3 Nightmare-Inducing CMO Challenges and How to Vanquish Them

By Carrie Dagenhard on October 17, 2019

The spookiest season of the year has arrived—but if you're like other CMOs and marketing leaders, you don't need haunted houses and scary movies for nightmare fodder. With mounting pressure to fill sales pipelines, increase revenue, and prove your value, you've already got plenty of foreboding thoughts wreaking havoc on your sleep schedule.

But you don't have to battle these anxiety-provoking ghouls and goblins alone. We're breaking down three of the most common CMO challenges, with tips on how to conquer these nightmares for good.

1. Failing to Prove ROI

With the rapid advancement of marketing technology, almost everything you do is trackable and quantifiable. On the one hand, this is helpful; it allows your team to easily evaluate a campaign's performance and quickly pivot when efforts take a nosedive. On the other hand, it means the rest of the C-suite won't hesitate in asking you to prove the value of every marketing investment.

A whopping 97 percent of marketing leaders cited ROI as one of the top CMO challenges, according to a survey by Brand Keys. While the proliferation of data at your fingertips can be useful when calculating ROI, it's rarely as straightforward as it may seem to those outside the marketing trenches. This is especially true if you don't have perfect, clean, and accessible closed-loop reporting.

How to end this nightmare: Solving the ROI dilemma requires a major structural shift, which starts with cozying up to the sales leaders. Better alignment between sales and marketing in both process and reporting can solve many CMO pain points, including making it easier to track how marketing efforts are impacting the bottom line and where both teams can improve and potentially collaborate.

Unexpected algorithm updates are enough to send marketers screaming.

Image attribution: FINNDEN STUDIO from Pexels

2. Unexpected Social Media Algorithm Updates

Imagine this scenario: After months of planning and testing, your team has developed what it believes to be a near-perfect social media strategy. Upon its deployment, engagement soars, website traffic skyrockets, and your conversion rate goes through the roof. But just as you and your team prepare to pop the champagne, your No. 1 social media platform changes its algorithm. Suddenly, your success screeches to a halt and all that hard work goes to waste.

For many marketing leaders, this bad dream is often a reality. In recent years, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn have all released algorithm updates that stunted brands' social media reach—specifically on the organic side. And as social platforms increasingly focus on providing the best user experience, brands can count on their content taking a back seat in the future, too.

How to end this nightmare: You can't "trick" social media algorithms—at least not for long. Relying on one tactic to drive engagement is shortsighted and can have devastating consequences. Instead, focus on regularly publishing quality content that's captivating enough to elicit a response and useful enough to address your audience's needs. After all, genuine, authentic experiences foster deeper connections with your audience. And never put all your eggs in one basket, especially on a platform you can't control.

3. Committing a Reputation-Wrecking Brand Faux Pas

The internet never forgets, no matter how quickly you delete something. It's a tough lesson that several brands have discovered over the past decade. All it takes is one tone-deaf tweet or distasteful campaign to land your brand in the dog house and incite buyer boycotts.

"Nearly any idea can sound great in the conference room," says Brit Morse, a writer and web producer for, in an article about the worst brand fails of 2018. "But when the idea takes form in the outside world, it can go wrong."

Even if the financial fallout is temporary, it can take years for brands to fully recover consumer trust and loyalty after a reputation-damaging mistake (if ever). Plus, when these mistakes happen, someone has to pay the price—and it's usually the person at the top.

How to end this nightmare: When building and growing your marketing team, focus on diversity. The greater the variety of voices you have contributing to your efforts, the less likely you are to release something that's accidentally offensive. Additionally, check in with your social media management to ensure they have all the proper checks in place to prevent your brand from going viral for the wrong reasons. From spelling-conscious proofreaders to a clear social media style guide, a few simple processes can go a long way toward protecting your company's online reputation.

Being a marketing leader is a challenging job—sometimes, the burden on your shoulders seems to get heavier every day. These three CMO pain points represent only a fraction of the concerns rattling brands today. But by partnering up with sales leaders, developing a people-first social media strategy, and hiring powerful and diverse team leaders you can trust to protect your brand, your team can help keep marketing monsters at bay and finally get a good night's sleep.

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Featured image attribution: Francisco Moreno on Unsplash


Carrie Dagenhard

Carrie is an Austin, TX-based freelance writer and B2B content strategist who combines a background in journalism and decade of marketing experience to help technology and healthcare organizations captivate their audiences. When she's not writing, you can find Carrie on her yoga mat, working her way through the ever-growing pile of books on her nightstand, planning her next travel adventure or sampling local craft brews. Learn more about her at