The changing role of the modern bank CMO

Martin Häring, CMO at Misys, explains what the bank CMO’s role currently looks like, who owns customer centricity within the bank, and how challenger banks are visioning marketing and CMOS in comparison with traditional organisations…

A role once reserved for some of the largest consumer-facing brands, it took banks a while to recognise the true value of the Chief Marketing Officer. But with digital transformation firmly on the agenda, and with a new wave of challenger banks snapping at their heels, the role of the CMO is now central to success.

Back in the day, marketing was perhaps a more arduous task – most customer outreach activity revolved around more traditional channels such as radio, television, and print. No doubt there were some great marketing campaigns before the growth of digital, but measuring the true value of these was often challenging.

The lines between the role of CMO, Chief Customer Officer (CCO), Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Data Officer (CDO) can often be blurred

Today, the channels and business touchpoints available to a bank’s customers have grown exponentially, and senior marketers have taken on a much more integral role, becoming valued members of the C-suite. The modern CMO needs a modern skillset. Digital expert, customer hero, data geek, and product guru – the CMO is expected to have it all. In possessing such a broad set of skills, the lines between the role of CMO, Chief Customer Officer (CCO), Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Data Officer (CDO) can often be blurred.

The modern bank CMO should be driving core strategies that are important to the bank and, more importantly, the customer. These include introducing new customer-facing applications, managing and providing customer intelligence data and spreading the responsibility for the overall digital customer experience.

Today’s CMO is not just ‘a marketer’, but a key driver of digital transformation within the bank. Below are four key traits every bank CMO should strive to practice daily.

Resourcefulness and ability to drive reach

Costly advertising, print campaigns and direct sales; this used to be the reality of what it took to acquire new customers, but the digital and social tools now readily available to marketers can help considerably when it comes to driving down customer acquisition costs. The best marketing automation tools, web content management systems and social media platforms should be sought. They are a must, not an option. The use of analytics and data-driven marketing also needs to become common practice, and alongside it, the tracking of return on every pound invested.

Data obsession

Banks have a goldmine of customer data available at their fingertips – whether transactional, behavioural or personal. A CMO needs to embrace the use of data, acting as Chief Data Officer and demanding insight from analytics before making any decision. Introducing artificial intelligence (AI) tools will also help to predict customer behaviour and future product interest. There is a lot that can be learned from telco marketers who look at their customers from an ARPU (Average Revenue per User) perspective. This approach affords a more granular, data driven view of customer growth and engagement, which is vital when demonstrating success to the rest of the C-suite.


Customers join a bank for a variety of different reasons. Banks which tailor their offerings per customer segment, as many of the new challenger banks are seeking to do, can gain an edge on their competitors.

Personalisation and analytics are intertwined…

Again, this is where data and analytics are essential. Aphrodite Brinsmead, analyst at Ovum, believes personalisation and analytics are intertwined, with unique behaviours always needing to be considered when developing personalised omni-channel strategies. You shouldn’t market to your audience what you think is relevant to them. Asking questions, listening to their problems and solving them will be the way to go up in their estimation. Today, more than ever, the bank needs to be personal and should have one-to-one conversations with customers.


The more a bank embraces its social channels, the better. Reaching audiences where they spend most of their time will show them that the bank is current, and that they understand their needs, their language, and their world. Investing in social listening tools will help you to gauge what your customers are saying about you, allowing you to turn complaints into new business opportunities and improvement suggestions into new products. There is a lot banks can learn from the retail industry, which is a great example of how businesses should be engaging with its customers. The process is ultimately a cost-efficient opportunity to interact with customers or prospects and a great way to increase your brand’s reach.

The more a bank embraces its social channels, the better…

No matter how modern CMOs choose to achieve their goal, they must live and breathe the bank brand, embracing a customer-centric and digital-first mentality throughout. The countless digital tools at a marketer’s disposal – CRM tools, campaign management, programmatic digital advertising, email automation, SEO, Google Analytics – are often not used to their full potential. For challenger banks who have ingrained a digital and social approach from the get-go, it is a strategy they are more than familiar with. Bank CMOs can learn from these new players in the industry and, although digital transformation can sometimes be an arduous task for traditional players, the pay-offs are huge.

A CMO needs to be curious, exploring the options available, asking the right questions and driving continuous innovation within the bank. The bank’s brand and digital strategies should be one and the same, incorporating technology which effectively reflects the brand into the very heart of the bank.

The most successful bank CMOs are those thinking from the outside in, driving innovation through the lens of the bank’s customer, creating new products and services to meet their needs and building seamless end-to-end user experiences across the whole customer lifecycle.

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