It’s time for marketers to get out of the realm of voodoo and spin, to create a more defensible position for budget dollars and develop a more secure “seat at the table” by being the business champions they are.
Sound too good to be true? I think not. The high-tech industry is finally catching up with more established consumer businesses in the areas of metrics and accountability. This is not a marketing trend per se, but a marketing “practice” trend, which is just as important. This is a must-have going forward. I believe marketing can be a data-driven, metrics-focused art.
When high-tech marketing becomes more metrics-based, it does a few critical things:
- Drives the demand for stronger campaigns and programs that deliver results
- Ties the discipline more closely to the revenue generation of a company
- Up-levels the conversation from “what did we do” to “what did we learn”
- Enables the tracking of indicators of the health of the franchise
- Gets the CMO, BU lead and Sales lead to agree about what matters early on
Feed the hunger for measurement
Businesses crave the rigor that metrics provide. Through metrics, high-tech firms can move away from just doing something because they think it will work, to building a platform that evolves from an understanding of the parts, how they are integrated, and the effect of each. Fundamentally, metrics enable a leadership opportunity.
Knowing what to measure and what context matters is key to metrics. We’re working on a project for a client on this today. They’ve already hired one vendor and have found that what they ended up with measures what could be measured, not what needed to be measured.
The downfall occurs when companies don’t define what needs to be measured, what is truly measurable, and when they don’t put the necessary systems in place to capture and analyze data. Too often the dashboard is either too simplistic (10,000 foot level – measuring program results) or too sophisticated (90,000 foot level) measuring end of the quarter results) for both the needs of the company and the ability of the internal organization to adjust.
The critical factors that drive metrics into an organization include:
- Understanding what it impacts
If it is an Enterprise-focused company, the ultimate “deliverable” might just be creating leads that drive revenue for the company. If there are larger objectives such as expanding the footprint, the corporate goals could also include positive impressions in the market of CEOs, where its impact is most critical.
- Defining what should/will be measured
Insights and metrics are needed at all levels of the organization. But different levels and lenses need to be created. For example, the CMO/VP will need fewer and more targeted metrics than the program manager. But what’s also important is that data in absence of norming data is not actionable. Thus, metrics need to also include interpretive views. In other words, develop the grounding norms that make the metrics measures relevant. This could be things like doing comparisons y/y or qtr/qtr for relevant spend or revenue.
- Getting CIO support
Spending the dollars required to build systems that allow for easy measurement and analysis requires high-level buy-in. One system for all the members of the organization needs to be created.
- Building programs and initiatives around clear, measurable results
Define measurement that will clearly align the business objective expectations with program status. An effectiveness evaluation needs to occur so a “grade” can be assigned. Recommendations then become a natural outgrowth.
What’s needed: predictive trending
When companies first start out on a metrics migration, we’ve seen the predominant focus is on inquiries, leads, PR placements, and the number of seminars. This is normal when a high-tech company is first introducing metrics; it focuses first on what can be measured. Think about the reality of this: leads and inquiries are relatively easier to control — you design a campaign, and you estimate the number of leads desired within that short (3-month, 6-month) timeframe with the allocated budget. For the most part, these metrics measure activity. The drawback of these metrics is that they’re not predictive of what will happen down the road and the conversation is still focused on “we did what we said we would do.”
While all of this is a good start, it’s not going to help the organization see and predict future trends, and therefore make decisive moves to lead. And that’s what metrics can do. When designing a dashboard system at Autodesk, I can honestly say the baseline was difficult and good, but it was the predictive trending that created better strategy.
Getting to the right answers
To do that, you’ve got to design and architect measurement that will allow you to answer some critical questions every business has:
- What % of the targeted market have we penetrated? How is that up/down from last year?
- What is our customer and prospect profile by current and potential value?
- Is there a region or segment that is under penetrated that represents “low hanging fruit?”
- Are we spending money with the right go-to-market mix of activities?
- What is the spend mix and performance by vehicle for the initiative?
- What is the spend mix and performance by functional group or BU?
- What AR/PR/CR efforts were incorporated into this Campaign?
- What movement have we seen on the brand index and are perceptions in line with goals?
- What is the movement of the brand index in the key target segment?
- You are x% of the way through the quarter and y% of the way through achievement on leads generation.
- What is the spend for this Campaign? How does that compare to plan?
- How many leads has the Campaign produced? How does that compare to plan and other campaigns?
- Of all the programs focused on a particular segment, which one message is resonating better and causing
- gher yields than other campaigns?
- What is the cost/lead for this Campaign?
- What is the average deal size?
- What deliverables were produced for this Campaign?
- What is the customer satisfaction rating overall?
- What is the conversion rate from click to opportunity?
- What sales tools/involvement were a part of this Campaign?
- What is the revenue for this group of products?
- Is one channel or region more efficient than others?
- What is the customer satisfaction measurement?
- What is the measurement of repeat business (reflecting loyalty)?
- What is the measurement of % referrals from existing clients to prospects?