The role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is never simple or easy, but it is possible to make the responsibilities simpler and easier with an ever-expanding understanding of the tools and strategies of the trade and proper organization.

It’s also possible to make those responsibilities infinitely more difficult if knowledge is kept to a minimum and there is no proper leadership or communication with the marketing team.

The vital importance of these two key factors for CMOs is better understood after reading the 10 most common mistakes CMOs make below that, in one way or another, come back to those two critical issues.

There is No Effective Way to Measure Campaign Success

A fatal mistake CMOs make is failing to set measurable goals within marketing campaigns. Marketing campaigns are expensive and can include many steps and rewrites when something proves to be unsuccessful. However, in order to know which parts of the campaign are successful and which parts are not, you must have goals that can be measured.

Not only is this important for clearly establishing with your team what is expected and desired, and lets everyone know how close to a successful campaign goal they are, but when you compose your next report for the executives of your company you need to be able to prove the marketing strategies in effect are doing what they are supposed to do.

So how do you create measurable goals as a CMO? By understanding the purpose of the content or copy and using the data analysis features in analytics software.

First of all, what is the purpose is with content or copy. Is it to drive more traffic to the website, or blog? Is it lead generation? More user engagement? A higher % of revenue made from organic searches? There are many content goals and each has a different corresponding method of measurement in the analytics software. Once you understand the purpose of the work, the next step is to establish the goal of where you want the success of the work to be.

For example, if the purpose of redesigning a landing page was to encourage more user interactions [drive traffic], and you measure your landing page’s success by viewing before and after bounce rates - the number of viewers who look at the page and click away without doing anything else on the page - then your goal might be to reduce the number of bounce rates by 5%. Whether or not the goal was met with the redesign in the allotted time you had, you now have a quantifiable datum to bring to your report.

When it’s time to measure the success of the strategy you may need more in-depth statistics and information than what can be found with Google Analytics. Consider bringing up the importance of an increase in the marketing budget to obtaining deeper integration software.


There is No Value Given to Each Conversion Action
Every CMO understands the value of conversions for a business. However, not every CMO attaches a monetary value to each conversion action taken by a website user. When a CMO attaches a value to a conversion action, it’s a way of monitoring that action’s impact on the business and especially the return on ad spending (ROAS) because tracking conversion actions allows CMOs to sort out effective keywords, campaigns, and ads, from ineffective ones. When the actions are given the values you need, you can optimize your campaigns for the greatest ROAS.

Each conversion action will need to be assigned a different value if there is a marketing funnel with multiple layers, as some actions will impact the business more than others, and actions like sales have varying values attached to them.

There are two ways to track conversion values:
  1. Through static conversion values

  2. Through Dynamic conversion values

 Static values are used for conversion actions that have the same value each time, such as leads. Each time the action is activated, the assigned conversion value will show up. A Dynamic value is used when a conversion action has varying values, like sales.

To assign an accurate value to a positive conversion act, determine if you need to set each action to static value or dynamic value. If you’re assigning dynamic values because of multiple products, assign each product its corresponding monetary amount through tag modification.

If static, assign the average amount of money usually earned by that action. For example, if a contact form brings you 7 leads, and one lead makes you $250, you can divide $250 by the 7 leads to get an approximated value of $35.71 assigned to contact forms. For more accurate ways of assigning values, click here.

Market Success is Measured Only With Direct Marketing Models

Direct Marketing models are very useful and involve marketing techniques that reach ideal customers directly such as through social media ads, email sign-up forms, direct response advertising, and direct selling through sales representatives. Direct marketing is deliberately asking the potential prospects to purchase from the specific company using that marketing.

Indirect marketing models include much subtler marketing techniques that don’t actually directly ask the prospect to purchase anything. Instead, through marketing techniques as social media posts and blogging, they are using different calls to action (CTAs) to raise general awareness of the brand and increase interest without asking the consumers to buy anything.

Both of these models are very effective at achieving their intended results, but they don’t work perfectly by themselves, and therefore, using one model should not be the only method to assess the success of search marketing.

Both of these models, when used well together, are the two halves of the customer’s journey from casual “window-shopper,” to a potential prospect, to a conversion. Indirect leading works especially well at the beginning of the customer’s journey by leading them toward a sale through secrets, promises, and stories about real people like them, usually in exchange for the means to contact that person again. When the prospect becomes interested in what the business has to offer, that’s when direct marketing is at its strongest and can complete the journey to make the sale and turn the prospect into a customer.

So the problem with using only the results of direct marketing to categorize success is that you only have the hard data concerning the Return on Investment (ROI). If you don’t like the hard numbers, you can prematurely end a campaign that was actually going to bring you significant returns in the long run, if you had instead paid attention to the increase in traffic, greater user interactions, successful subscriptions, etc.

Being Satisfied with Current SEO Knowledge

One of the most harmful mistakes CMOs can make is neglecting to continually educate themselves on the latest trends Search Engine Optimization takes. Optimizing content and copy is an ever-changing, ever-adapting facet of marketing. One day you’ll use three top keywords in your content only to find that a month later, those same keywords don’t work, or don’t cause content to rank as high on search engine results as they did before.

Neither can a CMO afford to believe they only need to be concerned with one or two factors of SEO. There is no one factor of SEO that beats all the others. Even if there was, every competitor would use that factor just as much, prompting the search engine “spiders” and algorithms to devise more stringent filters in order to ensure their searchers find the most helpful resources.

Understanding the trends concerning,

  • Backlinks
  • Word count
  • Specific Keywords
  • Keyword placement
Is all one thing.
It’s also important to understand the latest SEO updates. This sounds like something you only have to be concerned about a few times a year until you realize that Google makes hundreds of changes each year to its algorithm. The latest major SEO update by Google was instituted in late September of 2021 and targeted organic searches. The point is, a CMO should be always learning and adapting to the trends.

Ranking high is the #1 Priority

Ranking first for beneficial keywords is a very lucrative goal. Most of the time. However, when the very first priority of your work is to rank as #1, or as one of the top 3 or 5 results in the search engine at apparently any cost, it will hurt your company’s business instead of helping it.

One strategy CMOs have used to get websites to rank higher in search results is to bid for the position through Pay-Per-Click advertising. However, in order for that bid to be worth it, there must be a worthwhile ROI.

When looking for a high rank in the search engines, it’s often enough to be on the first page, rather than the first position, especially if you realize the market you are trying to write for has one or two experts that are certain or almost certain to outrank you. For example, trying to surpass Niel Patel in certain SEO topics.

It’s better to balance your objectives with your available resources, most notably your budget, and with any serious competition. It’s entirely possible to rank on the first page of search engines without bidding if you accomplish an aspect of SEO better than the several lower results on page #1.

Keyword Terms are Narrowed by Language Preferences

One of the easiest traps for a CMO to enter is leaning on the vocabulary of their industry. The ultimate goal between the content marketer and the target audiences they are attempting to appeal to is to appeal to them. That is more easily accomplished when instead of using the terms and labels used by professionals in the industry, the more generic and organic phrases and queries are used in order to easily reach the general public.

For example, a CMO in the nursing industry might naturally want to use “senior living facility,” instead of “nursing home,” that general audiences are much more likely to use in their searches.

The proper terminology is perfect for the professional audiences in the industry, or when content is meant to educate the public with the formal terms, but outside of these instances, the work might end up too confusing.

Ranking Only for Top Keywords

The best-laid plans include both immediately effective strategies and long-term strategies that, although not producing immediate effects, will have a much longer impact. In addition to using your own language, a common problem is not using a variety of keywords and phrases for the same kinds of search.

I’m referring to long-tail keywords. These keywords are longer phrases that still have the user’s search intent but are much less specific and therefore less competitive, as they won’t rank your works as high as the more specific and shorter keywords. For example, “What 2022 trucks have the best towing capacity?” is much more specific than, “Best Trucks for Towing,” and will be easier to rank with.

However, long-tail keywords are still valuable to use because of the thinner competition. And because they are vaguer, they will be able to reach the searchers who search with more general terms. Reportedly, 20% of the searches made on Google’s search engine alone are generic searches. That’s a great deal of potential for ranking.

The most common example of preferring top (and expensive) keywords may be bidding only on branded terms, such as “Dell computer,” or “Ford Trucks,” instead of generic non-branded descriptions.


Using Paid SEM or Natural SEO, but Not Both

As you’ve probably noticed by now, some of the most common mistakes that a CMO can make involve the preference of paid Search Engine Marketing (SEM) over unpaid and natural, a.k.a organic, SEO, or vice versa. A worse mistake, however, is to confuse SEM and SEO as interchangeable terms for the same thing and miss their distinct opportunities entirely.

There are definitely similar benefits and methods with each one that can give that impression, such as using keyword research and driving more traffic to websites, but there are also distinct benefits and processes that make one or the other superior in different circumstances.

For instance, SEM has the benefit of immediately placing work in one of the first 5 places on page #1 since it’s designated as an ad, which not only increases visibility but also the likelihood of being clicked on, paying the company each time it’s clicked. Meanwhile, SEO, though unpaying, usually provides a higher click-through rate and provides value over time.

Disregarding the differences and uses of both SEO and SEM would mean missing out on combining SEO ranking with paid placement and PPC to bolster the usual effects of both.

There is No Effective and Organized Team

Having the most perfect SEO techniques and marketing campaign ideas means nothing if you don’t have a well-put-together team who know and love what they do.

David Doctorow, former CMSO (Content Marketing and Strategy Officer) for Expedia, advised other CMOs to put together teams that can not only observe what their competition is using and doing but also know how to avoid simply following the competition and partners who are experimenting with new placements and advertising “opportunities.” They need to be able to sift through what Mr. Doctorow described as “noise,” in order to focus on what will work effectively.

As the leader of a team, a CMO is also responsible for keeping up the morale of the team. A dissatisfied team will have no trouble leaving an environment with poor leadership and stale culture for another opportunity that pays less. A CMO needs to be able to keep practices fresh, keep continual education of marketing desirable for everyone under them, and encourage mutual respect.

Finally, once you seem to have, not only the perfect marketing team but also the perfect organization, does your team have a “fluid” enough organization to adapt to the changes in the marketing world that will inevitably show up? By integrating traditional and new digital marketing channels together, a CMO can create that adaptable structure.

Ignoring the Potential of MarTech

CMOs who are masters of traditional marketing won’t be able to compete if they aren’t gaining skills in digital marketing. One of the most relevant divisions of digital marketing today is marketing technology, or MarTech. MarTech includes marketing software and online tools that boost marketing efforts to connect with audiences more easily and to increase visibility online. Many CMOs are already familiar with several forms of MarTech such as,

  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook
  • And YouTube Shorts


It sounds like average online marketing that is very well-known at this point, which is true. However, the world of MarTech is so vast, and the tools available are so numerous, that unless there is a consistent urgency to identify the best tools for campaign strategies out of their various categories it will be easy for the competition who do actively invest in MarTech and understand the impact of tools, to surpass your company.


Content marketing is a highly competitive business that requires the competitors, and especially the head officers in the trade, to be aware of the interrelationships between the organization of your team and goals, and the utilization of the SEO resources available.

The ultimate boost in any ranking problem will always be to strive to be the most helpful source of information or most helpful service in your market. It’s one thing to make it to page 1 of Google’s listings by paying the way into that position, but if your resources are unhelpful, even paying your way won’t help you.

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