Nigerian corporations have transitioned onto the world stage on several fronts with strategies, platforms and executions comparable to world-class firms but the adoption of accountability and sound Marketing Analytics by CMOs is required for realizing their marketing investments true potential.
The new competitive advantage
Marketing Analytics is the art of using rigorous empirical evidence (data) to inform planning, evaluation, learning and continuous improvement of marketing investments. Marketing Analytics involves using data to improve campaign performance, increase marketing accounts for the same level of investment and identify effective customer contact and engagement opportunities. With the expanding volume of data, it is therefore not a surprise that interest in marketing analytics has grown over the past six years.
Using Marketing Analytics, media budget allocation need not be a repetition of previous years’ allocations following the “that’s how we’ve always done it” mentality, nor will it be a process of trial and error. Instead, it will be grounded in sound pro-forma modelling and projections. A marketing campaign will not be judged successful because the campaign was well executed; judgements will be based on whether the campaign achieves specific targets pre-defined as the campaign’s key performance indicators (KPIs). You read that right. Campaign success will not be evaluated based on the launch of the campaign. Instead success will be evaluated based on whether campaigns attain specific performance targets defined by specific KPIs (also called metrics). These KPIs are derived from the business objectives that necessitated the campaign in the first place. Therefore, the adoption of Marketing Analytics encourages clear performance expectations, rigorous evaluation of marketing investment options and the planning and development of a sound business strategy. In short, Marketing Analytics results in a marketing culture that is fully accountable.
The organisations that have adopted Marketing Analytics into their culture have reaped the benefits in spades. Marketing Analytics has become a competitive weapon for many global organisations. By having access to high quality analytics talents, either internally or through analytics consultants, firms such as Zynga (the super-successful gaming company), Harrah’s (the outstanding entertainment organisation), Google (needs no introduction) and Amazon (the super-successful online superstore) to name just a few, have delivered corporate growth, solid customer value and a return on investment.
Access to marketing data (customer, campaign, or marketing operations data) is essential to ensure meaningful accountability, but Nigerian organisations were previously subject to a few marketing data limitations. The dominance of traditional forms of media such as TV, radio, billboards and print (they all notoriously fail to give off ample performance datasets) as well as poor customer data collection practices have limited any meaningful analytics. Now, times have changed. The rapid penetration of digital channels of information in Nigeria, such as the Internet, email, display advertising, search engines, social media and mobile technology, has changed the game. These digital channels give off so much data that any marketer who actively engages in digital advertising as part of his or her marketing program and complains of not having enough data deserves to be fired.
Marketing Analytics is a competitive weapon, but the inherent outcome is marketing accountability—how well marketers are making use of the marketing investments entrusted to them. The following are real excuses provided by marketers and exclude the cynical resistance to accountability that may result from corrupt practices. (Do we still have this in the Nigerian private sector with solid internal controls? At any rate, this should be less of an issue among the types of astute world-class marketers and organisations addressed in this article).
- Accountability is a low priority because there are more pressing, more urgent challenges than measuring how well campaigns are performing.
- There is little time to commit to, or to deploy accountability mechanisms because most of programs have aggressive go-to-market timelines.
- There is a lack of access to the technology or tools needed to conduct the analysis.
- There is no data to evaluate because the campaign (or agency) did not provide the required data.
- There is doubt about measurements because measurements are considered bean counting that may limit creative flexibility, which is more important for campaign success.
- There are no analytics experts in the marketing agency currently managing the brand.
- The campaign is low-budget, low-priority and no one cares about its performance.
- There is too much confidence (hubris?) that the study or analysis or model conducted some years back still applies, so marketers feel no need for re-evaluation.
- How Analytics competitors overcome the common challenges
- These could be legitimate, but experience shows that organisations that adopt and win with Marketing Analytics do things a little differently. Here are those same excuses with some solutions provided by marketing managers using Marketing Analytics.
- Low priority, No Time – Bake Marketing Analytics and accountability into the planning process.
- No technology or tools – Prioritise investments into the right tools and seek out partners that can provide the necessary tools.
- Lack of data – Form partnerships with entities that ensure data access and are comfortable with using proxy (representative) data to estimate their campaign’s impact.
- Doubt about measurement return on investment (ROI) – Subject doubts to empirical tests. Do not make decisions based on speculation.
- Limited agency expertise – Seek out agencies with Marketing Analytics expertise, or add Marketing Analytics consultants in the event that current advertising agencies used by the company have other highly desirable capabilities.
- Low-budget, low-priority campaigns – Believe that “if it’s worth investing in, it’s worth measuring”.
- Confidence on old findings – Understand that the competitive context can change. Aggressively seek out new insights to help win in the market place.
CMOs: Play your part
Why do these managers do things differently when it comes to Marketing Analytics and accountability? It’s because they usually have executive sponsors who understand the importance of accountability and prioritise maximising returns on marketing investments. While well-informed managers may succeed when developing marketing strategies for their brands using analytics, Marketing Analytics must be adopted by the entire organisation for maximum impact.
Organizational leaders exert vital influence on work culture and organisational priorities, and CMOs’ impact on marketing should be no different. When CMOs sincerely demand measurable results on marketing investments, marketing accountability spreads though the entire marketing organisation and can even spill over to partners and agencies with which a company is working. These organisations are usually successful because they set high expectations, require proof of performance, demand continuous improvements, test and experiment, look for performance benchmarks and expect a learning road map from the agencies with which they are working. These analytically savvy organisations also set the tone for when developing new marketing relationships; their request for proposals (RFPs) usually provides clear objectives and performance targets, and they demand that their partners also appreciate accountability.
While this article could list multiple recommendations for developing a sense of urgency for Marketing Analytics, the quicker solution is to hire a strong Marketing Analytics partner—a partner with experience, expertise and an extensive Marketing Analytics solution suite. Such a partner will educate CMOs; encourage organisations to set up appropriate performance measures for key marketing investments; offer up ideas for integrating Marketing Analytics at the organisational, portfolio or brand level and be an ongoing accountability advocate within your organisation. Indeed, many analytics-driven organisations have a Marketing Analytics Centre of Excellence (COE) operated jointly with analytics consultants, and these Marketing Analytics partners are evaluated based on tangible business outcomes such as lifts in brand awareness, perception, sales and market share.
Nigerian corporations have rapidly adopted world-class marketing and customer engagement activities but have lagged in adopting a vital capability: Marketing Analytics. The firms that realise and adopt this evidence-based marketing will dominate their market space. CMOs should lead the charge because the implications are firm wide and the benefits substantial. A fast approach is to evaluate and engage with a few of the world-class Marketing Analytics firms that have offices set up in Nigeria. Welcome to the global stage; get ready to compete with analytics.
* Yemi Ibironke (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Country Director, Nigeria, of Cogniko, a New York based marketing analytics and digital intelligence firm.