers of the marketing strategy, according to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2019-2020. They’re backing up that view with resources: Research and competitive insights and marketing analytics now absorb more than 13% and 16% respectively of marketing operations budgets. 

Here, we take a closer look at this finding from the CMO Spend Survey to understanding how marketing insights and analytics budgets have changed in the past year, how marketers spend those budgets and what changes are appearing on the horizon.

Market insights and analytics spending is stable despite overall budget declines

Gartner survey data shows that marketing insights and analytics budgets have remained stable for the past nine years. The top-line average masks some of the nuances, however. Spending varies dramatically by industry, as companies in the consumer goods, pharmaceutical, and media and entertainment industries each spend twice as much as the median. Conversely, larger companies spend proportionately less as a percentage of revenue.

Agencies absorb the bulk of marketing insights and analytics budgets even as in-house teams evolve

Marketers have long outsourced significant aspects of their insights and analytics activities to vendors and external agencies. Counter to the general marketing goal of building in-house capabilities, the 2019 Gartner Marketing, Marketing Insights and Marketing Analytics Staff and Benchmarking Survey reports that marketing organizations continue to engage agencies for insights on analytics projects. An average 57% of marketing insights budgets go to external partners. Given the scarcity of data analytics talent, and the high quality of vendor and agency insights, it seems likely this trend will continue.

Even as marketers continue to outsource insights and analytics to external partners, inside the organization, market insights and analytics groups are increasingly coming together, either operationally or through more effective collaboration. This merger is part of a broader effort to align data talent, data sources and technology across the organization.

Better alignment across the organization is key to getting the most out of data resources and prevent double-spending on technology tools, talent and integration. Plus, better alignment reduces the issues of having too many tools — and not enough of the right ones — two of the top challenges data and analytics leaders say hinder their success.

High hopes for insights and analytics, and a high bar still to meet

The large sums of money going into insights and analytics come with equally high expectations. Eighty-one percent of marketing leaders expect data to influence the majority of their decisions by 2020. To meet that goal, insights and analytics programs need to supply marketing leaders with reliable intelligence.

On that score, there’s still room to grow. For 66% of organizations, current data and analytics maturity hovers at a 3 or below on the Gartner 5-point Marketing Analytics Maturity Model.

Nudging that score to a 4 or above — indicating mature marketing analytics capabilities — requires the kind of ongoing and sustained budget support companies seem to be making, as indicated by the 2019 – 2020 survey numbers. 

Marketers continue, at least for now, to invest in the foundations of their analytics programs. There are indications that those investments are showing returns. Although in-house teams continue to spend significant time on basic data tasks such as data management, integration and formatting, there has been a marked increase in the past year in more advanced activities and skill development. This points to a gradual maturing of data capabilities to meet the goals of driving marketing strategy execution.

Learn more about how and where CMOs are investing in the complimentary Annual CMO Spend Survey 2019-2020 research by Ewan McIntyre and Anna Maria Virzi

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