When it comes to the ecommerce landscape, distinguishing a good CMO from a bad CMO is not in fact rocket science. Nor does it require a sixth sense or a trip back to the future. In fact, spotting the best eggs from those past their leadership sell-by date is as easy as looking at their approach to marketing: are they creatively-minded OR are they data-driven?
Don’t get us wrong, we love a bit of right-brained pizazz, but CMOs who come from a creative brand or advertising background will often prioritise creative content over measurement. They’ll spend time thinking up wildly complex customer personas and taking on-board disgruntled feedback, in lieu of the less sexy evaluation and experimentation.
But that folks, simply won’t do.
So when we refer to a good CMO vs. a bad CMO, we are actually pitting the old approach to marketing against the new approach, focus group feedback against return on investment (ROI).
In case you can’t tell which approach floats our boat, let’s take a look at how they differ and just what it takes to be a good CMO in the big bad world of e-commerce.
As an absolute basic starting point, a good CMO understands the importance of establishing guardrails that minimise the need for constant human interventions.
But why would we prescribe a marketing approach that favours process over talent? Isn’t that a bit soulless you ask? Don’t we lose a certain je ne sais quoi along the way?
In reality there are many nitty gritty details that simply don’t require your creative juices to be flowing.
Say you build a reporting suite that updates 3 times a day – those in charge of marketing are now getting to see the relevant metrics and start to understand how to react appropriately when performance peaks or troughs. Immediately you’ve created a more informed environment, that will serve to upskill those in charge to understand and action things faster.
And with process at the core of your operation, everyone is kept in line with a clear purpose to work towards; allowing you to scale your team and spread into new territories and channels all with swan-like grace and efficiency.
So leave your ‘gut feel’ at home and remember that process makes perfect.
Despite what we’ve said thus far, creativity does still have an important role to play in your marketing success.
Namely at the critical brand awareness stage, when customers find themselves teetering at the top of your marketing funnel. Kooky, emotional or just too right to ignore; impactful creative will be the first thing to catch the eye of a consumer as they window shop their way through the web.
So yes, good creative can set the stage for a meaningful introduction to your business. But once you trickle further down the funnel and demand already exists, the value of creativity takes a steep nosedive.
Still, you can measure the success of your whimsy with engagement metrics such as views or time spent on a video. So although creativity has become more of an important cog in the wheel, than the wheel itself…it fits right into a data-driven marketing team.
Remember: Nobody puts creativity in the corner.
A bad CMO uses attribution as an excuse not to trust the data.
You can often find this variety of leader on a soapbox warning against the evils of relying on First and Last clicks. We need all the gory details they say, and this type of measurement simply cannot do justice to how audiences are truly engaging with our business.
But this stance is unsurprising as CMOS who aren’t data-driven will naturally feel squeamish with granular detail and transparency around marketing performance and spend justification, because – ‘you can’t just measure creativity darling’.
Except, given the right mindset and tools…you absolutely can.
Good CMOs know that First and Last clicks can provide all the insight you need as long as you stick to them and just keep optimising.
Rise above the rhetoric that you need a complex attribution model that assigns credit to every single step of the customer’s journey and remember: the more complex a model, the more challenging it is to build and maintain.
At the end of the day there are no guarantees that a more complex attribution model will provide any actionable insights: so keep it simple and stay the course.
This seems like a fairly obvious one and we don’t want to talk down to you… but why aren’t you checking in on your data more?
It’s great that you’ve set up all the guardrails and processes to keep your business ticking along nicely. Nobody is disputing that! But it isn’t enough to peek your head under the hood once every month or so. That is a red flag that we can’t ignore.
If you’re at the top of your game, you will have daily alerts set up on your analytics, giving you a finger on the pulse of your organisation and the ability to double down on your positive performance or turn off the tap with lightning speed. This shows that you and your team know what’s going on and that you don’t need no education.
Your KPIs are like your mother. Check in daily to avoid unexpected visits that are sure to ruin even the best laid plans for success.
Bad CMOs don’t dig deep enough.
By which we mean that they tend to look at channels as a whole and neglect the tiny details of which they are composed. Which is a bit like reading only the first and last page of a book. Rather dissatisfying.
The deeper you dig into the story being told by your data, the better you’ll understand which levers you can pull to optimise performance and get yourself up and running with the big dogs. Remembering that a marketing channel has a number of campaigns within it and if you go further down the rabbit hole, there are ad groups to consider and then keywords galore and so on. The potential is endless, but the insight is what you make of it.
Afterall, the devil’s in the details.
When it comes to e-commerce marketing you’ve really got to be in it to win it. Especially with barriers to entry being lowered and an influx of competitors coming to market with increasing speed and agility.
But how does one stay ahead of the game?
A good CMO will know to experiment with channels that others haven’t yet flocked to, as these are likely to yield strong returns. Getting in and moving on before these channels become saturated is an important way to continue challenging your own preconceived notions of where and when your customers will engage.
It’s far too easy to let your experience of a platform inform your strategy forever after. Afterall, they do say to stick to what you know. But this is one of those times when they are dead wrong. So don’t let your expertise on LinkedIn or Facebook or TikTok ring fence you in and create a stale experience for your customers.
Lest we forget that variety is the spice of life.
Your team is begging for more automation and less effort. Are you listening?
Hundreds to thousands of small tasks are required each day for e-commerce businesses to keep on keeping on. And while they may seem insignificant by themselves, when added up these tasks ultimately devour your productivity and stunt that much sought after growth.
For example what happens when you realise one of your products has gone out of stock? Well it took you a couple of hours to notice and then you had to get on the phone to Joe, who was still on his lunch break but would be available in 40 minutes, who then had to log into your google shopping campaign and turn off the bidding. PHEW. At which point you definitely spent some money pushing an ad for a product that couldn’t actually be bought. Oh dear. They should have automated this process.
Switching to automated interventions allows you to turn back time, get more out of your day and empower your team to work on tasks that genuinely require more of a human touch.
Your time is money. So save some.