The Growing Importance of Marketing Executives in the Digital Age

If you need a marketing executive search, you’re not alone. At any one time, there are hundreds of CMO job openings in North America and more than a thousand globally.

Marketing executives play a key role in businesses but often have short tenure.  About 20% of CMOs at B2C companies and 11% of B2B last less than a year, according to a recent study in Marketing Week. Across Fortune 500 companies, the average CMO tenure is just more than four years.

Your marketing executive search needs to find candidates with the right leadership skills in digital marketing to move your business forward.

Impact of Digital Transformation on Marketing Leadership

Digital transformation has impacted nearly every industry. In both B2B and B2C companies, the executive role evolution has been profound. Today’s marketing leaders need to be experts in digital marketing, software, platforms, and strategy.

Digital has changed the game, enabling unprecedented access to data analytics and precise customer targeting. A marketing executive search today must focus on leaders who have deep digital skills and constantly adapt to new approaches and tools.

Essential Skills for Marketing Executives in the Digital Age

While marketing execs still need strategic planning, creative problem-solving, and strong communication skills to be effective, they also need technical skills to master digital technology. This includes skills such as:

Data Analysis

Marketing campaigns generate mass amounts of data. Marketing leaders need to be adept at analysis to understand performance, customer behaviour, and emerging trends.

Marketing Automation

Automation can streamline marketing campaigns, reducing the manual work and error rates. This includes tactics such as email marketing, behavioural targeting, lead generation and scoring, prospect nurturing, and personalized messaging.

Digital Marketing and Cross-Channel Marketing

Marketing leaders must also be experts in leveraging digital marketing channels, including new and emerging channels. Marketing may have to manage brick-and-mortar locations, websites, and inventory across multiple sales channels.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

66% of B2B buyers discover products via an internet search. 46% of B2C customers start with Google. Today’s marketing leaders must have deep expertise in SEO and SEM to reach customers and clients where they are.

Challenges and Opportunities for Marketing Executives in Toronto

Toronto is now the second largest financial centre in North America, trailing only New York, and the eighth largest globally. That makes competition for talent in Toronto’s digital marketing landscape challenging. 

Executive marketing talent searches in Toronto often require international sourcing and recruitment, especially to find talent in specific sectors that require industry experience. Industry experience is important, but it can’t come at the expense of fundamental requirements, such as someone agile and growth-focused who understands marketing and digital strategies.

Strategies for Successful Marketing Executive Search in the Digital Era

You should define your objectives at the start of your marketing executive search with a focus on where your organization is now and where you want to go into the future. This is critical. Hiring the right marketing executive who has experience at your growth stage is one of the keys to success. You will likely need a different type of leader if you are a startup, early-stage, late-stage, or public company.

Partnering with an executive search firm with expertise in marketing leadership placements and a deep network both regionally and internationally can provide access to a wider pool of qualified candidates.

Case Study: Successful Marketing Executives in the Digital Age

A recent marketing executive search we conducted for a manufacturer in the automotive sector required a skilled leader who could oversee both a digital transformation and a refresh of the brand. We worked with the company to create a detailed profile to ensure we captured the skills needed to lead the charge.

We also suggested other sectors where we might find these skills that would work in a different industry to help broaden the pool. This search produced qualified candidates and a successful placement.

Preparing for the Future of Marketing Leadership

Digital transformation in marketing continues to evolve, especially when it comes to technology. 

63% of marketing leaders said their organization is planning to invest in generative artificial intelligence (AI); 68% of marketing teams are already using AI tools in some capacity. 

Digital marketing leadership in the future will require a deep understanding of AI and machine learning to make data-driven decisions and guide ethical decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions — FAQs

What key skills are now essential for marketing executives in the digital age?

Any marketing executive you consider must have technical and leadership skills in digital marketing, including automation, AI, and data analysis. They also must foster an inclusive climate while prioritizing data-driven decisions.

How is the digital transformation shaping the marketing executive role in Toronto?

IDC Canada reports that 75% of Canadian businesses expect digital transformation and modernization of tech stacks to be a strategic priority for their business. Marketing executives will be called on to lead this transformation and guide teams effectively amid rapid change.

What strategies should companies use in their executive search for digital marketing leaders?

When conducting a marketing executive search keep an open mind. Industry understanding is helpful, but finding individuals with the right marketing skills in today’s digital environment is more important.

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PIXCELL Supports L’Étoile de Pacho with La Soirée Cassiopée

François Piché-Roy, President and Managing Partner of PIXCELL – Leaders Recruiting Leaders, will be the Honorary Chair of the second La Soirée Cassiopée. Proceeds from the fundraising event go to L’Étoile de Pacho, an organization dedicated to supporting the parents of children with severe disabilities.