How CMOs can keep themselves in the boardroom – and get the CRO out

The role of a chief marketing officer (CMO) can often turn out to be one filled with uncertainty. At the moment, the average tenure of a CMO sits at only 44 months, and the job is often regarded as the most at risk within the C-suite. The question is: why? There are many reasons, but one common view is that CMOs struggle to prove to the rest of their C-level colleagues how their marketing efforts are benefiting the company - which, ultimately, puts their position at risk.

This problem is creating a lot of discussion in businesses, and many companies now feel it is necessary to employ a chief revenue officer (CRO) alongside - or sometimes even instead of - a CMO. The idea being that the CMO is responsible for opening doors for sales, generating and qualifying leads, and the CRO’s responsibility is to - essentially - take this further; to use these open doors to find ways in which a business can grow, primarily through scaling revenue. It’s a common belief that CMOs place too much emphasis on marketing compared to earning new business, that they fail to support wider business growth, optimisation and retention.

This is the general perception; that CMOs are only concentrating on how many leads are generated from campaigns. Of course, this metric is important for a CMO - who has a deep understanding of marketing - but the rest of the C-suite doesn’t typically see the same value in it. And sometimes even the CMO and the marketing team can struggle to truly see and act upon the correlation between leads generated and revenue generated. Their goal is revenue growth and customer retention, and it’s time for the CMO to prove that marketing can support this, both opening the doors for sales and pushing them over the line - ousting the need for the CRO.

Understanding the C-suite’s priorities

The importance of revenue growth is obvious. Revenue growth usually comes hand in hand with increased profit for a company, helping the business as a whole grow.

One of the most important components of any business is its customers, and this is why the CMO role exists - to play an integral part in attracting them. Of course, generating leads is good - it proves that a company can attract these new customers, but the difficult part is determining how many of these leads will become customers and how much this process is costing. What matters to those at C-level is that revenue is higher than cost, and the bigger the gap between the two, the better.

Do you want the CEO’s trust? Marketers need to be able to demonstrate the impact of marketing on a commercial level.

Proving that marketing produces growth

Traditional marketing is hard to judge on a commercial scale. You might spend X amount of money, which generates Y amount of leads, resulting in Z amount of new customers, and generating a revenue increase of X%; but the real value for CMOs is understanding and proving the links between these figures - and more, knowing what types of leads are more or less valuable to the company. It’s tough to read between those lines, but being able to do so can transform the way that a company’s marketing efforts are carried out, the results of campaigns, and most importantly, how these results are understood and presented to the rest of the C-suite.

As we continue to rely on the advancement of technology to make our lives easier, one option in fixing these marketing woes can arrive through marketing automation, which allows you to create highly personalised customer journeys that help to qualify leads. Instead of sending out generic messages to potential customers in a ‘spray and pray’ approach, you can collect data from each user’s website activity, presenting different landing page options, in order to send emails that are tailored to what they’ve shown an interest in. Through this, you can gradually qualify leads, optimising the likelihood of purchase - saving both time and resources in the meantime.

The technology helps marketing teams to understand where these leads are going, and what works best for each different type of customer. It shows the journey that they’ve taken from various places - social media, events, different website pages - and tracks them, showing different user habits. Using marketing automation, marketeers can determine the best time to approach prospects and the best method to use - whether or not they need to receive certain messages before being pitched sales. Each potential customer can embark on their own highly personalised journey. Through this, the value of marketing is proven by improving the odds of converting visits to leads, and eventually, leads to sales.

Not only is marketing automation a powerful tool for customer acquisition, but it continues this personalised journey beyond the first purchase, keeping customers sticky. It is critical to aid the growth of a business from both angles: new customers, and repeat customers. Return customers are 11 times more likely to buy from a company than a new one, so providing a personalised experience that makes a customer feel valued will only increase this likelihood of returning - thus contributing to company growth.

In total, marketing automation has the ability to greatly increase a company’s growth. Improving the conversion rate of visits to leads while reducing costs enhances efficiency, and combining this with improvements on customer acquisition and retention is the kind of information that the C-suite is looking for. Lower costs with better results contribute greatly to growth, and marketing automation not only provides the ability to do this, but it also gives the CMO the information needed to prove their worth in the boardroom - keeping themselves involved, and the CRO out.

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