Marketers’ jobs have become remarkably complex in recent years. There are more technologies to choose from than ever before and millions of data points can be collected in an instant. Also, with fiscal accountability on the rise, there is immense pressure to show a quantifiable value for each marketing decision. With all of this in mind, it is easy to default to engaging via more activities, programs and channels and hope that something sticks.
This may result in a burst in activity metrics; but when it comes to tangible results, marketers quickly reach the point of diminishing returns. This leaves marketers with an exhausted budget, a tired mind, marginal results and a murky understanding of what actually works.
Many marketing teams who claim to be data-driven still struggle with maximizing their efforts. For the data to be meaningful, marketers must take their measuring a step further to ensure the numbers they track are creating a comprehensive picture of their activities.
By implementing three key strategies, marketers can take control of their ROI data and give their teams the tools needed to make empowered, intelligent decisions with their budget and programs.
1. Build Foundational Data Sets
Where marketers go wrong: Many marketers focus too heavily on the end results data. This means they only have visibility into 50% of the ROI equation (the “R”) and prevents them from seeing the full scope and impact of their operations.
What the best marketers do: Beginning in the planning phase, the best marketers map out all of the specific insights they want to monitor, the outcome metrics they need to produce and the data sources and structures they need to monitor. Once this map is created, they can easily build foundational data sources. These are often derived from their CRM, marketing automation and investment data sources, giving them 100% visibility into the ROI equation.
2. Rely On More Than One ROI View
Campaign-specific ROI is often falsely equated with marketing ROI. Marketing ROI actually encompasses several different facets, utilizing multiple systems and connecting to the foundational data.
Where marketers go wrong: Marketers often become laser-focused on perfecting one specific ROI measurement. In reality, there is no perfect ROI equation — they each have their own value and flaws. Organizations that hyper-focus on one individual metric typically spend too much time trying to assemble this measurement and end up with a flawed, singular decision-making tool.
What the best marketers do: They start with identifying the questions they want to answer, what their data can provide today and bringing together a set of ROI measurements that are each valuable in their own specific use case (I recommend three to five). This provides a set of metrics that marketers can then triangulate to make the best decisions possible for the business.
3. Make ROI Measurements Actionable
No marketer wants to realize that their combination of programs has been burning cash without much to show for it. What’s worse? Not being able to do anything about it! Metrics are useless if marketers cannot use them to change their plan.
Where marketers go wrong: Too many marketing organizations plan, manage investments and execute on programs in silos. This makes changing their go-to-market approach mid-flight slow and painful. Not thinking about how marketers can quickly and intelligently shift course often leaves business intelligence teams useless.
What the best marketers do: While it is essential to start with a plan as outlined above, it is vital that the plan includes the ability and culture to change approach mid-year. The best marketing organizations have systems that map planning, investment and execution data together. These teams have developed useful goals and their processes are designed to encourage informed adjustments to the core plan.
Virtually every marketing organization understands that data is the key to optimizing their impact. The best marketing teams stand out from the rest by harnessing data in a way that allows them to understand exactly how each element of their marketing budget functions. This empowers their marketers to make informed adjustments and adapt to changing circumstances. The three strategies above can help guide any marketing team towards that reality. My final piece of advice: don’t seek perfection — just get started today.
Sam Melnick is VP, Marketing at Allocadia, a marketing performance management (MPM) platform. He has over a decade of enterprise marketing experience as a marketing practitioner at Vivox, an award-winning analyst in the CMO Advisory practice at IDC, and as a customer success leader at Lattice Engines. Melnick is a frequent speaker at marketing industry events and author of original marketing research and thought leadership.