I recently talked to Elaine Wong at Forbes about the top priorities for CMOs in 2011.

In the past, the CMO’s to-do list hadn’t changed much from year to year. Bob Liodice, president of the ANA, indicates that the top three or four issues have been pretty consistent over the past several years: strengthening the brand, improving integrated marketing communications, aligning the organization around innovation, and improving marketing's accountability.

But 2010 was a different kind of year: the year that digital became mainstream. This surge, or tipping point if you will, of digitally-enabled business models and consumer lifestyles is changing how CMOs are approaching their to-do list in 2011. After talking to several leading marketers, Bob Liodice of the ANA, and Nancy Hill of the 4As, here's what I learned:

CMOs Begin Preparing For The Next Digital Decade

Fast-follower CMOs want to get a horse in the digital race in 2011. Some are playing catch-up, but they all display a sense of urgency to make their move to remain relevant in the next digital decade. Our prediction is that 2011 will mark a year when many CMOs will remember making significant moves to leverage disruptive technology and emerging media to gain a long-term competitive advantage. Specifically, we identified three macro trends where CMOs will:

  • Build the brand franchise with a new digital arsenal. Marketers will shift their mindset from quantity to quality; from social communities to social commerce. Think along the lines of Delta, which became the first airline to sell tickets directly on Facebook through its ticket window.
  • Empower the enterprise. CMOs will focus as much internally to build the digital fluency and capabilities of the organization as they do externally to build digital channels and content for consumers and partners. Look at Dell, which just trained more than 5,000 employees to take part in its Social Media Command Center.
  • Redefine media creativity and accountability. Marketing leaders will increase their appetite for innovative cross-media marketing campaigns, where creative-driven TV and print test more interactive formats and data-driven digital channels expand their emotional engagement. Television and cable networks like ABC and BET are driving tune-in by synchronizing social media and online content with traditional programming. How many screens will you be using to watch the Oscars this Sunday?

If you want to learn more about how to prepare for the next digital decade, join us at Forrester's Marketing Forum 2011 on April 5th to 6th in San Francisco. Forrester clients can read more by downloading the "Trends For The CMO To Watch In 2011" report.