Thursday, May 23, 2013

3 Steps to Move Closer to the Ever Elusive Marketing ROI

CMO ROIHere at the CMO Advisory Service, we recently closed up our 2013 Barometer Study which includes data from senior level marketers working at some of the largest Tech companies in the world. While there are a lot of great insights from this study, these senior level marketers made it very clear that their highest priority is "Proving Marketing's Value", or in other words, that always elusive marketing ROI. While this quest(ion) is nothing new to marketers, as our industry continues its transformation, marketing ROI is becoming an even more pressing topic. We see this truth in our surveys, we hear it from clients, and it is actively being discussed at industry events. This year we launched our  Chief Marketing Officer ROI Matrix (see the image to the right) in an effort to give participants a look into their own return on investment from marketing and continue the conversation. There is no easy answer here (otherwise my days would not be quite as busy), but I have 3 steps senior marketers can take to move closer to measuring marketing ROI.

1. Identify what matters and what does not

This might seem obvious, but to successfully prove value, first it must be understood what is providing value.  Often when we speak with clients we remind them that tactics are important, but without strategy on the front end those tactics may be wasted energy. Before creating a substantial dashboard or reporting tool, take the time to understand which data or measurements are going to further the case and which are white noise. Once done, not only will the organization be better able to prove ROI, but it will be able increase effectiveness.

Key Fact: 27% of B2B companies report they have not yet used predictive analytics to improve any marketing activities.

2. Communicate inside and outside of your department

As transformation continues within the tech industry it is creating a ripple effect to companies and then departments within each company. This means lots of change, and change can often mean confusion. Not only are marketers pushing to prove their worth, but they have to compete with this ongoing confusion. To overcome this issue, communication is a must, both within the marketing organization and across the entire company.  It is key to receive buy-in from stakeholders and make sure the steps taken are continuously aligned with expectations. It also means communicating the actions taken (and why they were taken) to staff or superiors. Remember, over communicate, as in times of turmoil "value" can be a moving target.

Key Fact: In 2013 senior marketers expect 2/3 of the marketing technology budget will come from the marketing department – the rest from IT, Sales, and other areas. Communication across these departments is key. 

3. Benchmark your progress

Identifying what provides value and then communicating as progress is made towards measurment are two great steps. However, when it's time to share the work, comparisons and baselines will be needed. The first step is measuring your own progress. How have the KPIs improved and what can be expected in the future? The next question will be, what is the comparison to competitors? Finding ways to benchmark and measure progress internally and externally will help tell the story of value added and improvement. It will also set standards and targets to shoot for, without these benchmarks there is a risk of flying blind.

Key Fact: Close to 100 tech companies participated (For Free) in IDC's Chief Marketing Officer ROI Matrix and benchmarked their marketing ROI against their industry peers. To participate this year contact smelnick (at) IDC (dot) com.

What other steps would you recommend to prove marketing value or even derive that elusive marketing ROI number?

Do you think this is fools gold and there are other areas marketers should be focused on?

Let me know your thoughts!

You can follow Sam Melnick on Twitter: @SamMelnick 

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