Digital Marketing
min read

Marketing Performance: Beyond the Numbers Game

April 10, 2024
April 23, 2024

Did you know that despite allocating over half of their budgets to digital marketing, over 30% of marketers report average-to-no returns on their investments? This startling statistic from The CMO Survey highlights the critical gap between investment and effectiveness in marketing.

What Exactly is Marketing Performance Management?

First, let’s set aside a common misconception. Marketing performance management is not the same as performance marketing. Performance marketing refers to online marketing and advertising programs where marketers pay when a specific action—such as a sale, lead, or click—is completed. This approach is inherently results-oriented and data-driven, focusing on tangible outcomes such as conversions, leads, or sales that directly contribute to ROI.

On the other hand, marketing performance management takes a broader view. It’s a strategic, holistic approach that encompasses the ongoing analysis, planning, execution, and optimization of marketing strategies and campaigns to achieve overarching business objectives.

It involves setting clear goals, selecting relevant metrics for those goals, collecting and analyzing data, and using marketing performance reporting to guide future marketing strategies and budget allocations. This process is fundamental in today’s data-driven marketing environment, where every dollar spent needs to contribute to the overarching business objectives.

In a recent podcast interview with performance marketing specialist, Liam Patterson, he states, “[performance marketing] is essentially about the return on ad spend. That’s why I advocate for a holistic approach, blending performance-driven tactics with long-term brand building efforts to create an effective marketing strategy.”

The Marketing Performance Gap

As the findings from The CMO Survey reveals, there is a gap in marketing performance expectations. But why is it so hard for marketers to manage performance? Here are several common challenges marketers face:

Turning Data into Actionable Insights: Marketers often find themselves overwhelmed by the job of wrangling data, usually leaving them with little energy for interpretation and insights. 

Error-Prone Processes: Manual data collection and reporting are susceptible to human error and inconsistencies, which can skew data interpretation and decision-making.

Complex Digital Customer Journey Mapping: The digital customer journey has become increasingly complex, spanning multiple platforms and touchpoints. This complexity makes it difficult to accurately track and attribute sales to specific digital interactions.

Privacy Rule Changes Impacting Data Use: The evolving landscape of consumer privacy and the gradual phasing out of third-party cookies present new challenges in utilizing external data for marketing purposes.

Bridging the Marketing Performance Gap

To overcome these challenges and close the marketing performance gap, marketers must adopt a proactive and strategic approach. Here are some actionable strategies:

Integrate Your Marketing Data: Marketing performance is essentially impossible to measure if the data points needed to illustrate effectiveness aren’t together in one place. The consolidation, normalization, and analysis that comes with marketing data integration is the first step to provide a complete, accurate, and cohesive picture of marketing performance that drives strategy and decisions.

Automate Your Reporting: Automated reporting is not merely a convenience but a strategic imperative that directly impacts the effectiveness and efficiency of marketing strategies and operations by streamlining processes, enhancing accuracy, and providing timely insights. 

Budget Automation: Automated budget management optimizes performance marketing by dynamically reallocating funds towards high-performing campaigns and channels, ensuring efficient use of resources and maximizing ROI through real-time adjustments based on data-driven insights.

Marketing Mix Modeling: The way marketers measure performance must evolve past the current obsession with attribution, and this includes utilizing marketing mix modeling (MMM). In an interview with MMM master Michael Kaminsky, he addresses the growing marketing performance concerns emphasizing the need for a holistic measurement methodology. "Marketers need to think really hard about what measurement methods they're using... It's gotten a lot harder over the last couple of years, and it seems like it's only going to get harder," he asserts. This future-oriented perspective underscores the urgency for marketers to adopt more sophisticated and comprehensive tools like MMM.

Invest in AI and Machine Learning: Integrating AI and machine learning with marketing data can optimize campaigns and drive cost-efficient outcomes. However, AI integration is not a 'set-it-and-forget-it' process. It involves thorough QA checks and continuous analysis. Our 30-point AI-Ready Checklist not only details how to effectively integrate AI into your operations but also sets the stage for sustained innovation and competitive advantage

Marketing Performance: A Strategic Partner, Not a Lone Wolf

Marketing performance data is not just a set of numbers; with proper management, analytical skills, and data infrastructure, it can inform and refine your overall marketing strategy. Marketers can use performance insights to optimize existing campaigns and shape future strategies. This iterative nature of marketing, guided by data, helps in making more informed, strategic decisions that align with business goals.

The gap between marketing spend and effectiveness underscores the need for a more integrated, data-informed approach to marketing. By focusing on strategic experimentation, embracing cross-functional collaboration, fostering a culture of innovation, and leveraging tools like AI and machine learning, marketers can close this performance gap. It's time to move beyond viewing marketing performance as just a numbers game and see it as a strategic partner in driving business growth. Embrace the data, question assumptions, and continuously adapt your strategies to navigate the complexities of today's digital landscape effectively.

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