The Ultimate Digital Checklist for CMOs and Heads of Marketing & Communications

IGNITE® Digital Agency - 22 January 2019

NOTE: Checklist available for download at the bottom of this page.

For even the most experienced marketing professionals, taking on a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or Head of Marketing & Communications role in any company is a challenging feat. Heading up the highest position of marketing in a new company comes with the task of getting to know its people, policies, procedures, organisational infrastructure and possibly even navigating the waters of a new industry.

A CMO’s job is never easy, and the scope for responsibilities for the modern Chief Marketing Officer is broadening every day. You’ll have everyone thinking your role stops at just advertising, but on top of that there’s the internal and external corporate communications, social media, PR, research, your company’s entire web presence… not to mention a whole department of employees to prove yourself to. Pressures are demanding from your CEO who wants results, the CFO holding them accountable for the numbers, your sales manager expecting leads – with very little manpower to help you achieve any of it.

Although a detailed handover from the outgoing CMO is the best way to learn the landscape, there will be a mountain of things to get across in a new role. The digital side of a role like this is often a big part of the load, and can be made up of a lot of moving parts – making it easy for things to slip through the cracks. That’s why we’ve put together a handy checklist for new CMOs to dominate digital marketing in 2019!


Depending on the size of your company and what industry you’re in, part of your role may be to manage customer-facing digital assets.

Get access to everything

Depending on the nature of your role, your involvement in digital marketing could be anywhere from hands-on daily input and implementation of content and marketing campaigns to overseeing high-level digital marketing strategies and managing a team of people to make it happen. Even if you won’t be logging in and making edits and changes yourself regularly, it always proves useful to have full permissions to all digital marketing platforms and know your way around them so that, at minimum, you can give access to the relevant staff or contractors when delegating work to others.

Ensure you have access to the below where relevant:

  • Facebook Business Manager – Owner or Manager access
  • Google – Google Business and Google Maps, Search Console & Analytics
  • Instagram – Login and password retrieval access
  • Twitter – Login and password retrieval access
  • LinkedIn – Admin access
  • MailChimp/Active Campaign – Login and password retrieval access
  • Your company’s website – Login and password retrieval access
  • Your company’s website hosting – cPanel login and password retrieval access
  • Your company’s domain registration – Login and password retrieval access

Find out the status quo

Now that you have access to each of the above platforms used for digital marketing, get the lay of the land from your existing marketing manager or coordinator on which digital marketing methods are currently being used, and have been used in the past. Are you running ads on social media? What does a regular campaign look like? How often and with what budget? Even if an external agency or contractor is used, enlist an internal staff member to help you understand what to expect from your suppliers. This will help you understand the digital needs of your company, even if they’re set to change – helping you hit the ground running.


A top priority when starting a new role is working to build relationships not only with your internal team, but existing external providers. From a digital perspective, this could mean your web developers, hosting providers, SEO providers, UX/UI or product designers and digital marketers.

Find out the marketing department’s role in the organisation

Put some time and effort into finding out how the marketing department is perceived within the organisation and the role it has played to date. While finding your feet the first few weeks, get a feel for the culture, people, the inclination toward change in and outside of the marketing department – without forgetting to tune your ear toward any potential gripes that employees might have (at any level), about the track record of marketing in the organisation. Running an internal survey could be an effective way to get some of the bigger questions answered, however, don’t undervalue the importance of casual conversations as this is where people will be the most comfortable being honest.

Meet your suppliers

Gather a list of suppliers and make time to meet with each party in one-on-one meetings where you can discuss your goals and visions to make sure they align. Get to know them and evaluate their abilities to ensure that you are confident in their services. This is also a good time to establish a protocol for updates, maintenance or support issues. Make sure you know the details of the website hosting setup, the support hours and contact person in the event of an emergency such as an outage.

Read the fine print

Although it can be time consuming diving into the details, knowing where you stand with your digital providers can save you a ticking time bomb exploding in the future. Change of management is an appropriate time to ask to read the terms or rules of engagement from all of your current digital providers. Be sure to store them somewhere accessible, should you ever need to refer back to it in the future.

Discuss and set your expectations

Once you’ve become acquainted and are satisfied with the abilities of your suppliers, make sure that expectations are clearly set from the beginning for what services you need to be provided. Share your goals for short, medium and long-term digital strategy with your digital marketers, UX/UI designers, and external team so they can provide their industry expertise in helping you succeed. Agencies and consultants are there to help, and developing a strong long-term relationship with digital experts can result in a gold mine of ripple benefits from having a shared vision. Going forward, you might want to set up a schedule for either monthly, quarterly or annual face-to-face meetings so that your digital agency can recommend proactive upgrades to help you achieve your goals.


Now that you have access to all the relevant digital properties, be sure to run an audit on the existing assets to help you outline any quick wins, obvious oversights, or areas for improvement. Identifying what is working well is also crucial to guiding your company to success.

Conduct a website audit

Run an audit on the current website. If there are other members of your team who can help you do this, make sure you analyse the results carefully once this has been completed. For more detailed information on how to easily run a website audit yourself, be sure to check out our blog post A beginners guide to completing a website audit. We recommend using tools such as SEMrush to run a free test on your domain to identify backlinks, organic search result positioning and information regarding organic search and paid advertising. Utilising Google’s PageSpeed Insights is also a handy way to analyse your website’s web performance and any potential opportunities to improve your website page speed, in turn improving your SEO.


With cybersecurity threats becoming more prevalent and sophisticated, online security consciousness is of utmost importance for CMOs. While it is always good practice to take precautionary measures for your personal accounts and information, the risk and impact of a breach is even more severe for CMOs who are in a position of responsibility for the whole enterprise.

Protect your email address

The majority of marketing professionals manage their products and services through Software as a Service platforms (SAAS), meaning that sensitive information can be accessed with a simple login. This is where protecting your email is the highest priority. Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails and always remember to check the sender’s email address for suspicious giveaways, even if it seems to be from a supplier that you know and trust.

Use a password manager

Ensure your passwords are all stored in a reputable password manager, and two-factor verification is utilised where available. Never use the same password twice and use a password generator to ensure your passwords are secure. We recommend either 1Password or LastPass as the best option for password management.

Beware of the cloud

Always be cautious of what information you store in the cloud – highly sensitive information like passwords, credit card information, business operation documents can be easily copied from your account if your login details or email address are vulnerable.

Check for SSL and take backups of your website

Check that your company’s website has an SSL certificate and make sure that your web development team is taking full backups of your website or intranet and keeping them in a separate offsite server. Keeping a periodic copy of these backups is also a good method of insurance.


Ask for the receipts (reports)

One of the growing benefits of digital is transparency, allowing you to see exactly what your ad spend is getting you in return. Generally any reputable digital agency that you engage will provide you with a monthly report so you can see the results of your marketing spend. Make sure you have a protocol for making sense of the results and deriving action items from them. If there’s a metric you’d like in your reporting that would be valuable to you, don’t forget to speak up and discuss this with your provider. Agencies often charge by the hour if you aren’t engaging them on a retainer basis – so any reporting or data they are providing you with could be costing you if you’re not making use of it. Storing your regular reports in an organised manner will also save you some time down the track – when your CFO or CEO requests an annual overview from you, you’ll know immediately where to look.

Setting SMART goals

Once we know our objectives, we can use them to devise an appropriate plan to go about achieving them. To be effective, a digital marketing campaign’s objectives need to be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

For example, “generate more leads” is a popular goal among businesses, but it lacks specificity. A better SMART goal would be something like: “Generate 25% more leads from new visitors to our website before the end of the year.”

As digital marketers, our ultimate goal is return on investment (ROI). Ask yourself this question often, to help you ensure you continue to deliver value to your clients: “Is your budget being spent most effectively, to convert leads into customers?”

Furthermore, by utilising smart data tools, you can determine the appropriate lead conversion goal for your campaign/s and select the best channel to reach your potential customers.



Settling into the role of Chief Marketing Officer at a new company is never easy, even with prior experience at a senior level. On top of the fatigue of information overload, you’ll have numerous stakeholders and shareholders to please and the expectation of results in the face of resistance to change that often plagues larger organisations. While many CMOs try to do it all themselves, having consultants or subject matter experts can help most help make your life easier and your work more effective – particularly if the digital aspect isn’t your area of expertise.

We hope this article has helped to start you in a strong position as you begin making your mark in your new environment.

Download Cheatsheet!

Don’t forget to download the A4 cheat sheet below with all of the above content neatly summarised into a checklist, ready for you to tick off so you don’t miss a thing. Simply enter your email address in the form below and it will be instantly emailed to you.




Includes a list of useful online tools