September 26, 2012
Have We Lost the "C" Suite by Measuring the Wrong Things?
Posted on the Arketi Group blog on September 24th by Micky Long
If the latest surveys are to be believed, B2B marketing is on the verge of a “crisis of confidence” within the C suite. When the Fournaise Marketing Group surveyed more than 1,200 CEOs and decision makers earlier this year they came away with some really unsettling numbers. Eighty percent of the CEOs surveyed said they do not really trust and are not very impressed by the work done by marketers. In comparison, 90% of the same group do trust and value the opinions of their CFOs and CIOs.
The reason most often cited in the B2B world for this lack of confidence is that despite marketers tendency to jump on the latest technology bandwagon (marketing automation, lead management, CRM, etc.) they are still failing to deliver the level of customer interaction that’s expected by their CEO. And this lack of performance seems rooted in marketers' distraction with selecting new technology, developing integrated marketing platforms and other technology and what is actually being measured.
Maybe it’s time to rethink.
For example, instead of investing significant time and resources to build out the next automated multi-touch, multi-channel campaign, it might make more sense to evaluate the specific messages we’re sending to groups of prospects. Are we still trying to shout sales messages above the noise level or are we truly listening to our prospect needs?
Maybe we need to evaluate how much (or how little) we invest in doing the research necessary to build strong buyer personas so that future messages can be more focused to produce higher engagements. Or how about making sure the performance metrics we are using to evaluate our successes agree with what our C-suite executives expect.
It’s not that marketers don’t have the tools. Automation and analytics tools have provided the opportunity to track more elements now than marketers 15 years could dream about. It’s the ability to net out all of the measurements into a few specific and strategic metrics that identify the level of demand they are asked to produce where marketers come up short. If you think the last point should be a no-brainer, the Fournaise survey showed that 75% of CEOs feel that marketers misunderstand or misuse metrics like “Results”, “ROI”, and “Performance”.
Understanding the real ROI and the strategic goals and metrics used by the CEO to measure company performance should be the basis for building an effective Marketing budget and strategy. But a disturbing number from a joint Columbia University and New York American Marketing Association survey completed earlier this year shows a majority of senior marketers don’t base their budget decisions on any type of ROI with two-thirds preferring historical spending as an analysis and 28% on “gut feel”.
Tracking email open rates and web page traffic might be interesting and somewhat helpful in making tactical decisions about marketing activities, but it sure looks like marketers need to take a much stronger look at what they are measuring and the outcomes they are delivering. CEOs want marketers to track prospect number, quality, acquisition cost and long-term revenue potential rather than the number of webinar participants and trade show badge scans. And be accountable for driving customer demand for products and services. Until that happens, earning the trust of the CEO and gaining boardroom impact will remain elusive.