9155454379_9e369e8219_mRecently we came upon an article in BtoBOnline. It was the title that caught our eye. “Study: 78% of CEOs say ad agencies not performance-driven enough.” We take performance seriously here at Clayman Marketing because, after all, if you can’t prove to clients that what you are doing is working, what incentive do they have to keep you around? In continuing to read the article, we found that according to a 2013 Global Marketing Effectiveness study for which 1200 CEOs were interviewed, 76% of the CEOs believe that “agencies are not business-pragmatic enough” (note: we are not sure which is the correct number, the 76% cited in the article or the 78% referenced in the article’s title). Moreover, 74% of CEOs surveyed said that agencies are “too disconnected from the short and medium-term business realities” and 72% said agencies “are not as data- and science-driven as they had expected.”

For us, these statistics raise numerous questions. For example:

• In the companies these CEOs represent, is there a single contact that works with the agency on marketing objectives and measurement? As an external team entity, it can be very difficult for agencies to establish goals and measure success if there is not an ally within the company helping to set the standards for which the company is striving.

• Has the agency been made aware of the company’s big-picture objectives? Has the agency been given sufficient direction and guidance to provide the kinds of “pragmatic” results that are desired?

• Are the surveyed CEOs data-driven in their own practices?

Beyond these questions, however, our greater concern is that departments and individuals within companies seem more interested in finger-pointing in the wake of failed measurement than they are in measurement itself. In another survey from March 2013 published by Altimeter (Charlene Li and Brian Solis, authors), the following two statistics were reported:

• “Only 34% of companies surveyed felt their social strategy was connected to business outcomes.”

• “Only 52% of companies surveyed agreed with the statement, ‘Top executives are informed, engaged, and aligned with our social strategy.’”

In a more recent survey of 1,700 CMOs conducted by IBM, the following statistics were revealed:

• 79% of CMOs expect a high or very high level of complexity [in their marketing responsibilities] over the next five years but only 48% feel prepared for it

• 56% of CMOs surveyed reported they were unprepared for ROI accountability (71% are unprepared for the data explosion and 68% are still unprepared for social media)

• 61% of the participants said lack of ROI certainty was preventing them from using/trying new tools

The Blame Game

What do all of these statistics tell us? One message certainly becomes clear: everybody can with ease blame a lack of marketing measurement on someone else. CEOs can blame agencies, marketing departments can blame CEOs, and agencies can blame CMOs for being too overwhelmed to be able to offer proper guidance.

Is this how companies and marketers should be spending their time? We think not.

Ask the Right Questions

Instead of asking in an accusatory tone why your company’s marketing is not being measured in a properly scientific way, it is beneficial to ask a different set of questions. These questions will differ depending on your role. As an agency, we like to ask the following questions of companies we work with:

– What are your company’s objectives? What do you want to achieve and over what time span?

– What have you tried in the past? Why do you feel that did or did not work? Did you track those tactics formally?

– What are your competitors doing that you wish you were doing?

From an agency perspective, we can only perform well if we are given the power to do so. If a company does not have set objectives, measuring success is impossible or at the very least extremely difficult.

If you are a CEO, your questions will be very different. It is up to you in large part to make sure everyone in your company is on board with corporate objectives. The onus is on you to offer support to your CMO (if you have one) and to make sure your agency is being guided (and held accountable) by someone in your company.

If you are a CMO, some of your questions may be targeted to your IT department. “How can we get better web analytics? How can we get better monitoring software?” “Can we chart our SEO performance?”

Even though many marketers preach the benefits of silo-busting or integrated marketing, conversations about marketing measurement quickly reveal where the communication gaps lie. The good news is that once identified, these gaps can be filled by companies that are mindful of such problems. The bad news is that if your company is not already working towards being a truly “social” business, meaning interdepartmental cooperation and consistency of methodologies and objectives, you are well behind the 8-ball.

What is the story at your company? Are you finger-pointing where marketing measurement is concerned or are you attempting to work the problem? We’d love to hear about your experiences.

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