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A new report published by The CMO Survey has found that optimism in the US economy is at a seven year low among marketers.

On average, 56% of CMOs are feeling less optimistic about the nation’s economy during Q1 2019 and around half of CFOs believe the country will hit a recession before the end of 2019.

The report goes into a lot of detail as to the priorities of US marketers against the backdrop of these gloomy predictions.

What are their strategies when it comes to growing their businesses in 2019? And can AI led marketing technologies help organizations prepare for, survive and grow when the economic environment looks so uncertain?

This CMO Survey boasts respondents from more than 2000 for-profit companies across the US.

Economic uncertainty: CMO optimism about the overall economy at lowest level since August 2011

On average, where 0 is least optimistic and 100 is most optimistic, marketer optimism in the economy averaged 57 during February. This is the lowest level it has been since August 2011.

graph how optimistic are you about the overall US economy

Additionally, 56% of marketers say they are now less optimistic about the US economy compared to last quarter. This compares to just 30% who said the same thing in August 2018.

graph are you more or less optimistic about the overall US economy compared to last quarter

Increasing dependence on analytics: CMO spend on analytics expected to double in next three years

Understandably, this pessimism is having an impact on marketing plans and priorities for 2019.

The report delves into strategies, as well as predictions as to what to expect from customers.

The top level expectation is that marketers still predict customer acquisition to be positive.

They also believe consumers will be buying in bigger volumes and more likely to buy related products.

When it comes to business spending, investment in domestic market penetration has become the focus for most marketers. This has seen a subtle shift in budgets away from product/service development, market development and diversification.

cmo spending on growth in last 12 months

Marketing budgets themselves are continuing to grow. Within this, spend on analytics is forecast to nearly double in the next three years – accounting for more than 11% of total marketing spend.

Analytics use is now at its highest point in six years, with AI and machine learning technology no doubt fueling this trend.

The trend is most notable among B2C companies.

Here, more than 68% of marketers are now saying that AI is being used for predictive analytics for customer insights.

top uses of AI in marketing, by economic sector

AI giving extra value to analytics as marketers look to improve efficiency

With market penetration becoming a primary focus and AI-led analytics being increasingly accessible for marketers, we can see businesses are looking to these technologies to assist them if economic forecasts prove to be true.

Christine Moorman, author of the report, writes at The CMO Survey blog:

“As far as doing more with less, using existing staff to handle a growing workload is a common recession playbook. Fortunately, marketing organizations have digital platforms, deep customer analytics, and cloud-based talent pools to help them accomplish their goals. It may require more effort, but it is doable.”

CMOs have always strived to have a clear understanding of the ROI from the marketing channels they are using. While this can be a challenge when staff and financial resources are limited – particularly during uncertain economic times – access to data and AI technologies have the potential to maintain and improve business efficiency even when investments need to be cut.

While optimism in the US economy might be at a low point, it is clear to see that there is abundant enthusiasm among marketers when it comes to the access and implementation of a growing range of martech solutions that can keep customers engaged and US businesses afloat.

Predictive analytics which can give a comprehensive insight into customers, the journeys they make, and their CLTV (customer lifetime value) looks to be a sensible investment among astute marketers even if they are quite unsure of what could be around the next corner for the domestic market.

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