Study: Brands Need More Agility to Catch Up to Consumers in the Digital World

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Leapfrog Marketing Institute’s 2014 CMO Digital Benchmark Study shows CMOs have bigger budgets but must forge gaps in key channels to deliver ROI.

Leapfrog Online

Leapfrog Online

The real challenges are the growing complexity to achieve ROI and the speed at which consumers are adopting new technologies and devices.

Chief marketing officers have more accountability to produce a “measurable ROI,” but internal factors are blocking CMOs from delivering results, according to a new study commissioned by the Leapfrog Marketing Institute, powered by Leapfrog Online.

Today, 63 percent of marketing budgets are expected to deliver a measurable ROI–or marketing objectives that boost financial metrics (e.g. sales)–rather than awareness or engagement metrics. However, CMOs cited three barriers that are hampering growth in their digital marketing efforts: internal silos, resistance to change within the company and limited expertise with emerging technologies and solutions.

The study suggests a heightened need for organizations to accelerate their digital and data transformations. Although senior marketers report that budgets have increased or stabilized to reach their objectives, brands must be more agile to meet the needs of the rapidly changing digital landscape.

“Marketers are embracing their financial accountability, even though some circumstances are beyond their control, but the real challenges are the growing complexity to achieve ROI and the speed at which consumers are adopting new technologies and devices,” said Jason Wadler, executive vice president of Leapfrog Online, the sponsor of the study.

The “2014 CMO Digital Benchmark Study” was designed to uncover how executive marketers’ approach to a digital marketing world has changed in the past five years. The study found the focus on digital sales has almost doubled to 47 percent in 2014 from 25 percent in 2009. By contrast, marketers’ use of digital and mobile channels for brand awareness dropped to 69 percent in 2014 from 92 percent in 2009

Other findings include:

  • Ninety-one percent of CMOs said their marketing budgets will remain the same or increase this year.
  • One-third of marketers are unable to use data tracking and analytics to track sales.
  • Marketers reported that omni-channel marketing is the least developed digital capability (4 percent), a growing issue given the explosion of mobile activity.

The study also uncovered the digital capabilities deemed most important by CMOs, specifically websites, data tracking/analytics and mobile. However, these capabilities were cited as the least developed and, surprisingly, the capabilities that were primarily managed internally. This finding and associated solutions will be further explored in the Leapfrog Marketing Institute’s next report.

“From conversations with marketing executives, the good news is these issues are being actively discussed and acted upon by their organizations—with some more developed, aligned and agile than others,” said Stephen Hersh, one of the study’s authors and an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University.

To gather this data, researchers analyzed responses from 91 U.S.-based chief marketers via an online survey. The study was initially conducted in 2009 to explore how senior marketing executives were navigating the digital space. It was fielded again this year to understand the impact of these changes and identify key areas of opportunities. The study is co-authored by Hersh and Fred Ehle, founder of brandapart and recently named customer officer at McDonald’s.

“CMOs have the ability to become the change agents to drive consumer-focused innovation across their organizations. Now, they need the authority to succeed,” Wadler added.

MORE INFORMATION: To view the full study and its methodology, visit To arrange an interview, contact Aaron Mays at the contact information listed above.

About the Leapfrog Marketing Institute
The Leapfrog Marketing Institute is a virtual institute focused on nurturing thought leadership and commentary about digital marketing, with a specific focus on mobile marketing and digital commerce. The Institute publishes white papers, research reports and insights, hosts workshops, panels, and roundtables for CMOs and industry influencers. The Leapfrog Marketing Institute is powered by Leapfrog Online, one of the largest digital marketing companies in the United States.

About Leapfrog Online
Leapfrog Online partners with Fortune 500 brands to uncover new customers and revenue streams by engaging, nurturing, and converting the “always on” consumer. By applying deep domain knowledge and expertise, Leapfrog Online builds targeted industry solutions and proven results that grows digital market share for its Clients. For more information, visit

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Phil Corbett
Leapfrog Online
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Aaron Mays

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since: 11/2010
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