What Is A Fractional CMO:
Benefits, Roles, & How To Find One

What Is A Fractional CMO


Did you know that, as of 2021, there are more than 25,000 SaaS companies all over the world?

And we can only imagine how much it has grown since, especially with how recent events have paved the way for the SaaS industry to skyrocket.

And with the new opportunities in the SaaS market comes increasing competition. The demand for Saas products is growing. New SaaS companies are popping out left and right to grab their own piece of the pie.

So how can you stand out amidst this vast sea of competitors?

Succeeding in the SaaS market is a battle of product quality, marketing, and sales.

If you’re to stand a chance with your bigger competitors, you need competent and resourceful people running the show.

And when it comes to marketing, having a chief marketing officer (CMO) can work wonders in unleashing the potential of your marketing team.

But here’s the thing: not every SaaS business has the budget for an experienced full-time CMO. Especially startups and small SaaS businesses.

This is where fractional CMOs come in.

In this article, we will talk about everything you need to know about fractional CMOs.


What Is A Fractional CMO?


To understand what a fractional CMO is, we first need to know two things: what a CMO is and what fractional marketing is.




A CMO, or chief marketing officer, is the head of an organization’s marketing department. Their duties include managing brand strategy, marketing communications and campaigns, product marketing, sales support, advertising and sponsorships, market research, public relations, and social media.


Fractional Marketing


Fractional marketing is the practice of outsourcing marketing roles to part-time professionals or freelancers.

I’m not just talking about hiring freelance copywriters or video editors. Fractional marketing can also extend to leadership positions like marketing directors and-you guessed it-CMOs.

Fractional marketing is essentially a marketing strategy that businesses adopt when they don’t have the budget for full-time labor. It allows them to spread their limited resources more efficiently and effectively by outsourcing only the necessary services.


The Fractional CMO


A fractional chief marketing officer is essentially an experienced CMO who works part-time or on a project basis with your organization.

Fractional CMOs are usually brought on board to help with a company’s marketing initiatives. But their focus is more on long-term strategies rather than day-to-day tasks.

This means that they’re not going to be the ones creating social media posts or designing marketing collateral. Instead, they’ll be the ones coming up with the ideas and strategies for these things.


Benefits Of Hiring A Fractional CMO


As we discussed earlier, not every business has the budget for a full-time CMO. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit from the experience and expertise of an experienced marketing executive.

When it comes to growing your company and competing in today’s market, you need all the help you can get. Here are some of the benefits of hiring a fractional CMO:


Experience & Expertise


A fractional CMO is typically much more experienced than your average marketing team member. At best, they have been in the game for several years already and have worked with a lot of various companies.

This means that they have valuable insights and knowledge about best practices, trends, and strategies in many types of industries.

Who knows? Maybe they even know how your competitors operate and how you can surpass their digital marketing efforts.


A Fresh Perspective


Even if you’ve been in the same industry for several years, there’s always something new to learn or a fresh perspective to gain.

What better way to see things with a different lens than by hiring someone who hasn’t been involved in your business yet?

For example, you may want to hire an experienced CMO that has experience working with businesses outside of tech but still focus on building relationships with customers. They may have fresh insights on customer service or acquisition techniques you’ve never tried before.




Working with a fractional CMO may also be a more cost-effective option rather than hiring a full-fledged in-house CMO.

When you hire a fractional CMO, you can choose how much time they work for you and what services they offer based on your business needs.

This means that you can have their expertise for only the times that you need it, rather than paying them to be on your payroll full-time. You can also pay them by the hour or by project, whichever is more cost-effective for your business.

What’s more, since they are not your full-time employees, you’re not obligated to give them extra benefits like health care or their retirement plan.

We’ll talk more about the costs of a fractional CMO later.


Responsibilities Of A Fractional CMO


So what exactly are the responsibilities of a fractional CMO?

In the most general sense, fractional CMOs are in charge of marketing leadership, just like a regular CMO does. That includes the following:


Creating And Executing Marketing Strategies


A fractional CMO will work with you to create a marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals. This includes developing a long-term marketing plan, setting budgets, and allocating resources.

They will also be responsible for executing these marketing plans and ensuring that they are on track. This includes managing campaigns, analyzing data, and making adjustments as needed.


Coordinating With Other Departments


Marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It should always be coordinated with other departments in your company, such as sales, product, and customer success.

A fractional CMO will be the one to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working together towards common goals.

They are in charge of providing the necessary marketing collateral and resources to other departments. What’s more, they need to make sure that you have consistent branding and product messaging all throughout these departments.

On some occasions, they may also be in charge of resolving any conflicts that may arise between departments.


Leading The Marketing Team


Of course, a fractional CMO will also be responsible for leading your marketing team. This includes hiring and onboarding new members, setting goals, and managing performance.

They should also be able to provide mentorship and guidance to help team members grow in their roles.


Helping With Market Research And Customer Analysis


A fractional CMO can also help with more specific tasks, such as market research and customer analysis.

This includes understanding your target market, conducting competitor analysis, and collecting customer feedback. All of this information will be used to create better marketing strategies that are more tailored to your audience.


Generate Marketing Reports And Analytics


Finally, a fractional CMO will also be responsible for generating regular reports and analytics. This includes analyzing data from various marketing campaigns or initiatives and making recommendations for improvements.

Some fractional CMOs may also be responsible for presenting this information to the rest of the company, such as during board meetings or company-wide updates.


How Much Does A Fractional CMO Cost?


Now, let’s talk about how much it will cost you to work with a fractional CMO.

According to Salary.com, the average pay for a full-time CMO in the US is around $253,000 per year. Of course, the actual salary will vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and company size.

A fractional CMO, on the other hand, can charge you around $200 to $300 per hour, depending on their experience.

You may be thinking that those rates are still expensive. Maybe even more expensive than the hourly rate for a full-time CMO.

But remember that we’re talking about fractional CMOs here. They don’t have to work with you 40 hours a week. 

In fact, up to 10 hours per week should be enough for them to bring significant value to your marketing efforts.

So, if you’re paying $200 to $300 per hour for 10 hours a week, that would amount to $104,000 to $156,000 per year.

That is a lot lower than the salary for a full-time CMO, but you would be getting top-notch services. Not a bad deal.


Signs That You Need A Fractional CMO


With all the benefits that a fractional CMO brings to a SaaS company, not all businesses need them.

After all, large enterprises might still need someone who knows all the ins and the outs of their marketing efforts. They may still be better off with a marketing leader that is focused on their own respective companies.

So how do you know that a fractional CMO would be the best option for your business? There are a few signs that you can look out for.


You Lack Marketing Leadership


The first sign is that you lack marketing leadership. If you don’t have someone who is focused on your marketing efforts, then it might be time to consider a fractional CMO.

Remember that a fractional CMO can help you with tasks such as building a marketing strategy, hiring team members, and managing performance. They can also provide mentorship and guidance to help everyone grow in their roles.

If you feel like your marketing team could use some direction, then a fractional CMO might be the right solution for you.


You Need A Fresh Perspective For Your Marketing Efforts


Another sign that you need a fractional CMO is if you feel like you need a fresh perspective for your marketing efforts.

Over time, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details of your marketing campaigns. You might start to miss the forest for the trees, so to speak.

A fractional CMO can provide an outside perspective that can help you see your marketing strategy in a new light.

They can also offer insights and recommendations that you might not have considered before.

If you’re looking for a way to shake things up and get some new ideas for your marketing campaigns, then a fractional CMO could be the answer.


Your Marketing Efforts Are Stagnating


Another sign that you might need a fractional CMO is if your marketing efforts are stagnating.

If you feel like you’ve hit a wall with your marketing and you’re not sure how to move forward, then an experienced CMO can help.

They can provide fresh perspectives and ideas that can help breathe new life into your marketing processes. They can also help with market research and customer analysis to understand your target market better.


You Lack Candidates For An Interim CMO


If you’re in the process of hiring a full-time CMO but you don’t have any candidates that you’re confident in, then you might want to consider a fractional CMO.

Ideally, you should look at your own existing team when considering an interim CMO. Who knows? They may perform well and show the potential to be your next full-fledged marketing executive.

But there are just times when that doesn’t happen. No one rises up to the occasion. On top of that, you may not even find a good replacement CMO right away.

A fractional CMO can help fill the gap until you find the right candidate for the job. They can also help with the transition when you do hire a full-time CMO.


You Don’t Have The Budget For A Full-Time CMO


Finally, another sign that you might need a fractional CMO is if you don’t have the budget for a full-time one.

As we mentioned before, a fractional CMO can cost only a portion of the price of a full-time marketing executive. So if you’re on a tight budget, then a fractional CMO might be the way to go.

Of course, you’ll still want to make sure that you choose the right person for the job. But if you’re on a tight budget, then a fractional CMO can be a great option.


How To Find A Fractional CMO For Your SaaS Business


Now that you know when to hire a fractional CMO, the next step is finding the right person for the job.

Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect candidate for your business:


1. Start with a referral


One of the best ways to find a qualified fractional CMO is to start with a referral. Ask your network of entrepreneurs and business leaders if they know anyone who could be a good fit for your company.

You can also check out job boards, online directories, or specialized fractional CMO services. This can help you find candidates from all over the world.


2. Look for someone with experience in SaaS marketing


When you’re looking for a fractional CMO, it’s important to find someone with experience in SaaS marketing.

Remember that SaaS marketing is a lot different from marketing a traditional business. You have different digital marketing programs, marketing channels, motives for buying, and a lot more factors to consider.

Not to mention that SaaS marketing isn’t just for customer acquisition, but for retention as well. It goes on and on even after the customer has already purchased your product.

Your prospective fractional CMO should understand these unique challenges and opportunities that come with marketing a SaaS product. They should also have a track record of success in this area.


3. Make sure they’re a good fit for your company culture


When you’re hiring any new employee, it’s important to make sure they’re a good fit for your company culture. But this is especially true for a fractional CMO.

Since they’ll be working closely with your teams in multiple departments, you’ll want to make sure they’re compatible with your company culture.

Otherwise, there could be tension and conflict down the road.


4. Ask for references


Finally, when you’re considering any candidate for a fractional CMO position, be sure to ask for references. After all, it’s still a position in your executive team we’re talking about.

Any good candidate should be able to provide you with a list of satisfied clients they’ve worked within the past.

These are just a few tips to help you find the perfect fractional CMO for your SaaS business. By following these tips, you can be sure to find someone who’s qualified and a good fit for your company.


Final Thoughts About Fractional CMOs For SaaS Businesses


A fractional chief marketing officer can be a great asset for any SaaS business. They can provide fresh perspectives, ideas, and market research that can help breathe new life into your marketing efforts.

They can also be a great option if you don’t have the budget for a full-time CMO. Just be sure to find someone with experience in SaaS marketing and who’s a good fit for your company culture.

Looking for ways to boost your SaaS business? Check out our blog here.

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Ken Moo