Proving overall marketing effectiveness is higher up the agenda of senior marketers than it ever has been. Achieving that aim requires knowing what to measure with your analytics, how to do it and how to convince colleagues that the numbers tell the true story of marketing’s contribution to business growth.
In a series of articles this year, Marketing Week and Neustar have joined forces to advise marketers on many of the key steps involved in meeting these requirements. Here, we’ve compiled some of the most important practical actions you can take to make demonstrating marketing effectiveness a realistic goal in 2020.
1. Do an internal audit
First you need to know what data you have and how it can be useful to you. This requires a thorough investigation of all the systems and silos in your organisation to work out which teams have been collecting what data, and where and how they are storing it.
You then need to assess what role this data can play in demonstrating marketing’s effects on different touchpoints, before working out if and how it can be integrated in ways that help guide marketing plans. Only by doing this will you be able to decide which are the right data points to focus on and develop the right KPIs for your teams.
2. Challenge your preconceptions
Existing data models and KPIs need to be questioned to ascertain if they’re facilitating true marketing effectiveness. Inevitably, brands tend to focus on that which is easiest to measure or which offers the most positive results, but obviously this doesn’t paint a full picture of the effects your marketing is having – either across touchpoints or over different time periods.
You also need to be willing to accept that your attempts to unify your marketing measurement may tell you things about your existing behaviours that run counter to expectations, or those of your colleagues. The truth might be difficult to hear, so you need to be open-minded to new ways of doing things – and so do other departments.
3. Look short and long
Short-term and long-term measures both need to be kept in mind to ensure sustained commercial impact. While immediate results tend to make finance and sales colleagues happy and may buy marketers some freedom to place longer-term bets, short-term measures are mainly geared up to measure efficiency rather than effectiveness.
Over time, the effects of purely short-term marketing tend to diminish or even actively work against long-term goals – price promotions being an obvious example. Therefore, brand-oriented metrics such as purchase intent and favourability are key to sustaining meaningful marketing effectiveness in the long term.
To embed these as metrics the whole organisation cares about, not just marketers, you need a holistic look at all touchpoints, driven by constructive cross-functional conversations. You need to isolate the incremental impact of individual marketing channels, and also be able to pull growth levers in all areas across your business.
4. Embrace incrementality
Incrementality is the not-so-secret weapon in the marketing armoury. In short, it is a measure of the increase in consumers’ propensity to purchase that can be attributed to marketing efforts. It can be a powerful indicator of marketing’s contribution to revenue.
However you can’t rely on calculating it using simplistic A/B tests of people who have and haven’t been exposed to marketing. To get an accurate picture, you need to be able to understand uplifts in conversion rates across all touchpoints over time – including in ‘walled garden’ environments that are often difficult to track.
5. Look forward
To be of practical use to your business, any analytical models on which you base media investments need to be predictive, not just rely on data about past campaign performance. All campaigns happen at a given point in time and market conditions continually change, so to understand how a future investment will perform you can’t just look backwards.
Forward-looking models are also more likely to offer a persuasive case to finance departments and general management that puts your campaign plans in context of what the business is aiming to do in the coming period. In turn, that makes it more likely your budget requests will be approved.
6. Get broad buy-in
Colleagues in finance and elsewhere need to trust marketing’s analytics approach and the models it fuels, which means proving their validity.
But even more importantly than this, colleagues also need to buy into a wider measurement culture. This is because co-operation across all business functions is necessary if you are going to access the data, resources and budget that allow you to understand all customer touchpoints, positively influence them on customers’ behalf, and invest in marketing communications.
You also need to be working to the same set of business goals as the rest of the organisation. This means constructing KPIs that align with the rest of the business and which other departments feel incentivised to support.
7. Use the right tools, with the right support
To think about and measure effectiveness in a holistic fashion, marketers need to have a trusted analytics partner with solutions that enable them to achieve all of the above, along with the people to help your teams succeed at adoption.
Key internal team members must then be identified, and properly equipped and empowered to use the tools. With the right training and support, these stakeholders can then serve as a resource and example through your whole business to drive your analytics culture forward.