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Indeed’s CMO on why every company should view marketing as a growth center, not a cost center

August 30, 2022, 10:29 AM UTC
ndeed logo seen at Indeed EMEA headquarters building in Dublin.
An effective CMO-CFO relationship results in shared KPIs and moves the needle for business, says Indeed CMO Jessica Jensen.
Artur Widak—NurPhoto/Getty Images

Good morning,

In exploring the value of modern key performance indicators (KPIs), I’ve been speaking with academics and industry experts over the past few weeks. And as KPIs are becoming more customer experience oriented (for example, metrics such as employee experience, customer experience, and customer lifetime value) my conversations with experts continue to point to the importance of enhanced synergy between finance and marketing teams.

“There’s always a partnership between finance and marketing because traditionally, marketing is viewed as a cost center,” Jessica Jensen, chief marketing officer at Indeed.com, a worldwide employment website, told me. “And the evolution, that I think is also related to digital transformation, has been to viewing marketing as a growth center.”

Jessica Jensen, chief marketing officer at Indeed.com / Courtesy of Indeed.com

Jensen, in her role at Indeed since 2021, is a technology industry veteran whose experience includes former head of products, platforms, and insights for business marketing at Facebook. During her career of marketing leadership positions in Silicon Valley, she’s seen the relationship between finance and marketing shift from: “’Here’s your budget,’” Jensen says. “‘Here’s your dictate on ROI. And we need to control the cost of marketing.’”

She continues, “Over my time at Facebook, Open Table, and now at Indeed, it’s much more focused on: “How do we invest smartly in marketing to drive revenue, market share and other forms of top-line growth?”

Marketing teams at Indeed include brand awareness and brand consideration as just some of their KPIs, all linked to revenue, Jensen says. “There’s a term in marketing land, UAC, which is unaided consideration,” Jensen explains. UAC is the percentage of respondents aware of your brand without being assisted.

“That’s a very important metric that we use in marketing to indicate if we have brand awareness and understanding,” she explains. “If we have awareness and consideration, that will make our customer acquisition activities more effective, which leads to a lower customer acquisition cost. And if we satisfy those customers after they join us, their lifetime value extends. So, it is an interlinked web of metrics.”

“However, a board member or a CEO might say, ‘What the heck do I care about UAC’? Jensen says. “So, making the linear connection between a metric like that and revenue or client acquisition is the job that we have to do in marketing.”

Customer lifetime value is still a critical measure both on the consumer and the B2B side, Jensen says. “How much does it cost to acquire a customer (CAC) versus what is the lifetime value of that customer?”

I asked Jensen for an example of a collaborative project she’s worked on with Sean McSherry, SVP and head of finance at Indeed.

“I think we’ve gotten much more sophisticated about our use of LTV (customer lifetime value) segmentation,” she explains. “We’ve done a big project around construction workers, truckers, nurses, legal professionals, etc. We are running jobs across an incredible array of different industry segments and job types. So, we need to be very purposeful about the LTV and CAC assessment at that segment level. And that was a major collaboration between our finance team, our job-seeker product team and our marketing team.”

“The CFO-CMO relationship is key to our company’s overall business growth,” McSherry told Fortune in a statement. “Our relationship has to be transparent, dynamic and with constant ongoing feedback. This allows finance to be more flexible with our investment approach so we can determine the best ways to fund growth opportunities in real-time and iterate along the way. Together, we’re not managing predetermined budgets, but rather finding and funding the best pathways for growth.”

“You’re 70% more likely to go through a successful digital transformation with a marketing leader who is really able to translate [marketing] metrics for business impact,” Courtney Rose, sector lead at Google, told me. Research by Google, in partnership with Kantar, found that “the CMO and the CFO is the power pair that holds that key to unlocking digital transformation, especially at times like this when we face a lot of uncertainty,” Rose says. But the implications of the CMO-CFO relationship goes beyond digital transformation, she says. “At the end of the day, it’s about what we’re doing to enable the best business outcome,” Rose says.

That involves, “driving a modern aligned business with shared goals and metrics across everyone in the C-suite,” Jensen says. Using shared data, everyone should be able to articulate, “Here’s our customer strategy and here are the metrics that move the needle for the business and for our customers,” she says.


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

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