Columbia, MD, March 11, 2021

New Study Reveals the Impact of the Pandemic on B2B CMOs

Merkle (, a leading technology-enabled, data-driven customer experience management (CXM) company, has released a new report focused on business-to-business CMOs. The report is an extension of the dentsu CMO survey and provides B2B marketers insight into what separates a “Frontier,” or leading, B2B CMO from the competition.

The report, “New Horizons: B2B CMO Guide to Navigating Complexity,” reveals what successful B2B CMOs are doing, including what strategies they employ and how prepared they are to navigate the future. The aim is to help B2B marketers keep from falling behind during these uncertain economic times. The report also provides a focused look at pure B2B versus B2B+C (both B2B and business-to-consumer) CMOs to understand how they differ in terms of responsibilities, approaches to marketing, internal alignment, and embrace of e-commerce. 

Generated from a survey of more than 900 CMOs, covering 12 countries and a wide array of business sizes and sectors, the report reveals that the number-one challenge for B2B and B2B+C marketing leaders is “understanding what is a temporary shift in customer behavior versus a permanent change.”

“Customer expectations during the pandemic have continued to grow in leaps and bounds,” said Michael McLaren, global CEO of Merkle B2B. Customers now expect brand engagements that are more relevant and useful and many B2B marketers are simply not currently in a position to deliver on those heightened expectations.”

The report finds that 93 percent of B2B CMOs work at organizations that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, while 27 percent of these organizations have only seen minimal impact. A small number of businesses have seen the pandemic actually help their business, with companies in the tech and IT sector most likely to have benefited.

Additional findings include:

  • Ninety-three percent of B2B CMOs work at organizations that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
  • Enterprise CMOs have less of a focus on long-term brand building as a success metric, and more of a focus on delivering short-term sales and revenue growth.
  • Investing in customer experience (CX) is still the top area of focus for both “Frontier” B2B CMOs and “Followers” (75 percent vs. 59 percent).

Matt Powell, managing director, London at B2B International commented on the survey findings, saying, “The research gives unique insights into the world of B2B CMOs and how they have navigated the past 12 months. Importantly, it gives some key learnings about the strategies that separate Frontier B2B CMOs from the rest. Some B2B companies have ground to make up when it comes to customer experience, digital transformation, and creativity in campaigns. But there is opportunity for those who can get ahead of the competition by taking action. The keys to success lie in collaboration with other departments to make things happen quickly and a deep understanding of the customer to make sure things are done in the right way.”

Register here to join the Adweek-hosted webinar on Thursday, March 18 at 3:00 p.m. (ET), where Merkle B2B presenters will share new insights into the strategies being employed by leading B2B CMOs. 

To learn more about Merkle B2B, please visit