Think having a Chief Marketing Officer is just an empty figurehead, created to shift blame onto when companies fail to meet their online goals and attract the attention of new customers? Think again. 

Besides the CEO, the CMO may be the most powerful person in the C-Suite, and has the ability to impact everything from the bottom line to shareholder value. 

Such was the topic of a panel hosted by the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Wednesday. Get It Online: Digitally-Savvy CMOs Increase Shareholder Value featured an all-star panel of CMOs including:

  • Kevin Alansky, former VP Marketing at Blackboard Inc.
  • Rory Channer, Chief Marketing Officer at CEB
  • Russ Glass, CEO and Co-Founder of Bizo
  • Erik Rogstad, Managing Director at AKQA

Panelists (L-R): Kevin Alansky, Rory Channer, Russ Glass, Erik Rogstad and Anthony Shop

Moderated by Anthony Shop, Managing Director of Social Driver, the panel sought to offer insights about the role of the chief marketing officer, while highlighting trends and lessons learned.

Throughout the discussion, several themes emerged. These themes not only confirmed many of the emerging trends and predictions that we’ve been covering for 2013; they also served to reinforce the fundamental elements of successful marketing.

Is Digital Marketing Like an Electric Iron?

When anyone talks about digital marketing, it can seem a little redundant. Doesn’t most marketing encompass the digital space by now? The panelists agreed that digital marketing implies multichannel opportunities, which undeniably impact the buyer’s experience.

As to whether all marketing is about being online, two very interesting insights were put forth. According to Mr. Rogstad, digital marketing is more about digital, less about marketing, highlighting the fact that consumer relationships drive more online experiences. As a result, Rogstad maintains that smart companies must be agile in order to create innovative marketing solutions.

For Mr. Glass, Mr. Channer and Mr. Alansky, digital marketing is closely aligned with content marketing. The idea that marketing today involves different channels than it did ten years ago doesn’t mean that content goes away. In fact, it actually makes content more important.

For Every Dollar Spent, What Am I Getting in Return?

You can’t have a panel of CMOs without addressing metrics and ROI. When asked “what are you measuring” the responses placed strategy before outcomes, while highlighting the need to dig deeper into your data. Thanks to big data, there’s more information to analyze, but much of it requires an advanced skill set. Don't be afraid to outsource to an MIT Ph.D to search for intricate trends and patterns, as one panelist does.