CMO, It Was Fun While it Lasted 

Mathew Sweezey, Principal of Marketing Insights, Salesforce

Are you a CMO? You may want to consider changing that! Brands of all shapes and sizes are giving up their CMOs and embracing a new marketing leader, the Chief Experience Officer (CXO). Starbucks, Cigna Healthcare, and even Monster.com have all made the change. Here is why and what that means for your future.

Over the past four years I’ve worked with a team of researchers at Salesforce and studied 11,000 brands across the globe. We found the number one key trait of all high-performing marketing organizations was executive buy-in to a ‘new idea of marketing’. Those high performers were 10X more likely to be significantly beating their direct competition. Their new idea? Transition the role of marketing from the department who creates messages, to the owners and sustainers of all experiences across the customer journey. This is the number one reason for the rise of the CXO. Experiences produce better business outcomes.

A CXO isn’t just a new name it is a radical change in role, scope, and function. The first difference between a CMO and CXO is where they sit in the organization and the role they play. The CMO is head of the marketing department, whereas the CXO is head of The Experience. The CXO works across all customer-facing departments (marketing, sales, product, service, support) to ensure a cohesive customer experience from awareness to advocacy. They apply marketing techniques such as nurturing, onboarding, and UX to optimize all touchpoints, not just those leading customers to the brand.

The second difference is the methods they use to break through. CMOs tend to leverage attention-seeking tactics—think creative ad campaigns and celebrity sponsorships. The goal is to be noticed! CXOs, on the other hand, focus on the context of each experience as their method for breaking through. Their objective is to help people achieve their goal in the moment, not distract them away from it. In this way they build trust and leverage that trust to guide the customer to the next step on their journey. Motivation is done by guiding, not force.

The final difference is the metrics they use to show their value. CMOs tend to focus on traditional media metrics like reach, views, and conversions. Often, they use return on investment (ROI) as their marquee metric. CXOs, on the other hand, tend to focus on customer journey metrics allowing them to show value in different ways such as: weighted pipeline, Net Promoter Score, and lifetime customer value.

The transition into the digital world brought about the role of the CMO. However, we are now in a new point in time, consumers are in control and they demand experiences. Just as one change created the role of the CMO, another change calls it into question. Now we see brands of all shapes and sizes are giving up their CMO and embracing a new idea of marketing where experiences are paramount. For all of these reasons it may be time to say good-bye to the CMO and embrace the new role of the CXO.


About the Author: Mathew Sweezey is Principal of Marketing Insights for Salesforce and the author of the forthcoming book The Context Marketing Revolution: How to Motivate Buyers in the Age of Infinite Media.