Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do? And who do you report to?

Jeff Weiser: I am the chief marketing officer at Shutterstock and I report to our founder and CEO, Jon Oringer. Our marketing department consists of multiple teams including CRM, communications, events, data science and analytics, product marketing, customer acquisition, global customer care, content marketing and creative.

We work cohesively to improve our marketing channels across audience segments and focus on harnessing data to optimize customer acquisition and customer lifetime value. 

E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

JW: To be an effective CMO, you need to be somewhat of a polymath. The creative skills that were historically required in this role have merged with improved technology services and data tracking in recent years, requiring more than a subjectively driven approach.

While creative execution still drives performance, I believe in an approach that doesn’t evaluate marketing on intuition or subjective preference alone.

jeff weiser

E: Tell us about a typical working day…

JW: Since marketing has multiple facets, my days vary widely. I spend a lot of time in meetings discussing strategy and planning, but I am also involved in discussions with a high level of detail, editing content and building models myself, when it makes sense.

Due to the breadth of the department, I also find myself having to switch gears quickly. It’s common for my calendar to have back-to-back meetings that jump around from creative meetings about art execution straight into data science discussions about predictive analytics.

E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?

JW: I love working with a technology company. Technology in marketing is amazing as an enabler for optimization. I’m specifically interested in how to take advantage of automation to extend bandwidth.

However, when technology makes decisions for you, there’s often little transparency into what is happening under the hood. As a data-driven marketer, I approach black box algorithms with a healthy amount of skepticism. Not understanding how a decision was made is a lost opportunity to learn about your business drivers.

E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

JW: At the highest level, I aim to achieve strong revenue and profitability goals. In doing so, it’s important that we instrument models that understand the relationship between marketing and financial outcomes.

Two of the most important metrics that we look at include lifetime value and cost per acquisition, but we analyze many supporting metrics that explain movement in those numbers.

E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

JW: I’m particularly interested in marketing technology that puts marketing in the hands of marketers and reduces reliance on marketing operations or business intelligence teams.

A tool that combines that empowerment with transparency where it is drawing conclusions is doubly valuable.


The Shutterstock website

E: How did you get into marketing, and where might you go from here?

JW: I ran strategy and analytics groups for over a decade, helping companies use data to increase revenue. As analytics and marketing started to bleed together and it became more of a quantitative discipline, it was a logical next step for me to focus on marketing full time.

The CMO role at Shutterstock was a perfect fit because, at its core, Shutterstock is a technology company with over 13 years of customer data. We’re just scratching the surface of what we can do with it now.

E: Which brands have you been impressed by recently when it comes to digital experiences?

JW: Over the last five years or so I’ve been impressed by direct-to-consumer brands like Dollar Shave Club. Their clever creative, savvy use of digital channels like Facebook and YouTube and disruptive business models upended incumbent players (that, of course, turned around and acquired them).

E: Do you have any advice for people who want to rise to become a CMO?

JW: Having ambition and knowing your next career step is great, but it’s important to discuss these goals with management for a shared understanding and collaborative plan on what it takes and how to best achieve this kind of success. 

I also believe in building relationships with partner groups early on, including departments like IT, finance and product. The more you understand these disciplines, the easier it is to execute successful marketing effectively.

And keep in mind that CMOs of the future have to be both creative and analytical, always cultivating both the left and right brain to achieve a balanced approach.