As we head toward the close of another year, we look toward the future to see what trends may shape the marketing landscape. And it looks like 2017, as well as years to come, will have one big focus, and that is accountability.
Of course, requiring marketers to demonstrate exactly what marketing contributes to the organization is nothing new. With 20% to 25% of many operational budgets going to marketing endeavors, it’s no surprise the “goings on” would be very interesting to Boards of Directors and senior management.
Unless marketing disciplines can clearly demonstrate their value, they will be looked upon as merely tactical activities for which costs must always be heavily controlled. And, as the global marketplace forces companies to find ways to stay ahead of the competition, we can expect even more need for accountability.
Data: A Marketer’s Best Friend
What is marketing accountability anyway and how can marketers live up to these demands?
The American Marketing Association defines marketing accountability as:
“The responsibility for the systematic management of marketing resources and processes to achieve measurable gains in return on marketing investment and increased marketing efficiency, while maintaining quality and increasing the value of the corporation.”
But what does that really mean in terms of today’s landscape?
Well, there was a time a CMO might get away with reporting on how many “likes” a Facebook page got or how many people clicked on a banner ad. But those metrics are no longer cutting it. Today’s upper management want one important question answered: what was the ROI of a particular marketing activity?
While in the past, answering this question would be nearly impossible without dipping into the realm of vague generalities, today’s marketers can rely on hardcore data to appease their superiors. With the right data collection software and a well-conceived KPI process, an entire campaign can be boiled down into revenue earned. For instance, a marketer can determine how much revenue a Facebook advertisement earns by measuring things like the number of clicks an ad got and measuring that against the cost per click, or the number of conversions via the ads and the cost per conversion.
As just mentioned, today’s marketers rely heavily on software programs to collect and analyze important data. No doubt these programs will increase in popularity as more emphasis is placed on accountability in the years to come.
A 2015 CMO Survey found that marketing analytics spend will increase 3% over the next 3 years. And, with analytics becoming more accessible, young marketers becoming increasingly analytics-savvy, and more firms popping up to help brands prove the value of their marketing software investments, it’s clear this reliance on data and technology to prove value isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
How to Improve Your Marketing Accountability
Marketers should always be looking for ways to improve their accountability and ensuring their objectives and tactics are directly linked to measurable outcomes. To do this, consider taking the following steps:
1. Conduct a marketing audit
It’s hard to improve if you don’t know your current condition. An internal audit will help you identify and bolster if necessary the human resources, systems and tools to automate your marketing processes and improve performance.
2. Choose your metrics
Every marketing department must adopt the right performance metrics and measurement framework that aligns with their business outcomes. To choose the right metrics, make sure they tie into how you plan to acquire, engage and grow the value of your customers. In other words, the metrics you choose should clearly indicate the impact your marketing endeavors are having on market share, customer value and equity.
3. Build partnerships within the enterprise
All members of the C-Suite are key partners in a variety of initiatives critical to business success. CMOs must build solid partnerships with CIOs and CFOs to ensure communication that ultimately leads to solid metrics and performance management. Working together, the C-Suite has a much better chance of creating and maintaining the infrastructure and data needed to support performance management. And guess what? Marketing accountability is the key to performance management.
While marketing accountability requires process and cultural changes, and is certainly not a journey for the faint of heart or weak of will, ultimately, implementation will lead to increased marketing budgets and teams becoming more effective at driving business results.