August 17th, 2016
This post was co-authored with Shiwani Kumar and Sylvia Yang, both MBA students at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University.
Marketing analytics involves the creation and use of quantitative data to derive consumer insights and make decisions. It is often heralded as a critical resource necessary for effective marketing. So it is no surprise that marketing analytics continues to grow as a percentage of overall marketing budgets, with investments expected to nearly double over the next three years even after years of similar increases (Figure 1). However, returns from those investments are less clear: survey respondents’ view on the degree to which marketing analytics contributes to firm performance has stayed average and flat since it was first examined by The CMO Survey in 2012 (Figure 2). We interviewed experts in the area to better understand the challenges and the strategies that improve a firm’s return on marketing analytics. This is what we found.
Figure 1. Percent of marketing budget spent on marketing analytics (February 2016)
1. Don’t build a fun facts factory. Marketing analytics should resolve key business questions—not produce a collection of fun facts. To this end, it is important for marketing leaders to begin with the questions in mind and build the analytics strategies to answer them. That is how the insights produced from analytics investments find their way into plans, strategies, and decisions. At any given time, marketing leaders should be able to look at their analytics output and know for what purpose it was designed. Of course, when analyzing data, new insights can be uncovered, but this is a bonus from the process, not the main objective.
2. Nest analytics into marketing decisions. Using marketing analytics shouldn’t be a choice. It needs to be embedded into the marketing decision making process. For this to happen, capabilities need to be designed that point marketing executives to the right data at the right time. As analytics-informed decisions are realized, usage will shift from occasional to habitual. Jeff Simpson, Principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP noted, “Once analytics becomes embedded into the fabric of the business, companies will never be able to live without it.”
3. Crawl, walk, and then run to better analytics. For analytics to make a true impact, companies must build strong foundations of trust so that bigger leaps of faith can be taken. Baby steps to build data with integrity allows organizations to trust information about the past. Basic descriptive analyses give companies a clearer view into the factors driving the present and lay the foundation for planning the future. The ideal end-state is to develop advanced analytics such as predictive algorithms that contribute to the choice of strategies and tactics to achieve desired outcomes. “You have to be able to crawl before you walk before you run” said Pete Weir, Director at Red Ventures.
November 21st, 2013
Two-thirds of all top marketers feel pressure from their CEO or Board to prove the value of marketing according to August 2013 results from The CMO Survey. Of those, 60% describe that pressure as increasing. These numbers are consistent with the fact that most CMOs continue to find proving the value of marketing elusive. Survey results indicate that only 36% of top marketers report being able to prove the value of marketing quantitatively in the short-run and 31% in the long-run. Demonstrations of the value of social media are even more elusive with only 15% able to offer quantitative evidence for the value of social media spending.
A key question that needs to be asked is whether pressure on CMOs to prove the value of marketing helps or hurts company performance. These are reasonably good arguments on both sides. On the positive side, increasing pressure might make marketers work harder. On the negative side, increasing pressure could make marketers focus on strategies that are easily measured or that only provide short-term boosts so that proof is in hand when the CEO or board comes knocking. This means that instead of designing and selecting strategies that are optimal for company goals, strategies are selected to help marketers defend their spending decisions.
September 4th, 2013
Companies are spending big dollars on big data. Approximately 5.5% of marketing budgets currently are spent on marketing analytics and this is expected to increase to 8.7% in the next three years as reported in The CMO Survey. Expectations are running high and many companies are trying to figure out how to crack the code to generate good strategic insight from the data.
I’m in favor of the trend to capture and use data to drive decisions. However, that is where the problem lies. As the stash of data grows, companies are using a smaller percentage of it. I first asked the question, “In what percent of projects does your company use available or requested marketing analytics before a decision made” in February 2012 and the result was 37%, which I thought was the bottom. However, when asked that same question in August 2013, the percentage dropped to 29%. Figure 1 shows the continuous decline over the last 18 months.
Figure 1. Percent of Projects Using Requested or Available Marketing Analytics
This finding is not completely unexpected, however. Reviewing the thirty-year history of research on this topic, usage rates have always been low for many types of marketing information—marketing research, advertising research, and, now, social media research. This marketing analytics utilization gap is a challenge to big data’s contribution to the bottom line.
June 4th, 2013
Marketing needs sales and sales needs marketing. Unfortunately, “need” does not equate to a “successful partnership” between the two groups. Conflict and distrust are more common. Such a dynamic can hurt the bottom line, especially in companies that use sales groups to interface with their customers. The CMO Survey® asked top marketers to describe how their companies structure the marketing-sales relationship. 7% stated that sales is within marketing (marketing has the power), 10.3% noted that marketing is within sales (sales has the power) and 72% indicated that marketing and sales work together on an equal basis. These data from the February 2013 issue of The CMO Survey have not changed much over the last five years. Bottom line: As equal partners, marketing and sales must find a way to work together.
It is easy to blame stereotypes of these two powerhouse functions as the reason for the well-documented sales-marketing turf war. Marketing is analytical and sales is interpersonal. Sales has a short-term focus and marketing has a long-term focus. Marketing is more strategic and sales is more tactical. Marketing is pull and sales is push. However, these stereotypes obscure the truth. In reality, the roles that sales and marketing play and their subsequent relationship depend on how the company chooses to manage and structure these two functions. (more…)
March 19th, 2013
Big data’s the buzz. It’s in the press, all over the web… heck, it even has its own hashtag– #bigdata. CMOs recently reported that the percent of their companies’ marketing budgets devoted to big data will increase from 6% to 10% over the next three years. Multiply this 66% increase across all of the other areas Big Data is showing up in companies (e.g., supply chain management) and you have a sizable strategic expenditure. The bigger the company, the larger this increase. In data collected from The CMO Survey, companies with sales revenue of $10B or more will spend 13.7% of marketing budgets on marketing analytics in three years while companies with sales revenue of $25M or less will spend 9.2%.
Despite this big spend, there are reasons to worry that Big Data is not delivering its full strategic wallop. When asked to report the percentage of projects in which their companies use marketing analytics that are available and/or requested, CMOs report a dismal 30% usage rate. This number has decreased from 37% a year ago. So while companies are spending more on Big Data, less of it is being used. (more…)
February 1st, 2013
This post was co-authored with Anna Chavis and Jace Moreno, MBA students, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University.
At a recent roundtable discussion at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, Beth Comstock, the Chief Marketing Officer of GE, described how GE approaches marketing: “You have to create a platform that invites innovative ideas.” Unfortunately, we teach marketing and many companies approach marketing as if the organization does not exist. As a result, marketing often fails because it sits outside, or is layered on top, of the most important activities in companies. Marketing needs to be down in the trenches and marketing leadership needs to foster a culture of innovation that creates new products, new services, and new customers.
GE has written this approach into its DNA. In particular, GE’s culture ensures that technological innovation (the historical backbone of GE) and commercial innovation (managing with deep consideration of the customer’s needs and wants) are inextricably entwined. We interviewed Beth Comstock during her visit for the Distinguished Speaker Series at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. From this talk and from other press accounts, we derived four capabilities that constitute GE’s organizational platform for innovation. We discuss these capabilities and offer examples of the new products, services, and customers that have resulted.
Capability 1: Create Marketing Innovation Internally
A big feeder of GE’s marketing innovation is the ECLP—Experienced Commercial Leadership Program—GE’s first externally focused leadership program. ECLP began in 2002 as part of Jeff Immelt’s commitment to grow GE’s commercial pipeline and aims to position GE as the “gold standard in marketing.” The two-year post-MBA program develops a pipeline of future leaders and also teaches the company what good marketing is and how it has the potential to change traditional views of product development. The program is viewed as a mutual learning experience—the graduates bring an external perspective and unique talent to GE and program participants learn from GE’s R&D expertise. As Comstock noted, “Marketing must bring a different viewpoint to tough problems. This involves data analytics that produce customer insights and the ability to address customer needs in a creative manner.” She went on to point out that “The best marketers are the ones who have both the creativity and analytical skills in the right proportion.”
Capability 2: Integrate Collaboratively Within GE
There are two key illustrations of this capability—the Commercial Council and the Imagination Breakthrough Process.
October 1st, 2012
This post was co-authored with Matthew P. Manary, Ph.D. Candidate, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University.
In addition to studying product-market strategies for company growth, I have also been asking CMOs how they use a set of “firm boundary” strategies to grow. In response to the question to “Allocate 100 points to reflect how your firm will grow during the next 12 months,” The CMO Survey™ (August-2012) reports that the majority (68.9%) of growth is expected to be organic or from within the firm’s own boundary, 12.9% from partnerships (ranging from alliances to joint ventures), 12.2% from acquisitions, and 6.1% from licensing arrangements. Organic growth gives the firm more control because growth activities happen within the firm boundaries. It does not go to the “market” for goods or services and therefore does not have to manage a partnership or licensing agreement. It also does not extend the firm’s boundary (sometimes called a “hierarchy”) to include a new firm which gives more control, but is also more expensive and may dilute the firm’s focus. At the same time, organic growth is potentially more costly because the firm must learn to do things that potential partners or acquisition targets have already mastered.
Results show that organic, partnership, and licensing growth activities have not changed significantly in the last four years of The CMO Survey™, despite minor fluctuations. The use of acquisitions as a growth strategy, however, has steadily increased. Figure 1 shows this progression from 8.8% in February 2009 to 12.2% in August 2012. There may be many reasons for this—companies have cash on hand or can get low-cost loans to make acquisitions, acquisition targets are cheaper, or firms are engaging in riskier growth (new markets and new offerings). The latter appears to be true based on data from The CMO Survey™ as I noted in an earlier blog. (more…)
January 31st, 2012
There are good reasons to outsource marketing and many companies choose to do so. Let’s look at more CMO Survey results to get a sense of what types of firms are outsourcing marketing and what financial and strategic conditions appear to give rise to outsourcing. (more…)