The CMO Survey asked marketing leaders to rank a set of marketing capabilities in terms of importance and to identify their organizations’ biggest gaps in these same marketing capabilities. Creating a matrix that crosses capability importance and organizational gap, the Figure shows firms’ digital marketing capabilities (including digital, social, and mobile) as the area with the greatest opportunity for company investment.

In what areas is digital marketing capability underdeveloped and what areas should be emphasized? Eight important steps are outlined - here are the first three:

1. Build digital marketing capabilities around the customer. Many companies fail because they let technology drive their digital strategies. To succeed, digital marketing capabilities must utilize customer insight, deliver strong customer value, and develop positive customer relationships that create value for the company.

2. Develop digital capabilities not just digital strategies. Capabilities are bundles of marketing skills and knowledge, exercised through organizational processes, enabling a firm to carry out its digital marketing activities. As one example, we developed a set of measures to assess that state of social media capabilities that cut across different aspects of the management of social media. Marketing leaders rated “How well has your company developed strong knowledge and skills in each social media area?” where 1=not at all and 7=excellent. The average capability rating of 3.69 (see Table) is too low to become the basis for competitive advantage.

3. Hire and train digital experts. Many companies are quickly ramping up to hire and train their workforces with digital skills. There remains a human capital gap in many companies that needs to be resolved through aggressive hiring and training. ...

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