Sponsored Content | Brand Spotlight Partner What's This?

What is the Biggest Challenge for Marketers Today?

Photo by Walls.io | Pexels

In the ever-evolving realm of marketing, Chief Marketing Officers are at the forefront of tackling some of the most pressing challenges. From articulating product value in luxury goods to adapting to the loss of third-party cookies, we've compiled the insights of 23 CMOs on how they're navigating these waters and steering their brands to success.

Articulating Product Value in Luxury Goods

In today's challenging financial climate, consumers are being forced to make more compromises when purchasing luxury goods. Pre-purchase research has become increasingly important, and Chief Marketing Officers need to clearly articulate the value of their products in a way that stands out from the competition.

I'm implementing a back-to-basics approach, with a focus on two pillars: community building and driving channels, activities, and content that deliver sales. CMOs must differentiate their brand in a lasting and authentic way, and building a community is the best way to achieve this. By focusing on these two pillars, CMOs can aim to cut through the barrage of advertising noise that consumers face and persuade them to make a purchase.

Robyn Hobson, Chief Marketing Officer, Remote Vans

Leveraging AI for Efficiency and Engagement

Every leader, regardless of business function, is focused on using AI to drive efficiency. We are a technology company focused on maximizing relevance for advertisers, including SMBs, and AI is crucial to our growth agenda. It enables us to meet and exceed investor expectations and, most importantly, customer expectations. But it is also important as a way to fuel employee engagement and upskilling, and to activate our people so that they can play a meaningful role in improving the customer journey and driving company growth.

We work to deliver best-in-class performance for our customers and enable employee experiences that leverage technology for our own marketing efforts. For instance, we deploy AI in both our creative solutions and content development, key areas where we can use both machine learning and true AI to enhance the customer experience while allowing our employees to drive innovation internally and further enhance their marketing skills. Using AI in campaign development has allowed us to move faster, create more content, and leverage data to inform our visual and message development, further enhancing the customer experience. Ultimately, it's a win for our customers and our people.

Jeaneen Andrews-Feldman, Chief Marketing Officer, Simpli.fi

Navigating AI and Cultural Trends Strategically

Frankly, there is no one biggest challenge. We're coming out of a pandemic, witnessing the emergence of AI—one of the most disruptive technologies in our lifetime—and doing that amidst global conflicts, divisive rhetoric, and another turbulent election cycle in the US.

For me, as the Chief Marketing Officer of a consumer strategy consultancy, it's crucial that we keep our finger on the pulse to understand what's happening in consumers' lives—what they're desiring, what's changing—as well as our customers' lives. What's shifting in their business, and how can we help? I'm constantly thinking about how we can use new technologies like AI to stay even closer to our audiences and answer these questions, gaining insights into the consumer journey that we've never had before. AI will also empower us to generate the prolific content we have always needed to meet our customers where they are with smart, thoughtful, current solutions.

This comes at a time when algorithms are both flattening and quickening culture simultaneously, which makes for a really challenging landscape for consumer understanding. It's vital to have a firm grip on emergent trends that are truly novel, relevant, and worth pursuing. What our clients need more than ever is strong, future-fluent consumer strategy that can address both business needs and consumer desires.

Valerie Jacobs, Chief Marketing Officer, LPK

Optimizing Spend with a 'Marketing Engine'

In this rapidly evolving digital landscape, the most pressing challenge I face as a CMO is maximizing performance across an almost infinite number of programs, platforms, and channels—each with unique interfaces and KPI definitions. This complex marketing ecosystem creates a gnarly data puzzle that could make a skilled analyst sweat.

To address this challenge, we recently developed a Moneyball-inspired "Marketing Engine" that aggregates, normalizes, and analyzes data from all programs, platforms, and channels where we spend money. Armed with these insights, we're able to better allocate spend to maximize performance. During our New Year/New You campaign earlier this year, for example, we used this approach to promote the use of our Organic Roasted Seaweed Snacks as a healthy alternative to traditional salty snacks. Results were amazing: Impressions tripled versus last year, and engagements increased by an eightfold factor!

Further refining our process, we are now beginning to automate the collection and analysis of data—a real game-changer. This not only spares us from a painful "death by data," but it also ensures that our decisions are informed by real-time insights, allowing us to pivot swiftly and invest in channels that deliver tangible results.

Diego Norris, Chief Marketing Officer, Gimme Seaweed

Staying Ahead of Rapid Market Changes

The biggest challenge we face as marketers is keeping up with the rapid pace of change and the accelerated rate at which everything is happening. Consumer behaviors, technological innovations, new platforms, and channels are a constant whirlwind that requires us to be nimble and pivot strategies in real time. My approach is to immerse myself in the marketing community through newsletters, LinkedIn, events, and good old-fashioned networking. Having an insatiable curiosity and hunger for knowledge is key. At the end of the day, we can't just play catch-up—we need to get ahead of emerging trends and micro-shifts before they become industry norms. It's an exciting, often exhausting, occasionally anxiety-producing, but always rewarding discipline that forces us to always be learning.

Matt Wurst, Chief Marketing Officer, Kazm

Embrace Targeted Messaging Over Broad Reach

The proliferation of AI-generated 'thought leadership' is making it difficult for high-value content to punch through the noise and attract quality prospects. Specifically, just a few years ago, I could place a targeted webinar or gated e-book in an AIDA funnel with only a modest spend and see results—live attendees, downloads in exchange for emails, etc. Today, everyone is choking on more podcasts than we can listen to and more webinars than we can watch, and engagement is dropping.

How do you tackle this? In my team's brand work, the mantra is 'THINK SMALLER.' Don't cast a net; bait a hook. Know your target persona fiercely and speak only to them in your messaging, excluding the 'hope of abundance.' The only way to punch through the clutter today is by getting small, both in targeting and in the length and production value of assets, to speak with authenticity and respect for their attention.

Kristine Widtfeldt, Chief Marketing Officer, RevRoad

Balancing Marketing Goals with Limited Budgets

One of my biggest challenges is balancing ambitious marketing goals with our limited budgets. In today's fast-paced tech world, trends come and go in the blink of an eye. Deciding where to invest our resources becomes a bit of a gamble. Remember when Google+ was supposed to be the next big thing for social media marketing? Yeah, that didn't exactly pay off. And live streaming for brands? It started off strong but ended up being a disappointment. Now, it's 2024, and VR experiences (e.g., Apple Vision Pro) are all the rage. Everyone's talking about them, but there's also a lot of uncertainty. So, figuring out where to allocate our funds without risking it all? It's like navigating through a maze in the dark. We've got to be strategic and not get caught up in the hype.

Sarah Palanques, Chief Marketing Officer, Virmedex Virtual Experiences

Automating Tasks While Maintaining Brand Quality

Keeping up with the changing technology landscape (i.e., AI) and how to use it effectively in your marketing strategy without diminishing the quality of your established brand is challenging. Our focus has been on how to take the extremely time-consuming tasks and automate as much of the work as possible, with human checkpoints to ensure quality.

For my own professional career, I am teaching myself how to use the AI products (ChatGPT, WriteSonic, AI within existing tools) out there, taking prompt engineering courses, joining Nicole Leffer's webinars, reading news articles, and encouraging every member of my team to continually test new products and rethink how they can be used. Every new hire on my team will need to be AI-forward and curious to earn a spot.

My advice to marketers: Play with the tools, understand what they can and cannot do, and continually test them again because they are always evolving. Find projects that you can apply AI to, so that you are staying ahead of the game instead of reacting to your competition.

Nai Kanell, Chief Marketing Officer, MedTrainer

Simplifying Messaging in Cybersecurity Marketing

The biggest challenge for marketers, specifically in the cybersecurity or technology domain, is that it is filled with jargon. There are so many buzzwords and technical terms that, at times, it becomes clutter for the target audience, and they struggle to find simple answers to the problems they face.

Every day, someone launches a product or technology, claiming it will stop cyberattacks like never before, yet simultaneously, we hear about more sophisticated and large-scale cyberattacks occurring. I believe marketers need to simplify the message for our target customers, keeping our messaging grounded in reality.

From day one, we have maintained a jargon-free approach to messaging. We present end outcomes in a simple manner for our customers to understand. For example, we help them achieve two major cybersecurity outcomes: they struggle with combating cyberattacks and adhering to security compliance standards. We never claim that cyberattacks will never occur. Cybersecurity is an ongoing journey, and everyone must remain vigilant to combat cyber threats.

Jitendra Bulani, Chief Marketing Officer, Infopercept Consulting Pvt Ltd

Adapting to Constant Algorithm Changes

The only thing that is consistent in this market is change. The algorithms of your channels are changing constantly, but you can find many similarities between strategies and channels of today, and the channels of yesteryear. For example, many advertisers are turning to TikTok because they can take a ton of inspiration from "old Google" strategies.

You also have to keep evolving your skills over time. It is no longer just the creative side of business; you are making decisions based on multiple data points, A/B tests, and insights according to customer personas. We are no longer measuring campaigns merely on a pass/fail basis.

Bryan Spiess, Chief Marketing Officer, SoCo Customs and Complete Auto Repair

Creating Learning Space for Marketing Innovation

With the fast pace of change in the B2B marketing space, the biggest challenge we face as marketers is to structure our work effectively to leave space for learning, experimentation, and innovation. Learning space is equally as critical for new people joining the team (to ensure they build a strong foundation around the basics) as it is for the middle-management high performers who are building our future. Growing our company's marketing leaders of tomorrow is my biggest challenge. I'm tackling it by spending significant time working directly with people at all levels in both 1-to-many and 1-on-1 projects and training motions alike.

John Steinert, CMO, TechTarget

Adapting Content Strategy for Voice Search

In today's dynamic digital landscape, the biggest challenge I've been facing is staying ahead of rapidly evolving technologies and consumer behaviors. The rapid ascendancy of AI and machine learning, combined with the recent shift towards voice and zero-click searches, has overhauled the SEO and marketing game.

To deal with these changes and stay ahead of the curve, my strategy has leaned heavily on intensive personal upskilling in everything AI, and integrating relevant tools into our processes for content generation and optimization—to ensure our content remains relevant and accessible.

An example of how we're tackling these challenges is by optimizing for voice search. Because of the colloquial nature of voice queries, we've tailored our content strategy to be more conversation-based, focusing on long-tail keywords and FAQs. This approach helps our visibility in voice searches and Google's "People also ask." It also improves our position as an information resource, boosting our chances of securing featured snippets. Being adaptable and incorporating the latest tech and methods maintains our edge and helps us stay leaders in a very competitive industry.

Teresha Aird, CMO, Custom Neon

Integrating AI Without Losing Human Touch

In today's fast-paced society, technology is evolving at the speed of light. Staying on top of that, let alone ahead, is not just an advantage but a necessity in order to stay in business, stay competitive, remain relevant, and protect the customer experience.

Embracing a culture of constant learning, staying informed through ecosystems of contacts and trusted industry networks, and being open to shifting gears if needed is a nimble approach to staying alive.

The AI scare is a real struggle and, in fact, one of the biggest challenges facing everyone everywhere. Those who make the content or consume it are on the fence about how to absorb it. "Artificial intelligence is not a substitute for human intelligence; it is a tool to amplify human creativity and ingenuity." – Fei-Fei Li.

I am of the belief that you can use robotic technology without becoming a robot. If we embrace and integrate efficiency strategically and harness AI as a digital resource in the marketing world, we should not fear it but look at it as a solution to faster output. Save time. Have AI provide a starting point so you can "review" rather than "do." Automate tasks, including online product listings or ad copy, lead generation, customer retention, and necessary data to assist marketers in enhancing campaigns to produce sales, boost ROI in record time, and forecast outcomes with those insights.

Adding the human touch is key, but starting from scratch isn't always necessary with this technology, which is a competitive advantage.

Customers, audiences, and buyers all want similar things: authentic and relatable content, "feel good" origin stories, creative storytelling that pulls their emotional strings, eco-friendly and sustainable considerations, and, ultimately, "connection."

We could never have predicted the COVID era and then the post-pandemic fallout in any strategic meeting or forecasted plan based on analytics. As a result, those shifts in consumer behavior have spawned an appetite that we must serve on several platters, depending on the channel (TV, live, retail, online, social media platforms). Constant analysis of the target audience and their needs is key to giving them the journey they need, ultimately seek, and are willing to pay for.

We can combine the power of automated processes with personalized interactions to preserve the human presence behind the brand. A comfort zone is a natural and beautiful thing, but nothing ever grows there.

Nicole Andani, VP Sales & Marketing, Global Brand Specialist

Scaling Organic Content Across Multiple Platforms

The biggest challenge I face as a marketing executive is creating content at scale that both adds value to our audience and feels organic to the platform. With the proliferation of AI-enabled tools, creating content at scale is getting easier; however, ensuring that content maintains a consistent voice and point of view (POV) while catering to disparate formats across platforms and channels remains a challenge for me and my team. We all know that repurposing content is essential for cutting through the ever-rising noise floor, but I still see it as a necessary evil and would like to leverage emerging tools to create native content for specific channels and platforms rather than create generic content that is then optimized, usually unconvincingly, to appear native. The tool that can make it seem like I have in-house content creators for YouTube, TikTok, and LinkedIn, as well as our email database, website, and podcast, will be the one that wins my vote in precious budget dollars. In the meantime, we'll continue to optimize as best we can and leverage affiliate marketing channels and user-generated content to the best of our ability.

Jake Vermillion, CMO

Aligning Marketing with Sales in B2B SaaS

One of the biggest challenges facing marketers in the B2B SaaS industry today is the imperative for seamless alignment between marketing and sales teams. Despite being interconnected, these departments often struggle to synchronize their efforts effectively, leading to disjointed messaging and missed opportunities for conversion. Additionally, marketers are grappling with the evolving digital advertising landscape, where traditional ad spend is increasingly viewed as inefficient in reaching B2B audiences. As a result, marketers must adapt by leveraging data-driven strategies, personalized content, and targeted campaigns to optimize their advertising ROI.

Furthermore, the rise of peer-to-peer marketing through events and communities presents both an opportunity and a challenge for B2B SaaS marketers. While these avenues offer valuable platforms for engagement and relationship-building, they also require marketers to navigate complex ecosystems and establish genuine connections with their audience. Success in this realm hinges on fostering authentic interactions, providing valuable insights, and cultivating a sense of belonging within these communities.

Marina Devalia, CMO & Advisor, Playbook Lab

Visualizing Marketing as a Systems-Driven Playbook

The role of marketing in driving business success for B2B startups (and other companies) is something that continues to evolve, and with that evolution, it's critical to align a number of stakeholders, especially internal ones, to the variety of marketing disciplines, KRAs, metrics, and focus areas. Most folks outside of marketing functions do not fully understand the number of moving pieces needed and how they come together to create value.

I've spent a significant part of my career building product and tech, and so I look to bring that perspective to a 'systems-driven' marketing playbook that visualizes marketing as a system comprising inputs, processes, platforms, outputs, and feedback loops. Thinking in these terms allows us to focus on what marketing can drive and influence, i.e., inputs - and not obsess about the outputs, which are an outcome of solid inputs, processes, systems, and the ability to test and iterate. In my experience, 80% of success is building a good framework and then showing up daily and iterating constantly to dampen negative feedback loops and reinforce positive feedback loops.

An example is when we brought rock legends Journey to the biggest Fintech event two years ago (Money20/20 USA) and created massive brand exposure. None of us had ever run a campaign of this nature before, and we used first principles to break apart every component of a campaign like this to visualize the interconnected parts as a system and then optimize it over a 30-day period to build an incredible outcome.

Shashank Mehrotra, CMO, Zeta

Building Deep Relationships for Client Engagement

In today's rapidly evolving landscape, the foremost challenge for a Chief Marketing Officer is the shifting dynamics of client engagement. With clients increasingly inclined toward self-servicing and independent research, the role of trusted partnerships is undergoing a transformation. To address this, I prioritize building deep, collaborative relationships with clients, positioning ourselves as extensions of their teams. By intimately understanding their unique needs and challenges, we can anticipate and address their requirements preemptively. Leveraging marketing strategies, we ensure consistent visibility as thought leaders and subject matter experts, maintaining a passive presence in social media and search feeds while nurturing client relationships with thoughtful touches.

Kelly Nuckolls, CMO, Jeskell Systems

Demonstrating Marketing Value to Leadership

The biggest challenge I continue to face is effectively demonstrating the value of marketing to CEOs and CFOs who may not have a marketing background. When cost-cutting decisions need to be made, CFOs often turn to marketing without fully understanding the potential impact it can bring to the business.

To address this specific challenge, I focus on building a strong relationship with my CFO and educating them through a data-driven approach. I emphasize that marketing not only drives revenue but also improves the reputation of the brand. By showcasing tangible results and ROI of marketing initiatives, we demonstrate the value marketing brings to the table, leading to the success of the business.

Trish Nettleship, Chief Marketing Officer, NCR Voyix

Driving Revenue and Building Strong Brands

We should have a deep understanding of our market and our customers' evolving needs, while also advocating for cross-functional collaboration across the company, building a strong, desirable brand, and driving growth initiatives that generate $$$ quarter after quarter.

We should be creative, innovative, fast, analytical, and inspirational. We build our personal brands, help the founders/CEOs/sales teams build their personal brands, construct partnerships, set up corporate influencer strategies, and, in all other ways possible, try to convince the world that our company is the most awesome one out there.

It's simply impossible to be an expert at it all today.

However, in my opinion, deeply understanding what's going on with first sales (why do we win/lose deals?), second product (product strategy vs. positioning?), and third the market (competitive intelligence) already brings you halfway.

Annika Björkholm, CMO, SwipeGuide

Managing Evolving Complexity in Marketing

The biggest challenge for marketers today is the evolving complexity of the role. Seemingly, everything under the sun falls under marketing's umbrella. Marketers are expected to strategize, plan, create, execute, manage, troubleshoot, measure, and manage finances to an extent. We need to have a little talent in a lot of different areas. It's very rare to find a unicorn who excels in all of these areas across every marketing channel.

Michael Norris, Chief Marketing Officer, Youtech

Competing for Consumer Attention in Media

The attention economy is massive—if you look at Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, Meta, and so on, everyone is fighting for the attention of consumers. As a CMO, it's now much harder to earn a slice of that attention. Netflix, TikTok, and YouTube all surpass other forms of media in terms of holding the attention of consumers. Figuring out how to fight for even a small piece of that attention is what keeps me up at night. Media is consumed so quickly and at such a massive volume each day—how do you stand out?

Data-informed decisions, especially in the new reality of AI, are more important than ever and something all CMOs need to fully understand in order to compete. Gone are the days of gut-instinct marketing. Today's consumers leave behind a wealth of data, and CMOs need to leverage that data to make informed decisions about targeting, messaging, and campaign effectiveness to grab and hold the attention of a relevant audience.

Marco Pimentel, CMO, Redbrick

Embracing Human-Centric Marketing in Healthcare IT

In today's ever-changing healthcare IT industry, marketing is not just about B2B or B2C—it's about connecting humans to humans (H2H). We understand that our marketing success lies in personalized content that resonates with our readers, addressing their unique needs and concerns. By embracing this human-centric approach, we aim to build genuine connections with our audience in their professional and everyday lives. As Chief Marketing Officer, I believe in authenticity and relevance to drive meaningful engagement and foster long-term relationships.

Lawrence Kaiser, Chief Marketing Officer, Optimum Healthcare IT

Adapting to the Loss of Third-Party Cookies

In today's marketing world, the disappearance of third-party cookies is a monumental challenge. As of March 7th, with new EU laws and similar regulations in California, we're facing a future where up to half of website visitors go untracked. This reality threatens to double acquisition costs without impacting sales, signifying a crisis rooted in outdated tracking methods.

The solution? Transitioning to customer data platforms and innovative tracking methods that respect privacy while maintaining data accuracy. As Chief Marketing Officers, we must adapt swiftly or risk significant data loss in the evolving digital landscape. The time for action is now; preparation will define the survivors in this new era of digital marketing.

Mike Zima, Chief Marketing Officer, Zima Media