What Lies Ahead for 2015: Viewing Marketing Measurement in a Whole New Light

Yes, it’s that time of the year when CMO’s take pause, reflect on this year’s takeaways, and consider next year’s marketing playbook.  What corporate goals lie ahead for marketing to support and drive? What might be the right mix of strategies and tactics to achieve these goals? And what’s the right formula of tools and metrics to define, track, and realize marketing success?

Myriad possibilities aside, it’s important to step back, return to our roots and consider marketing’s role in building new business.

With greater scrutiny being placed on marketing output and the digitalization of basically everything, marketing’s efforts and outcomes are being questioned and examined in a whole new light.  The spotlight on marketing has never been brighter.

One could argue that marketing no longer “markets” in the traditional sense, because in today’s networked and open economy, nobody does.  The days of orchestrating a complex marketing campaign has simply lost its relevance and impact.  Marketing playbooks from a quarter century ago no longer win championships – or new business — in 2014.

Today, new business is won through substantive conversations, responsiveness, and customer satisfaction. While marketers drive discussions, mindful engagement, and seek collaboration with each department, they don’t have the ability to control desired outcomes with a push of a button.

Marketers have evolved from driving messages into the market, executing campaigns, and generating leads to becoming catalysts for change, curators of content, and bringing siloed departments to the table so they all are engaged in an ongoing conversation about common goals.  Reaching outside of marketing’s traditional boundaries to create new customer experiences helps, too.

So how do you define marketing success and how do you measure and track it in an increasingly competitive business environment?

Among the most obsolete, yet still widely used measurements of marketing success include marketing-generated pipelines, marketing-generated opportunities, and marketing-generated revenue.  This approach completely ignores two major factors.

First, remember that reductive demand funnel resembling a martini-shaped glass? It’s obsolete. A buyer’s journey through the purchasing process is not an A to B exercise anymore, and measuring a pipeline is a futile way to track lead generation.

A buyer’s journey is being played out online now more than ever, across familiar networks and global communities.  Before a buyer “shows up” in a pipeline, she has virtually made her “buy” decision.

Second, numerous touch points determine how a prospect views a company, its brand, and its products and services.  Since so many external touch points influence a buyer through her journey, it makes no sense to tie lead generation success to any individual department within the enterprise. Today, a prospect’s journey is influenced by an ever expanding ecosystem of internal and external factors, and that holistic experience determines whether that prospect will become your buyer.

We all want the endgame of a “buy” and developing a plan to hit that target depends on the approach you take.  On one hand, marketers could employ a bevy of tools to measure every tactic, assuming everything is relevant and driving market growth.  Going down this path can lead to KPI overkill and time-consuming ROI proof exercises, where you lose sight of the real goal.

On the flip side, believing that “all marketing initiatives drive revenue, so revenue is the only measurement of marketing’s success,” is short-sighted and flawed because it ignores the subtle yet qualitative aspects of brand preference, desire, relevance, and so forth (factors that have contributed to defining the world’s biggest brands and building the most admired companies).

A strategic CMO has to consider both sides of marketing – the art as well as the science of marketing – and learn to fuse them together to build next year’s marketing playbook.

To read more about marketing measurement, here are some good articles on the topic:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/08/15/10-online-marketing-metrics-you-need-to-be-measuring/ and http://www.inc.com/jon-miller/marketing-metrics-for-success.html

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