In 2000, the Advertising Research Foundation probably didn’t realize that their report about marketing’s ability, or lack thereof, to measure its value and contribution would initiate numerous studies, conferences, and products on the topic. This year’s joint VEM/ITSMA Marketing Performance Management Survey* , which looks at how marketers and C level executives would rate marketing’s value, revealed that 85 percent of the nearly 400 study participants are seeing increased pressure for marketers to measure marketing’s value and contribution.
A key component of the annual study looks at the comparison of the number of marketers earning an ‘A’ grade from the C-Suite for their ability to impact the business and measure their value with their counterparts who are falling short. The grades remained relatively consistent with prior years, with only a quarter of the marketers earning an ‘A’ for their ability to measure and report the contribution of marketing’s programs to the business.
By now one would think this journey would be nearing completion, but there appears to still be plenty to learn. Over the years, the study has revealed that ‘A’ marketers exhibit a number of differences from their colleagues–they are better at alignment, accountability, analytics, automation, assessment, and alliances. The investments in these capabilities and how they approach the work of marketing has enabled them to serve as value creators for their organizations. On the other hand, the marketers in the “middle of the pack” focus more on enabling sales, and the laggards operate primarily as campaign or program producers. In this day and age, with all the technology that marketers have at their fingertips, it begs the question “Why can’t ‘B’ and ‘C’ marketers get close to C-level executives and show their value?”
Become a Value Generator
Marketing organizations that create value are proactive. The ‘A’ marketers hold themselves accountable for contributing to business outcomes even if senior leadership doesn’t. They believe it is their responsibility to identify, investigate, evaluate, recommend, and prioritize market and customer opportunities. These marketers implement continuous change to maximize the organization’s success, and enable it to stay abreast or ahead of market, customer, and competitor moves. ‘B’ and ‘C’ marketers don’t seem to do that, don’t ask the right questions, or don’t know how to show their value.
Make Marketing Performance Management a Priority
According to the data, organizations that are performing well when it comes to customer value and business growth, are those where the marketers excel at performance management. ‘A’ marketers prioritize performance management, establish a clear roadmap for performance improvement, and focus on aligning marketing to the business not just sales. They have regular two-way dialogue with senior leadership and are motivated to select and report on the metrics that matter most.
Here are three qualities of this elite group that any marketing organization can emulate:
- Be a business person first, a marketer second
- Provide customer and market insight to inform business strategy, in addition to enabling sales
- Tap experts to hone skills and improve capabilities
Join the conversation with VisionEdge Marketing and ITSMA in our webinar, The Link Between Performance Management and Value Creation, Tuesday, June 17th, from 10:00-11:00am CST.
*VEM has been conducting the survey for 13 years. ITSMA has co-sponsored the survey for the past three years.
Customers are the most important part of any business, and keeping them happy should be at the top of your list of priorities. If your organization is among those that have created customer experience maps, kudos to you and your team! If not, and this is an itch you want to scratch, read on for five (5) tips to help you undertake this important initiative.
Before we offer advice for mapping the customer experience, it might be useful to make sure we’re all on the same page in terms of what we mean by customer experience. At VisionEdge Marketing, when we refer to customer experience we mean the points of interaction between the customer and an organization. These touch points include, but are not limited to, interactions associated with pricing, purchasing, servicing, payment/billing, support, and delivery of your organizations offerings (goods and/or services).
How customers evaluate their experience is based on their perception of the actual performance of the organization at that point of interaction compared to the customer’s expectation. In 2005, James Allen from the Harvard Business School revealed that while 80% of businesses state that they offer a great customer experience, only about 8% of customers feel similarly about their experience. Understanding this perception versus the expectation, and the gaps across all experiences, enables you to create customer experience performance targets and key performance indicators.
Customer experience mapping is a vehicle for capturing the perceptions versus the expectations across all points of interaction, ideally for each customer segment and/or persona. The mapping process should enable you to develop processes and skills designed to deliver an experience that sets your organization apart in the eyes of your customers, hopefully resulting in customer loyalty and becoming advocates for your goods/services.
Many organizations often mistake creating a process map with creating a customer experience map. While similar, their focus is quite different. A process map describes your company’s internal processes, functions, and activities and generally uses the company’s internal language and jargon. A customer experience map describes the customer experience in, and only in, the customer’s language. What makes customer experience mapping challenging is the fact that the customer experience is typically quite complex, because it cuts across divisions, departments, and functions.
Here are five key steps to help you create your customer experience map:
1. Start with the universal touch points that can be applied across all your customers (you can create more specific experience maps as time goes on)
2. Make a list of all the touch points. For each touch point write a description, method of interaction, and customer expectation. We have found that this step is best accomplished by:
- Involving as many people as necessary, including members of your customer advisory boards, to identify all touch points
- Holding working sessions and conducting interviews to capture and incorporate the expected and actual emotional, experiential, and functional experiences for each touch point
3. Document your learnings and produce a visual illustration (map)
4. Use the map to identify areas working well and those that need improvement. Focus on those areas that are known as “moments of truth,” those crucial interactions that determine whether the customer becomes or remains loyal
5. Build a plan to address James Allen’s “Three D’s,” which he believes enables organizations to offer an exceptional customer experience:
- Design the correct incentive for the correctly identified consumer, offered in an enticing environment.
- Deliver the proposed experience by focusing the entire team across various functions.
- Develop consistency in execution.
Sometimes organizations need help with this, which is why there are experts out there! Don’t be afraid to ask for help–this is an area you do not want to ignore.
We know–models can be intimidating. But as the need to add analytics and science to our work continues to increase, models have become one of the primary vehicles every marketer needs to know how to develop and leverage. If you’ve already dived into the deep end on models, congratulations. On the other hand, if you’re just dipping your toe into the water, have no fear, because while there may be a bit of a current, it is time to venture forth.
Mathematical models help us describe and explain a “system,” such as a market segment or ecosystem. These models enable us to study the effects of different actions, so we can begin to make predictions about behavior, such as purchasing behavior. There are all kinds of mathematical models-statistical models, differential equations, and game theory.
Regardless of the type, all use data to transform an abstract structure into something we can more concretely manage, test, and manipulate. As the mounds of data pile up, it’s easy to lose sight of data application. Because data has become so prolific, you must first be clear about the scope of the model and the associated data sources before constructing any model.
So you’re ready to take the plunge–good for you! So, what models should be part of every marketer’s plan? Whether a novice or a master, we believe that every marketer must be able to build and employ at least four models:
- Customer Buying Model: Illustrates the purchasing decision journey for various customers (segments or persona based) to support pipeline engineering, content, touch point and channel decisions.
- Market Segmentation or Market Model: Provides the vehicle to evaluate the attractiveness of segments, market, or targets. More about this in today’s KeyPoint MPM section.
- Opportunity Scoring Model: Enables marketing and sales to agree on when opportunities are sales worthy and sales ready.
- Campaign Lift Model: Estimates the impact of a particular campaign on the buying behavior.
These four models are an excellent starting point for those of you who are just beginning to incorporate models into your marketing initiatives. For those who have already developed models within your marketing organization, we would love to know whether you have conquered these four, or even whether you agree these four should be at the top of the list. As always, we want to know what you think, so comment or tweet us with your response!
Here’s something we know after conducting the marketing performance measurement and management study since 2001: Best-in-Class marketers are relentless when it comes to continuous improvement. How do they know how they stack up? They regularly audit and benchmark. We know this can be expensive—even a small benchmarking study for marketing typically takes at least $20,000. With marketing budgets still feeling the crunch, it makes sense to be a bit more creative when it comes to benchmarking. And that’s where our annual marketing performance study comes in!
There are plenty of studies out there, and only you can decide which ones are worth your time. As a marketer you could probably complete a study every day, but if you are feeling the pressure to prove the value of your marketing, then this survey is for you. With 13 years under its belt and participation from marketing professionals and executives from around the world, in every industry and of all size organizations, we are able to provide a solid view into what Best-in-Class marketers do better and differently when it comes to measuring marketing’s contribution and value.
Given how hard you’re working every day, it’s frustrating when budgets are slashed and programs are terminated. You know Marketing is highly valuable to the business, but can you prove it? If you can, you may be among the ranks of the Best-in-Class—those marketers who have made marketing relevant to the C-Suite! If you can’t, it’s probably time to make some changes.
Find out how your organization stacks up against the Best-in-Class. Give 15 minutes of your time to participate in the 13th Annual MPM Survey and save the benchmarking dollars.
What does the survey benchmark? The focus of the survey is Marketing Alignment, Accountability, Analytics, Operations, and Performance Management capabilities. Complete the survey, share the link with your marketing colleagues and leadership team, and use the survey and the upcoming results to spark internal dialogue on the state of your marketing!
You can access the survey by following this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014MPM_VEM
Companies who want to retain or expand their relationships with existing customers are finding that measuring and modeling customer loyalty is very valuable. We were recently asked “Do you need to measure loyalty if you are measuring retention-aren’t they the same thing?” Our answer, no, they are not the same thing, and you may need both.
Retention is a measure of whether an existing customer continues to do business with you. That is not to be confused with loyalty, which measures a customer’s predisposition to select a business entity as a preference, and indicates a certain resistance to competitors. Loyalty is a behavioral disposition that suggests that a customer will consistently respond favorably toward a brand/company, and also suggests the willingness to engage. As you can see, there is a distinction and it’s important to understand that a customer who continues to do business with you may be retained, but not necessarily loyal.
Responding favorably covers a lot of territory-from passively choosing to remain a customer, to actively choosing to advocate for a brand/company. Therefore, while measuring retention, once you define what a customer is in terms of tenure, it is a matter of counting. Loyalty takes a bit more sophisticated measurement and needs to take into account three potential behavioral responses if you are going to use the concept to build a model:
- Expansion–the likelihood the customer will increase their level of business, such as by purchasing more of the same product or other products in your portfolio
- Influence–the degree to which they can be influenced by the company in a way that positively impacts the company, such as seeking out advice, paying online, complying with new policies
- Advocacy–the extent to which a customer is willing to actively promote the company, such as online reviews, supporting the company’s position on an issue, participation in case studies, serving as a reference, or making referrals.
Note: The Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology attempts to account for these 3 behaviors, but the primary goal of this score is to help you ascertain the number of promoters vs. detractors.
You will want to determine which of these behaviors (it can be all of them) best define loyalty for your company. If you don’t know, the answers to these five questions will help you get started:
- What is the ideal customer for your company? What do they do/not do? What does a less-than-ideal customer look like?
- What does your company want from its relationship with customers and why?
- What can customers do to support the company’s mission?
- What can customers do to help the company improve service and reduce the cost to serve?
- What can customers do to reduce the cost of doing business with them?
You may want to engage a number of stakeholders in conversations around these questions. Once you determine the behaviors that define loyalty, you can build a model and begin to measure loyalty. It may be necessary to take different customer segments into account, and as a result you may need more than one model. To validate the model, you may need to conduct some research with customers who meet the loyalty criteria as well as customers you believe do not. Then, set about defining how you will use the model to measure and improve loyalty.
Customer loyalty is an intangible but extremely valuable company asset. By distinguishing retention from loyalty you can begin to understand the customer experiences, interactions, perceptions and attitudes that drive and impact loyalty.
Many marketing organizations today have an influencer marketing strategy. The purpose of this strategy is to help with customer acquisition (number and/or rate) and rate of product adoption. The findings in the 2013 Influencer Marketing Survey support this perspective, “influencer marketing is seen as a customer acquisition and lead generation practice not a brand exercise.”
This strategy entails establishing and tapping relationships with people that are perceived by the market and customer to have the ability or power to affect or sway other people’s thinking or actions. Influencers exist within every ecosystem – these can be members of the press/blog community, analysts and industry thought leaders, industry experts, trusted advisors, etc. The breadth, quantity and quality of your influencers will impact the success of this strategy.
Before we jump into how to measure influence marketing, we’d like to respond to a question we’re frequently asked, “What is the difference between influencer marketing and public relations?” The answer to this could be its own article, so to quickly explain the difference, we turned to our friend Chris Aarons (@Chris_Aarons), an expert in implementing influencer marketing strategies.
Chris says, “The simplest answer is that public relations is about communicating your messages to and with members of the press (and some PR firms include bloggers as well) to spread information or news. Whereas, influencer marketing focuses on identifying and securing credible third-parties with extensive networks, who may not necessarily be members of the press, to drive engagement and/or marketing objectives.” We’ll leave it to you to tweet with Chris on how you feel about this explanation!
Back to influencer strategy management… Relevant metrics include:
- Activity-based: number of influencers, types of influencers, and the degree of engagement by each influencer
- Pipeline: deals and wins, influencer contributed lead and acquisition cost, sales cycle impact, and influencer lift
Ultimately, what you want to know is whether influence or sway is impacting customer acquisition, and if so, how much and how fast.
Should this be a viable strategy for your organization, you may want to think beyond counting, and create a way to measure influence. In the social world, various organizations are creating influence metrics. But influence occurs both on and off line, which means you need to be able to measure influence/sway beyond the “social digital world.” As with many key performance metrics, an influence metric is comprised of several measures.
So how might we construct such a metric? Conceptually we can posit that influence is derived from two variables, quality and impact. The equation would look like:
Influence = Quality (%) x Impact (#)
In addition, factors that affect each of these variables include the following:
- What percentage of the desired influencers participated?
- How prominently did they feature your company/product? Assign percentages to these or others you if you prefer [Top billing or stand-alone article/blog, subject line mention or tweet, quote in general or related article, participation in LinkedIn Discussion]
- What is the overall sentiment/tone of the influencers’ content/conversation/discussion? Assign a percentage to each of these positive, negative, neutral
- Quantity – the total number of tweets, shares, likes, comments, click throughs, etc. generated by the influencers
- Penetration – how many of the targeted markets/communities were reached (for example – LinkedIn Groups, click throughs to links)
Add up your quality factors, add up your impact factors, and then multiply the two sums. Start by collecting the data and establishing your base line. Monitor the change in your influence metric and analyze the impact of each factor on the score. Once you complete these steps, it will be necessary to evaluate the relationship between the influence score and your number and rate of customer acquisition.