Why Effective Measurement Requires a Mature Marketing Organization

January 10, 2019

Marketing ROI

Marketing ROI.

You can’t swing an ebook in the digital marketing world without hitting a conversation about the almighty “marketing ROI” and how critical it is that we can prove the value of what we do as marketing professionals.

As the tenure of CMOs continues to languish at just 44 months, there’s increasing and constant pressure for leaders to illustrate both top-line and bottom-line impact from their programs.

That’s valid, of course; ultimately, if marketing isn’t driving results, it’s a poor investment.

But the key is in how we define “results”, and our ability to measure success is directly tied to the maturity of our marketing organization overall.

All Measurement Is Not Created Equal

The mistake most B2B marketers and executive teams make is that they treat marketing results and metrics as a universal standard that every business should share. They’re looking for definitive, absolute benchmarks for everything from brand awareness to lead generation to conversion and sales timelines.

But not every organization is equally equipped to measure their marketing impact, and that matters when it comes to understanding what we should track and what we can expect in terms of both insights and results.

The missing link in marketing measurement has to do with digital marketing maturity.

Different organizations have different levels of maturity – or the sophistication level of their strategies and programs – and that has a direct implication for their ability to capture metrics and measure success.

Measurement Requires Infrastructure

 You’ve likely seen various versions of maturity models in digital marketing, all of which have the same basic premise.

Companies who are less mature are still putting in place fundamental pieces of sound digital marketing strategy. That can involve:

  • Defining clear goals and objectives
  • Understanding target audiences & personas
  • Mapping typical customer journeys
  • Articulating a clear value proposition
  • Choosing and establishing core digital channels

For them, success is often determined by establishing benchmarks for audience size and reach, target channels and communities, brand awareness, and simply building a sustainable, scalable cadence for producing and creating campaigns and always-on content to support the markets they want to reach.

But to get at hard metrics like ROI – or financial return on a financial investment – you have to have significant infrastructure in place to:

  • Quantify your marketing spend on digital
  • Capture the metrics that matter to you
  • Track performance of your campaigns and content
  • Break out measurements by channel, campaign, media type, and audience (for starters)
  • Understand prospect and user behavior both on your own site and elsewhere

That requires time, money, and technology – and not every company has the same level of resources to commit nor expertise in their ranks (or through partners) to get that done.

It's OK to Start Somewhere

Lots of common marketing wisdom decries the use of “vanity” metrics – things like followers, likes, subscribers, or reach – when quantifying marketing success.

But every business has to start somewhere.

If you’re new to digital marketing and just establishing a foundation, so-called vanity metrics can be perfectly valid indicators that you’re garnering the top-of-funnel attention and audience traction you’ll need to succeed (after all, if no one knows about your marketing, it won’t ever work!).

As you progress, more mid-funnel and bottom-funnel metrics can come into play as you develop the capability and resources to capture and analyze them over time, like:

  • Opportunity volume
  • Cost Per Lead
  • Qualified Lead Ratio/Volume
  • MQL conversion rates
  • Customer Lifetime Value

Once you start capturing those, you get ever closer to being able to tie real-world revenue and dollars to marketing activities, which is the beginnings of true marketing ROI calculation.

Digital Marketing maturity is a spectrum, not a destination, and your ability to measure and quantify the return on your programs will evolve and progress as your business does.

As you build your measurement frameworks, start where you are today. Consider the context, take a clear and honest look at the maturity of your programs and your ability to capture and track the metrics that matter to you, and set the expectations for quantifying value and investment return accordingly. 

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Photo: Bradhoc