The rise of the self-reliant buyer and digital-first customer journey has upended a large part of the sales action to the top of the funnel, making chief marketing officers responsible for 44 percent of a company’s revenue today versus just 10 percent in the mid-2000s. That’s according to the CMO Council’s latest report, which found that 63 percent of marketers are under very high to extreme pressure to deliver revenue growth due to challenges, including the need to prove marketing attribution to revenue and show that data analytics and marketing tech are worth the investment.

Facing a scarcity of resources and a skeptical chief executive officer, marketers are at risk of missing their revenue mark, with 53 percent saying they’re only moderately confident or worse that they’ll meet their revenue targets. Pressure from the top is weighing heavy on them, as 57 percent think their CEO is only moderately satisfied or worse with marketing’s performance.

The acceleration of online shopping is only exacerbating marketing leaders’ doubts. In this new digital-first era, 80 percent of respondents say that the shift of the self-reliant buyer has made marketing more valuable than ever.

The CMO Council found that 90 percent of marketers are expected to grow revenue this year. Despite 65 percent of marketers saying they plan to increase marketing spend in 2021, budgets haven’t grown enough to support all of marketing’s activities, including brand-building, digital experience and personalized content.

Nearly all (95 percent) of CMOs who admitted a lack of resources say this resulted in missed revenue opportunities. Many of the internal hurdles they’re facing come back to the lack of education around marketing impact on revenue—measuring the full value of marketing, misunderstanding of the new buyer’s journey, lack of clarity about ownership of outcomes and unrealistic expectations from sales.

Consumers’ desire for meaningful, personalized experience necessitates first-party data and MarTech. But when CMOs don’t have buy-in from C-suite because they’re unable to show how much revenue MarTech will generate before implementing it, they miss out on data literacy skills and the opportunity to meet the demands of the self-reliant buyer.

Data is crucial but only when marketers can make sense of it. Yet three out of four respondents have data literacy gaps, reports the CMO Council. What’s worse, only 20 percent of CMOs are successful when it comes to leveraging data to identify and target customers and just 27 percent can leverage data successfully to gain insights into shifting behaviors. To top it off, just a quarter are successful when acting on those insights.

“I see AI being integrated into our products and data analysis to determine the next best action for marketers to engage the customer. Eventually, we’re going to get to where AI engages the customer directly, and calls to humans only happen when required,” Mark Phibbs, vice president of marketing and communications for Cisco across Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China, told the CMO Council.

Over the next 12 months, 69 percent of marketers plan to increase their MarTech spend, with the top three priorities being marketing analytics (50 percent), content marketing (41 percent) and audience/marketing data and data enhancement (37 percent).

To improve their odds, the CMO Council suggests marketers prioritize the digital experience, double-down on data analytics to help prove revenue attribution and create content that works well with omnichannel.