NEW YORK: Many major companies believe their digital marketing schemes are still "exploratory" or "random", and few have engaged in-house experts to enhance their strategy, a study has revealed.

The CMO Council, the trade body, and Acceleration, the consultancy, interviewed 200 senior executives. It discovered that a third of marketers described their digital portfolio as a “random collection” of solutions.

A further 44% saw this activity as “exploratory”. However, only 32% are working with their IT colleagues to assess their future needs and requirements, and a modest 26% had built multi-disciplinary teams to do so.

“While enthusiasm and excitement over new and shiny platforms is exceedingly high, the level of real understanding and expertise is just not fully developed,” said Roger Menz, VP, global marketing, at Sony Music Entertainment.

To date, 48% of marketers have met with their IT counterparts to discuss the existing digital marketing infrastructure, reaching 37% for those seeking to discover how new solutions would work alongside legacy models.

“Our current IT infrastructure has allowed us to go to market more efficiently than before,” Markus Kramer, global marketing director for Aston Martin, the carmaker, said. “Because there is no real barrier between the marketing and IT teams, we've modelled an architecture that fits our organizational size and makes it easier to deal with the complexities we face.”

Similarly, a 24% minority of marketers had tapped their information technology departments to help them make the business case for investment.

“In determining our digital investments, the business, finance, strategic analytics, and IT teams collaborate on a business case that is based on estimates and benchmarks across cost per acquisition through ROI for a given campaign or program,” said Isaac Turk, director of database marketing and analytics for SiriusXM Radio.

At present, email is the most widely used digital tool, followed by web analytics, online ads and social media monitoring. Social media tracking topped the list of future priorities, ahead of marketing analytics and email.

Some 77% of marketers looked to their own team to identify important new technologies, and 46% leveraged vendors and solutions providers. Another 17% turned to chief information officers, the same score as consultants.

“Before, you had big CPG companies with people who were proficient in brand management, but now there's no training ground for digital; no one is developing savvy digital marketers with any degree of velocity or volume,” said Drew Panayiotou, SVP, US marketing, at Best Buy.

The study also asked whether marketers had C-level buy-in for digital initiatives, and found 23% boasted a formal budget and mandate to execute schemes, and 42% received “strong interest and active support”.

However, an additional 23% of the sample agreed senior corporate management was grappling to see where new media “fits” into their business.

Data sourced from CMO Council; additional content by Warc staff