Survive and Boost Your Position as a CMO

By now you’ve heard the statistics — the average Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) lasts less than two years in the job. They have the world’s largest collection of headhunter Christmas cards. Realtors and moving companies keep them on speed dial.

You’ve also heard the statistics about online marketing — budgets are up, web traffic and searches are increasing, business sites and landing pages are growing by the millions. From the boardroom to the sales desk, expectations are rising. And your future is inevitably tied to these often unrealistic standards.

How CMOs survive in the age of disruption

It doesn’t have to be. CMOs can improve their chances of surviving and thriving in their new positions by addressing the needs of the boardroom, CEO, and CFO with a steady flow of information they can understand and use; and by creating a corporation-wide buy-in of the company’s annual online marketing efforts, including agreed upon:

  • Goals and objectives
  • Strategy for reaching those goals
  • Resources to implement the marketing plan
  • Fair and logical metrics for measuring success
  • Reliable analytic tools and assistance
  • Latitude to adjust tactics
  • Opportunity to package and present results

Consider your metrics

What actions and strategies will help CMOs put metrics to work for them? Once you get systems deployed, how do you make piles of profit out of mounds of data? What follows are ten key strategies – plus a bonus.

Create a benchmark

You need a starting point. What are your market position, name recognition, search engine keyword positions, website traffic, conversion rates, sales, profits, et cetera? And you need to address the challenges of measuring intangibles when choosing your metrics. If you worry that having a benchmark may show that nothing happened, then you’re worrying about the wrong thing.

Explore the universe

The breadth of data and analytic tools available today could not have been envisioned even five years ago. Survey the universe of what’s possible in analytics before you settle on the best means of finding out what works and what does not.

One size does not fit all

Select metrics that make sense for your current employer, not your last one. If you’re now selling funeral plots, for example, forget the customer retention metrics you used peddling t-shirts. A B2B enterprise probably doesn’t care about gross visits, and they look for lead generation; to a retailer conversions mean everything.

Measure the vital, not the easy

You may have inherited some irrelevant metrics that need updating. If the current system does not let you track sales and transaction figures relative to a specific promotion, keyword or campaign, for example, raise a red flag. The system needs to be changed.

Keep it simple

The moment that sales moved online, a data explosion occurred. The possibilities for analysis are overwhelming and potentially paralyzing. Don’t let them be. Boil your metrics down to what is most important for measuring progress toward meeting your goals. Unless you’re an expert with time on your hands, hire a firm that regularly integrates analytics into successful online marketing.

Seek out operations

Operations have to justify many kinds of expenditures to management. They may use some metrics related to ROI, et cetera which could tell you what kind of information the corporate decision-makers are accustomed to seeing.

Consider your audience

Are you touting conversions when the CFO is looking at profits and sales? Collect the information you need to track and adjust your marketing program, but disseminate only the knowledge that your audience will find relevant.

Get management buy-in

As tempting as it is to hide the magic behind the curtain, you get longer-lasting internal support by involving management throughout your marketing planning, implementation, measurement, and adjustment process.

Keep asking: what’s important?

In the fast-paced world of online marketing, it’s easy to lose the compass. Set up a time each month to step back and reassess: is what we are doing the best way to get us where we want to go?

Revise and conquer

It is so tempting — you have done your lobbying-best to get management’s buy-in for your online marketing plan, so why make changes just because your latest campaign failed to perform? Fix it and tell them why; at the end of the day you’re being measured by the results of your actions, not the actions themselves.

Get help

Ironically, the more some CMOs need help, the less likely they are to ask. The real talent in being a successful CMO is knowing the questions to ask. Share that philosophy with management during your interview and repeat it often after you come on board.