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5 Reasons CMOs are Facing an Uphill Battle

4 minute read
Dom Nicastro avatar
We asked CMOs what their biggest challenge is and how they are tackling them. Here is what they had to say.

Five years ago these were the topics being discussed in relation to the CMO role:

Well, times have certainly changed, however, the latter is still definitely true. It was no easy job leading a marketing organization then and it's still challenging five years later. So what specific changes are significantly impacting CMO roles today? We caught up with some top marketing leaders to find out.

Imperative to Become Revenue-Producers

Three years ago, the imperative in marketing for John Nash, CMO at RedPoint Global, was to simply do a better job at marketing. “The typical kind of day then was spent looking at and identifying what were our biggest capability gaps, and where do we need to make investments? And how do we make those investments and execute the program plans and create those kind of infrastructure items?”

Today it’s all about making sure his team is turning any marketing expense it has into revenue. Nash said, “It’s all about treating marketing like engineering, and being very scientific around where the program dollars are going. What responses are we getting? Let's measure at the individual customer level. And then test and optimize over time. It’s about reporting performance and getting a dashboard I can look at daily.”

Related Article: CMOs Share Their Top Priorities for Remainder of 2019 

From Generalists to Specialists

Ian Dowd, CMO at High Speed Training, said 7 to 10 years ago a marketing team consisted of marketing generalists who had to be able to cover a range of areas such as online, email, events, SEO, PPC, campaign creation etc. “As each area has become more complex it's meant there is much more specialization with discrete roles in each area of major focus,” Dowd said. “What is required now is deep technical skill in a particular area, combined with an understanding of how each element fits together into a cohesive whole, to achieve broader marketing and business objectives.”

More Data, Less Gut Instincts

Acquia CMO Lynne Capozzi noted that marketers are now being asked to do more than ever in their current roles. It’s vital, she said, to have the right processes in place to help streamline marketing operations. “This is precisely why my role as a CMO is increasingly data-driven,” Capozzi said. “It’s crucial that I am constantly taking a step back to see what is working and what isn’t. Don’t be afraid to make the necessary changes to create more efficient teams to generate pipeline.”

Learning Opportunities

Because of these changes, Capozzi said she’s also relying less on gut instinct and more on data-driven insights. “I, and other marketers, have adopted more tools to help identify how to best optimize future marketing efforts,” she said. “With technology, I can be more efficient and effective than before and make more informed, quicker decisions.”

Personalization, web analytics, NPS scores around customer satisfaction, customer experience and multi-touch attribution analysis are just some of the metrics she uses to help drive these smart decisions. “In my role at Acquia, it’s all about marketing ROI,” Capozzi said. “For us, this means building new customers, maintaining existing customers, increasing our sales efforts and maintaining costs for retaining and growing new customers. If we can’t measure it, I don’t want to do it.”

Related Article: Beyond the Campaign: Times They Are A-Changing for CMOs 

From Brand Awareness to Growth

The role of marketing has evolved over the past five years from being laser focused on brand and awareness, to what is now an integral driver of the company’s growth strategy, according to Kristin Hambelton, CMO at Marketing Evolution. Data and the associated insights, along with tools to identify and act on those insights, she said, has played a big part in this shift, so marketers have adapted their organizations and hiring to include these skill sets.

“Marketing continues to encompass many facets, including demand generation/acquisition, brand, content, communications, product marketing, customer marketing and partner marketing, so depending on what you are hiring for, the skills will vary,” she said. “However, no matter what the role is, every marketer today has to exhibit a strong customer-first mindset because of heightened customer expectations around brand experience.”

Customer Acquisition to Customer Lifetime Value

The biggest change for today's marketing executive is the responsibility and accountability beyond customer acquisition to customer lifetime value, according to Jeff Brown, CMO of Lytics. “The expectations of consumers are more relationship-focused today and we need to pay attention to their evolving needs through their relationship with us.”