A pioneering minority of chief marketing officers is driving transformational change at their organisations by prioritising great customer experience and innovation, according to a new global survey.

Entitled Way Beyond Marketing – The Rise of The Hyper-Relevant CMO, and published by Accenture, the professional services firm, the report asserts that the top 17% of CMOs enable their organisations to deliver shareholder returns that are 11% higher than those of their peers.

They are achieving this by driving change at the C-suite level, helping their organisations to respond quickly to changing customer expectations, promoting better integration and collaboration, with a constant focus on customer experience.

Accenture reached this conclusion after polling 935 CMOs and more than 560 CEOs from companies with at least $500m in annual revenues across 12 countries, including the US, UK, China, Japan and Germany, among others.

According to the findings, three-quarters (76%) of CMOs – and 70% of CEOs – believe today’s consumers have higher expectations of a brand’s purpose and that companies that posit a clear purpose aligned to consumers’ values can achieve higher levels of commercial success.

In addition, a large majority (90%) of both CMOs and CEOs think marketing will change fundamentally over the next three years, requiring CMOs to think very differently about their role and the skills they need to bring to their teams.

Accenture argues that the top 17% of CMOs are already doing this and identifies ten areas where these “pioneer CMOs” are making the best use of special skill sets.

For example, 87% say they would rely on immersive experience designers, compared to 65% of others covered in the survey, while 81% would make use of a chief storyteller compared to 66% of the others.

Similarly, 80% of these top CMOs employ customer experience curators (versus 67%), while the same proportion (80%) use “reality checkers”, or outside people who feed insights into the organisation to keep it grounded.

Mhairi McEwan, managing director and marketing practice lead for customer insight and growth at Accenture, said CMOs should lead an effective, joined-up customer experience at all touchpoints.

“In essence, there are four key actions they must take,” she said. “Using advanced customer insight and analytics to shape the future; building the marketing and sales capabilities of their people and organisation; leveraging partnerships to create innovative new products, services and solutions; and delivering cost-effective technological activation of personalised and scalable marketing programs.”

Sourced from Accenture; additional content by WARC staff