Powered By Technology, The CMO Role Grows Up

No longer a cost center, marketing takes on a new role within the organization. Columnist Mary Wallace explores the evolution of CMO responsibilities.

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Growing up is painful.  It is not a simple process. Sometimes it’s easier to avoid maturation and stay right where you are instead.

Many times, we crave the privileges of maturity without wanting to change what we are doing. Just ask my 9-year-old son, who declines taking on any added responsibility but really likes the privileges that come with growing up.

Not long ago, the marketing function was looked at as a cost center. It was known for fluffy brochures, catalogs and designing logo-ed hats and golf balls for the sales team to give out to customers. In many companies, the marketing organization was an extension of the sales team. Marketing was seen as adding little value to the company’s bottom line.

Fast forward to 2015, where marketing has grown up and matured into a respected business function.

The reasons for this maturation:

• Buyers no longer engage with sales at the beginning of the buying cycle. On average, 67% of a buyers’ journey is now conducted digitally, says SiriusDecisions. When it comes to B2B buying, Lori Wizdo from Forrester Research says: “Although it varies greatly with product complexity and market maturity, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor.” This change in buying behavior increased marketing’s responsibility to keep prospects engaged and convert them to leads to be contacted by the sales organization.

• Marketing automation tools, including Eloqua and Marketo, provide the metrics needed to quantify the value marketing is delivering to the business.

To maintain the privilege of being at the decision-makers’ table, CMOs must take certain responsibilities.

New, Expanded CMO Opportunities

The new CMO opportunities include the following:

CMOs Must Own The Overall Customer Experience Including Individual Digital Dialogues

Digital transformation is one of the most significant drivers of business change today.  The result is improved financial performance produced by both increased sales and reduced costs. CMOs are positioned to drive this change for their companies.  They – better than any of their counterparts – understand the customer.

CMOs Must Be Leaders In The Company’s Digital Transformation

By focusing on the various aspects of customer engagement including need, channel, and engagement life cycle, CMOs can work with the IT organization to build digital interfaces, including apps and websites, to engage customers and foster long-term relationships that span an increasing array of touch-points.

CMOs Must Dialogue With Other C-Suite Executives In Appropriate Terms That Speak To Real Business Goals

Forrester’s Wizdo says the company asked B2B marketing execs what their most important metrics were: “56% identified a revenue-related metric — compared with 44% for customer satisfaction and 40% for brand awareness.”

The Key: Big Data

Harnessing Big Data is the essential component to meeting all of these new requirements. It not only provides insight to improve the customer experience; it also provides quantitative detail on which market segment the revenue is generated from.

For example, segmenting by channel can indicate where leads are coming from. Segmenting on persona can indicate which buyers are most important, both in terms of number of sales as well as size of each sale. Segmenting on business need can provide insight into what is driving the buyer.

All of this information can assist marketers in providing prospects with the right information at the right time, to drive to the next level of the buying cycle.

And it isn’t just valuable for the marketing operation. Using this information across the company — from R&D through operations and to distribution — empowers the marketing organization to steer the direction of the company.

Focusing On What’s Important

Communication is key to maintaining peer respect for marketing’s value, and that means framing conversations around the metrics and goals that are important to your fellow C-Level execs. To do that, you must have a clear understanding of business expectations.

While each company has different expectations, pretty much every company understands the language of revenue. Through tools like marketing automation platforms and Big Data repositories, marketing can track its contribution to revenue. Reporting on the results rather than the effort expended (aka cost) will increase the confidence of CEOs, CFOs, and investors.

Digital technologies are providing the springboard for disrupting established business models everywhere. Today’s CMO is positioned to harness these technologies to deliver the goods in terms of revenue growth, customer experience, and customer insights.

Communicating the results of marketing’s impact on sales will secure marketing’s set at the decision makers’ table and its role as the key driver of change.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Mary Wallace
Mary Wallace is a modern marketer with the skills and ability to increase revenue and optimize campaign performance by leveraging technical, business, management, content, and marketing expertise. With over 25 years of industry experience, Mary has a diverse background in marketing, technology, media, consulting, and leadership that enables her to help clients implement solutions that produces optimal results. A leader in marketing automation and marketing technology, Mary provides thought leadership for a variety of publications.

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