7 attributes of a successful CMO in the digital age

Executives discuss what it takes to lead an organization’s marketing efforts in today’s data-driven world.

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“CMOs realize the critical importance of analytics,” adds Stacy Gordon, CMO, LatentView. A solid understanding of analytics “enables you to understand consumer trends in the market, assess consumers’ reaction to product concepts and launches and understand the emotional and technical needs of consumers within a specific segment. These insights can shape a better marketing approach and create efficiencies that save money.”

[ Related: 14 digital marketing mistakes and how to avoid them ]

4. The ability to translate data into English

Successful CMOs know how to communicate the company’s goals and vision internally (to employees) and externally (to customers). You may be an expert number cruncher/data analyzer with a great understanding of your customers and products, but you also need to effectively translate that data into simple, easy-to-understand language, be it English, Spanish or whichever language your target audience speaks.

It is also critical for today’s CMOs to be able to communicate the brand message across channels.

“Consumers now engage with information and products in both digital and physical settings, and marketing teams should be focused on multi-channel communications and interactive experiences to reach and retain their customers,” says Brian Reed, CMO, ZeroFOX.

5. An openness to new ideas and channels

“Gone are the days when [advertising or] sending direct mail was the only way to market your product,” says Dale Chang, vice president, Portfolio Operations, Scale Venture Partners. “Progressive CMOs are experimenting with new channels for reaching customers and prospects, whether that’s Pinterest, Instagram, Medium or Snapchat.” And the ability to “apply the scientific method to figure out which channels work best for your business and how to allocate marketing spend is the most important skill digital-first CMOs need.”

6. Business insight

“Great CMOs must have a business mindset,” says Mike Colombo, CMO, Cloudwords. “They need to speak and think in terms of business metrics (new customer acquisitions, up-sell percentages, renewal rates). More importantly, they need to be able to convert marketing metrics – impressions, leads, open rates, registrations, followers – into business metrics that have a direct impact on the company’s growth and revenue goals.”

[ Related: 10 things that keep CMOs up at night ]

7. The ability to work with sales and IT

“One of the most important things you can do as a CMO is to listen to your sales team, as they are your closest link to your most important stakeholder, customers,” says Jennifer Singleton, CMO, Allego. “Make it a point to get face time with sales reps to learn about recent challenges, trends and successes. Ask what sales content they think is missing or how existing materials might be improved for greater relevancy. The more you can develop a strong relationship between teams, the more effective you’ll both be.”

Successful CMOs also “partner with CIOs,” says Reed. “CMOs need CIOs to help them experiment [and] adopt and integrate new technologies, while also protecting the marketing team from the risk of bad systems. A good CIO can drive massive value for the CMO by proactively partnering with [him or her] to enable a seamless customer experience through efficient and effective technology.”

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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