The typical B2B marketer’s 2014 goals will look something like this: increase sales by 8%, pipeline by 10%, marketing ROI by 15%.
Notice a couple items that aren’t on that list: managing and compiling campaign data, coming up with new ways to expedite data collection across systems.
The latter functions are important, but they’re not going to move the needle on your marketing performance (or your career or compensation, for that matter). Which is ironic, because in too many marketing organizations, campaign managers spend much of their time wrestling with those tasks. That point is reinforced day in and day out as marketing execs continue to be frustrated by their teams’ data management woes.
Current workflows are laborious and error prone; data is unreliable because it lives in so many disconnected systems. The outdated reliance on spreadsheets has to become a thing of the past -- for performance results and marketers’ career growth.
How do you begin to shift the emphasis of your organization, so your marketers are squarely focused on performance? Start by asking yourself three questions:
1. Do I have the right people in the right roles to drive marketing performance?
The start of a new year is a perfect time to evaluate whether your people are aligned in ways that best fit your strategy and their skills. Have a performance driver who knows how to create content that converts? Don’t bog that person down in data management and managing workflows. If you’ve got a brilliant campaign analyst, focus that person on business intelligence, not forensic data collection.
2. Are current marketing processes advancing strategy or creating bottlenecks?
Create a flow chart that shows where your data lives and how it moves from stakeholder to stakeholder, looking for steps that can be removed to increase velocity without impacting data quality. Keep (or add) steps that increase accuracy and reliability. If your analysis uncovers convoluted data journeys, you may need to blow up some processes. Understanding your workflows – where they’re weak and where they’re strong -- is a requirement before moving to the final question…
3. What marketing tasks can I automate to realize immediate gains?
A wide range of automation tactics can be applied to managing campaign data – and they don’t need to come with big price tags because many great open-source tools are available. Start with analytics/BI tools to build performance dashboards. Consider workflow software that will automate currently manual steps. Further along in your progression, marketing automation can be applied to manage workflows, campaigns, performance, partners, and media spend from a single location. Establish near-term payback as a requirement for any new technology investment.
With those three questions answered, you can begin to execute against your top priorities for 2014. Current data management processes impede marketing strategy, but marketers must break through in 2014 – with people, processes and technology -- to elevate their strategic focus. We all win when the bar is set higher.