Modern CMO – Leading Growth Marketing

Today’s CMO is just not responsible for the brand, PR, and communications. Two most important goals for modern CMO are responsible for growth marketing with sales and customer experience (CX). In the last few years, you must have seen the rise of demand centers and CX responsibilities in CMO organization. This is the reality of modern CMO who is leading growth marketing.

Three key enablers for every modern CMO leading growth marketing are:

  • Customer Focus
  • Marketing Technology
  • Agility
Lead Modern Marketing with customer focus, martech and agility
Lead Modern Marketing

Customer Focus

The customer is now in control of when, where and how they engage. More complexity arises as a customer uses many devices, apps, channels to engage. Modern CMO wants their team to increase engagement and reduc churn rates. This is not possible without knowing your customer well.

You may be able to get high traffic using good content strategies and investing in paid media. That traffic many times doesn’t convert into meaningful traffic that your marketing and sales team can act on. Once you understand customer needs and mindset you can improve engagement and task completion rates. This will lead to more quality marketing qualified and eventually sales qualified leads.

Customer focus also builds a culture that focuses on improving CX and not just campaigns. This enables your team to think beyond lead generation and focus on customer lifecycle. A great customer experience again leads to business growth. Studies from various groups have proven the impact of improvement in CX to growth in many industries. This also leads to big-time improvement in customer retention. Every customer churn eliminated is more powerful then a new customer created.

Marketing Technology (MarTech)

The secret to effective marketing is good data, meaningful insights and ability to execute and optimize. Right marketing technology stack will enables that vision. A right MarTech stack enables your teams with the power of data, ability to know your customer and automate marketing processes so that your teams can focus on right tasks. Here is a very good graphic on how marketers use Marketing Technology.

Reasons to use MarTech - Know your customer using power of data and automate marketing
Reasons for Use of Marketing Technologies

CMO must think like a CIO and hire leaders that can get the best ROI from their MarTech investments.

The goal of MarTech is enabling the marketer to run their campaigns in the shortest possible time. That means as less development and releases as possible. A right MarTech stack should enable the goal of zero development platform.

Side note: I firmly believe that marketing teams should not have development responsibilities in their teams. In industry terms, this is called shadow IT. All CMOS should have strong relationships with their CIOs and use their teams when it comes to architecture, development, security, and support. Another very good topic to consider in your discussions with CIO is DevOps for Marketing.


Improving marketing efficiency and effectiveness is every CMO’s goal. No longer we can afford programs that run for months and years. Imagine you are investing millions of dollars on ad spend and end of the year you find that there was only 5-15% ROI.

It is important to change campaigns on short timelines based on the results they are driving. MarTech alone cannot be effective until both your people and processes are agile. Agility will enable your teams to track, analyze and optimize those programs. This will create a culture in your team to plan and adjust all campaigns on a bi-weekly basis. Imagine the cost savings and high ROI that you can achieve with this ability.

Agility is not just forming agile teams, kanban boards, backlogs, and bi-weekly releases. The most important part of agility is to enable your teams with decision-making rights. The biggest killer of speed is organizational hierarchies.

This is nothing new as your product and tech teams have been agile for years. A modern CMO leading growth marketing must connect and learn how their CIO and product team who has already adopted agility.

What is meaning of Digital in Digital Transformation

This is the most common question I am asked during all my years in digital transformation. It may come in various formats, but the intent is to understand the digital transformation scope. Every digital transformation lead will have a different answer based on the state of the company’s evolution. Hence no answer can be right or wrong in my opinion.
As per me, Digital is the new way of doing business and engaging with customers in this digital age. That is why a digital transformation should focus on both customers and employees in transforming the following:
  • User Experience
  • Business Processes
  • Business Systems
Do you agree? Please share your thoughts.

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 8)- Institute Change

Articulate the connections between the new behaviors and organizational success, and develop the means to ensure leadership development and succession.

Don’t manage – lead change before you have to. -Jack Welch

Here are some of the things that I have seen implemented in order to solidify change that has been initiated or created due to Digital Transformation initiatives:

  • Start a Digital enablement program
  • Promote and adopt ROI mindset
  • Align Digital KPI’s to Performance KPI’s in long-term
  • Whatever else that you think can work based on the culture of your organization

This is the final step on the list of 8 steps that I recommend for digital transformation in your organization.

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 7)- Sustain Acceleration

At this stage, all successful digital programs already have huge momentum. Frequent small wins and the guiding coalition is working in the favor of digital transformation to move to next big and bold things that are right for the organization. At this stage the digital transformation program is already generating some clear ROI hence you can feel confident about bringing necessary changes to accelerate the program.

This is the best time to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t align with the vision that you have for the organization. If you can find efficiencies in your organization this is the best time to make those moves and restructure your team. Also hire, promote and develop employees who can implement your vision. This is also a right time to reinvigorate the process with new projects and teams.

Some of my personal favorites at this stage are:

  • Get your long-term plan for build and maintain phase pitched and approved.
  • Setup bigger change mediums like digital Center of Excellence for internal consulting and engaging more internal customers so that ROI of the digital transformation program can be further enhanced
  • Pitch next big digital projects. This will also help to ensure that digital continues to be a priority for C-level
  • As ROI become more and more critical and the center point of your operating model, engage with business functions and help them understand how the services of your digital teams can be leveraged by their teams to generate more business, customer satisfaction etc. Help them plan for the next fiscal year using all this information.

Enabling Intelligent Marketing

My Keynote presentation from NASSCOM MARTECH Confluence 2017 on the topic of Digital Transformation: Enabling Intelligent Marketing.

Drawing the Technology Landscape for Intelligent Marketing

A hype-free overview of intelligent technologies for marketing. This session will also cover the uses, ROI and challenges of these technologies.