From MMO to CMO: Build Your Marketing #Legion

The Wow-Score shows how engaging a blog post is. It is calculated based on the correlation between users’ active reading time, their scrolling speed and the article’s length.
Learn more

From MMO to CMO: Build Your Marketing #Legion

Kathleen Burns
From MMO to CMO: Build Your Marketing #Legion

Teamwork is essential for any marketing team looking to get ahead of the competition when creating a campaign. But the team’s dynamics are what will ensure that everything falls into place! Besides their specific specializations, a digital marketer has developed soft skills over time that can make them a great fit for most teams.

When you lead a marketing team, it's important to consider your group's chemistry as you hire. You'll need to do group pulse checks to ensure that the team is still working well together. If you struggle with this, I've always found it easiest to relate it back to gaming!

The best gaming leaders build credibility by first creating strong personal relationships with their followers just like a strong marketing team leader or manager will do the same with their team.

What's Your Game Plan for Launch?

Massively multiplayer online games (also called MMOs) are online games which connect large numbers of players from all over in a simultaneous setting. MMOs can enable players to cooperate, connect socially and build teams of people with vastly difficult skill sets and knowledge levels.

World of Warcraft is one of the largest MMOs ever and people from all types of backgrounds will work together to achieve their objectives. If you've been excitedly waiting for next expansion of World of Warcraft to hit on August 30th (it's called World of Warcraft: Legion), you probably have some idea about groups, guilds and raids structures.

Guilds in World of Warcraft are large groups of players that have the same preference for gameplay style. Guilds can also be social communities.

As World of Warcraft prepares to launch their latest expansion, players are gearing up and grouping together to defeat the invading forces of the Burning Legion. But to obtain their objectives, their group leaders need to work with their teams to prepare, plan and organize. They need to create their groups, and part of this planning process involves knowing which players want to do group quests, creating a strategy for it and filling all the necessary roles.

When you are planning to launch a new marketing campaign, you know when it will go live as well as the expectations your company has set. Now all you need to do is get your team on board and work together to plan, create, launch, and promote the new campaign. On the surface, this sounds pretty similar to me!

Gameplay and Leadership Skills

According to a study referenced in the Electronic Journal of e-Learning, leadership behaviors appear in both gaming and corporate environments. The author suggests that leaders can use MMO leadership approaches to improve leadership effectiveness within the company.

".... [Virtual team leaders] focus on developing trust among the members of their team, visioning the future and communicating with a diverse team of people, making quick decisions based on scarce information and giving immediate feedback and rewards."

Basically, when you compare marketing team dynamics to MMO group dynamics, members of these teams can learn important leadership skills like the ability for conflict resolution, discipline, motivation, coordination, nurturing and emotional support, delegation, training, retention, recruitment, scheduling and politicking.

As a marketing leader, you know how your team members work, why they work, and where they want to be in their career next. You understand their expectations and you cultivate their goals with your strategy to ensure everything is focused on what the team needs to achieve to be considered a success. All of this information will influence the way your team will work and communicate with each other.

"...Collaborative behaviors were found to be vital to leadership success within [MMOs] and will be increasingly so within corporate environments, where more than ever, employees are becoming increasingly distributed and virtual, with different culture and social needs, are expected to collaborate and share their knowledge."

With this in mind, let's explore how digital marketing teams and online gaming groups fulfill similar roles when it comes to successful team dynamics.

Gameplay and Group Roles

Just like in games, your marketing team is focused on obtaining the objectives set and beating the competition to get the results (or loot) you want.

As you prepare a marketing campaign, you will have an objective or a series of objectives to achieve as set by you or the company stakeholders. But when your team needs to band together to plan, create and promote a new campaign, how your group works together is going to make or break your department.

You need to consider the team's dynamics as you prepare for large marketing campaigns. There have been several studies about the effects of gaming and leadership roles and group dynamics. It's been said that games will influence an individual's behavior over time.

To bring it back to gaming, let's break down each marketing team member’s role by using the MMO group structure and the effects games have on your soft skills on a corporate level.

Each team member has a role to fulfill outside of their job description and these are usually developed naturally within the team the longer they work together. In MMO groups, we call these roles the tank, the healer and the DPS.

Marketing teams have roles too. But the roles each team member play may surprise you!

Looking for Group: Defining Your Team's Roles

Leadership behaviors are relevant in both gaming and corporate environments. When you lead a team no matter where it is, you develop important skills such as self-organizing and regulating behaviors in an increasingly flexible and virtual environment.

If your marketing team is agile or considering an agile marketing structure, these are important skills for everyone on your team to develop, not just your marketing team lead.

Your dynamic and agile marketing team will include a tank, healer and DPS. You are not facing monsters, but you do have goals that require people to take on these roles within your team's dynamics and you need to adjust quickly to unexpected changes as you create your marketing campaigns.

These roles are expressed as leadership, resource distribution, effective communication, task and time management, strategy and more. Every member of your marketing team has already taken on the following roles outside of their skill specialization:


This role takes on the most damage on the team. They take point on every encounter with your C-suite executives, shield the team from the attacks coming their way, and are usually the ones to make the first move when it comes to planning, strategy and analytics.

Usual suspects: Department Directors, Process Managers


This role is your team’s communicator. They are the person that everyone goes to when they need a listening ear, but they are also the first ones to speak up when a problem appears. They actively monitor what’s going on and take action to solve communication issues. They are the ones that deal mostly with the team and brand’s reputation management.

Usual suspects: Social Media, Public Relations, or Communication Managers

DPS (Damage-per-second)

This role is the backbone of your group. If there is something that needs to be done, they are the first one to step up and tackle it. They are the most active on the team when it comes to deadline and time management, but they can be the best ones to go to get help to break up a large objective into smaller tasks. They create most of your customer-facing content.

Usual suspects: Content, Community, and Editorial Managers

The SEMrush Raid Party

To have a little fun before the World of Warcraft: Legion launch, the SEMrush U.S. Marketing Team has decided to break down their roles by MMO group roles!

Now we mentioned that this was a raiding party. Who would be the best raid leaders on the team? Our event members!

Team Raid Leaders

Our events team works hard behind the scenes to ensure that U.S. team goes to numerous events every year, plans all the logistics behind them and while they are at the event, as well as the post-event review. If we are offering something new for a conference, these members will lead the party!

Ric Bramble - Meeting and Event Planner

Lauren Murawski - Meeting and Event Coordinator

Team Tanks

The SEMrush tanks are there for the team when they need it. These team members are the ones planning most of the campaign strategies or focusing the team's projects, breaking up the work into smaller sprint activities by using the SCRUM and agile marketing method.

Martin Weinberg - U.S. Director of Marketing

Kathleen Burns - Community Manager

Team Healers

The SEMrush healers are the ones focused on social listening and outreach for our region. They are involved in a number of projects within the U.S. and overseas. They work closely with their counterparts in the other regions.

Becky Schindell - Social Media Manager

Lauren Scarpa - Public Relations Manager

Team DPS

The SEMrush DPS are part of our content generation team. These members work hard to create amazing blog posts, webinars, speeches, and more. When it comes to backing up our marketing objectives, these members can be counted on to link everything together with quality content.

Tara Clapper - Blog Editor

Patrick Whalen - Webinar Host

Paul Klebanov - Online Speaker

Final Thoughts

MMO leaders or marketing team leaders need to handle any unexpected changes or issues as they plan to move their campaigns forward. The best leaders have developed the skills necessary to understand how to make their group's dynamics work for them. However, no leaders are perfect in all aspects of the team's jobs and they are unable to do everything, which is why a self-organizing team is essential.

What I hope you to take away from this fun article is that gaming is a fun passive activity which can teach you valuable skills in leadership, teamwork, and effective communication.

"We made the games to imitate life, but now life’s changing to mimic the games."

As marketing teams become more virtual over time, understanding group structure will be increasingly important within corporate environments.

Marketing departments are evolving globally to be agile, and virtual, with team members from different cultures and social needs.  Know who your tanks, healers, and DPS will be on your team will help you improve your marketing team and your future marketing campaigns.

What role do you fullfill on your marketing team - are you a tank, healer or DPS?

Kathleen Burns is the Community Manager of SEMrush.
Share this post


2000 symbols remain
Mark Ankucic
Weird use of the phrase 'passive activity'
I think I am a mix of all... but more heavily on the Healer side. :-)
Marketing Legion sure is a fun way to look at it.
Healer for the win!
Tara Clapper
I love being DPS. PEW PEW!
Have a Suggestion?