INSIGHTS & IDEAS >> Leadership / social media,

3 Ways to Be Like the Top 50 Influential CMOs


It always helps to know what the boss is thinking — or your client’s boss’s boss’s boss. So in our books, a recent survey of the top 50 influential CMOs is a must-read for every marketing leader. 

And bonus, it’s a free download from our friends at Sprinklr (you don’t even have to opt-in): 

The Most Influential CMOs 2017 [PDF]  

The study ranked the CMOs and then surveyed them about the shifting marketing terrain and what it will takes to be the Chief Marketing Officer of tomorrow.

They ask the big questions:

  1. How are today’s top marketers adapting to new opportunities and expectations?
  2. How are they fostering deeper levels of engagement with their customers?
  3. How are they contributing to the transformation of their entire enterprise?
  4. How are they advancing their brand and contributing to broader industry trends?
  5. How are they impacting their company’s financial performance?

Read on for our top 3 actionable takeaways for marketing leaders.

Two common themes emerged in the CMO study: Keeping pace with technology and making effective change. The authors use the case of IBM CMO Michelle Peluso to illustrate:

“Twenty years ago, the CMO was essentially the broadcast arm of a company, in charge of distributing the company’s messages through advertising, PR, and so forth,” notes IBM CMO Michelle Peluso, one of this year’s Most Influential CMOs. “But that is changing dramatically now. Social has completely flattened the relationship and empowered customers in previously unimaginable ways.”

IBM’s decision to create a Chief Marketing Officer role last year — after more than a hundred years without someone at the helm — underscores the tectonic shift happening across all companies.

Here are our top three takeaways: 

1. Influence is the new KPI

The authors of the report urge us to consider influence as the new KPI for CMOs. As they note, “infuence enables an effective CMO to win support for initiatives inside a company. Influence helps a CMO reach customers, impress shareholders, and deliver ever-stronger brand performance. Influence is how a CMO shapes the marketing conversation as a whole.”

The report goes on to rank the world’s 50 most influential CMOs. Interestingly, one-third of the top 50 are women, and perhaps it’s no surprise that 40 percent of the CMOs on the list work in tech, including telecommunications and internet.

Two great resources for developing your own influence and innovation skills:


2. Where the top CMOs turn for inspiration or insights

Thanks to the study, we now know who the most influential CMOs follow. These people are followed by at least 10 of the top 50 CMOs:

Lists of Top Marketing and Tech Influencers on Twitter

Want to follow these folks? We have handy Twitter Lists ready for you to subscribe! Some people appear on both lists, so choose your flavor, Marketing or Tech:



Many of us find it hard to prioritize social networking. With all those platforms to consider, it gets overwhelming. And when was the last time you actually blogged? Never fear: we mere marketing mortals can look to the top 50 influential CMOs for some inspiration on how to get it right.

“The foundation of influence rests squarely on relationships — and that foundation is not merely about publicizing yourself and your work, but building a rich network,” the report says.

Here are some insights into the social media habits of the top 50 influential CMOs:

  • More than twice as many LinkedIn connections as the average big-brand CMO
  • More than 10,000 Twitter followers on average compared to an average of 4,000 for all 449 CMOs surveyed
  • Follow nearly 1,600 people on average compared to just over 600 for all 449 CMOs surveyed
  • Tweet an average of once a day, compared to an average of less than once every two days for all 449 CMOs surveyed
  • Network with one another specifically in three key sub-communities: tech leaders, enterprise influencers and global brands
  • Hashtag analysis reveals they are notable clusters of focus for the top 50 CMOs:
    • Technology, Big Data and the Internet of Things
    • Marketing, Digital Transformation and Virtual Reality
    • AI, Innovation and Digital

Color me inspired to be more like these CMOs on social!


The report offers much more than just the three takeways highlighted here, and you should definitely check it out. Perhaps most illuminating are the profiles it includes of each top CMO with their answers to some of the big marketing leadership questions of today.

So, do you see anything here worth emulating yourself? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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