High performing CMOs rate their general businesses health stronger than their direct competitors.

This finding comes from the State of Marketing 2016 report, released by Salesforce’s Research team, surveyed more than 4,000 marketers to determine the key attributes of the high performing CMO, and how they compare to both middle and under performers.

The results of this study are ground breaking; so let me break down this 20 page report into the six key things high performing CMOs do.

cmo stats

 1. High performing CMOs get executive buy-in

This seems almost a no brainer, yet everyday when I walk into a client’s office I see the fallout when this is not accomplished. Buy-in does not just mean they let you do what you want, but it means that executives see marketing as a core focus of the business.

If they do not they will never give you the resources you require, or even look at marketing in the correct way. Here is the hard data to back up this statement.

Of the 4,000 marketers surveyed they found that 83% of highest Performing marketers had “their executive team’s complete commitment to their marketing strategy”. That is 2.6 times higher than the buy in from underperformers.

Gaining executive buy-in on modern marketing theory, technique, and tools is not an easy task, and because of this is I’m listing it as the number one priority for anyone wanting to be a high performing CMO.

2. High Performing CMOs have the correct budget

The second thing a CMO must understand is an appropriate budget. This is a very big questions for many marketers currently because of statistics like this one from Gartner Research:

The CMO will have the largest IT budget in the organization by 2017, and the new data released by Salesforce stating high performers (Read more...) 2.8 times more likely than underperformers to be substantially increasing their spending on marketing tools and tech over the next two years.

So to help out I’ve asked this question to a list of Who’s Who in marketing ranging from CMOs to VCs, as well as others in the field and came back with a few rules of thumb you can live by, for at least another two years.

For most companies CMOs are setting their budgets based on revenue of the company. The general rule of thumb seems to be 10% of your revenue, with fluctuation up to 15% for extreme growth, and down to 7% when fully mature.

With the rise of content marketing you should also expect your budget to be appropriated in the following way:

  • 1/4 tools, tech, infrastructure
  • ½ head count
  • ¼ programs

3. High performing CMOs build new marketing foundations

Tactics in our modern age are a combination of know how and technological ability, which is why budget was number two.

If you have the correct budget you can begin to use the right tactics. If you were to break down the three major tactics proving to be the most effective from the 4,000 marketers surveyed they would be as follows:

  1. Believing in and effectively executing on a connected customer journey: 72% of high performers say this is critical to the success of their overall marketing strategy. 63% of High Performers considering themselves excellent at being able to create a personalized connected journey, compared to only 2% of underperformers.
  2. In charge of the customer experience: High performing marketers are 7.7 times more likely than underperformers to be leading the customer experience initiates across their organization. This also rolls into 63% of high performers consider themselves excellent at collaborating across all business units.
  3. Single customer view: There can not be an multichannel experience, or any type of dynamic execution with out a single view of the customer. Or I should say, there can not be a best in class execution. High performers are 13.7 times more likely to be able to create a single customer view than underperformers.

single customer view

4. High performing CMOs know, and use agile

The role of content in all marketing departments both B2B and B2C is astounding.

The foundations we’ve used to create this content have not held up to the demands. There has been a large push for agile content marketing.

It seems high performing marketers also agree. 49% of high performers say they extensively use agile methods compared to only 5% of underperformers.

This is a key tactic in how high performers are able to create better contented, faster, and with fewer resources than their competition. This is a edge all high performing CMOs have.

5. High performing CMOs focus on the customer, more than you:

High performers also focus on the customer. There is no surprise here, but what is surprising is how they do it.

High performers state their number one biggest issue as ‘keeping up with the customer’ where both middle performers, and underperformers both state ‘budget constraints’ as their number one business issue.


High performers largest measure of success is also customer satisfaction, and put higher levels of customer engagement as their top priority.

Underperformers and middle performs both list brand Awareness as their number one priority.

They have moved past ROI measures to show value and understand the ability for technology to show them a single person, and the revenue marketing actions bring in show a full lifetime value of each and every customer.

This provides the ability to focus on actual value metrics such as customer satisfaction and provides the tools to show its effect on the bottom line.

6. High performing CMOs use new tools and tactics

With the correct buy-in, you can be allowed to take the correct strategy, and be allocted the correct budget to do so.

Once you have this budget high performing marketers are using almost twice the technology of underperformers.

On average a high performing CMO will use 12 marketing tools on average to create a seamless customer experience, where under performers are only using five.

Higher performers use these tools:

  • Seven times more likely to use predictive intelligence.
  • Twice as likely to create a personalized web experience.
  • Four times  more likely to create an personalized multichannel experience
  • Seven times more likely to be using marketing automation.

The correct tool set allows marketers to follow up with customer on social channels, show the value of content marketing and use video marketing.

This study highlights the delta between high performing CMOs and underperforming CMOs and highlights the possibilities of our time.

In summary

New tools, tactics, and techniques have all come about in a very short time all driven by the need to put the customer first in your business.

It is clear from this study that the CMOs who can convince their businesses to adapt to a customer first model, get the correct budget, and learn to change their processes to meet the needs of creating more content are driving significantly more value to their businesses.

So why are high performing CMOs so successful? Because they have read the writing on the wall, and been the agents of change. Have you?

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