Disruptive external events presented the largest challenges for organizations in 2020, however 35% of digital marketing leaders believe their biggest challenges in 2021 will come from within their organizations, according to Gartner, Inc.

Gartner surveyed 350 marketing executives in November 2020 through December 2020 and found that building and maintaining cross-functional partnerships in the organization will be increasingly important for digital marketing leaders in the year ahead. Another top concern for digital marketing leaders is elevating the role digital marketing technologies and data play (see Figure 1).

“Digital marketing leaders perceive their ability to deliver results in the face of disruption as dependent on effective, cross-functional alliances,” said Noah Elkin, vice president analyst in the Gartner for Marketers practice. “Digital marketing leaders must think and act multidimensionally, bringing an equal measure of strategic, tactical and relation-building skills to the marketing team and the organization as a whole.”


Figure 1: Activities Most Anticipated to Be Challenging in 2021 Due to Long-Term Impacts of Disruptions


Source: Gartner (2021)


Building on existing relationships with IT and communications groups will be critical to elevating the role of digital marketing activities, technologies and data across the organization. Likewise, leveraging support from the CEO and improving relations with finance leaders will similarly be important as marketers wrestle with managing budget and resources to meet strategic priorities.

This is increasingly important as digital marketing leadership roles continue to evolve in scope and responsibilities. “The degree to which digital marketing leadership now more closely aligns with overall marketing leadership is a direct result of the expansive remit digital now holds in overall marketing strategies and objectives,” added Mr. Elkin.

Gartner research shows that 36% of digital marketing leaders now hold the title of chief marketing officer (CMO) and another 49% hold the title of vice president or higher. In addition, 75% of digital marketing leaders report their span of responsibility extends to the entire organization – with only 25% limited to just the business unit or regional division level.

To overcome internal challenges in the year ahead and keep their objectives on track, digital marketing leaders need to focus on merchandising their plans to key organizational stakeholders that can help them achieve strategic goals and elevate the role digital marketing data and technologies play across the business.

“The key to effectively managing disruption lies at that nexus of people, process and technology,” said Mr. Elkin.


Press release by Gartner

Publié le 28 avril 2021