CMO job description: What does a CMO do?

CMOs are no longer just responsible for marketing...

The job title chief marketing officer (CMO) is somewhat misleading, suggesting the key responsibility of the position is to drive marketing efforts. However, it's evolved over the last few years to cover much more - specifically, digital transformation and making sure customer interaction with a brand, known as customer experience, is tip-top.

Although a marketing head has been a position in firms for decades, the role of CMO is relatively new in comparison, as organisations recognise the need for one person to spearhead a company's digital transformation and customer experience efforts.

Ensuring the customer experience is at the forefront of a business's digital strategy is no easy task and will involve working closely with other parts of the business - key stakeholders as well as the IT department, marketing and sales teams to discover what customers want and how that can be delivered.

You'll usually find a CMO working in big businesses - those that can afford to have someone specifically looking after customer experience and change. In smaller companies, it's often absorbed into the marketing department's wider role, so may be the responsibility of head of marketing or spread across multiple people.

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But what does a CMO actually do, how easy is it to become one and what's their likely salary? If you have your eyes on this role as your next job application, what can you expect?

What does a CMO do?

A CMO is the person who manages the strategies for business transformation. They will work with others in the organisation to roll out these ideas and is primarily responsible for measuring how everyone - customers, partners, employees - perceive the company.

Their role covers marketing, PR and internal comms, executing customer experience campaigns to measure sentiment and then the strategies to change any negative attention.

The CMO will make sure the messaging is consistent across the entire organisation, so whether interacting with the brand online, in print or on broadcast media, the same messages are communicated.

Social media and digital media have changed marketing as a whole, meaning customers can easily provide feedback to businesses in real time, for all to see - most often in the form of complaints on Twitter. This makes any marketer or customer service personnel's role more challenging, and is one thing a CMO must carefully consider.


In addition to being responsible for all marketing efforts within an organisation, CMOs are now increasingly the ones driving a move to cloud computing internally.

Indeed, analyst firm Gartner has predicted that by the end of 2017, the CMO will be spending more on IT than the CIO. The gap is pretty slim too. According to a Gartner blog post by Jake Sorofman - referencing the analyst firm's CMO spend research - CMO's allocate, on average, 3.24% of their total revenue towards spending on tech. The figure for CIOs doing the same is only slightly higher at 3.4% of revenue. It's a gap that's likely to close going forward as more line of business heads, such as CMOs, start to have greater influence over IT strategy, particularly when it comes to the cloud. 

Businesses live or die by their reputation and how they are perceived by consumers. As such, an organisation's success can be made or broken by the vision and actions - or lack thereof - of its CMO. Many businesses rely on a mixture of internal marketers and agencies, but the buck still stops with the CMO in signing off activity, so a lot of power and responsibility rests on their shoulders.

CMOs are also, indirectly, responsible for customer acquisition and retention. The right kind of marketing campaign can attract new customers to the business, but it's targeting and analytics of behaviour that will likely keep them loyal. As such, the CMO should work closely with the person in charge of the sales organisation to ensure marketing messages and the messages actually taken to market by personnel are in sync.

CMOs and CIOs have also been encouraged to work more closely together to ensure greater success and longevity, fuelled by winning over more customers through an aligned strategy that puts historical differences to one side. 

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Furthermore, the CMO is expected to hold most of the power when it comes to implementing tools and processes that will drive real change in the business, such as a shift to digital or cloud computing.

So, it seems the CMO is someone other C-suite executives and line of business heads really want to get on side if they want to effect real change and digitally transform the way they work through technology. Indeed, McKinsey & Company believe we are now seeing a new breed of CMO who has much more organisational sway than ever before.

What qualifications does a CMO need?

Most people working in marketing, particularly those in or heading to a marketing leadership role, have studied for professional qualifications to validate their real-world experience. Accreditations from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) are probably the most widely recognised in the UK, but there are other qualifications that also demonstrate an individual's aptitude for the job.

How much does a CMO earn?

CMOs can expect to earn a more than decent salary, particularly if they pick a very specialised industry where marketing skills are even more in demand. The money on offer ranges from 49,132 to 224,000, according to 2017 figures from Payscale

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