NEW YORK: "The past", wrote novelist L P Hartley, "is a foreign country. They do things differently there." It is. And they did. Back in the 50s and 60s chief marketing officers were known as sales directors and their job security was wholly numbers-dependent.

Moreover, their job specs went far beyond mere gladhanding. Sales directors drafted sales strategies, ran the sales force, wooed key account customers, hired agencies, approved ad campaigns, bought media – little different from their equivalents today. 

But a report published Tuesday by Jupiter Research in partnership with branding consultancy Verse Group, reveals that a majority of today's CMOs (89%) are under more intense scrutiny than ever before to prove they are achieving an acceptable return on investment.

Many are struggling to do so and find the RoI concept complex, according to the study. Says Jupiter vp Peter Sargent: "Increasingly, it is important for marketers to be able to justify their expenses. We need to get smarter as a community as we assess just how effective our brand messaging is."

Most marketers, however, recognize a need for improvement and to maximize the return on dollars spent. The CMO Council's Routes to Revenue audit of 650 senior marketers notes that 76% believe they are not realizing customers' full revenue potential.

In attempting to resolve this problem, 64% of the study's respondents said they were evaluating all areas of marketing spend to increase yield and accountability. This includes ...

  • Leveraging existing resources within their organizations to enhance customer communications (47.3%)
  • Exploring customized communications technologies (40.9%)
  • Moving more investment to internet and mobile channels (38.7%)
  • And driving adoption and the use of CRM and sales automation applications (31.5%).
Opines CMO Council executive director Donovan Neale-May: "The objective is not to constantly be in acquisition mode. In a constrained economy you've got to focus monetizing existing customer relationships. It requires analytics and better use of customer data. [However], in many cases marketers struggle to integrate and leverage data."

Among the reasons marketers have been slow to adopt ROI tactics: problems with data and integrity (47%), lack of technology (41%) and resource dedication (39%), per the Conference Board.

Neale-May believes that things could accelerate quickly: "The mandate is to do more with less. Part of that is using new strategies and techniques to make sure money isn't left on the table."

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff