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How are leading CMOs at top-performing companies planning to spend their budget and time across the buyer’s journey? Industry-leading CMOs Jeffrey Rohrs of Yext, Chip House of Four51, and Ramon Chen of Reltio sat down with Kevin Bobowski, CMO at Act-On, for an hour-long candid talk about how they’re nailing their marketing strategy.

Here’s a look at just a few of the key points guests touched on as the discussion evolved throughout the hour.

Top priorities as CMO

Bobowski tackled the big question right out of the gate — what should a CMO’s most essential priorities be?

A relatively new company, Chen says, should be generally focused on building a brand, especially when you’re competing against established businesses with unlimited budgets. Reltio, which was recently named as a leader in Forrester’s Q1 report on Master Data Management, is a startup, so branding is a priority in their space.

Though Four51 is a fairly established company (and saw a 50 percent growth in its staff through 2015), House says that brand awareness is still a top priority — up there with leads. Any modern CMO is going to be expected to increase brand awareness and uplevel how their brand is perceived in the marketplace, he continues.

However, he emphasizes that it is crucial to make internal corporate communication a priority as well. “I don’t think there’s any strong, fast growing company today that doesn’t also have a strong culture,” House says. “And the CMO has to be in charge of getting the core messaging, owning the culture, and fostering it through the organization.”

Rohrs adds one more essential priority: category awareness. Yext, named one of America’s fastest growing companies by Inc. and one of Forbes’ Most Promising Companies, is focused on carving out a new and unique category of its own. For early-stage companies not tied to a big market or industry, category creation depends on building relationships with influencers in adjacent markets.

Where should a CMO spend their time?

There are three core elements of a successful marketing strategy, Bobowski notes: brand marketing, demand gen, and customer marketing. Where should you be spending the most time?

Customer marketing, says Chen. “I’m really passionate about the fact that we need to engage with the buyer,” he says. B2B marketers tend to treat customers like statistics, too often leading to cold calls with irrelevant offers. “We need to engage with our customers and prospects,” he continues. “Tell them what we have, then recognize their name, personalize their interactions with us, and really make it an all-immersive experience.”

However, House notes, a great external brand always starts with a great internal culture and alignment with company values and goals. Taking that out to customers and partners is the next step. The CMO’s job, he says, is to ensure there’s ongoing content that matches the overall brand experience, inside and out.

Budgeting resources

The sky is the limit — until you look at your marketing budget. How should a CMO allocate resources when every dollar counts?

“Growth enables you to double down and do new types of investments,” Rohrs says. “But first you need to step back. Get dug in on what has worked, what hasn’t, and collaborate,” he adds. And understand all your go-to-market models, because the budget for each can be very different.

A large portion will already be committed to yearly goals, but he urges CMOs to hold back a piece of those resources to remain flexible, and gain the ability to throw resources behind objectives that need them as campaigns roll out.

Key performance metrics

In the end, the way to continue to grow your marketing campaigns is understanding exactly what works, what doesn’t, and when you need to take a leap of faith.

“In this age of technology,” Chen says, “you still have only a loose idea of exactly how effective campaigns are.” You have metrics like open rates and clickthroughs, but tying MQLs to actual revenue generated and impact is still a little bit of a dark art.

Bobowski agrees. “CMOs should build themselves out as a profit center,” he says. “Instead of just focusing performance success on the number of leads you generate, focus more on the revenue you’re generating for your company.”

They all agreed on the classic metrics: the size of various audiences across email lists and social media; benchmarking and then measuring growth of engagement and value of their audience; their share of voice in the space.

But employee retention and recruiting, which tends to not get measured, is a critical part of success in brand marketing, House adds.

Rohrs agrees. “It’s absolutely critical in the era of social media,” he says. “Both HR and marketing have a stake in the joint success of the brand, both in terms of what it represents in the experiences of the customer as well as what it represents to the employee.”

For even more in-depth insight from industry leaders and some surprising tactical info (could direct mail really be making a comeback?) check out the free webinar, “Think like a CMO: Allocating budget and resources across the buyer’s journey” now.

Access the webinar on demand right here for free.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • CMO perspectives on KPIs, team structure, and resource allocation
  • How CMOs are measuring marketing results
  • Tips and advice on setting your organization up for success


  • Jeffrey Rohrs, Chief Marketing Officer, Yext
  • Chip House, Chief Marketing Officer, Four51
  • Ramon Chen, Chief Marketing Officer, Marketing & Product Management, Reltio


  • Kevin Bobowski, Chief Marketing Officer, Act-On Software

    This webinar is sponsored by Act-On Software.