I talked with Jeff Weiser, Shutterstock's CMO, about how to run an efficient, effective, and empowered marketing team. Here's what he had to say.

How did you get into marketing?

I always tell people I came into marketing accidentally. For over a decade, I ran strategy and analytics groups. As I used some of those analytics departments, I got more into helping marketing and had marketing moved under me. First I had CRM moved under me and we were able to segment our audience much better and get into more sophisticated targeting, so that went well, and then acquisition marketing was moved under me, and that's how I really became a CMO.

What I put in place was the ability to measure marketing outcomes in financial terms. So conversion rate went from 5% to 6% and our revenue went up by $10 million dollars. That connection was very helpful.

Has your philosophy or approach to tracking marketing success changed?

When I was at Yahoo I was very much on the analytics side. But in terms of the progress,

there's been significant advancement in that area where data and technology merge. My perspective on that is marketing automation can be great when it lets you expand your bandwidth and automate workflows, but I caution people not to let automation make decisions for you. My perspective is you really need to test those solutions in market and verify that they're working. Otherwise you're losing the opportunity to see what's going on under the hood.

What have you been most excited about since you've joined Shutterstock?

One thing that's so exciting is it's a great place to do that kind of quantitative work. We have 12 years of customer data that we can use - when I look at the application of that data in the acquisition marketing phase I am so excited to see what we can do.

How was the transition to being a first-time CMO?

It was always clear to me I'd have to choose a path: quant or marketing. I was intentionally on the CMO path. When you take that bigger job, you will inevitably be working on some things that you've had more experience with and some that you've had less experience with. That's where you have to pull in people who have different strengths so you can be successful across all areas.

What's the tone you set for your team?

The message I try to deliver is that I am in this with you, you can approach me any time, and we are in the weeds together. The other that gets the best performance out of people is to empower people and give them control over the outcome. What you really want to be doing is giving them the minimum amount of guardrails to get the maximum amount of outcomes. I want to give people the freedom to move and give guidance to get the best outcome.

What are some of the most exciting innovations in tech?

One of the most promising things on the horizon that has not been fully solved is on the marketing attribution side. Our customers have four touch points before they buy something, which means we spent money four times to get that sales, so attribution is figuring out what actually drove that sale. If someone can get to a better algorithmic attribution solution, that would be incredibly powerful for marketers.

Do you have any advice for aspiring marketers?

One thing I've observed with a lot of marketers is they're great at marketing to end customers but not great at marketing themselves. If you're doing great work, be clear on what that great work was and what those results were. You should be able to go to your boss and say here was the challenge, here's my solution, and these were the results.