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Fractional-CMOs Don’t Need to Be Scared of AI



Fractional-CMOs Don't Need to Be Scared of AI

AI will not fundamentally change your role as a Fractional CMO, despite what the masterminds and gurus are selling.

Are You Scared of AI?

This feels like January of 2020, when the pandemic was just starting to get some attention. I remember going to my gym in Fishtown, Philadelphia and talking with the owner about this “weird virus thing.” He didn’t think it was going to be a big deal. I thought there might be a lock-down until July 4. Obviously neither of us were right.

That’s where we are with AI.

There are some people freaking out about how everything is going to change.

And others who are utterly clueless.

I think academia is getting pretty worried about the implications of students writing theses and essays with a few prompts. Similar to the revolution Wikipedia brought about, but this time, much much more dramatic.

In marketing, there are the tacticians who are directly affected:

  • Content writers: If you’ve ever used a resource like WriterAccess to get blogs or articles created, you might have paid $0.1 to $0.12 a word for the best-of-the-best writer (I’m talking about ex-Jeopardy contestants!). I have to imagine that those writers are at least having AI write the first draft of their articles, then just making some minor edits and collecting their fee.
  • Copywriters: I’m seeing these folks really focus on harnessing AI. The take that I like is that copywriters will leverage AI to pull together creative ideas, cutting down the time to find The Big Idea. Tools like Jasper can help craft headlines, ad copy, email copy, and can absolutely support a copywriter. That said, I think the art of copywriting is safe from the robots, for now. There’s just so much consideration that is required in a good piece of copy that a simple Jasper prompt can’t repeatedly churn out.
  • Marketing agencies: Writing boilerplate content for websites? Crafting a more readable About Us page? For the reduction of suffering across all humankind, let’s hope agencies are leveraging AI to help with this necessary evil.

Things are going to change.

But then again, the only constant in life is that everything changes.

If you’ve been in the business game for more than a couple years, you’ve seen other revolutionary advances.

Take, for example, crypto.

We saw all-time highs for bitcoin and ethereum prices in November 2021. If you were plugged into that world, you probably heard of the Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) that were doing incredible, innovative work with smart contracts and their tokens.

Then the market saw a significant correction, wiping out over $700B in market capitalization over 6 months.

Some say that crypto is dead, but it’s clear the fundamental technology is here to stay. Development of the ethereum smart contract software Solidity began 7 years ago, and saw dramatic development over the bull run of crypto.

The high-times of token prices attracted some of the best developers in the world to work together on open source projects that moved the technology forward by leaps and bounds. That technology is slowly (and in some cases, rapidly) seeping into our day-to-day lives in the field of banking, regulatory compliance, insurance, supply chain management and more.

What I want you to get out of this comparison is that AI is right now at the “all time high” in the mainstream … and has a lot of room to grow in popularity. ChatGPT is being talked about on small-town country radio stations, in PTA meetings at high schools, at global summits of business leaders (just like bitcoin was). There’s worldwide attention on the technology… and that attention will wane at some point.

The implications of AI will seep into our day-to-day lives. We might notice it in tools like Notion with their release of Notion AI, and we may also not notice when a tool has AI baked into its core. Will anyone say “My car has AI!” in ten years? Or will they just appreciate that their car understands their requests better, and provides a more seamless experience?

The Great Search Engine AI Race is an example of noise related to AI. Yes, the way Google shows rankings may change… I’ve heard SEO folks talk about how Google might no longer show rich snippets and instead answer the query themselves with their AI engine. Maybe Bing with their partnership with OpenAI will somehow climb out of their sub-10% market share position to own, what? 15%? 20% of the market?

Does that matter? I guess. But it’s really not revolutionary for the consumer. We’ll experience a better experience, but then will quickly adapt to it.

AI is about to become ubiquitous; part of our day-to-day lives in a way that (should) make us feel as though it’s not even there. Saying something is “powered by AI” will start to feel like a high school entrepreneurial pitch event where all the students claim their project uses an “algorithm.”

So what’s a Fractional CMO to do about it?

The same thing we did when TikTok came out. Which is the same thing we did when Clubhouse was all the rage on Twitter. We do the same thing we did when Leadpages and then Clickfunnels made building funnels and sales pages easier…

We roll these new tools into our strategy for our clients and execute them at the right time.

That’s it. That’s your job.

Fractional CMOs Solve Bigger Problems. That should be your mantra as you build your Fractional CMO practice. The bigger the problem, the bigger the reward – for your client, for their customers, and for you and your bank account.

What Companies Need from Their CMO in the New Era of AI

Nervous or scattered CEOs might ask you to put all your attention on AI, and for most businesses, that is simply not a good use of your time.

Instead, there’s one word that accurately describes what companies need… and that word is leadership.

The fractional CMO, the interim CMO, and the full-time CMO all have the same basic requirement: To be the leader for their marketing department and to push the team to make the dreams of the CEO and/or the board of directors come true.

AI becomes a tool in your toolbelt. It is also a tool in your client’s competitor’s toolbelt.

A few years ago, I was working as a Fractional CMO for a private equity company and I remember sharing my concerns about the increased CPM on Facebook over a few week stretch. HIs reply was timeless:

“It affects us and our competition the same. Don’t lose sleep over it. Keep fighting.”

What simple, golden advice.

The same is true with AI.

AI content writers mixed with lifelike voice generators, overlaid on a slideshow of images produced by DALL-E seems like a scary and innovative tactic… and it might be. But it’s just a tactic.

And it’s your job to decide if it’s the right tactic or not.

It’s your job to chart the best path, no matter the tools and tactics that emerge.

Oftentimes, the number one thing a business needs is end-to-end tracking of lead source to purchase. Or simply just having a rock-solid offer. Or focusing on one advertising channel to 10x sales of their hero product. Or a salesperson who will call all the webinar attendees who stayed for the whole 60-minute webinar but didn’t purchase.

For most companies, AI is simply another tactic that seems exciting and revolutionary, but in reality, it’s a level-5 tool and the company is stuck at level 1.

Business basics like tracking, generating advertising controls, creating product ascension to maximize customer lifetime value, collecting and sharing testimonials, and delivering a world-class customer experience will last until the end of time. AI is here to stay and yes, it changes everything, but it’s not the panacea to profitability that some marketers want it to be.

Stay focused. Stay in your lane. Bring in more sales. Look for low-hanging fruit that you can use AI on. Test your favorite copywriter’s work against a rewrite by AI and see who wins.

Be open to swinging the AI hammer, but treat it like a tool.

Keep fighting.

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The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader



The Complete Guide to Becoming an Authentic Thought Leader

Introduce your processes: If you’ve streamlined a particular process, share it. It could be the solution someone else is looking for.

Jump on trends and news: If there’s a hot topic or emerging trend, offer your unique perspective.

Share industry insights: Attended a webinar or podcast that offered valuable insights. Summarize the key takeaways and how they can be applied.

Share your successes: Write about strategies that have worked exceptionally well for you. Your audience will appreciate the proven advice. For example, I shared the process I used to help a former client rank for a keyword with over 2.2 million monthly searches.

Question outdated strategies: If you see a strategy that’s losing steam, suggest alternatives based on your experience and data.

5. Establish communication channels (How)

Once you know who your audience is and what they want to hear, the next step is figuring out how to reach them. Here’s how:

Choose the right platforms: You don’t need to have a presence on every social media platform. Pick two platforms where your audience hangs out and create content for that platform. For example, I’m active on LinkedIn and X because my target audience (SEOs, B2B SaaS, and marketers) is active on these platforms.

Repurpose content: Don’t limit yourself to just one type of content. Consider repurposing your content on Quora, Reddit, or even in webinars and podcasts. This increases your reach and reinforces your message.

Follow Your audience: Go where your audience goes. If they’re active on X, that’s where you should be posting. If they frequent industry webinars, consider becoming a guest on these webinars.

Daily vs. In-depth content: Balance is key. Use social media for daily tips and insights, and reserve your blog for more comprehensive guides and articles.

Network with influencers: Your audience is likely following other experts in the field. Engaging with these influencers puts your content in front of a like-minded audience. I try to spend 30 minutes to an hour daily engaging with content on X and LinkedIn. This is the best way to build a relationship so you’re not a complete stranger when you DM privately.

6. Think of thought leadership as part of your content marketing efforts

As with other content efforts, thought leadership doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It thrives when woven into a cohesive content marketing strategy. By aligning individual authority with your brand, you amplify the credibility of both.

Think of it as top-of-the-funnel content to:

  • Build awareness about your brand

  • Highlight the problems you solve

  • Demonstrate expertise by platforming experts within the company who deliver solutions

Consider the user journey. An individual enters at the top through a social media post, podcast, or blog post. Intrigued, they want to learn more about you and either search your name on Google or social media. If they like what they see, they might visit your website, and if the information fits their needs, they move from passive readers to active prospects in your sales pipeline.

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How to Increase Survey Completion Rate With 5 Top Tips



How to Increase Survey Completion Rate With 5 Top Tips

Collecting high-quality data is crucial to making strategic observations about your customers. Researchers have to consider the best ways to design their surveys and then how to increase survey completion, because it makes the data more reliable.

→ Free Download: 5 Customer Survey Templates [Access Now]

I’m going to explain how survey completion plays into the reliability of data. Then, we’ll get into how to calculate your survey completion rate versus the number of questions you ask. Finally, I’ll offer some tips to help you increase survey completion rates.

My goal is to make your data-driven decisions more accurate and effective. And just for fun, I’ll use cats in the examples because mine won’t stop walking across my keyboard.

Why Measure Survey Completion

Let’s set the scene: We’re inside a laboratory with a group of cat researchers. They’re wearing little white coats and goggles — and they desperately want to know what other cats think of various fish.

They’ve written up a 10-question survey and invited 100 cats from all socioeconomic rungs — rough and hungry alley cats all the way up to the ones that thrice daily enjoy their Fancy Feast from a crystal dish.

Now, survey completion rates are measured with two metrics: response rate and completion rate. Combining those metrics determines what percentage, out of all 100 cats, finished the entire survey. If all 100 give their full report on how delicious fish is, you’d achieve 100% survey completion and know that your information is as accurate as possible.

But the truth is, nobody achieves 100% survey completion, not even golden retrievers.

With this in mind, here’s how it plays out:

  • Let’s say 10 cats never show up for the survey because they were sleeping.
  • Of the 90 cats that started the survey, only 25 got through a few questions. Then, they wandered off to knock over drinks.
  • Thus, 90 cats gave some level of response, and 65 completed the survey (90 – 25 = 65).
  • Unfortunately, those 25 cats who only partially completed the survey had important opinions — they like salmon way more than any other fish.

The cat researchers achieved 72% survey completion (65 divided by 90), but their survey will not reflect the 25% of cats — a full quarter! — that vastly prefer salmon. (The other 65 cats had no statistically significant preference, by the way. They just wanted to eat whatever fish they saw.)

Now, the Kitty Committee reviews the research and decides, well, if they like any old fish they see, then offer the least expensive ones so they get the highest profit margin.

CatCorp, their competitors, ran the same survey; however, they offered all 100 participants their own glass of water to knock over — with a fish inside, even!

Only 10 of their 100 cats started, but did not finish the survey. And the same 10 lazy cats from the other survey didn’t show up to this one, either.

So, there were 90 respondents and 80 completed surveys. CatCorp achieved an 88% completion rate (80 divided by 90), which recorded that most cats don’t care, but some really want salmon. CatCorp made salmon available and enjoyed higher profits than the Kitty Committee.

So you see, the higher your survey completion rates, the more reliable your data is. From there, you can make solid, data-driven decisions that are more accurate and effective. That’s the goal.

We measure the completion rates to be able to say, “Here’s how sure we can feel that this information is accurate.”

And if there’s a Maine Coon tycoon looking to invest, will they be more likely to do business with a cat food company whose decision-making metrics are 72% accurate or 88%? I suppose it could depend on who’s serving salmon.

While math was not my strongest subject in school, I had the great opportunity to take several college-level research and statistics classes, and the software we used did the math for us. That’s why I used 100 cats — to keep the math easy so we could focus on the importance of building reliable data.

Now, we’re going to talk equations and use more realistic numbers. Here’s the formula:

Completion rate equals the # of completed surveys divided by the # of survey respondents.

So, we need to take the number of completed surveys and divide that by the number of people who responded to at least one of your survey questions. Even just one question answered qualifies them as a respondent (versus nonrespondent, i.e., the 10 lazy cats who never show up).

Now, you’re running an email survey for, let’s say, Patton Avenue Pet Company. We’ll guess that the email list has 5,000 unique addresses to contact. You send out your survey to all of them.

Your analytics data reports that 3,000 people responded to one or more of your survey questions. Then, 1,200 of those respondents actually completed the entire survey.

3,000/5000 = 0.6 = 60% — that’s your pool of survey respondents who answered at least one question. That sounds pretty good! But some of them didn’t finish the survey. You need to know the percentage of people who completed the entire survey. So here we go:

Completion rate equals the # of completed surveys divided by the # of survey respondents.

Completion rate = (1,200/3,000) = 0.40 = 40%

Voila, 40% of your respondents did the entire survey.

Response Rate vs. Completion Rate

Okay, so we know why the completion rate matters and how we find the right number. But did you also hear the term response rate? They are completely different figures based on separate equations, and I’ll show them side by side to highlight the differences.

  • Completion Rate = # of Completed Surveys divided by # of Respondents
  • Response Rate = # of Respondents divided by Total # of surveys sent out

Here are examples using the same numbers from above:

Completion Rate = (1200/3,000) = 0.40 = 40%

Response Rate = (3,000/5000) = 0.60 = 60%

So, they are different figures that describe different things:

  • Completion rate: The percentage of your respondents that completed the entire survey. As a result, it indicates how sure we are that the information we have is accurate.
  • Response rate: The percentage of people who responded in any way to our survey questions.

The follow-up question is: How can we make this number as high as possible in order to be closer to a truer and more complete data set from the population we surveyed?

There’s more to learn about response rates and how to bump them up as high as you can, but we’re going to keep trucking with completion rates!

What’s a good survey completion rate?

That is a heavily loaded question. People in our industry have to say, “It depends,” far more than anybody wants to hear it, but it depends. Sorry about that.

There are lots of factors at play, such as what kind of survey you’re doing, what industry you’re doing it in, if it’s an internal or external survey, the population or sample size, the confidence level you’d like to hit, the margin of error you’re willing to accept, etc.

But you can’t really get a high completion rate unless you increase response rates first.

So instead of focusing on what’s a good completion rate, I think it’s more important to understand what makes a good response rate. Aim high enough, and survey completions should follow.

I checked in with the Qualtrics community and found this discussion about survey response rates:

“Just wondering what are the average response rates we see for online B2B CX surveys? […]

Current response rates: 6%–8%… We are looking at boosting the response rates but would first like to understand what is the average.”

The best answer came from a government service provider that works with businesses. The poster notes that their service is free to use, so they get very high response rates.

“I would say around 30–40% response rates to transactional surveys,” they write. “Our annual pulse survey usually sits closer to 12%. I think the type of survey and how long it has been since you rendered services is a huge factor.”

Since this conversation, “Delighted” (the Qualtrics blog) reported some fresher data:

survey completion rate vs number of questions new data, qualtrics data

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The takeaway here is that response rates vary widely depending on the channel you use to reach respondents. On the upper end, the Qualtrics blog reports that customers had 85% response rates for employee email NPS surveys and 33% for email NPS surveys.

A good response rate, the blog writes, “ranges between 5% and 30%. An excellent response rate is 50% or higher.”

This echoes reports from Customer Thermometer, which marks a response rate of 50% or higher as excellent. Response rates between 5%-30% are much more typical, the report notes. High response rates are driven by a strong motivation to complete the survey or a personal relationship between the brand and the customer.

If your business does little person-to-person contact, you’re out of luck. Customer Thermometer says you should expect responses on the lower end of the scale. The same goes for surveys distributed from unknown senders, which typically yield the lowest level of responses.

According to SurveyMonkey, surveys where the sender has no prior relationship have response rates of 20% to 30% on the high end.

Whatever numbers you do get, keep making those efforts to bring response rates up. That way, you have a better chance of increasing your survey completion rate. How, you ask?

Tips to Increase Survey Completion

If you want to boost survey completions among your customers, try the following tips.

1. Keep your survey brief.

We shouldn’t cram lots of questions into one survey, even if it’s tempting. Sure, it’d be nice to have more data points, but random people will probably not hunker down for 100 questions when we catch them during their half-hour lunch break.

Keep it short. Pare it down in any way you can.

Survey completion rate versus number of questions is a correlative relationship — the more questions you ask, the fewer people will answer them all. If you have the budget to pay the respondents, it’s a different story — to a degree.

“If you’re paying for survey responses, you’re more likely to get completions of a decently-sized survey. You’ll just want to avoid survey lengths that might tire, confuse, or frustrate the user. You’ll want to aim for quality over quantity,” says Pamela Bump, Head of Content Growth at HubSpot.

2. Give your customers an incentive.

For instance, if they’re cats, you could give them a glass of water with a fish inside.

Offer incentives that make sense for your target audience. If they feel like they are being rewarded for giving their time, they will have more motivation to complete the survey.

This can even accomplish two things at once — if you offer promo codes, discounts on products, or free shipping, it encourages them to shop with you again.

3. Keep it smooth and easy.

Keep your survey easy to read. Simplifying your questions has at least two benefits: People will understand the question better and give you the information you need, and people won’t get confused or frustrated and just leave the survey.

4. Know your customers and how to meet them where they are.

Here’s an anecdote about understanding your customers and learning how best to meet them where they are.

Early on in her role, Pamela Bump, HubSpot’s Head of Content Growth, conducted a survey of HubSpot Blog readers to learn more about their expertise levels, interests, challenges, and opportunities. Once published, she shared the survey with the blog’s email subscribers and a top reader list she had developed, aiming to receive 150+ responses.

“When the 20-question survey was getting a low response rate, I realized that blog readers were on the blog to read — not to give feedback. I removed questions that wouldn’t serve actionable insights. When I reshared a shorter, 10-question survey, it passed 200 responses in one week,” Bump shares.

Tip 5. Gamify your survey.

Make it fun! Brands have started turning surveys into eye candy with entertaining interfaces so they’re enjoyable to interact with.

Your respondents could unlock micro incentives as they answer more questions. You can word your questions in a fun and exciting way so it feels more like a BuzzFeed quiz. Someone saw the opportunity to make surveys into entertainment, and your imagination — well, and your budget — is the limit!

Your Turn to Boost Survey Completion Rates

Now, it’s time to start surveying. Remember to keep your user at the heart of the experience. Value your respondents’ time, and they’re more likely to give you compelling information. Creating short, fun-to-take surveys can also boost your completion rates.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Take back your ROI by owning your data



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Other brands can copy your style, tone and strategy — but they can’t copy your data.

Your data is your competitive advantage in an environment where enterprises are working to grab market share by designing can’t-miss, always-on customer experiences. Your marketing tech stack enables those experiences. 

Join ActionIQ and Snowplow to learn the value of composing your stack – decoupling the data collection and activation layers to drive more intelligent targeting.

Register and attend “Maximizing Marketing ROI With a Composable Stack: Separating Reality from Fallacy,” presented by Snowplow and ActionIQ.

Click here to view more MarTech webinars.

About the author

Cynthia RamsaranCynthia Ramsaran

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.

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