Talkin’ bout a revolution: why improved tracking needs a learning culture to flourish

Marketing has a tough time proving its return on investment (ROI), but the scale of the challenge it faces has now become painfully clear.

New research from Proof Analytics suggests that 96% of board level executives feel that their marketing and PR teams are unwilling or unable to prove ROI. To make matters worse 97% had little to no idea how much they should invest in marketing and PR.

The good news is that change is on the way. Significant improvements in tracking and reporting are being made right across the spectrum of communications activities – from email marketing to media relations – and these will give firms the tools to benchmark, track and demonstrate ROI far more effectively.

The reality though, is that unless firms build a learning culture, one that gets as close as possible to measuring what matters, then this increased reporting capability will be worthless.

All the gear and no idea

High performance tools need skilful operators. Most of us are familiar with the phrase ‘’all the gear and no idea”, which conjures the image of a paunchy middle-aged executive struggling to coax his state-of-the-art Pinarello Dogma bicycle up a moderate incline.

More than anything else it requires that we truly measure what matters and integrate this insight into a transparent learning culture.

Marketing and communications teams need to remember that this concept applies just as well to our work as it does to our sports and hobbies. As our tracking and reporting tools get more sophisticated, we need to be careful that we don’t end up equipped with enormously powerful tools yet without the ability to derive any benefit from them. To see real returns from enhanced analytics, teams need to integrate them into more thoughtful work processes. More than anything else it requires that we truly measure what matters and integrate this insight into a transparent learning culture.

Measuring what matters

 

The fact that vanity metrics remain prevalent in so many different areas of marketing shows just how easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking that we are doing a good job simply because our chosen metrics improve every month.

Peregrine’s own research has shown that the average asset management firm’s organic search volumes decreased by almost a third (31%) last year. In this environment, firms need to ensure their marketing activities aren’t failing to connect with their target audiences.

The first step in avoiding this fate is to make sure that whatever we are measuring, whatever we are tracking, we get as close as possible to the objectives we really care about. The fact that vanity metrics remain prevalent in so many different areas of marketing shows just how easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking that we are doing a good job simply because our chosen metrics improve every month.

For advisory businesses, like Peregrine, this means having a very honest conversation with each client about their business objectives and how marketing communications can support them. It will also mean working collaboratively with the client to help set targets that support their goals.

Towards a learning culture

Measuring what matters is only half the battle. The real benefits of superior tracking and performance measurement will accrue to those firms which radically re-engineer themselves to track and improve. This will require the adoption of a learning culture.

Measuring what matters is only half the battle.

A learning culture is one where individuals can be really honest with each other and their clients about what is working and what is not. In all likeliness, few firms will really execute a learning culture well. It will prove too difficult to reorganise teams out of their silos or to admit that expensive projects haven’t yielded the results everyone had hoped for. But, for those who do succeed, there will be real benefits.

Do you have a learning culture?

As you think about integrated enhanced data reporting and tracking into your marketing processes it is worth thinking about whether your firm is ready to operate a learning culture.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself (honestly):

  • If the data doesn’t match the progress you’d hoped for do you try to understand why, instead of looking for another metric that might be more positive?
  • Do you work to define, compare and track key metrics outside your immediate silo?
  • Do you make each campaign more effective than the last by building on the mistakes and best practices of previous cycles?
  • Can you talk honestly about failure with your colleagues and advisers?

If you can answer yes to each of these questions, it’s likely you have the core elements in place for a learning culture. If you can’t, you may wish to think about putting these building blocks in place to make sure you can really benefit from the ability to track and improve each marketing campaign you run.