CMO – uh oh…

I find research interesting. Maybe it’s my basic, curious nature or maybe I’m just nosy, but I enjoy reading studies of how businesses and consumers behave. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised. More often than not, I’m a little shocked. Today is one of those times. The folks at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business have been conducting a survey of top U.S. marketers since 2008. You can read the latest CMO Study here. They released this year’s data and I found one section – the one on marketing analytics – particularly interesting. Let’s see what you think.

There are the headlines, as summed up in this analysis:

Just 31% of projects use available or requested marketing analytics, well within the 29-37% range seen over the past 3-and-a-half years, according to US CMOs responding to the latest edition of The CMO Survey. B2C product companies appear to be leading the pack in usage of marketing analytics, however, at twice the rate of their B2B product counterparts (45.6% vs. 22.8%). B2B product companies also give the highest rating to marketing analytics’ contributions to their firms’ performance. Overall, marketing analytics are most apt to be used for customer acquisition, customer retention, social media and segmentation, per the report.

Frankly, I’m not surprised but I am a little disappointed.  Two-thirds of the marketing work is still seat of the pants, basically, and it’s even worse when you’re marketing to other businesses.  I can sort of understand this last point – it’s hard to tell when a website or social visitor is a business target or just a random consumer that’s wandered on to your digital presence.  You B2C marketers, however, have no excuse.

What it really means is that companies lack quantitative metrics to demonstrate the impact of marketing spending.  That is a recipe for budget suicide.  It’s not just that they’re generally not using analytics.  The survey also asked about what data is being used.  Only 15% of firms able to prove the impact of social media quantitatively and four metrics dominate how companies show social media impact:  likes, general traffic, click-through rates, and hits/visits/page views.  In other words, the really broad, pretty useless measures.  I spend quite a bit of time with clients trying to get beyond those measures into data than can translate into actionable business decisions.  These generally can’t.

Any of us engaged in marketing need to become comfortable with analytics of all sorts.  They’re what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Fail to eat them and you’ll starve.  Are you coming to the table?

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