Last month, together with the ITSMA and VisionEdge Marketing (VEM), Forrester launched a research study to understand whether business-to-business (B2B) marketers have become more proficient in using marketing metrics and analytics to inform marketing decisions, predict buyer behavior, improve marketing performance, and help their firms better analyze markets and forecast trends.
This is the 12th year that VEM has undertaken this research, and we were pleased to be a part of such a rich legacy. The 2013 MPM Survey captured input from more than 400 respondents, helping us uncover valuable insights on the performance measurement and management challenges marketers face today.
Depending on which side you stand on the executive debate about how to assess the value of marketing to your organization, the findings of this year's study may (or may not) surprise you.
Even though marketing measurement has become more automated and operationally commonplace, B2B marketers continue to struggle to prove marketing's contribution to the business instead of using metrics and performance management to improve it. One of the most telling findings that leads us to this conclusion is the percentage of executive peers reported to use marketing data to make strategic decisions — as revealed by marketers themselves.
Cross-channel attribution. For customer insights and marketing practitioners, attribution is a white hot measurement topic. It’s viewed as the best way to measure effectiveness of marketing and media campaigns; a way for firms to assess…truly assess… the value of the customer journey. For the past 18 months, I have been living and breathing this topic and today I am happy….no, I’m elated…to announce the official publication of the Cross-Channel Attribution Playbook.
What’s a playbook, you ask? Well, a playbook is a framework to help organizations develop expertise around a specific business topic. The Cross-Channel Attribution Playbook helps marketers and customer insights professionals to take strategic steps in building an attribution strategy within their organization. It includes 12 chapters, including an executive overview, which covers different aspects of developing and managing a cross-channel attribution measurement framework. The four “chapters” specifically help organizations:
Ask CMOs what tops their challenges list, and most admit that improving marketing's accountability ranks right up there.
B2B marketing execs worry about measuring marketing performance a bit more than B2C since a direct sales force and/or channel partners are largely responsible for the last mile of the customer purchase process.
Managing marketing performance is a perennial issue all marketers face.
Unlike revenue growth or margin, there are few accepted answers to the question, "What value does the business get from your marketing investment?" Typical answers focus on pipeline, which Sales then hotly contests.
I've noticed a disturbing trend in one of the markets I study. Thirty percent of marketers say their top social media goal is creating brand impact, but only 10% tell us they measure brand impact — a gap of 20 percentage points. But then while just 4% say sentiment or engagement are their top goals, a whopping 26% measure these numbers —leaving us with an almost identical gap of 22 percentage points, but in the other direction. It’s clear what's happening here: Marketers are using sentiment and engagement numbers as a proxy for brand impact surveys.
Deep down I love the idea of measurement proxies. A properly constructed and proven proxy could be a cheap, quick, and effective stand-in for direct measurement of things that are quite frankly hard to measure — like brand impact.
But there’s a big problem here: I've been looking pretty hard for good measurement proxies for a while now, and I’ve found very few that could be described as "properly constructed and proven." And I'm pretty sure none of the marketers in our survey have proven their proxies — because if they'd tried, they'd have almost certainly failed.
According to an Advertising Age article that discussed a new IBM survey released today, many CMOs "believe that marketing's financial return on investment will become a key marker of success in the next three to five years." With continued economic turmoil, marketing leaders are facing increased pressure to measure their results, but faced with an overhwelming amount of data, finding the right KPI needles in the haystack of information can be overwhelming. To sift through this data overload, we are conducting research for a report on how leading marketers will be measuring success. Take our survey on ROI measurement to tell us how you are changing your ROI approach for 2012, and we'll send you a copy of the results so that you can see how others are navigating the ROI path.
But saying that raises the question: If the number of fans or followers you have doesn’t tell us whether you’ve succeeded as a company, then what does it tell you? And if your CEO shouldn’t be worried about the number of wall posts you’ve generated, then who should be paying attention to this number?
Since last summer, I’ve been using a structured model to help my clients focus on delivering the right social media marketing data to various stakeholders inside their organization. Social media programs throw off so much data that the key to measuring and managing your programs well is focusing each stakeholder on just the pieces of data that are relevant to helping them do their jobs. If part of your job is measuring the success of your social media marketing programs, then you need to start segmenting the stakeholder groups you’re providing that data to and tailoring the type of metrics, the volume of metrics, and the frequency of reporting you provide them.
As you may have read, I've just published a report entitled "Untangling the Attribution Web" (subscription required). In the course of researching that report, it became clear that, despite the many years of discussion surrounding what's commonly called "fractional attribution," there's still a dearth of organizations who have successfully implemented a measurement approach beyond legacy last-touch allocation methods. Financial services firms get close, especially those who are using marketing mix modeling. And a handful of retailers are executing a cross-channel attribution strategy, but many of them are still battling inconsistent metrics and channel conflict. So we found ourselves wondering why adoption of such a critical business initiative has stagnated.
As a result, we've created a very brief survey for attribution vendors and multichannel marketers to help us assess the current state of attribution. The survey will give us some visibility into the key challenges and opportunities surround attribution, and why its adoption is lagging. And, it will help guide our next report, wherein we'll provide an organization readiness assessment for attribution, and lay the framework for its successful implementation.
Please take five minutes to complete the survey; all responses are anonymous and only reported in aggregate. The next report will go live late this month or early in January, and participants will receive a copy of the published report.
Brands are making plenty of money in social media: Dell Outlet’s Twitter account has generated millions for Dell, the Intel Channel Voice community has decreased costs by eliminating the need for expensive in-person events and P&G used media mix modeling to demonstrate that the BeingGirl.com community is several times more effective at driving sales than the brands' television ads.
Many marketers can draw a straight line between investments in social media marketing and financial results, but many more cannot. This doesn’t mean social media marketing is ineffective; it just means that marketers have to recognize benefits beyond dollars and cents. Facebook fans, retweets, site visits, video views, positive ratings and vibrant communities are not financial assets -- they aren’t reflected on the balance sheet and can’t be counted on an income statement -- but that doesn’t mean they are valueless. Instead, these are leading indicators that the brand is doing something to create value that can lead to financial results in the future.
I was included on a very interesting panel discussion a couple of weeks ago entitled, "Stories From The Frontline, Building A Social Media Business." The event was co-sponsored by TiE and the Social Media Club SFSV and included a terrific set of people who were experienced, smart and funny:
Rich Reader captured a quick clip of me sharing thoughts on the appropriateness of measuring ROI in Social Media. While the panel format doesn't furnish time for an appropriate deep dive into when and how ROI might be an appropriate metric, I believe in most cases ROI is the wrong question to ask (and if you start with the wrong question, you'll get the wrong answer.)
I will be working on a report about Social Media and Marketing ROI. Your thoughts and input are welcome and encouraged. Please check out the 76-second clip and then let me know what you think.
I've recently found myself in interesting discussions--one might call some of them debates--about ROI and Social Media. In recent weeks, Social Media ROI was the agenda for meetings with several clients, the focus of a panel on which I participated at Digiday Social, and a lively topic of discussion at a dinner of marketing leaders in town for the OMMA Global event. And today I read an article about Wal-Mart that got me to thinking about the dangers of too narrowly defining ROI.
It's interesting to hear the wide range of attitudes toward social media ROI. Some companies measure quite a bit about their social media activities but do not evaluate ROI in its most literal definition: The financial return generated by a specific monetary investment. Others go through a great deal of effort to measure ROI, creating complex models to calculate an approximation of financial return.
Some in the direct marketing space are beginning to value their social media efforts much as they do their PPC campaigns--assessing the cost of participation compared to the clicks, conversions and sales generated from trackable links seeded into tweets and Facebook posts. This sort of measurement is essential and inevitable for companies that sell direct to consumers, but it's important companies not become overly narrow and begin to assess social media as just another click-generating channel.