Today’s modern Marketing Leader is responsible for proving that every investment in marketing equates to measurable revenue. Sounds easy, right? The harsh reality is that many marketers face challenges when it comes to easily pulling marketing metrics or they don’t carry much confidence in the data they obtain as being accurate. You are not alone in this struggle, and it’s more critical than ever that Marketing leaders unite to take back our seat at the revenue table.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure moderating an executive roundtable with four marketing leaders, each from a unique industry, to discuss metrics challenges, where their organizations have found success, and share their best practices that can help other marketing leaders prepare for their next board meeting.
Founder & CMO
Lien & Company
Sr. Director of Brand Engagement
Bethesda Lutheran Communities
Director of Marketing Operations
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Vice President of Marketing
The results of that roundtable workshop with your marketing peers produced seven best practices that can help guide the modern marketer in overcoming today’s most common metrics challenges:
1. Create a Common Language Between Marketing, Sales and the Executive Team.
It seems like creating a standard set of definitions would be simple, right? Not always. Across an entire organization, there are deep layers of past experiences that have created a diverse lexicon within departmental silos. More often than not these dialects become a severe communication barrier resulting in misaligned strategy, fragments definitions of success and manifest into frustration between departments.
As it relates to marketing metrics, there’s already the challenge to understand the data, so having a uniform definition across the board is vital. Otherwise, data can quickly become confusing and difficult to wade through – frustrating executives who want to understand and act. You’ll spend more time trying to get on the same page, rather than making strategic movements in the organization.
There are a few simple places to start improving your internal lexicon:
- Set standard definitions, starting with your KPIs, between marketing, sales and the executive team that can be rallied around together.
- Integrate that language into your process documentation, technology stack, and reporting behavior.
- Remember that old habits die hard. Build up your leaders as internal champions and reward continuity. You must create a culture that understands that the new way is better before you see adoption take
2. Trust the Data, Not Your Gut.
It’s easier said than done. The old cliché of “you’ve got to trust your gut,” has been the claim to fame for many business leaders who’ve succeeded by tapping into their “killer instinct.” However, in the age of modern marketing, running detached from understanding the information we have at our disposal in the digital world is like walking around at night without a flashlight.
Making the paradigm shift means accepting that data might contradict what your gut has been telling you and that personal bias will have to be abandoned in order to transform that data into actionable results.
It’s not a natural shift, but one that you won’t regret making. Napoleon Bonapart said that “War is ninety percent information.” That statement can be applied in the case of marketing in this modern world, so let’s arm ourselves with the data and – have the guts – go forth and use it.
3. System Integrations are Critical to Good Metrics
Most organization today store data across many platforms, applications, and databases with each of those technologies serving one or more business purpose. Operational data sets from these platforms need to become ubiquitous across the organization to provide executives, departments, and individuals access to “right-time” data sets that empower them to act in relation to the organization’s strategic objectives. Think about how many systems touch a single record from lead to customer – that’s a lot that can easily be lost in translation without strategic integration.
So how does an organization deliver on business intelligence in a multi-system environment? You’re in luck because this is one of the fastest growing demand curves in business today. More and more organizations are moving to the deployment of data warehousing solutions to support business intelligence and data operations in a centralized strategy. There’s never been a better time than now as the demand has pushed these systems to increase agility and leverage cloud technology to push streaming and live-time data throughout the organization.
4. Create SLAs Between Marketing & Sales
We’ve all done it, grabbed that shopping cart with the squeaky, broken wheel. Sure, you can push it around, but frustration looms, and you’ll abandon it the first chance you get. That’s what happens without an SLA (Service-Level-Agreement) between Sales and Marketing. It sort-of works, but it’s not a positive experience and ultimately leads to disagreements, misalignment, and stress.
After you’ve agreed on some standard definitions, setting SLAs for your revenue-driving teams helps align shared expectations and unite the team towards their common goal – revenue acceleration. More often than not, these SLA become critical points of measurement, and even turn into KPIs for the organization, so it more important than ever to make sure all parties are in agreement. Here are some great examples of SLAs that you can use to begin the discussion with your sales and marketing leaders:
- What does the handoff process look like?
- Reasons for lead rejection?
- Qualified lead/account criteria?
- How many leads will marketing deliver each week?
- Timeframe for sales to follow up on after handoff?
5. Diligently Know and Understand Your Audience
Today, the modern buyer lives and operates within a multi-channel world. They have access to an overwhelming about of information sources and communication methods making it a constant struggle for marketers to effectively reach their buyers where, when and how they want to be reached. That’s where data comes into play. Trying to track anything and everything will only lead to a sense of overwhelm and isn’t focusing your efforts on the highest return. Use data to develop an understanding of your audience preferences and what tactics yield the ideal return – then focus your efforts on setting metrics that align with that optimal journey.
6. Create a Process and Consistently Enforce It
Let’s be honest: nearly every organization struggles with data challenges. Bad data costs the United States more than $3 trillion annually, according to a report published on August 1, 2018, in the Harvard Business Review.
Where does a data issue start? It’s a myriad of things between manual data entry errors, out-of-date data, not entering contact updates when they are discovered – but it all boils down to one simple phrase; “Bad data in, bad data out.” The solution is not a one-time-fix or waving a magic wand. Taking care of your data is the same as taking care of your body and requires the right nutrition, maintenance, and checkups to keep it healthy. That means developing a process build on data best practices and enforcing consistency in following that process. The job is never complete, so it’s important that data accuracy be viewed as the responsibility of the entire organization and not just the individuals in a “data” role.
Related Resource: The New Bigger Cost of Bad Data
7. Marketing and Sales are Ultimately About Timing – Empower It Through Data
Today’s modern sales and marketing teams have more technology at their fingertips than ever before – and guess what, so do prospective buyers! We live in a time of convenience with Amazon, Netflix, and Lyft, where buyers expect that the perfect solution to their problem exists and answers can be immediately found through a quick Google search. This reshapes how sales and marketing today must interact with these buyers. It’s more important than ever to use data to drive the effectiveness of these team through intent triggers, web analytics, lead scoring and social listening. The most successful organizations are using this data to serve up a personalized experience to buyers at the optimal time with the answers they were looking for at the moment.
We’re not saying that marketing and sales need to transform into data scientists, but what they do need to be enabled and empowered to understand how to use data to plan, act, pivot and measure their efforts in this new “right-time, right-place” buying landscape.
If you are a marketing leader struggling with similar metrics challenges in your organization – you don’t have to go it alone.
Meet Josh Wagner
Josh started out like many sales professionals, cold calling! He knew early on there had to be a better way and adopted content marketing strategies to further his career. While honing his skills with basic email marketing tools and social strategies he found and fully embraced marketing automation as a way to fuel sales success. As a former client, LeadMD was there to help him build a better sales and marketing engine during his time as the Sales and Marketing Director for a Phoenix based e-learning company. Now leading the Sales team for LeadMD, Josh brings enthusiasm and passion to helping his team and LeadMD customers accelerate revenue growth. When not "bringing home the bacon" Josh loves to spend time with his wife and their 3 funny little humans. What time is leftover is spent throwing some weight around in his garage gym.