The modern chief marketing officer (CMO) always adapts to new technologies, channels, regulations, and changing customer preferences. This reality shapes what we look for in the modern CMO, beyond their traditional responsibilities and skill-sets

The old school CMOs tends to be more tactical – focusing on the overall marketing plan, brand equity and “voice,” and public relations. The tendency for digital was to rely on vanity metrics like views and clicks.

However, the demands of the modern C-suite require CMOs to touch upon, manage, and measure all aspects of a business, drive and optimize customer experience, and consistently scale revenue. The CMO must prove themselves to be integral to the development of an enterprise.

Here are five key skills needed for the modern CMO to succeed.

1. CMOs need to be Data-Driven

The concept of ‘data-driven marketing’ has been around for a while, but it continues to grow with data sets expanding at exponential rates. The modern CMO needs to be adept at aggregating data from disparate sources and having the skills and knowledge to interpret it.

The ability to use data and insights can inform real-time decision-making and strategic planning while also helping to mitigate risk. Marketing teams have to be agile to adjust and iterate in real-time.

The vast wealth of data available to marketers is only as helpful as the ability to interpret and act upon it. The CMO must implement customer data platforms or management tools and understand how to leverage the technology to derive maximum benefit.

Marketing leaders who understand and can share data knowledge with their peers will be seen as a crucial part of the organization and driving growth.

2. CMOs need Cross-Functional Leadership skills

A great CMO needs to be more than just the leader of the marketing team. They represent the voice of the people and need to integrate consumer needs and marketing strategies in such a way as to add value to other cross-functional departments and teams.

A deep understanding of the organizational structure and being politically savvy is crucial so that marketing can interact successfully with all the cross-functional teams. A good CMO will collaborate with the organization and members of the C-suite while explaining how marketing inputs can lead to tangible and measurable outputs. Marketers must demonstrate their value and return on investment, not simply as a ‘black box’ that consumes resources.

3. CMOs need to understand Digital Transformation

It is essential that modern CMOs understand all the latest technologies like artificial intelligence and leverage them for better user experience, engagement, and revenue growth. They should partner across silos with peers like the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to drive innovation to stay competitive.

Advancements in these technologies may lead to unprecedented opportunities for personalization and predictive marketing. However, until their potentials are realized, CMOs need to be discerning in whether they truly bring value at present. It is another changing field and potential tool that CMOs need to understand and prepare for.

4. CMOs need to be practiced in personalization

Modern customers are increasingly demanding, and their expectations continue to grow. It is not enough to simply be delivering adverts for products the customer searches for online.

Organizations have been forced to rethink approaches to customer experience. Personalization and brand engagement should be present throughout the customer journey from acquisition, retention, and monetization.

Today’s customers expect a more personally tailored experience that builds with every interaction they have with the brand. The CMO needs to be the master of guiding the brand experience, reflecting individual consumer consumption preferences, values, and lifestyles.

By prioritizing the customer and using personal data to create value at every journey, marketers can attract and retain more brand-loyal customers. In this way, the CMO can quantifiably show they are an accelerant for the growth of the business and customer base.

5. CMOs need traditional skills

As the role of the CMO continues to evolve and adapt, certain fundamental skills will always be integral to the position. Creative ideas, campaigns, and strategic storytelling are traditional ways to build a strong brand.

These abilities need to be balanced and enhanced with the rise of data-based analysis. The modern CMO needs to balance traditional and technical skill-sets.

The successful CMO knows how and when to use the latest technologies in conjunction with older core abilities. They need to embrace innovation and know what works best for the marketing team and organization at present.

The modern CMO has had to evolve and adapt more than ever before. They face new challenges, expectations, and opportunities as a result of technological development and changing markets.

This is not an exhaustive list as the skills and knowledge necessary for success vary from the industries they navigate.

CMOs must embrace change and use a blend of technology and traditional skills to bring value to an organization. Understanding customer needs and perspectives and relating them to C-suite members will carry the company forward and cement the position of the CMO.

The article is also published at Hacker Noon.


Lomit Patel is the Chief Growth Officer of Tynker, with 20 years of experience helping startups grow into successful businesses. Lomit has previously played a critical role in scaling growth at startups, including Roku (IPO), TrustedID (acquired by Equifax), Texture (acquired. by Apple), and IMVU (#2 top-grossing gaming app). Lomit is a public speaker, author, and advisor, with numerous accolades and awards throughout his career, including being recognized as a Mobile Hero by Liftoff. Lomit's book Lean AI is part of Eric Ries' best-selling "The Lean Startup" series.