What Marketing Challenges Are Keeping CMOs up at Night?

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Top CMO Responsibilities and Challenges in 2019: An Ever-Evolving Shift

Every new year brings new marketing challenges, and 2019 will prove to be no different.

The constant tossing and turning, and feelings of unease are all too familiar for CMOs who wear more hats than ever before. From playing the role of the brand advocate, strategist, technologist, growth hacker, revenue driver, and much more, the CMO’s scope of responsibilities has notably expanded from what it was just a few years ago.

Marketing leaders hold accountability for their company’s growth and ROI more than ever. And with the continual pace of change in the marketing space, it’s up to the CMO to help navigate his or her team through the evolving environment.

The demands and expectations of CMOs and their teams will only continue to grow. So, what sits at the top of the modern-day CMO’s responsibilities? And what’s exactly worrying the top leaders in the highest seats of marketing? Here, CMO executive recruiters detail the top five areas of concern keeping CMOs up at night in 2019.

Cutting through the noise

In a world where consumers are overwhelmed with content and information, how do brands cut through the noise and get their customer’s attention? The ever-changing marketing environment coupled with shrinking attention spans means CMOs must work harder to reach and engage with their customer.

All marketing initiatives and strategies should be made with the customer in mind. And in 2019, CMOs will have to drive a customer-focused mindset throughout the organization more than ever before. Companies must provide a positive brand experience across all functions in the business to differentiate themselves from the competition. But, how do you reach consumers when it matters the most?

It’s critical to establish trust between your brand and customer by living up to expectations and promises made. To stand out, marketers must understand the customer’s needs and how their expectations are changing. Remember – you’re communicating with humans, so sounding like one is imperative. Consumers appreciate authenticity and will support brands that they can personally relate to far more than one that sounds like a robot.

Thanks to the customer insight technology provides, marketers can better craft brand narratives and messages to be authentic and personal. CMOs must guide their team in maintaining a cohesive brand voice that ensures every single message reflects a brand’s values. By leveraging data to tell a consistent brand story through the right channel, leaders can position their companies as a brand consumers can trust.

How do marketing teams ensure they’re truly delivering a message that wins the hearts and minds of customers? They must focus on the customer journey and deliver experiences that make them stand out from the crowd.

The customer experience

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Improving the customer experience (CX) is going to be a top priority for marketing leaders this year. CMOs will need to own the CX by focusing on managing consumer expectations, driving brand loyalty and much more.

Technology is forever changing how brands interact with and market to customers. With the development of technology like mobile, how are companies providing a consistent, seamless experience for their audience?

In order to improve the CX, marketers must first have a clear grasp of the entire customer journey. The customer experience entails how the customer feels about their experience and interactions with a company, while the journey represents all of the specific touchpoints a customer engages with the brand.

Marketing is being increasingly accountable for owning the customer journey from the first point of contact all the way to purchase. The heavy use of digital channels at every stage of the journey forces marketing teams to deliver seamless and consistent omnichannel messaging for both in-person and digital channels throughout. Omnichannel marketing ensures brands deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right person across all channels.

With advancements like mobile, optimizing the journey has become more complex. However, mapping the customer journey is a valuable way to have a visual interpretation of the process consumers go through to achieve a specific goal with your company. A customer journey map provides marketing organizations with a way to accurately get a sense of their customer’s pain points and needs in real-time. By understanding these motivations, marketing can improve the touchpoints to optimize the journey for customers.

By focusing on and maximizing the customer journey, marketers can tailor the marketing strategy to optimize the CX accordingly.


With the amount of data and technology available, brands have the opportunity to reach their audience in a compelling way. To truly stand out and connect with your customer, personalization is key. With personalized campaigns and tailored messaging to the customer, marketers can deliver content that’s highly relevant. Why is this important? The quicker your audience finds your brand relevant, the more engaged they will be.

In fact, 78% of U.S. Internet users said personally relevant content from brands increases their purchase intent.

Consumers today expect a frictionless experience and hyper-personalized content delivered to them at the exact moment they need it. Personalizing content – from social posts to emails and ads – is key in delivering an improved customer experience. Technology like AI and machine learning further enables marketing teams to build compelling experiences that emotionally engage consumers.

Most importantly, CMOs must ensure they have the right team with the skills necessary to leverage such technology and deliver highly personalized experiences.

Data privacy and security regulations

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Although personalization should continue to be a key priority for CMOs, data privacy and security regulations are equally, if not more, important.

With new data privacy regulations like the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), marketers must be mindful of customers’ privacy. This regulation currently impacts businesses that process data of EU citizens, but it won’t be long before more rigid regulations are adopted globally. Businesses must rethink how they approach privacy in the GDPR era to ensure they’re safeguarding the rights of their customers.

Businesses can best approach customers’ privacy by being transparent and honest with their customers. Clearly communicating the regulations you follow to ensure the protection of their data and the kind of data you use to make decisions helps drive transparency.

With the GDPR put into place, it’s never been more important for marketers to nurture their relationships with customers and enhance customer engagement. Although data privacy regulations mean access to less data to inform marketers, they can leverage the power of AI to improve the experience for each customer.

Related Video: GDPR Implications for Marketers

Video by Growth Tribe

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI has been a top area of interest for marketers for a long time. And in 2019, it will come around in full swing.

Identifying, investing in and integrating the right martech has become a big concern for marketing leaders. CMOs face the challenge of finding the right solutions to scale out efficiency and productivity, and meet business needs.

Like every other initiative in marketing, technology investments should always be made with the consumer in mind. The right tools can further eliminate the time marketers spend on manual, mundane tasks, giving them more bandwidth to create value through more important priorities.

AI, in particular, is revolutionizing how brands interact with consumers. Brands that focus on leveraging AI to enhance the customer experience and automate processes early on will stay ahead of the curve. Every single business will make use of AI in some sort of way in the near future if they haven’t already.

However, it’s important to note that no technology can fully replace the value of human intelligence. The more we use technology and data to communicate with customers, the need to understand and integrate the human element into the messaging becomes increasingly important.

Managing Millennials

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35 percent of American workers are Millennials, making them the largest generation in the workforce. This means every business and leader likely has a Millennial sitting on their team.

While we shouldn’t over-generalize this group, most Millennials share similar motivations and values that differ from earlier generations. In order to successfully lead Millennial talent, marketing leaders must understand this and adjust their leadership style accordingly.

Millennials seek purpose-driven careers that offer more value beyond a salary, and often seek opportunities that provide room for growth and development. They want to make a meaningful impact on the world, and value employers that provide autonomy within their responsibilities and work-life balance. They appreciate organizations that are authentic and transparent, and whose values align with theirs.

CMOs who embrace this generation and hire sharp Millennials will be surprised to find the value of this generation’s unique perspectives and insights. Moreover, these digital natives can become your brand’s strongest ambassadors.

Great leaders adjust and adapt to their employees, and adjusting to different generations calls for nothing less. Managing a a multi-generational workforce is certainly challenging, but understanding each one’s desires and motivations certainly helps.


As experienced CMO executive recruiters, we know CMOs will face increasing pressure as their role continues to evolve and grow. Not only do CMOs have to provide Level 5 leadership to their team, but they must also manage rising business expectations and be at the forefront of innovation. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to conquer all the challenges marketing leaders face.

However, knowing the top CMO responsibilities and how to approach them helps to overcome and conquer them. With the right support and talent in place, marketing leaders and their teams can turn these challenges into great opportunities and major wins.

Are you a CMO facing growing responsibilities? Let us know what challenges you’re experiencing so far this year!

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