Sorry for the inconvenience, but this blog has been relocated to NicholeKelly.com
It will no longer be updated here so direct yourself on over to where the party is!
I’ve seen a lot of buzz about marketing operations, marketing measurement and marketing ROI on blogs and Twitter lately. There are certainly very good reasons for organizations to put resources behind taking a hard look at the contributions of all of their departments including marketing. The buzz swings all the way to the left with people
claiming you can’t measure marketing and back out to the right with here’s how you measure it. What I’ve noticed is even those who claim to be able to measure, haven’t really detailed how. As we are building marketing plans and marketing strategy we must start to include measures of success that we can deliver on.
In organizations, the pressure can bring “old school” and “new school” marketing to a clearly drawn battle line. Many times I’ve heard the claim: you can’t measure __________ (fill in the blank) marketing, brand awareness, social media or anything else requested. I often wonder, do people really believe this? Or are these people just scared to be measured? This type of clear-cut measurement certainly puts a new perspective on whether or not you are a “good” marketer. It could equally be a result of people truly not knowing “how” to measure results effectively. It doesn’t help when there are a lot of theories about measurement and few true industry standards beyond “yeah we measure ROI.” Really?!? Who does it, how do they do it, when do they do it, what do you do as a result of it, and the big question…how long does it take them to pull the report together?
Many marketers are pushing the envelope at organizations and looking for ways to measure everything. The problem we are all finding is that we can measure almost everything and it’s easy to get caught with paralysis by analysis. What should you measure? How often? And what metrics really matter?
I recently read an excellent blog post called “Mapping the Marcom Mix to the Lead Funnel”. I was impressed with the thought process behind this as I have been doing a lot of work on integrating funnel management and marketing strategies for marketing and sales. This spawned what I like to call, a moment of brilliance! I admit they are sometimes fleeting, but occasionally things just align themselves in a way that provide previously unseen clarity. When I started to consider how all the activities map to the funnel, I immediately wanted to measure their impact.
So, I worked on creating a model to measure the Return on Marketing Investment. There were three core considerations to building a model that I believe would actually work.
Measure the impact of the entire marketing mix
Like many marketers I’ve tried to measure the success of individual projects and campaigns with varying levels of results. The challenge was measuring long-term, mid-term and short-term strategies and relating them to ROI. Because, ROI is return on investment which naturally requires you to track directly to revenue mid-term and long-term strategies end up with a result that looks like it was a failure. With strategies like Brand Awareness it is much harder to tie them to current revenue as the impact of your activities today may not pay off for several years, yet we struggle because we are being held accountable for these activities today. Trying to measure each item individually can lead to poor decisions based on short-term results. What really matters is how is the entire marketing mix contributing to overall lead generation. I believe the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts in marketing.
Make sure your measures are actionable
I think it is mission critical that the data you surround yourself with represents items that you can clearly use to make better decisions. A bunch of foo foo numbers that aren’t clearly aligned with the input and the output just increase the confusion. Use measures that matter and can be used as a diagnostic tool and a success measurement tool and you’ve hit the sweet spot!
To be effective your marketing dashboard should:
Don’t stop at the marketing team
In my previous experience, every position I’ve held had one purpose. To use marketing to generate more revenue and more profit for the organization. All of the best marketing in the world will fall flat if your sales team is not equipped to close the deal. Therefore, it is critical that you measure all the way through the sales organization. This is certainly not so you can point fingers at the sales team, rather it is an opportunity for more open discussions about the impact marketing is having on the organization and how sales is delivering on that impact. Never forget, we’re all in this together.
So what does this look like? As a visual person, I use graphics to help tell the story and here is what it looks like to me. Now to tie it all together, how does this deliver on the three considerations?
Measure the impact of the entire marketing mix
As you can see at the top of the funnel you are keeping track of all of the leads delivered from each type of source. I chose to do this independently by source. However, ROI is not calculated on one item, it is calculated based on all of the inputs and the resulting outputs. I went one step further, and decided to measure based on the time frame (short, medium, fast) to an anticipated purchase and the expenses for the lead nurturing that is being done for each of those groups. Certainly for you the break-down may be different. I’m a big fan of the old KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) philosophy so I go with the core things that matter to both marketing and sales and that is their possibility of conversion or how “warm” are they.
Make sure your measures are actionable
The proof really is in the pudding here. By looking at this graph regularly I can identify several critical things in order to gauge success over time. First, are leads piling up in one of the tracks? If so, we aren’t moving them along effectively and need to take a look at our lead nurturing and/or sales activities in that group. Second, are there enough leads coming into the funnel to deliver the revenue we’ve forecasted for the period. Over time, you will get a better perspective of conversion rates and how many leads you need to generate a certain level of sales. This certainly helps when you need to ask for more budget $$$ to fill the pipeline. Third, from a budget perspective you can see where you spend your budget and whether or not it is delivering the leads you expected. Once you identify where the problems are you can do more investigation into that particular area simply by digging into the raw data behind the item with a simple click instead of searching for the needle in the haystack.
Don’t stop at the marketing team
As you can see, leads are tracked all the way to revenue. By measuring all the way through you can clearly see whether or not your marketing activities are having an impact on sales. If not, you have some work to do. If they do, how can you make it better? Or you may find that some of the activities you are spending a lot of money on are preventing you from being able to spend where you are generating the biggest results.
So go big, be bold. Measure it and see how your team stacks up. If you don’t like what you see, fix it. If you do, congratulations! Fuel an environment where old and new school thrive.
As web 2.0 is just starting to take hold I’m envisioning what’s next. We have more information than we ever have about our customers and prospects. How are we going to use it to make each experience unique? Get ready for web 3.0, it’s coming faster than you may think.
As a marketer who likes to push the envelope on creativity and innovation in the field, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what is going to be the next “big thing” in the industry. I’ve also worked on many extensive web projects and have been watching the latest trends with web 2.0 and social media integration. Well, MLK Jr. put it best, “I have a dream.” I envision that my website experiences will be customized to me and provide me with the information I want – when I want it, the information I need – when I need it, and the information I don’t know I need or want – when I don’t realize I need or want it. I want every web experience to have an “A-ha” moment for me and extend that to my customers and prospects.
Today, we all pretty much start our web search at Google. We type in a search term and review the organic listings which are comprised of a few things: Business listings with relevant content, Individual blog listings will relevant content, and Business sponsored content provided by individuals, think reviews etc, and then we might move over to peruse the paid search options. If your company comes up anywhere in the organic listings(first) or paid results (second) then we’ll take a look at you. If not, we quickly determine that you aren’t swimming with the big dogs and aren’t worth our time or the risk of our professional reputation to investigate further. Once we get to your site, you have either pointed us to a page that provides content based on our search term and/or we find ourselves needing more information. So our typical web experience may start by checking out the navigation on the page and see if we can find what we are looking for. If I’m really interested I may resort to the little search box on your site. We type in a word that we think will deliver the result we are seeking. Depending on the sophistication of the website it either delivers a relevant result and we take a look or it doesn’t and we leave. I could get into an even lengthier discussion on what stage I am in the buying process and how it changes this, but I’ll leave that to another day.
With the advent of marketing automation we can now track every action a prospect and/or customer takes on our website and respond based on their real activities rather than information provided on a form or what they tell us they want. This is the first step towards being able to provide relevant and actionable content. The days of site visitors being lost in the black hole of the “unknown” are dwindling. Through progressive customer profiles we can now collect information in little bits and reconcile it back to who you are and act accordingly. As a marketer it truly is a beautiful thing! Now, I have the ability to truly test, monitor, and refine campaigns and content based on your activity in ways that were impossible as little as 5 years ago. Even more beautiful is that I can measure the results in terms of action/inaction and ultimately the Return on Marketing Investment, put simply the revenue that is returned to the organization over the investment that was required to generate that revenue.
These are huge steps forward for marketers, steps I honestly never even considered a few years ago. At the same time, it opens new doors and new avenues to truly be able to satiate the known and unknown desires of people who WANT and NEED what my company has to offer. But as my husband would tease, like any woman I am never satisfied! 😉 I want more…I want to take it to another level…I want to drive us into a web 3.0 world now!
Why? Because we are on the cusp and with today’s technologies it is possible. So why wait? As Marketers we are all shifting to become content producers for our companies as we are learning that content is king, so why not take it to a new level?
Imagine producing content in bits, chunks, and larger heaps but giving it to people in the serving size that suits them best? To put it into context, perhaps you would produce an excerpt that leads to a blog post then to a mini e-book then to a technical white paper. Okay, so maybe you do it backwards and start with the most extensive and build backwards, whatever suits your fancy. The next question is, “What do I do with this progressively expanded content?”
Remember, those progressive customer and prospect profiles that marketing automation is allowing us to create and all the previous web activity that we are reacting to? What if we could turn that into a concept similar to a tag cloud so that we understood what truly drives THAT customer? Sure we can look at an entire segment, but the actions of the whole do not tell the story of the individual. And web 3.0, well I’m hoping it will focus on one-to-one marketing. What does that mean? It means that the real estate of your website can be divided into dynamically generated sections of content based on the profile of the individual and the activities you have logged for him or her. It’s Amazon’s personalized recommendations concept flipped upside down, spun around and thrown at you in a website that changes based on what you say you want, distilled by who you say you are, and refined by the actions you take over time.
Hard to picture? (Well, don’t knock me for my lacking graphic design skills but look at this in terms of dynamically generated content buckets that would obviously look a heck of a lot better with a web designers touch.)
As you can see, the concept is that each bucket has content that changes based on what I know about you. I allow you to tell me if you like the content either through rating or by watching your activities and if not I try something else until I find content that you are responding to and clicking to take a deeper look. If I find out that you really like e-books, I may show all e-books on the left side, etc. If I find that you like 3rd party blog posts and product reviews, I may focus on showing you those. Every time you answer the customer profile question, the next question appears. Bits, pieces, chunks, of your “Digital Body Language,” as Steven Woods coined, add up to deliver a custom one-to-one web experience.
Now, I’m not a techie so I don’t know how to tell you to do this. I certainly have some ideas from my web experience. But I know it isn’t as hard as it sounds.
I certainly could be wrong, but I’m hoping that this is the direction web development starts moving and I’ll certainly be pushing it that way. And if it finally catches, I’ll be a customer for sure!
Recently, I undertook a project to review process and workflow within my department as the time it was taking to complete projects has been on the rise. Like many of you I’m trying to do more work, with less people and efficiency has become king! I’ve become a bit of an expert as this because this has been a challenge for most of the companies I’ve worked for. I’ve created a systematic approach to cutting out the fat that others may benefit from, so I thought I’d share. And I hate it when I’m trying to research and people provide general theories that are so pie in the sky that you can’t use them. So I’ll give you everything I used and if it works for you great! If not, let me know what challenges you are facing and I’d be happy to provide input. And don’t worry, I’m not selling anything. I have a great job but enjoy helping others.
So here’s my recipe for success:
Step One: Create an As-Is Value Stream, Document what you are doing now
Important: Pick a manageable process to start with. Don’t pick something that has tons of steps and variation the first go round. Pick something that impacts the company’s objectives, but in a small way first.
If you are unsure of how to do this check out my post on A Picture Says a Thousands Words| Documenting Your Workflows.
Step Two: Create a Transitional Value Stream, Document inefficiencies
Look for bottlenecks in your process. These can be areas where work seems to pile up and have heavy delay times, or areas where the work gets trapped in a loop that goes back through several times. In marketing, this usually happens with reviews and approvals. If your process only shows it going through once or twice that’s great, but I usually see anywhere from 4-12 times through the same circle.
Look for unnecessary steps. Are there any steps which can be eliminated? I see this when a company has been doing things a certain way for years and years and it has just become a habit that is hard to break. Can any steps be combined and handled by a single individual, a single document, or a single process?
Look for steps that are happening after one another, but are not dependent. In marketing this happens a lot with graphic design teams and copy writing team. The designers wait to start designing until copy is final. This is great if you have time to wait, but if you don’t the general layout template can be created independent of the final copy if you give a general word-count guideline to both groups.
Look for steps that are missing. Sometimes there is a critical step that is not being done which causes bottlenecks later. Perhaps it is a kick-off meeting to get everyone on the same page, or a document that could be added that would streamline the process downstream.
Look for waste. These are parts of the process that do not add value to your customer. Value is anything your customer is willing to pay money for. At the end of the day, every cost that goes into a project is paid for by your customer in the cost of your product. Is your customer willing to pay for a lengthy review process? Probably not. They only care if the piece you’ve created speaks to their needs and wants in a time frame that is fulfilled when they need it, not how you got it done.
I find it extremely helpful to chunk the process and break up each area that is interrelated. Then I look at them separately, rather than as a whole.
Step 3: Brainstorm Improvements
Think about ways you can reduce or eliminate these bottlenecks. Why is the work getting trapped there? Is it not correct the first time its done? If so, how can you get it done right the first time. Are there too many people involved? If so, kick out people who are just there to make them feel involved or change it to an FYI versus an approval. There are many, many reasons why this happens. Your job is to find a way to stop it or at least significantly reduce it. What steps can I eliminate? What steps do I need to add? How can I separate non-dependent processes? Document how you want to stream line each area you’ve noted for improvement.
Step 4: Create a Future State Value Stream, Document the future process
Now, go back into Visio and create your new process. Provide timeline estimates for how long you think it will take for each new step or streamlined step.
Now, I’ve been doing this for a few years now and I’ve guessed fairly accurately along the way. But recently I learned how to actually provide some fidelity to my guesses so I can confidently say that the future state is better than the as is state.
Step 5: Analyze Your New Process, Pseudo reality-check
Bear with me while I geek out a little. I’ve been documenting workflows for years, but never really had a way to say with any real certainty that the process was better before testing it with the team. I’m not a huge math junkie, but I took a Risk Assessment class for my MBA and learned some ways for the non-math geek to be able to apply statistical analysis to your process. Really cool!
So here we go, throughout this process you have put some statistics down and you’ve guessed at how much better you think it will be. Why not take your process for a little test-drive? I like to use the @Risk Excel plug-in by Palisade Decision Tools for this. I assign a best-case, worst-case, and most-likely case timeframe to each step and use a PERT distribution. Then I look for steps that are correlated and assign a correlation, .8 for strong, .5 for somewhat correlated, and -.8 for a strong inverse correlation. Next, I use a RiskSim table to assign the probability of re-work and the timeframe re-work will take. After I have all the inputs to the process put in, I run the simulation 20,000 iterations. Sometimes, I find that I messed up my excel sheet and have to adjust. But in the end, I find out some really cool stuff.
Here are some examples: Which steps in the process have the biggest impact on your total process time. Why does that matter? Well you know you need to really keep those in check or your process will take the maximum time to finish. How sensitive is your process? How beneficial is it to be able to say, as a result of the simulation we can with 95% confidence expect the process to be completed +/- 1.55 days of the mean of 15 days with a 2% error margin. Pretty powerful if you ask me.
After all this is done, I put together a document to “sell” the new process. Here’s the table of contents for the last one I did.
So now, what? Prepare for objections and sell your idea.
I’ve included some sample documents below. I’m still trying to figure out how to include the entire report and supporting excel documents that I did. Darn, wordpress! If you want it, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to share. You’ll notice my copy of @Risk is from Loyola College where I’m working on my MBA in Marketing and discovered this valuable tool.