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In the good old days of fat cats and see-gars and three TV networks, the chief marketing officer’s job was easy, if it even existed at all: brand, positioning, and placement on TV, newspapers, magazines, plus maybe some radio.

Done, martinis at noon, see you at the golf course for tee time at three.

Not any more. Today’s CMO has increased responsibility for revenue and that, plus the new complexities of social and mobile and web, has increased involvement in all aspects of what his or her company does, according to a new study by Deloitte and ExactTarget (’s marketing cloud).

new cmo responsibilities


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“Marketing may be signing up for big numbers, but the customer purchase journey is splintered across product, sales, and service,” the study says. “Many CMOs are faced with a conversion path they don’t entirely own.”

Marketing technologist Scott Brinker and VB are studying the new digital marketing organization.
Help us, and we’ll share the data.

According to the study, which surveyed 228 “global marketing leaders” who are mostly at companies with more than $500 million in annual revenue, CMOs face five new challenges:

  1. Be responsible for top line growth
  2. Own the customer experience
  3. Use data to drive marketing
  4. Operate in real-time
  5. Master metrics … especially ROI

53 percent of CMOs have increased pressure to deliver revenue growth this year, the study says, but only 27 percent are working to align product development and sales with marketing to help deliver on the commitment. Almost half, however, are taking greater ownership of customer-facing teams, and 38 percent are taking a larger customer-service role.

cmo priorities

One area with obvious impact? Social media, where marketing hears customer feedback that can then be injected into the product lifecycle.

Perhaps nowhere is the new set of CMO responsibilities more obvious than in the exploding world of data. 61 percent of CMOs say that data acquisition is one of their three key priorities for 2014, and an almost equal number say that testing and optimization based on that data is another. The key, however, is in using the data to personalize customer experiences and drive customer acquisition:

CMO's key areas of focus for 2014

Above: CMO’s key areas of focus for 2014

Image Credit: CMO Report

“We must move from numbers keeping score to numbers that drive better actions,” the study says.

If data is a challenge, the new real-time world of online and mobile is an even bigger one. But as mobile and online ad exchanges and real-time bidding platforms eat ever more of the corporate world’s ad spend, real-time marketing is becoming a must-have.

Essentially, it’s one-to-one marketing in action:

“Real-time digital marketing techniques that sense customer behavior and respond (like instant geotargeted alerts via push message, or automated and personalized emails based on website or social activity) are becoming the standard in 1:1 communication, shortening the lag time between a customer action and a perfectly timed and targeted brand response. Real-time efforts have replaced segment-centric batch-and-blast marketing … all the while respecting [customers’] preferences as a unique person — not a persona.”

Clearly that kind of high-touch and highly automated response is only possible with marketing technology, including ExactTarget’s Salesforce1-based solution, competitor Adobe’s marketing cloud, Microsoft’s new marketing solutions, and many other marketing automation solutions for companies large and small. So naturally you have to take a study like this with at least one grain of salt.

True enough, perhaps.

But the new reality of marketing technology is that with new capabilities and new data come new responsibilities, which can only be managed at scale with yet more technology. And while that’s a challenge that many traditional marketers aren’t yet sure they can accept, it’s clearly one that is the future of the new marketing department.

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