CMO job description: What does a chief marketing officer do?

A person giving a presentation using a tablet and screen in a meeting room
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Similar to other executive-level manager positions within a company, a chief marketing officer’s (CMO) role is much more complex than the title suggests. You’ll find that modern CMO’s have a prominent role in ensuring that their company carries out digital transformation, although it’s fair to say that the role pivots around finding ways to market the organisation too.

It’s often becoming the norm for CMOs to be pragmatic and agile in the modern era’s rapidly changing technology landscape, and they need to have the skills to be able to discover emerging trends in customer behaviour in order to help the company. This has seen the role evolve away from its traditional responsibilities of simply understanding how to market their company to customers most effectively. Overall, you’ll want to ensure your customers are provided with the best possible experience and, as you might have guessed, that usually involves some form of technology.

It can sometimes be a challenging task to ensure your customer is at the centre of your organisation’s digital strategy, especially for companies that have traditionally isolated their IT departments. For CMOs who are looking to embrace technology, they’ll have to make sure that various stakeholders work together, from IT, marketing, and sales, to provide customers with the right services.

Similar to other high level executive roles like chief information officers, CMOs are usually only hired by big businesses who have the money to spend on a marketing strategist. When it comes to smaller companies, the position doesn’t usually only belong to one person - it’s normally split across a number of different department heads or amalgamated into other roles. Despite this, the main functions of a CMO are still performed, it’s just the role is shared between different people.

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.

What is the difference between a CMO and CIO?

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 even found that CMOs have made the shift from digital-first to hybrid multichannel strategies. The firm asked CMOs to report the proportion of their 2022 budget allocated to online and offline channels, and found that online channels take the largest share at 56%. Offline channels, however, account for 44% of the total available budget, which Gartner called a more equitable split than in recent years.


Organisations accelerating their digital workplace achieve improvements

See the biggest return on device investments


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.

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.

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 £54,000 to £152,000 with an average of £99,309, according to 2022 figures from Payscale.

Dale Walker

Dale Walker is the Managing Editor of ITPro, and its sibling sites CloudPro and ChannelPro. Dale has a keen interest in IT regulations, data protection, and cyber security. He spent a number of years reporting for ITPro from numerous domestic and international events, including IBM, Red Hat, Google, and has been a regular reporter for Microsoft's various yearly showcases, including Ignite.