4 Steps to a Healthier CMO-CIO Relationship
Smart marketers realize data-driven marketing leads to better results, and they are ready to put their money behind it. According to The CMO Survey (opens as a PDF), during the next three years marketers expect to increase their spending on marketing analytics by 73 percent. With the marketing function becoming more and more dependent on data and technology to be successful, it's time for CMOs to bridge the organizational divide and build a partnership with CIOs. Below are four steps for CMOs to create a more productive relationship with CIOs and work toward the mutual goal of betterment for the overall organization:
1. Don't Bring IT In as an Afterthought. CMOs need to bring CIOs into data projects early-on. As the first step to implementing a data-driven marketing initiative, CMOs should leverage the CIO's expertise in evaluating solutions that will help turn the deluge of data into actionable insights. It's the IT department that will help ensure all the data elements needed for a campaign or initiative are pulled out of silos, integrated into the system and accessible. CMOs should bring in the CIO at the onset of a project to set parameters for managing data in order to facilitate ease of use and maintain compliance and data security, particularly when customer data is involved.
2. Establish Goals for the Partnership. While marketing and IT departments have different priorities, both functions are working toward the same overarching business goal: driving growth for the company. While for IT departments, growth may mean anything from more efficient business operations to improved ROI on technology, marketing's definition of growth could mean an improved Net Promoter Score (NPS), more inbound leads or higher conversion rates. But when marketing and IT functions come together, the overall goal of the partnership should be to positively impact the company's bottom line.
CMOs and CIOs should collaborate and determine a quantifiable goal that will measure the efforts and results of both marketing and IT. For example, to measure the success of a data-driven marketing project, they could choose to track the cost of customer acquisition before and after implementing a data solution, or track the number of new qualified leads and compare that total to the initial cost of the solution to determine ROI.
3. Check In Regularly. Implementation of a data solution does not signal a successful end of the CMO-CIO relationship. The IT and marketing functions should continue to communicate regularly to work through challenges, discuss existing and future projects and use cases, and brainstorm new ways to use or improve the solution. These check-ins can take the form of weekly meetings, virtual whiteboards, working lunches or just office pop-ins. To keep the streams of communication open and build camaraderie between departments that are functionally so different, it may make sense to bring everyone together for a happy hour to bond in a work pressure-free atmosphere.
4. Measure Results and Celebrate Milestones. To keep the partnership on track, it's important to look back on the goals set forth at the start of the relationship and map progress toward those goals. Whether quarterly or bi-annually, CMOs and CIOs should sit down and calculate the results of the project at hand. This allows them to celebrate successes with their teams or course-correct, if necessary. If leads are converting at a higher rate since implementing a data project, or teams are working more efficiently because they are able to take advantage of more precise targeting, CMOs and CIOs should call out these successes. Not only will the bond between the marketing and IT teams be stronger because of the success of their collaboration, but the teams will feel motivated to keep up the cooperation and become a model unto other departments in the organization.
Managing data is a complex task and one that a CMO can't do alone. To keep pace with the industry's increasing reliance on data and analytics, CMOs need to work closely with CIOs to stay current on the solutions and technologies in the market that will give their business the upper hand. Only when that relationship is in place and strengthened can data-driven marketing initiatives really take off and drive business success.