During the past couple of decades, technology and data have changed the way companies do business across industries and operating units. We use different tools to discover opportunities, execute tactics and strategies and measure performance, and that has been transformative across the board. This is especially true in marketing, which began as more art than science and has been playing catch-up ever since.
Old-school marketing focused on building and managing brands. CMOs segmented customers into groups, and if the company had sufficient budget and resources, they conducted studies to find ways to appeal to each customer segment, honed messaging in part using their intuition and deployed “spray and pray” campaigns to reach prospects and generate leads. It doesn’t work that way anymore.
Technology and data tilted the art and science balance and enabled much more precise targeting and personalization. In the process, it dramatically changed the CMO role, prompting speculation in some quarters about the long-term viability of the CMO position itself. But the truth is, the CMO role is as vital as ever — today’s CMOs just need different strategies, skills, and support to succeed. Are you ready to meet the challenges of the next decade?
Digitally Driven Decision-Making
The rise of martech tells the story of how the CMO role is evolving: The universe of available martech solutions exploded over the last decade, growing from around 150 in 2011 to more than 7,000 and counting in 2019. Measurement is a high priority today, and CMOs are under increasing pressure to demonstrate a return on the company’s investment in their budget, the same as everyone else in the C-suite.
The CMO role has always been a big job, but now it’s more complex. In addition to technology becoming more sophisticated, the way buyers approach purchases has also changed, especially in B2B marketing. Marketing has always been responsible for generating leads at the top of the funnel, but today’s buyers tend to reach out to sales later in the cycle, so modern B2B marketers have to nurture leads at every stage.
Like their predecessors, today’s CMOs have to understand storytelling, design, research, etc. But now, they also need to be familiar with digitally driven decision-making, based on the martech stack their operations teams use to deploy campaigns and generate and analyze data. Above all, CMOs must be able to measure and track performance, gain insight from data and apply what they’ve learned to improve future campaigns.
Essential Skills for Modern CMOs
No one person can master every aspect of a modern marketing operation — the scope of responsibilities is too broad. But it’s important for the CMO to understand the big picture that’s made up of the component parts, which can include any and all of these areas:
- Content Marketing
- Customer Experience
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Mobile Marketing
- Product Marketing
- Marketing Automation
- Marketing Analytics
Veteran marketers who got their start before the martech, big data, and analytics era can improve their skills by choosing an area that interests them and studying it. Does measurement interest you? Learn how it works, familiarize yourself with the available tools and develop an understanding of how it delivers value to the company. Then be sure to surround yourself with people who understand the details about these systems and how they operate together.
The CMO Role Is Changing, But We Still Need CMOs
The CMO role is changing, but we still need CMOs. Why? Because it takes a skilled and balanced team to manage all facets of a modern marketing operation, and it takes a CMO who understands how each piece fits into the overall puzzle to build and manage that team. CMOs who understand this will continue to have a role to play as the next decade unfolds.
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