Today, we have fresh data from Forrester’s Q2 B2C Marketing CMO Pulse Survey, 2022 — a cross-industry survey among 153 US B2C marketing executives, VP and above, at brands with at least 500 employees. We provided a list of 13 trending marketing priorities and asked respondents to indicate the degree to which each is a priority (critical, high, moderate, low, or “not on their agenda”) for their marketing department during the remainder of 2022. The results are in, and the top five priorities that were rated “critical” most often are:

1. Focus On Employer Branding And The Employee Experience

Acquiring and retaining high-performing talent is incredibly challenging right now, making it front and center to the CEO’s agenda. And CMOs have an important role to play as employer branding is increasingly powered by marketing. Why? Because traditional brand strategy is the bedrock of employer brand strategy. This requires emboldened CMOs who are able to connect employee experience (EX) to brand experience (BX) and customer experience (CX). Read: Dipanjan Chatterjee’s (just published) report: Employer Branding Is Marketing’s New Frontier.

2. Enhance And Optimize The Customer Experience

The pandemic made digital commerce basic table stakes, and more CMOs are now responsible for CX. That’s because all customer experiences are brand experiences. In fact, Forrester’s Marketing Survey, 2022, saw a 16-point year-over-year increase (from 40% in 2021 to 56% in 2022) of global marketing decision-makers in B2C businesses with 500-plus employees where the marketing function has primary responsibility for CX. Yet, almost half (46%) of US B2C marketing executives believe it’ll cost more to improve the customer experience versus the benefit they’ll get from it. Attend: Forrester’s CX North America conference, June 79, to find out why investing in CX matters to the top and bottom lines.

3. Mitigate The Impact Of Third-Party Cookies Going Away

Besides the “metaverse” (and we’ll get to that below), there doesn’t seem to be a more buzzed-about marketing topic than the demise of the third-party cookie. This is just one of the four forces of data deprecation that Forrester is tracking and affects audience targeting, media buys, measurement, and data strategy. To mitigate the negative effects of data deprecation, CMOs should widen their viewpoint to address all four of its forces and shift their marketing approach to favor first- and zero-party data. Read: Apply Your Data Deprecation Plan by Tina Moffett, Joanna O’Connell, Joe Stanhope, and Stephanie Liu.

4. Protect Advertising From Appearing Adjacent To Misinformation/Disinformation Content

The spread of disinformation has become a systemic issue in media. And guess what? Marketers are actually funding it. Most brands (and their agencies) don’t know where all of their ads are getting placed because, in the world of programmatic media, they’re not monitoring every single ad impression. But it doesn’t end there: Industry trade organizations, brand safety vendors, publishers, and advertising technology solutions are all playing catchup, leaving CMOs to try to clean up the mess. Read: Kelsey Chickering’s brand new report: Funding Truth In The Misinformation Age.

5. Double Down On Sustainability And Green Initiatives

Consumers increasingly choose brands with shared values — especially when it comes to sustainability. Data from Forrester’s Consumer Trust Imperative Survey, 2022, shows that over half of global online adults believe that brands should “lead the change” on climate change. As more companies announce sustainability pledges, what’s the CMO’s role? They hold the keys to mitigate the risk of “greenwashing” — ensuring their brand’s communications aren’t at odds with their company’s actions (in inaction) to protect the environment. Read: From Greenwashing To Best Practices On Sustainability Communications from Thomas Husson and Ryan Skinner.

So, What About The Metaverse?

Yes, the industry is all abuzz about the “metaverse,” but despite its hype, the metaverse doesn’t exist yet. Still, marketers’ FOMO is driving investments in immersive platforms (aka “metaverse precursors”). Seventy-six percent of US B2C marketing executives plan to invest some of their marketing budget toward metaverse-related activities in 2022, according to Forrester’s Q1 B2C Marketing CMO Pulse Survey, 2022. But it didn’t rank as a top-five critical priority in our Q2 survey. “Create a strategy for the ‘metaverse’” did, however, make it into the top 10 — just below “Expand our customer base to reach Gen Z.” Read: The State Of The Metaverse and be on the lookout for my “Marketing In The Metaverse” report later this month.

How do these priorities align to your 2022 marketing plans? Tweet me your thoughts at @McProulx. Forrester clients: Let’s chat more about the data via a Forrester guidance session.