If you don’t know where you need to end up, any path will take you there.
It might seem like it's relatively easy to define marketing success. When an agency is hired to work as a company's strategic marketing department, one would think that the first question they ask is, “How do you define success?” How else is it possible to determine if an agency has been a successful business partner?
In reality, finding the answer to this question is not as easy as it seems. In fact, a simple Google search clearly suggests that many marketers simply do not know what success looks like or the criteria that they should be using to measure it. Because of this industry-wide confusion, prospects seeking an engagement often ask us to define for them what a successful engagement would look like.
Whether you're a marketing agency or part of an in-house marketing department, you - or your marketing director - will have to justify the work that you have been doing. Often further agency engagement or employment rides upon your ability to present your success in a meaningful and quantifiable way. So it is extremely important to be able to share what has been accomplished in terms that will both impress the reviewer and demostrate how it has created success for that business.
It seems that the majority of "marketing experts"are stuck in a time warp, at least the ones who are online defining what is marketing success and how to achieve it. This group is convinced that marketing success should be judged by how many qualified leads are passed over to sales.
At one point - maybe 5 or so years ago - marketing departments could consider themselves successful if they delivered qualified leads to the sales department that were deemed “ready to talk to sales.” To this day, the majority of “marketing experts” still believe that this is the case and that they can define and obtain marketing success through Sales Qaulified Leads (SQLs) However, marketing has undergone a transformation, and this is no longer the case. Why? We found that many of those SQLs were either not really ready or that sales did not engage them in a fashion that reflected their concerns or interests. In other words, marketing and sales were not in alignment .
What is even more unfortunate is that many experts are really not targeting success at all but mere Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are, at best, precursors to success. I understand why many marketers confuse KPIs with success. In the short term, the KPIs indicate the health and progress of any marketing initiative. If you fail to achieve the targeted KPIs, it is unlikely that you will ever achieve marketing success.
At EYEMAGINE, we share a 6-page scorecard with our clients every month that tracks over 125 KPIs. We color-code them to allow our clients to understand, in a glance, how impactful our marketing efforts were during that particular month. So we understand the importance of KPIs. At the end of the day, though, achieving KPIs does NOT mean that the client achieved marketing success.
New Role of the Marketer Defined
When senior management is asked by their board of directors or stockholders if they had a successful year, they cannot profess success by stating that they had increased web traffic or that their social reach increased by double digits. Instead, they are required to present the bottom line. So what makes marketers think that they are held to a lesser standard?
It is most likely because many marketers think their role ends when they pass off a lead to the sales team and if Sales mess it up, it is on them. That explains why so many marketing and sales departments are at best misaligned and at worst in conflict with each other.
EYEMAGINE believes the role of the marketer does not end when a lead is passed off to the sales department. There's so much information and support that can be given to ensure that the sales team closes the deal. In fact, it doesn’t even end when a prospect becomes a customer. The Harvard Business Review has estimated that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Shouldn’t marketing have a role in helping increase customer retention?
EYEMAGINE doesn’t even believe our role ends when delighted customers decide to stay and continue purchasing from our clients. So when does our role end? We know that happy clients can be nurtured into becoming influencers and advocates for other prospects. We know from an eMarketer study that influencer marketing returns $6.50 for every $1 invested, a 650% return! Since our job as marketers also entails influencer marketing, shouldn’t we also take ownership of helping to transition customers to become influencers and advocates? We believe so.
Marketing Success Defined
With that framework of understanding, it is much easier to establish what marketing success means in terms that can be presented to a board of directors or shareholders.
For EVERY strategic marketing engagement, EYEMAGINE defines marketing success in one of three ways (usually all three):
- Number of New Customers
Ultimately, these are the three items that will determine the success of any business and what senior management will care about most. If you can deliver results to them in these three areas, you will be a marketing hero.
Oftentimes, when we ask our clients what success means, they offer suggestions such as Cost per lead (CPL), Customer lifetime value (CLV), customer acquisition minus lifetime value, the number of unique website visitors, brand awareness, social shares, etc. In each case, we press the client to agree upon what success looks line in terms of customers, revenue, and ROI. It is critical that everyone has the same understanding and is working toward the same goal.
At the end of the day, all marketing activities should be judged by the sales that are generated. There are plenty of precursor KPIs that need to be tracked to ensure the marketing program is on track to deliver results. However, if the company is not making money and is not profitable, none of the precursor KPIs matter.
If you would like to understand what a successful engagement would look like for your company, we would be happy to do the analysis and share our findings.