Marketers have struggled to prove the true impact their department has on the bottom line for some time. It’s for that reason that marketers continue to develop the most intricate, nuanced strategies in hopes of getting the most out of their efforts—and budgets. Although a constant uphill battle, the struggle to connect marketing efforts to ROI isn’t always a losing one. But it is a constant one, and some industry experts say it’s only getting harder.
“There is a constant challenge in how to demonstrate a balance between spend and [profit or loss],” Says Kathleen Schneider of SVP marketing and communications at personalized retargeting company Criteo. “They want to show that their investment is generating sales. That’s always a challenge to marketers. You add to that to the complexity of the technology now—it’s a tough world.”
Innovation in digital and marketing technology advances exponentially faster with each passing year. Pre-planned marketing strategies often aren’t pliable enough to keep pace. Marketers spend weeks planning their efforts for the coming months, only to have customers’ focus shift or a new digital trend emerges. It can so often be a frustrating climate, but there are ways to alleviate the stresses involved in developing— and then maintaining—marketing strategies.
One way to develop a more holistic marketing strategy is simply to allow for more wiggle room. “Marketing strategy is typically set six to 12 months in advance and has little room for change and variation due to planning cycles, especially around large events,” says Doug Camplejohn, CEO at Fliptop, a predictive lead scoring company. Camplejohn cites the software industry as a prime example of the success that marketers can reap with more nimble strategies. “Most software companies run an agile process, or waterfall, meaning they can pivot and adapt quickly and respond to changes in the marketing place. [Marketers] haven’t adopted agile marketing.” Part of the reason for this, no doubt, is the marketing budget.
“A marketer’s best day is when [he or she] can truly show that an investment delivers results. The best result is revenue,” Criteo’s Kathleen Schneider says. The more revenue marketing generates the more budget marketers have to work with. Performance should always be a top priority, but some businesses have more lean budgets because of their very nature. For marketers in these financially-stringent companies, performance is even more important. “Measure results beyond impressions. The click is really very valuable. Many marketers have experience with [performance marketing] through search,” Schneider says.
Without question, marketers at both large and small companies stand to benefit by focusing on performance and implementing more agile strategies. “Try to keep five to 10% of the budget open for experimentation and testing,” Camplejohn says. “Talk to your customers. You would be surprised to learn how many marketers have never interfaced with their actual clients, or are too scared to interface with their clients. Hearing their feedback is invaluable.”