3 Challenges Facing CMOs (And How to Solve Them With Attribution)


A CMOs job is never easy – and it’s likely not to start getting any easier.

With stakeholders demanding more from the marketing team than ever before, how can you be confident that your department is driving real value for the business?

Well, for starters, if you don’t have effective marketing attribution in place, then it’s a fairly safe bet that you also don’t know what is – and more importantly isn’tworking across your marketing mix.

Recently, we shared some insights from industry events around the current state of attribution. We’re always keen to understand what topics are of interest and to knowledge share with like-minded performance marketers.

So, here are some interesting attribution insights from top industry CMOs…

Modern CMOs needs to be tech literate – whether they like it or not

During her session at Festival of Marketing earlier in June, Nina Bibby, CMO at O2, discussed the new breed of CMO that’s emerging: the Da Vinci CMO. This new iteration of the role highlights the importance of fusing together art and science to optimise the marketing function.

It’s not news that being analytical is an important part of being a CMO, but as this new breed of CMO becomes a bigger part of the C-Suite, the ability to combine creativity with analytics will become a much more expected skillset.

Analytics can no longer be thought of as a core area of interest for just the CTO; it’s a data-driven world and the secrets to success lie in the numbers. But knowing which tools to use, where, and what conclusions to draw from the results is vital.

So, what are the main skills the modern CMO needs to have to succeed in the current climate (and beyond)? Nina discussed three which stood out to her:

  • Data has been the big game changer – like it or not, CMOs need to be much more tech literate.
  • The ability to build a close relationship with the CTO
  • An understanding of how to deploy new technologies to implement data driven marketing

This means subjects like AI and Machine Learning are no longer off the table for marketers as making investments in these areas – and having a working knowledge of them – is critical to helping not only the business, but your department, grow and optimise performance.

In a world without third-party cookies, the importance of accurate data is clear

There’s no shortage of data available to the modern marketer, but knowing which data you should be looking at, or even trusting that your data is accurate, is crucial for making the right decisions.

As if that wasn’t already difficult enough, with the imminent removal of third-party cookies, CMOs need to be thinking about how to maintain performance as this change comes into play over the next 12 months while also working towards a long-term solution that will help the business excel with a first-party data strategy.

At FUTR’s Europe Summit, Sherene Perrier, Head of eCommerce & Digital Marketing at direct-to-consumer hair care brand, Bouclème, highlighted why having the right data in place is the best starting point for any marketer:

“I don’t know if the data I have right now is 100% clean and good to use, which isn’t a good base to start with. We’re not going to be making the soundest decisions based on an unclean database.”

But having accurate data isn’t just important for decision-making. Without clear data to back up your marketing strategy, the chances of getting budget sign-off from company stakeholders is slim.

“My gut feeling is that [social] does have more value – but my gut isn’t going to get me far with my CFO. I need to have hard evidence.”

A point which was echoed by Richard Lloyd-Williams, Digital Transformation Lead at Clarks, during his session at eTail in May ‘Accelerating the Digital Transformation of Your Retail Organization: Finding Success in Uncertain Times‘.

“If data is going to be critical – do you have the data, is it usable and are you able to use that to make decisions? […] If you have that, are people used to making decisions by data? People who have lots of experience in their business and think because they have that experience, they’re an authority and will make a gut decision based on what’s needed. That cultural piece is one of the biggest obstacles.”

Avoid falling back on low-risk strategies​ in times of uncertainty

In 2020, marketing leaders learned to embrace agility and be ready for anything.

Although the world is beginning to open up again, business uncertainty continues which means it’s easy to fall back on tried and tested strategies that hold little-to-no risk.

But by doing that, you’re leaving yourself open to missing out on opportunities for great customer acquisition at lower CPAs.

During her session at Festival of Marketing Susan O’Brien, CMO at Just Eat, discussed the importance of not only continuing to invest in marketing during challenging times, but avoiding the temptation to switch off longer-term strategies to focus on ‘quick wins’.

“It’s an ongoing challenge – and when you say, ‘where does your money go?’, we have remained absolute in terms of our energy and our ambition to win by making sure we haven’t pulled back on our marketing investment.

If anything, we’ve pushed forward.

There’s that natural blend between longer-term brand investment and shorter-term sales and performance. It’s not one or the other […] it’s most definitely both working together to drive all of those points of the funnel when you’re trying to get that customer to place the order with you.”

For most marketers, the top priority over the past 18 months has been how to acquire more customers for less, resulting in increased spending in PPC. But increased saturation in this channel often leads to disappointing results and wasted marketing budget.

As highlighted by Susan, the key lies in driving results through increased spend in the right channels and allowing both your short- and long-term strategies to coincide.

Only with effective attribution, and an attribution tool that can highlight the opportunities that exist across your entire marketing mix, can marketers truly understand how to optimise performance.

Two tips for preparing for future growth, from Just Eat’s CMO:

  1. Keep investing in marketing
  2. Don’t take shortcuts – make sure you’ve got that balance between brand and performance spot on

If you’re new to the world of attribution, we’ve created a handy guide that has everything you need to know. Download our Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Attribution below.

Or, you can find out more about our attribution solution for CMOs here.

A Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Attribution