Earlier this week Econsultancy and IBM hosted six roundtables in Kuala Lumpur as part of the BusinessConnect 2015 series of events.

The discussion centred around three important topics in digital marketing – data-driven marketing, personalisation, and marketing performance management.

In this post I’ll highlight the trends that featured most prominently on the marketing performance management roundtable.

And there’s still time to sign up for the third BusinessConnect event in Singapore this Friday.

Justifying marketing’s role

The topic that drove the liveliest debate was how to measure the impact that marketing has on sales.

Tying into this, delegates said they had difficulty justifying ROI and in requesting increases in their marketing budgets.

This has become a more urgent demand in recent years as there’s an assumption that all digital marketing is measurable, so an accurate ROI should be achievable.

Marketers have therefore felt increased pressure to prove their impact on sales.

Our recent Value of Marketing Report investigates the relationship between CMOs and CFOs, revealing that marketers and finance professionals don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to what share of revenue and sales are directly driven by marketing activity.

Around six out of ten (59%) marketers believe that marketing directly drives more than 20% of their company’s revenue. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, only four out of ten finance directors (38%) share that opinion.

Of more concern was the fact that only around a quarter of finance directors (24%) knew the return on investment from marketing – even approximately. 

The percentage for marketers was even lower at just 17%.

Do you know what your return on investment from your company’s marketing is?

Cultural shift towards a data-driven organisation

All business units stand to benefit from the use of analytics, not just marketers.

However delegates said that they were struggling to educate their colleagues on the importance of using data. 

How can marketers ignite a cultural shift and make the whole organisation see the importance of using data-driven processes?

Education and training are both important, but then how do we measure the success or otherwise of these efforts.

Because 100% of employees downloaded a PDF on the importance of data does that mean it’s had any impact on the business?

I’ve previously investigated how businesses can get their sales teams to buy into digital transformation projects, as they commonly resist changes that might impact their ability to make face-to-face sales pitches.

The post includes details of how IBM successfully showed its sales teams that digital can actually make their jobs easier.

The tech giant found that sales leaders were sceptical that predictive analytics would be beneficial, as they believed that converting an opportunity into a sale was largely a function of the seller’s actions and could not be predicted in advance.

However, through a process of education IBM was able to demonstrate that analytics could actually help sales teams make better use of their time and improve conversion rates.

The situation has now gone full circle, and having proved to the sales teams that predictive analytics can actually make their jobs easier, IBM reports that its sales managers now commonly request additional analytics tools. 

If your company is currently trying to implement a cultural shift or move to becoming a data-driven organisation, get in touch with Econsultancy's Digital Transformation team.

The need for speed

Another issue caused by the increasing expectations placed on marketers is the desire for faster analysis of marketing campaigns.

One delegate remarked that her company expects to know the impact of marketing campaigns almost immediately, when in reality it takes several weeks.

Agility has become something of a buzzword recently, but it’s a goal to which modern digital businesses need to aspire, including in the field of analytics.

A report by IBM found that speed in analytics can give companies a competitive advantage.

The research identified four different types of companies based on their analytics capabilities, ranging from front runners through to spectators.

Front runners represent the top 10% of respondents and are defined as data-driven organizations that use analytics to drive business processes within most business functions.

The speed with which they implement analytics offers a notable business value, with 60% reporting a significant impact on revenues and 53% stating that it gives them a significant competitive advantage.

To be in a position where analytics are fast enough to be a competitive advantage, businesses need to have solid foundations in place.

This requires the ability to acquire and integrate data quickly, which then creates flexibility and agility in how data is used.

Measuring data across channels

This has been a burning issue for marketers for many years and it’s not a problem that I can foresee going away anytime soon.

All delegates admitted that they are unable to track data across channels or measure the impact of offline versus online.

The problems associated with integrating offline and online data are obvious, with one delegate raising serious doubts about the efficacy of surveying in-store customers to find out which marketing channels they’d been exposed to.

Some multichannel retailers in the UK are trying to use digital to bridge the gap, including the use of apps or a universal login for the ecommerce site and in-store WiFi.

But these attempts feel a bit like work-arounds as they rely on the customers to provide accurate data.

The problems associated with measuring data across channels are discussed in further detail in our Single Customer View Report.

Is data sharing the way forward?

Delegates seemed to agree that data sharing would be beneficial to businesses, though there was some debate as to how it would work in practice.

While public organisations and governments have been more willing to sign up to open data projects, private companies are far more sceptical.

After all, their data gives them a competitive advantage so why hand it over to rival businesses?

However delegates were generally in favour of data sharing to some extent and felt that it was likely to become a reality in future.

That could be a free and open exchange of customer data, or a marketplace where data is packaged up and sold on.

To request for your exclusive invite to attend the Econsultancy/IBM BusinessConnect 2015 events, sign up here:

Bangkok, Thailand (12 March 2015, Thursday)

Singapore (13 March 2015, Friday)

David Moth

Published 11 March, 2015 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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