THE BLOG
05/08/2014 12:55 pm ET Updated Jul 07, 2014

Three Essential Questions You Should Be Asking Your CMO

The marketing landscape has changed drastically over the years, and it's only fitting that the role of the CMO at any company has followed suit. CMOs are now pulled in dozens of different directions, between social, content, mobile and digital marketing movements. Additionally, as marketing automation software is becoming more utilized and more mainstream, CMOs are now becoming CTOs in their own right, tasked with navigating IT and analytics swiftly. For marketers, the rapidly evolving marketing ecosystem has brought new opportunities for innovation, but has muddied the waters of communication within the marketing department. Now, with so many marketing channels gaining traction in the industry and so many possible avenues for engagement, how do you know where you and your CMO align?

To ensure that your marketing program is seamless and all-encompassing, develop a channel of communication with your CMO and ask these three questions to streamline strategy. By removing the silos from your marketing team and focusing on an open, blended marketing program, your brand can stay ahead of the changing landscape and realize success.

1) How can we prioritize our customers?

People say that the key to generosity is to talk about others more than you talk about yourself. There's a reason this adage makes an impression, and this same logic can be applied to marketing. When discussing marketing strategy with your CMO, remember that the customer should always be first priority. Knowing and understanding your customers is crucial to developing effective tactics, driving measurable results and establishing your brand as a consumer ally. As new technologies and trends take shape, keeping your customers at the center of discussion with your CMO will help optimize your brand experience across all channels.

Take Dove, for instance. The personal care brand has established itself as a leader in its industry, thanks in part to its expert marketing campaigns perfectly aimed at its target audience. Dove's central campaign, The Campaign for Real Beauty, is centered around the company's mission to help women celebrate realistic, unedited standards of beauty, and relies on emotionally charged videos and ads to showcase women's natural beauty. While this campaign has received extensive social and critical attention, the core message is clear: Dove has made a sincere investment in its customers, using the Real Beauty campaign to address a societal issue important to women worldwide.

This campaign reflects exactly how a company can remove the siloed departmental marketing we're used to seeing and blend focuses to produce a holistic result. Dove's content marketing program clearly has a handle on the brand's essence, and the company's social media marketers picked up where the content left off, using Twitter to reach over 117,000 of the company's biggest fans. From there, Dove's search marketing efforts added fuel to the content fire, and now Dove occupies high-ranking positions on beauty -- and company-centric search pages. With millions of views and shares on content, Dove's tactics have proven wildly successful, but without the joint efforts of a communicative and centralized marketing department acting together with real-time synergy, this success would not have been possible.

2) How can we leverage numbers?

We've seen that content marketing is gaining extensive traction within the industry, and for good reason. A study by Kapost and Eloqua found that the ROI of content marketing outweighs that of paid search by more than three times. But with all this talk about content, it's easy to forget how crucial numbers are to the success of your marketing program. According to a study by Gartner, the CMO will exceed the CIO on IT spending by 2017. As big data becomes more readily available to marketers, discussing numbers with your CMO is key to developing an integrated strategy. But how can you know where to start?

Understanding data is a huge piece of the marketing puzzle. Your company is the expert on its customers, so develop a plan to leverage the information your company already has at its fingertips. Do you have traffic and conversions readily available? Turn that into a full-fledged strategy around which pieces of content carry the most weight with consumers. Is your mobile conversion data begging to be utilized? Launch a mobile marketing campaign based on what you know your customers are buying. Discussing data with your CMO -- and combining the data you have from all of your different marketing departments -- offers your brand a huge opportunity to up-level strategy.

While leveraging data is a crucial element of successful marketing, it's also important to measure your program with quantifiable metrics across all channels -- social, content, search and mobile. Establish a consistent measurement strategy with your CMO and pull from every facet of your marketing strategy to get an accurate picture of your success.

3) What does our marketing future look like?

With so many new marketing and advertising trends finding footing in the industry, staying on the cutting-edge has never been more important. Think back to this time last year; content marketing was just on the horizon. Now it's become the driving force behind many companies' marketing strategies. Even our access to data has grown exponentially, unlocking new opportunities for marketers across industries. Plus, between Google's constantly changing algorithms and the constantly updating social media channels, social and search marketers need to stay on top of industry fluctuations too.

While there's no way to entirely predict the trends that will take shape in the future, it is essential to keep innovation on your mind as you develop a strategy with your CMO. Understanding the dynamics of the different facets of the marketing industry -- and the weight of your efforts in the present and the future -- will give your strategy the longevity necessary to remain relevant and cutting-edge. Structure your overall marketing strategy around where trends are developing across the board, and keep discussions fresh and free-flowing to ensure collaboration between departments. For smart companies, the future of marketing looks cooperative and integrated, and that future starts with a collaborative marketing department and an open CMO.