Who Make The Best CEOs? Marketers According To This Linkedin Exec


Companies of all sizes are recognising the rising importance of data. In fact marketing's value has changed drastically in recent years (with thanks to technology and easier data collection). Russell Glass, Head Of B2B Product in Linkedin believes that CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) will make the best next-generation CEOs (Chief Executive Officer) thanks to their understanding of data and the customer.

Russell takes Dan Siroker as an example of this. Dan was the Obama campaign's director of analytics in 2008 and one of his key responsibilities was optimising the campaign's website which if you know anything about American politics- is a crucial fundraising tool. Using sophisticated A/B testing, which involved comparing the results of 24 combinations of visuals, copy and calls-to-action, he and his team were able to identify the most effective combination for raising campaign funds from Obama supporters. This raised an extra $60 million for the Obama campaign and the A/B testing used generated the data to prove it.


Historically its difficult to measure the work of marketers (revenue centre versus cost centre) but when you generate $60 million as a direct result of A/B testing and have the data to prove it, there's no longer any doubt. The landscape of marketing immediately changes. Siroker is now the CEO and co-founder of Optimizely and is just one very good example of data-driven marketing execs who have become CEOs. Audi, Royal Dutch Shell and Gilt Groupe have all recently named former CMOs as CEOs.

Only the marketing department has a window on behaviour for 90% of the buyer's decision making. This behaviour includes the time spent doing research about visits to websites, reading online reviews, interacting with peers on social media and with online searches.

"When I tell people that we can know, in real time, every single visitor when they arrive on our site and know what company type they are from and that we can target specific titles or regions or individual companies, they're blown away," says Bill Macaitis, former CMO of Zendesk

Marketing now holds the key to sales commissions. This data collection is a tremendous shift from the past when the sales department played a much larger role in shepherding potential customers through the sales process. It is now the marketing department, using data from the digital footprints left by them. And marketing can supply salespeople with exactly what they need- the leads. This data brings marketing and sales together. The data age also brings with it a lot more office synergy- it improves the abilities of the finance team and also it connects the marketing team with the IT team in ways businesses haven't had to deal with before because they're using analytics, dashboards etc. daily.

The winning companies of the future will of course be data-driven and customer focused. And no one is in a better position to lead this kind of company than the CMO who should become CEO above anyone else.


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Written By

Louise Johnston

With experience in the Irish FMCG industry LoJo has previously worked for global brands such as Bacardi and Red Bull. She can be described as a passionate infomaniac with an innate flare for brands, marketing and tech trends.