Advice for Today’s CMO: Focus on the Big 3.

If there’s anywhere in the enterprise that shows up that traditional marketing is a thing of the past, it’s in the role of the CMO. It used to be that marketing focused on generating leads with traditional tactics such as advertising and direct mail. Today, savvy marketers know that a lead—even a qualified one—may not have any bottom line value for a business. Today’s digital marketers know that it’s best to measure customer engagement and its impact on revenue.

Defining today’s CMO.

To marketers, the role of CMO is pretty well universally understood and accepted. The challenges come in when the CEO and other C-level execs have different interpretations of what a CMO should do. Even when hired to invigorate a brand, develop exciting strategies, release new products and more, there can be a big disconnect between mission and expectations of others.


As if the C-level disconnect weren’t enough, there’s still the gravitational pull of comfortable and familiar marketing tactics, especially in legacy businesses, making it even harder for CMOs to find their sweet spot.

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Prioritizing the big 3 for today’s CMO.

What shakes out of all marketing organizations today, however, is the understanding that they must be data driven in order to engage appropriately with prospects and customers. That’s priority number one. And, then, to make the data work smart, CMOs need to be digitally savvy. That may sound like it’s redundant but digital transformation only occurs in the hands of a skilled digital marketing lead. And, finally, every CMO needs to be revenue focused because at the end of every day, that’s what really matters to the business.

The data-driven CMO.

Data is king in any organization today. The level of sophistication of collecting and using that data varies among companies of all sizes. The smart CMO will wring out all the applicable information possible to better engage with prospects and customers.


Being data informed is important at the development stage of marketing initiatives but being data driven is critical at the optimization phase. Marketing teams must be able to project and develop creative campaigns based on fundamental data but when the campaign is over, the analytics kick in to measure success and ROI. Savvy marketers even run analytics during the course of campaigns in order to make changes that could alter the results more favorably.

CMO as digital genius.

Digital genius may not show up in the job description, but it’s a common expectation for every hired CMO. And it’s not just digital prowess in directing marketing campaigns that comes into play. Most CMOs are expected to be a major champion for digital transformation in the enterprise. Every day, CMOs interact with Sales, Customer Service, IT and Product Development to collect and optimize data to improve the operations of the business overall.


Most CMOs know how to build a good Martech stack but may be challenged when it comes to artificial intelligence and machine learning. In most companies today, a CMO has little time to come up to speed on new technologies and how they are integrated and used throughout the business.


Understanding the technology doesn’t necessarily mean a deep dive into the IT department, but it does mean understanding how a technology helps reach customers and prospects. Creating campaigns in conjunction with current technologies is the goal. That’s where the magic happens. Designing a campaign that incorporates a chatbot can be crazy successful for some retail and consumer-facing businesses so it’s critical that the CMO can combine creative vision and tech understanding.

CMO as rainmaker.

Most CMOs naturally gravitate to the creative and visionary aspects of their roles. That’s where most grew their careers. It’s the innovation, creative strategies, brilliant messaging, lead generation and campaign analysis that fuels them. The overarching demands and accountability can be a challenge at best. Then it gets serious. CMOs are also expected to drive disruptive growth and revenue.


According to a KPMG study, 50% of CEOs expect their CMO to be the exec driving disruptive growth at the business. It’s evident that CMOs are being asked to step beyond traditional marketing roles to drive growth for the business

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The focus on brand management and content development has to be balanced with a futurist perspective of strategy and growth. Throw in the development of unparalleled customer experiences and you have a good start on the new CMO’s role as growth and revenue champion.


CMO priorities continue to evolve but if the role is built on the big 3—data-driven, digital and revenue-focused—there is a steady foundation on which to build a solid career as well as business advantage.

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