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October 27, 2015
Why Marketing Must Be Driven By Data
 
Marketing’s Role in Flux
“So, how’s our marketing doing?” asked nearly every senior manager ever. And it’s a valid question. With the money poured into marketing — some $540 billion in 2015 — marketers need to provide meaningful insights to their executive teams.

The days of “…the East Coast Sales Team loved our new flyer” are long gone. Whether the company is a $1 million or $1 billion operation, where the money is spent and the return on each expense deserves unfiltered, objective examination.

In other words, focus on what works best for your audience and worry less about whether everyone inside the company likes it. Your coworkers and managers aren’t your buyers!

Marketing has come under tighter scrutiny since the recession of 2008. We make do with less than ever before. Many roles eliminated during those massive layoffs will never come back, and many of them shouldn’t.

Many people had to reinvent themselves, like the marketing communications manager who focused on shepherding documents through approval channels and who now blogs and posts directly with customers and prospects.

Similarly, marketing needs to face outward and openly engage with the audiences it serves. Marketing has a tendency to become very administrative, and this spoils its value. To escape those behaviors, go from subjective meaning (internal opinions) to objective meaning (buyer behavior).

Marketing Metrics That Matter
For companies whose marketing still focuses on traditional methods (i.e., nearly impossible to measure with meaning), there is an increasing awareness that marketing must become a more meaningful contributor to its company’s bottom line. Some industries are at the cutting edge of this, others are catching on, and many remain laggard.

There are marketers who regard such transparency as a threat to their jobs. To some degree, that’s true. They should be scared when they cannot intelligently explain what works and what doesn’t — and why. Hunches, instincts, experience, and other opinion-based approaches are inherently biased (no matter how objective we think we are), usually in our own favor. I would argue that marketing leaders who rely solely on such precepts should be put out to pasture.

The Truth in the Numbers
To succeed, marketing must be data-driven and informed to decide how its budgets are spent. And diving into the data is how you find that.

After all, your CFO knows exactly where all the money is coming from and where it goes with an eye on how to make the cash flow perform best. Your marketing should be based on its numbers and foresight, just the same.

When a marketing team creates assets like ebooks, white papers, and the like and set them up correctly, these offer the ability to track (down to the second) how well they perform with their audiences.

Here’s an example of how you can report this activity for one quarter’s activity:
  Region 1 Region 2 Region 3 Total
Leads Generated 103 98 120 321
Opportunities Created 45 $50,250 33 $62,750 28 $46,375 106 $159,375
Deals Closed 15 $21,000 9 $31,000 12 $14,000 36 $66,000
 
Reviewing your marketing performance against your sales performance (data obtained from your marketing automation and CRM systems, respectively), you can easily see how your efforts contribute to the company’s bottom line. Factor in how many days it took for a lead to become an opportunity and then a deal, and your marketing can identify more opportunity for itself to accelerate this process.

Rather than trusting the salesman who tells you how many eyeballs “see” a billboard each day (honestly, has a billboard ever caused you to make a purchase?), you want to know for a fact not only how many people opened your email but which ones then took action to speak with your sales team. By having this metric, you can point to marketing’s contribution to the company’s revenues.

This means changing up the skillsets on the marketing team, and that may entail evolving some roles or eliminating others. To get there, connect those data dots so that marketing has an objective story based on data and verifiable truth to tell its stakeholders instead of subjective ones based on observation and anecdote. With evidence based on data, your marketing will flourish more than you expect and you may find doing more with less is easier than you think

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Geoff Tucker is a career-long B2B marketer with more than 12 years' experience working directly with sales teams and corporate leadership, and a passionate advocate for the central role marketing creates in building businesses. He's also a huge Hubspot fanboy, hobbyist photographer, and avid traveler.
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