As we head into the fourth quarter, marketers are (or should be) in full-on planning mode for 2016. This is where the rubber meets the road for questions of performance and ROI. And it looks like marketers are continuing to think outside the box when it comes to their projections and investments, which is fine as long as they’re not overlooking the basics.
According to a breakdown of Duke University’s recent CMO Survey, CMOs are expected to increase spending on social, mobile and analytics, despite difficulties in identifying ROI in those areas. Why is this?
If we’re looking at an ROI spectrum, social tends to fall at the far end of difficult to measure, especially to measure accurately. Many marketers look at data such as likes, shares and followers under the umbrella of “engagement.” This is great for assessing brand awareness and customer satisfaction, but falls short of proving sales conversions. So at best, it can be valued as a customer service tool, under general branding, which is separate from sales in terms of valuation.
Mobile falls somewhere in the middle on the measurement spectrum. “Mobile” in and of itself can mean a number of things. You have SMS/texting, apps, the mobile site experience – it can be a touchpoint or a point of entry; ideally, it’s all of these. While marketers may take a few different approaches here, there are expectations tied to mobile in terms of ROI. But things get complicated because, while mobile often gets people to think about a brand, there’s still significant work to do before customers will buy the product.
The increase in spending for analytics is, understandably, the easiest to measure. Marketers are starting to understand that it’s not a matter of whether customer can be measured; rather, it’s about whether you’re looking at the right data points to make informed decisions. The best marketers are not only looking at analytics, they’re actually analyzing whether those programs themselves are driving informed decisions.
So with a mixture of measurability, are CMOs flushing money? Certainly NOT!
Despite the measurement challenges of mobile and social, CMOs have to invest in developing technology and strategies. Underlying this investment is a clear admission that all these channels need to be supported and used effectively to maximize sales and margins. And while the ROI on these less attributable channels isn’t precise, it’s driven by how we see customers interacting with brands, every day. And it’s that understanding that helps define the value of your marketing spend.
If you’re ramping up social to drive brand awareness and interactions, then your website (including mobile), brick-and-mortar and sales team need to be “spot on” to capture the conversion. Your cadence and touchpoints may differ across channels, but your customer’s brand experience shouldn’t. So if you’re one of many CMOs looking to increase spending in mobile and social, make sure you anchor them well to the more proven areas of the marketing mix.