October 13, 2015

Proving Your Marketing Department's Worth With Data Insights

The marketing industry has gone through many transformations over the past 10 years, with marketing departments today increasingly being viewed as a source of revenue rather than an expense, according to a recent survey titled, “The Rise of the Marketer.” The study, by the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit, the marketing research arm of The Economist magazine, and the research firm Marketo Inc., included responses from 478 CMOs and senior marketing executives worldwide.

The survey, which also incorporated a series of in-depth interviews, found that 69 percent of respondents think business owners currently view marketing both as a revenue driver and cost center, but say that will change over the next five years, believing the marketing function is increasingly crossing over to the revenue side of the ledger.

What’s expected to trigger these change? It will mostly have to do with how marketing presents itself within the organization. According to John Dragoon, CMO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, “You reap what you sow; if you don’t accept accountability for being measured in terms of your contributions and outputs, then you are viewed as a cost center. If you aggressively pursue an agenda of accountability and transparency, then you’ll be viewed as a trusted partner and adviser.”

In the age of metrics, proving accountability isn’t always easy; marketers need to strive for less ambiguity and more clarity. In essence, the need to be clear is essential to presenting a coherent and compelling report on the return of investment (ROI). In fact, 29 percent of those surveyed, believe their biggest challenge over the next year will be demonstrating marketing ROI to the rest of their company.

The best way to overcome this challenge is to get more leads into the funnel with the potential to convert to sales. Here are three steps to help achieve this:

1.       Identify your target audience: The first step to understanding your target market is to define the problems your business can solve. From there you can target who is most likely to suffer from these problems and benefit from your product or service.

2.       Share your content strategically: Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s easy to inundate them with emails and correspondence through other marketing channels, but then you risk sharing too much and overwhelming your audience. Instead, target your prospects and speak to their pain points. You can accomplish this from the data your company has collected, i.e., the purchases they have made in the past, the size of their company, where they are located and what position the individual holds. By leveraging this information, you can hone in on the prospect’s specific needs and offer a solution; in other words, give your prospect something of value in the form of custom content.

3.       Go beyond the basics: If you really want to know what your prospects need, ask them. The best way to collect crucial information is by developing a relationship that leads to an open exchange. Offer interactive experiences via social media, and engage in blog comments and  forums on LinkedIn. By nurturing a trusting relationship, marketers offer value to prospects well before the sales team steps in. This kind of lead can enable the salesperson to have a more relevant conversation with the buyer, and speed up the sales process.

Proving and delivering results and ROI in marketing will always be a challenge, but by generating more leads, and collecting more personalized and targeted data for the sales process, marketers can show the value of their marketing programs and help boost ROI. 

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