Press Release


STAMFORD, Conn., February 8, 2023

Gartner Survey Reveals Almost a Third of Marketing Budgets are Spent in Pursuit of Operational Excellence, Yet Yield Inconsistent ROI

Marketers Achieve Limited Success with MarOps Investments, Putting Enterprise Growth at Risk in Uncertain Climate

STAMFORD, Conn., February 8, 2023 — With marketing dollars under scrutiny, a Gartner, Inc. survey revealed that 31% of marketing budgets are spent on the pursuit of operational excellence, despite having inconsistent impact on overall organizational performance.

Gartner surveyed over 400 marketing operations (MarOps) leaders between August and October 2022 to find that 94% of marketing organizations are formally pursuing operational excellence (e.g., improving processes, building new capabilities). This indicates an acceleration of investment since 2020, when only 49% of marketing organizations surveyed had a dedicated MarOps leader. 

However, the survey found that 72% of operational excellence pursuits don’t actually demonstrate characteristics that align with success, putting enterprise growth and marketing transformation at risk.

“CMOs are under pressure to make every dollar count,” said Michael McCune, Senior Director, Advisory in the Gartner Marketing practice. “However, their teams are spending a large proportion of their budgets pursuing change and improvements in ways that aren’t effective.

“‘Business-as-usual’ marketing activities do have to change, but CMOs shouldn't divert funds away from activities such as advertising and trade shows that could have a more significant impact on marketing’s overall remit to drive growth.”

Only 28% of organizations demonstrate MarOps success, and at a higher expense

Strong pursuits of operational excellence complement the day-to-day management of marketing’s work and are associated with characteristics such as automated workflows, effective use of Agile methods and persistent effort over multiple years.

Organizations with strong pursuits were 43% more likely to report exceeding their operational performance goals compared to organizations without strong pursuits, but at a greater cost: They spend 45% more than average and dedicate 18% of their staff to achieve MarOps excellence, compared to the average 5% of staff dedicated to all other pursuits.

“Marketing organizations can’t blindly or ineffectively invest in improvement at the expense of business as usual unless it shows results, given the tight economic and labor markets,” said McCune. “They need to lay a better foundation for that investment and can look to strong pursuits for guidance.”

Realizing the impact of MarOps investments

In order to maximize the impact of future MarOps investments, marketing leaders should:

  • Communicate to stakeholders that pursuits of operational excellence will not have a persistently high cost. A new pursuit likely has many opportunities to drive improvements, but it should not be a cost dragged on marketing over the long term. As improvement occurs, resource requirements for continuous improvement should diminish.
  • Seek resolution of known critical gaps. CMOs often know about systemic problems, but lack resources to address them at the start of operational excellence efforts. Make sure to have a dedicated team working to resolve one or some of the known critical gaps so that investment in the pursuit has early payoffs.
  • Ensure that MarOps efforts don’t duplicate enterprise initiatives. Alignment with operational excellence pursuits in sales and service functions is always a good idea, but CMOs should avoid neglecting the enterprise-wide efforts of other functions such as finance and HR that may lighten marketing’s lift over time.

Gartner clients can learn more in the reports: “Focus on the Strong Pursuits of Marketing Operational Excellence to Improve Performance” and “CMOs Must Shake Off Economic Concerns to Broaden Marketing Operations Investments.” Additional information is available in the complimentary Gartner webinar, “Rightsizing the Remit of Marketing Operations.”

About the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo

Gartner analysts will discuss the key issues facing CMOs during the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, taking place in Denver, CO May 22-24, 2023. This conference provides marketing leaders actionable advice about the trends, tools and emerging technologies they need to deliver business results. Follow news and updates for the conference on the Gartner Newsroom and on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerMKTG.

About Gartner for Marketers

Gartner for Marketers provides the objective, expert advice, and proven tools that CMOs and other marketing leaders need to seize the right opportunities with clarity and confidence, and to stay ahead of the trends that matter. With in-depth research and analysis, Gartner for Marketers helps you focus on the opportunities with the greatest potential to deliver results. More information on Gartner for Marketers is available online at Follow news and updates from the Gartner Marketing practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerMKTG. Members of the media can find additional information and insights in the Gartner Marketing Newsroom.


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