Marketers are facing increasing pressure to demonstrate ROI, but giving a simple answer to the ROI question still isn’t that simple.
Econsultancy released a report last month titled “Marketing Budgets 2016” that flags ROI measurement as a major impediment to increasing marketing activity.
Illustrating ROI has always been tricky in traditional marketing, but even in digital marketing, marketers don’t rate their ability to measure ROI very highly. Fewer than a quarter of marketers valued their ROI measurement ability as “good” for channels like social media, mobile, and video advertising, and half felt “good” about search and email marketing.
Stitching together data from multiple programs and assigning attribution to some activities over others only makes the answer more complex. Around the C-level table, that puts marketers at a real disadvantage. Other functions like operations or sales make a clearer case for investment. Marketing is more nuanced.
I touched on this issue last year in a cartoon about marketing’s seat at the table. I was particularly struck by this comment from a reader named Lindani:
“The moment the brands are seen as businesses and brand teams as business units, then only will the perception of Marketing Departments as the “colouring-in department” change. The whole organisation needs to be consumer inspired and brand led, it cant just be the role of the marketing team. This means a healthy balance between quality delivery of brand experience to consumers and results to shareholders.”
One of the things that attracted me to consumer packaged goods (and General Mills) out of business school 14 years ago was the idea that “marketing” should be thought of as “general management”. It was a more expansive vision of marketing than a communications role. It was about managing a business. It was about understanding the full P&L. That model helped frame how to put marketing programs in context to the overall impact on the business.
Even when we don’t have perfect measurement tools, I think marketers need to think like general managers.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Here’s the Marketing Seat at the Table cartoon from last year.