From CMO to CRO - big shift or not? - Moz CRO Christina Mautz shares her perspective

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher February 19, 2020
The scope of a CMO's role continues to grow. But is the shift to CRO a viable one? In a recent interview, Christina Mautz of Moz offered her insights on moving from CMO to heading up sales and marketing as CRO.


Christina Mautz has a solid career in marketing leadership. From running her own consultancies to working with the likes of Yahoo, Amazon, predictive hiring technology company Koru, and now Moz, she has a strong sense of what it takes to be successful in marketing today - focus on the customer.

But her journey is only just beginning. After a little over a year as CMO at Moz, a provider of marketing analytics software (think SEO tools), Mautz shifted her role to CRO (Chief Revenue Officer), overseeing both marketing and sales. We talked about the new role, why she thinks it is the evolution of the CMO, and how other CMOs and Marketing leaders can prepare themselves to make the change.

It’s all about the customer

Mautz told me that throughout her work experience, regardless of title, the roles she’s played have always had a strategic but narrow focus. The goal was always to figure out how to connect with the customer, something that was a lot harder to do ten, fifteen years ago, then it is today. Back then, although they tried, they weren’t always making it happen.

Shift forward to the last few years, and there are many more tools (like marketing automation) and much more data to enable marketers to really understand who their target customers are and how to reach them best. It’s still a work in progress but marketers are figuring it out.

Mautz talked about two ways to do that. One is more tactical and involves more of a growth marketing approach. She said they have a growth team at Moz doing some good work. But she doesn’t like the term “growth hacking” because in her mind, it doesn’t go deep enough; it doesn’t meet the customer where they are at.

The other involves leading an effort to connect with the customer first. She said people talk about good vs. evil marketing. Good marketing is the ability to influence by understanding the customer and their journey and engaging them where they are.

From CMO to CRO, a big shift or not?

It’s a process that takes time, time that some CMOs don’t seem to have. According to recent research, the average tenure of a CMO is 43 months or three and a half years. Mautz said that too often, the CMO is looked at as a silver bullet.

According to Liz Miller, VP & Principal Analyst, Constellation Research:

Today’s CMOs are expected to drive growth across the entire organization, developing the strategy and the vision to turn overarching goals into bottom- and top-line realities.

She goes on:

CMOs drive, orchestrate and accelerate growth by aligning resources (and intelligence) to optimize engagement and establish the brand that underpins the far more broad and enterprise-wide customer experience strategy. Instead of fretting over the loss of the 4 P’s, today’s modern CMO is laser focused on the 3 R’s: revenue, relationship and reputation.

Mautz said the CMO title is constantly changing. Maybe it’s now a Chief Growth Officer (CGO), a Chief Experience Officer (CXO), or a Chief Brand Officer (although she noted that brand has always been a part of the CMO’s job). But for her, the more natural evolution was from CMO to CRO, a role she took on in October of last year at Moz.

One of the reasons this evolution from CMO to CRO makes sense, Mautz said, is because much of the relationship with the customer is now digital. Customers expect an experience that shows you know and understand them. Those expectations are driving digital transformation in the organization. That transformation starts with the CMO and has changed how their performance is evaluated - through revenue. For reference, a Chief Revenue Officer (according to Wikipedia) is:

A corporate officer(executive) responsible for allrevenuegeneration processes in anorganization. In this role, a CRO is accountable for driving better integration and alignment between all revenue-related functions, includingmarketing,sales,customer support,pricing, and revenue management.

According to Mautz, if as CMO she is graded on revenue, then it makes perfect sense that she owns the full end-to-end revenue experience. In terms of the customer experience team, she believes she needs to partner with them strategically but doesn’t believe she should own the role.

For her, it wasn’t some grand plan; it happened organically. In her new role, the Director of Sales and the Marketing Directors report directly to her and while it’s too early to prove the change is working, she did say that there is greater alignment between Sales and Marketing.

As the CRO of Moz, Mautz is working on strategically approaching the customer in an end-to-end way. She told me that the direct sales channel has become more seamless, and she’s now working with the Director of Sales to operationalize Sales.

Mautz doesn’t pretend to be an expert at Sales; her approach is to look at everything from the customer’s perspective and build the organization around that customer relationship. She acknowledges that Sales are much different from Marketing and they have an incredibly challenging job.

Working with Sales has given her new respect for the work they do. She said it’s critical that both Marketing and Sales need to slow down and understand each other better. Mautz said that great salespeople love their customers, and they love their compensation, and it often means they talk about the customer differently. But that’s okay, she said, it’s healthy. She also noted that you could learn a lot by listening to Sales calls (something she does regularly). You learn about the customer and their requirements, but also about competitors and the market.

Making the shift from CMO to CRO

Mautz is very excited about her new role as CRO at Moz. She is learning to wear different hats and to know which one to put on when (and when to wear both at the same time).

I asked her what advice she would give other CMOs thinking about making the shift from CMO to CRO. She offered two things:

  1. Don’t be afraid to own a revenue goal. CMO’s need to have a deep understanding of the revenue model of a company (is it sales, expansion, online, etc.) and its nuances.
  2. Understand where the company needs you most and focus your efforts there. Marketing’s job is to help Sales meet revenue, and they help do that by ensuring everyone understands the buyer’s journey from start to finish and then beyond.

Time will tell if Mautz will find success in her new role. It does help that at one point as a VP of Marketing, she reported to a CRO, so she’s not completely new to the job description and what’s required. In speaking with her, it’s clear she understands that as long as the focus remains on the customer, she can help lead her team – Marketing and Sales – to success.

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