Marketing effectiveness has often been the preserve of marketing strategists, planners and data analysts. However, in 2019 it has become a key measure of success both within marketing teams and across business functions for those seeking to prove the worth of marketing to their business.
What is marketing effectiveness?
Broadly speaking, marketing effectiveness is a cultural mindset geared towards proving and growing the holistic impact of marketing on a business over the short, mid, and long term.
The work of Peter Field, Les Binet and the IPA (the leading industry body on evidence-based marketing effectiveness analysis), has become the bible for those looking to measure the performance of their marketing efforts.
Their research defines an effective campaign as one that:
“…has an impact on transactional direct responses (e.g. online or offline enquiries) in the short-term, and an impact on business metrics such as sales, market share, loyalty or price sensitivity over the long term.”
According to their findings, not only do long-term brand-building campaigns and short-term sales activation campaigns work in tandem to drive effectiveness, but longer-term brand building campaigns have a more pronounced impact on business effects than short-term activation-based campaigns.
The inherent importance, and challenges, of effectiveness
In recent years, effectiveness has become a synonym for success.
John Broome, CEO of the AANA, recently said that effectiveness is “the metric of success in the boardroom”, whilst senior editor of Marketing Week Sarah Vizard wrote that “there is an increasing need for marketers to prove to boards that their investment drives key business outcomes”.
There’s no question that effectiveness is now being seen as a critical component in proving the value of marketing.
Despite this, and quite alarmingly, the last decade has seen a shift in media spend and focus of marketing efforts towards hyper-measurable, short-term measures of success… at the expense of overall effectiveness.
Out of a sample of case studies collected by the IPA from 2014-16, 25% were evaluated over a period of less than six months, up from 8% in 2008-14. Even more worryingly, 55% had short-term objectives, up from 47%.
Of the short-term case studies, only 3% were found to have had a large impact on market share, whilst for long-term cases, this figure was over ten times higher, at 38%.
This is likely due to the difficulty in clearly defining and evaluating effectiveness for business, a challenge that ranked second to customer journey tracking as most likely to worry marketers in 2019.
Beyond the evidence-based research and arguments in the boardroom, there is also a clear and tangible impact on business performance to be achieved by prioritising effectiveness.
Marketing consultancy Ebiquity have suggested that if UK brands were to prioritise effectiveness and allocated their marketing budgets accordingly, business profitability would be improved by £34.2B annually.
Herein lies the most important reason for marketers to start prioritising effectiveness: it enables them to prove the impact of their craft on the performance of actual businesses.
How can we be more effective now?
Sorry to say it, but there is no simple path to driving effectiveness over a short period of time. However, there are many steps you can take to start the process, including:
- Analyse and define what is most valuable to your business. Businesses, like people, are all unique, and there is no one set of universal metrics applicable to everyone.
- Define effectiveness based on the specific metrics you identify. Be clear and concise and align your definition to both marketing and overall business strategy.
- Establish a clear KPI for success that considers both short and long-term goals. This is key to evaluating your marketing activity aligned to your definition of effectiveness.
- Consider how your definition and KPIs impact your existing marketing, communications and media strategies, and how future campaign planning will align to this.
A strong effectiveness approach will ultimately become ingrained in an organisation’s culture, enabling the impact of marketing to not only be maximised but also be clearly articulated to the business.