These Are the 10 Qualities of the Best Digital CMOs

A corporate ladder-climbing listicle

Aside from the same title, CMOs today have a job that barely resembles the one they did ten, even five years ago. In fact, for CMOs at cutting-edge brands, marketing is only one of a wide range of responsibilities.

With more data at their disposal, businesses have grown more customer-centric than ever before. Among other things, this means that the rest of the C-suite is often looking for guidance from the CMO—the person in the organization who knows the most about listening and responding to customers. So how, exactly, do today’s best CMOs keep their businesses thriving in the digital age?

Let’s take a look at 10 qualities that great digital CMOs have in common:

10. Passionate about collaboration

Today’s business world might be referred to as “the digital era,” but it could also be called “the integration era.” As companies adopt an integrated technology approach and strive for great customer experiences, the CMO can no longer afford to work independently of the rest of the C-suite. Close working relationships and constant collaboration with other executives is often the difference between a good and a great CMO.

9. Love measurement

Even in the digital age, ROI can sometimes be an imperfect science. Customer journeys are unpredictable and complex attribution models always retain an element of subjectivity. Great digital CMOs don’t deny any of this, but they don’t use it as an excuse either. The more they can measure, the better positioned they are to make smart decisions.

8. See fragmentation as an opportunity

Consumers today are spread out across more channels than ever before. And just to make things as tricky as possible for marketers, consumers now jump from device to device throughout the day. But rather than bang their heads against the wall, leading digital CMOs recognize that mobile is an incredible opportunity to build more intimate relationships with consumers and to engage them closer to the point of sale.

7. Don’t fear technology

Not all of today’s top CMOs are tech geeks. But they all tend to recognize that the right marketing technology will make them better at what they do and make their companies more efficient. Steep learning curves are never fun, but savvy CMOs take the time to master the tools they need.

6. Never embrace technology for its own sake

Today’s top CMOs can’t afford to shy away from new tech, but they also can’t afford to be fooled into adopting expensive technologies for the sake of keeping up with the crowd. The best digital CMOs appreciate that new technology isn’t an end unto itself, and do their homework before implementing new solutions.

5. Experiment, experiment, experiment

Data provides a CMO with information but not necessarily with answers. Savvy digital CMOs use data to listen to consumers and form hypotheses, but they never stop there. Rather, they test their hypotheses over and over to determine how customers actually behave.

4. Bring data together

The C-suite needs to cooperate more than ever in the digital age—that’s because data integration is more important than ever. Today’s CMOs prioritize solutions that let them bring different data sets together on one marketing platform so that they can glean insights rapidly and understand how one channel influences the next.

3. Never stop championing the customer

The role of the CMO has evolved and expanded for one primary reason: CMOs understand the customer better than anyone in the organization. The best digital CMOs strive to make the rest of the team embrace the same customer-centric focus that has always been at the heart of great marketing.

2. Get to know the CIO

The best CMOs interact with leaders across the organization, but the most important relationship is generally the one that’s formed with the CIO. When the CMO and CIO are working in tandem, it becomes much easier to align goals, work more effectively and deliver better customer experiences.

1. Create a culture of adaptation

Digital never stops evolving, and the best CMOs recognize that they can’t predict the future. What they can do is create a culture of innovation that prioritizes rapid adaptation as consumer habits evolve and new technologies arise. The best digital CMOs will be ready for the very different job they’re likely to be doing in 2020.

Check out more CMO insights from Deloitte Digital