CMO vs. CIO: How Can “MarTech” Help Brands?

MarTech written on wooden blocks against a white backdrop, representing the CMO vs. CIO debate
  • James Notaris

    CPA, ESQ, Legal Editor

  • Steve Longo

    Digital Marketer

    In Brief:

  • A company's CMO and CIO may clash over the digital marketing strategy. 

  • Both positions differ in key aspects, but have crucial roles to play in crafting a successful digital strategy.  

  • Examine the CMO vs. CIO differences and learn how MarTech can benefit your brand here!

Acronyms get thrown around a lot in digital marketing, especially when it comes to titles. 

Indeed, the need for digital marketing professionals to wear multiple hats at the same time and often-murky responsibilities of such professionals can lead to quite a bit of confusion at companies. At best, this creates muddled responsibilities within an organization, creating confusion and delaying tasks. At worst, it can lead to turf wars that can hurt a company’s culture and ability to retain talent. 

Two of the most commonly confused and sometimes overlapping positions are chief marketing officer (CMO) and chief information officer (CIO). But how exactly do they differ? What are their specific responsibilities related to digital marketing? 

We explore CMO vs. CIO in detail below to help you understand them better! 

What is a CMO?

A CMO is the leader of a company’s marketing and advertising operations. 

They’re responsible for all paid, earned, and owned media, managing marketing and advertising campaigns, managing the brand’s messaging and voice, and leveraging any marketing technology available to improve their brand’s marketing and advertising efforts. 

In general, they’re responsible for crafting a company’s high-level marketing and advertising strategy and delegating tasks to see that it’s implemented effectively and efficiently. 

What is a CIO?

A CIO is an executive at a business who’s responsible for anything related to information technology. 

CIOs manage IT operations, ensure proper IT support, make sure that a company’s IT systems are running smoothly and effectively, oversee the development and implementation of an IT strategy, and ensure that a company’s cybersecurity efforts are up to date and effective. 

In sum, they manage and oversee anything related to a business’ technology and IT systems and strategies. 

Digital marketing terms written in red on a whiteboard for MarTech

CMOs vs. CIOs in Digital Marketing: How MarTech Can Help

The rise of digital marketing has led to greater confusion between the roles of CMO and CIO. As a discipline that blends both marketing and technology, it can sometimes lead to tensions between CMOs and CIOs on how best to proceed on everything from crafting a digital marketing strategy to which tools to leverage for success. 

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Smart brands understand the differences between both roles and respect what each side can bring to the table when it comes to digital marketing, creating a strong collaboration and productive partnership between both the marketing and technology departments for success. 

By defining the specific responsibilities of each role and setting common goals, brands can avoid conflict and work towards a collaborative future between CMOs and CIOs. CMOs should keep their traditional responsibilities of developing and guiding a high-level marketing strategy for a company, while CIOs should continue to focus on a company’s IT strategy. 

However, partnering for success is key, as is finding viable solutions. Both CMOs and CIOs should work together to create a digital strategy that leverages both marketing and technology best practices to guide a brand towards success. In some cases, brands may want to consider hiring a professional who reports to both the CMO and CIO as a liaison of sorts to help synergize a company’s marketing and IT strategies. Both CMOs and CIOs should also map out the customer experience and buyer journey jointly, looking for ways where they can bring both of their areas of expertise to the table. 

By focusing on collaboration and keeping both the customer and the brand’s core message front and center, both CMOs and CIOs can effectively leverage both marketing and technology for success as part of a MarTech partnership! 

CMO vs. CIO: Know How they Differ to Structure Your Business the Right Way!

The CMO vs. CIO debate is nothing new, but understanding both how they differ and how they can work effectively together is important to structuring your company as it pertains to digital marketing. By having a stronger grasp of what each position does, you can better recruit talent for them and position your brand and its digital marketing strategy for long-term success!


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