Digital Transformation

Can Marketers Predict Business Outcomes by Discarding Old Metrics and Embracing Data?

Written by
Sebastian Jespersen
Can Marketers Predict Business Outcomes by Discarding Old Metrics and Embracing Data?

In a word, “Yes!”

Today, any CMO has the digital tool sets to impact bottom line business growth, and those who understand data and the value of advanced marketing analytics can also do so with high predictability. The significance of this cannot be underestimated in a world where 83% of CEOs say that they now look to marketing as a growth engine for business.

Many marketers, unfortunately, admit to being overwhelmed or ill-equipped to interpret or even manage today’s massive amounts of data. However, there is no way around it; one must understand key data to convert to predictability. Until then, marketing, especially as far as the C-Suite is concerned, is only guesswork.

The marketing community has long found humor in department store mogul John Wanamaker’s clever statement, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” Yet, that statement is not quite so funny when one realizes it was made more than a century ago. Surely, digitally savvy and customer obsessed CMOs should be able to answer questions about marketing’s pipeline contribution, offer ways to improve ecommerce through purchase analysis, or simply be able to gauge an accurate ROI.

Without question, today’s marketers are pressured to prove the accountability of their spending and the measurable value of their efforts. Yet, metrics like clicks, unique visitors, and number of downloads do not adequately respond to critical CEO or CFO questions like, “If we invested an additional $1 million dollars in marketing, how much more business would we generate?” To provide the C-Suite with answers, marketers need to embrace predictability instead of trying to measure new digital approaches and real-time feedback with old metrics.

Certainly, 2020 boosted the significance of digital advertising and online go-to-market strategies as the pandemic largely eliminated in-person channels. Digital ad spending and ecommerce surged for both B2B and B2C companies. In the US, B2B digital advertising grew at more than double the rate of the overall US digital ad market last year, according to eMarketer.

And with this, comes greater opportunities for advancing marketing predictability through data.

Connecting the buyer’s journey with the customer’s journey

No other function within the corporation is closer to the customer than marketing. Digital efforts today provide a more complete picture of buyer preferences and behaviors than ever before. Next-Gen CMOs now realize the importance of connecting the buyer’s journey with the customer’s journey to harvest valuable insights to improve marketing activities on the path to purchase. And while the term “Missing link" may be a popular science expression for a “transitional form,” marketing’s missing link rests with continually assessing digital performance and responding to data. This means establishing scoring models to predict leads or purchase behavior, gauging the effectiveness of content and offers, as well as creative elements of any message, and responding to customer insights to continually refine and improve.

No alt text provided for this image

There’s no question that this kind of thinking can lead to better results. In fact, just by redistributing media allocations to areas with higher returns and using test-and-learn optimization for demand-generation campaigns, marketers can often attain a 15 to 20 percent boost in marketing ROI.

All of this adds up to an important new metric: generating customers that remain loyal and engaged for more than two years. And to do so, marketers must think of “full-funnel marketing” as business critical.

And while the term “full funnel” is by no means new, it matters more than ever now as marketers must unify brand building strategies with performance advertising tactics that drive results. Full funnel requires an understanding of all marketing capabilities and goals by encouraging cross-functionality with unified KPIs and greater team collaboration. In short, it is a “complete pivot” in how marketing works, because it enables CMOs to deliver a clearer picture to the C-suite of how marketing is contributing to measurable growth.

To be an essential part of the C-Suite, marketers must change. Otherwise, they are simply spending money like John Wannamaker did 100 years ago without a notion of predictable outcomes.

Written by

Want to learn more about Gartner’s 2022 Market Guide?

Learn more
Our Thinking

Our View on modern brands in a digital world.

View all articles