Achieving ROI: A Unique Challenge for Today’s Marketer

Weren’t we supposed to be able to measure everything in this digital world of integrated marketing? If so, we should also be able to continuously optimize our marketing programs, right? Yet 52% of marketers today report their #1 challenge is converting qualified leads into paying customers.

You’ve probably heard John Wanamaker’s famous quote "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." But that was nearly 100 years ago! For sure he was referring to the mass media tools of the day like print and ... yea, that’s pretty much it … print.

Mr. Wanamaker didn’t have modern tools like Google analytics, marketing automation, sales force automation, CRM, email campaigns, webinars, email list vendors, sales intelligence aggregators, pay-per-click ads, landing pages, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, eNewsletters, websites, content syndication, SEO, YouTube, Lead Scoring, Droids & iPhones, iPads, SMS, QR codes, and, and, and ... Is your head spinning yet?

If you only had one way to reach your buyers, say … banner ads, you’d probably figure out how to be really good at running that type of marketing program. Through rigorous testing, you would eventually find the best places to place your ads, the best creative to generate clicks and the most compelling landing pages to convert the traffic that actually ends up buying from you. But even if you could achieve this, can your business grow and thrive by optimizing only one channel for lead generation? Probably not.

Marketers in the 2.0 era are under a ton of pressure to use all of the new digital tools to reach new buyers and, because it’s all measureable, they’re expected to systematically optimize each marketing program and remove the wasteful spending that troubled John Wanamaker. Ironically, that is what creates the problem. Marketers struggle to do so many new things at once; doing them all well seems impossible.

Today’s head of marketing doesn’t wear a white lab coat while pointing his cherry-wood pipe to teams of researchers that produce intellectually interesting studies on campaign optimization. It’s a bit more simple … spend the marketing dollars wisely to generate qualified leads that close quickly. Or get fired.

But few marketing departments have the skill or bandwidth to leverage all of these new channels and tools in a meaningful way, and each can be it’s own black hole — sucking time, money and energy from a department. Yesterday’s “Marketing Communications” department must reinvent themselves into a team of journalists (think content creation), IT experts (think website & CRM integration) and process-oriented scientists (think A/B testing every element of every campaign in every channel) that have a deep understanding of how to integrate all of the facets of digital marketing into a cohesive demand generation engine. Guess what? That’s really hard to do.

So where do you start? It may well begin with deciding what to stop. While you likely need to be great at more than one channel, trying to be good at all of them may be killing you. Some simple steps to take:

  • Step back and re-affirm your Ideal Prospect Profile. All good marketing starts there.
  • Decide which new channels offer the most promise. Social media may be the new shiny object on the corner, but it will take a focused approach to produce results. Start with channels you know you can be great at that will also be the easiest to perfect.
  • Size up your team. The same creative masterminds who developed great branding and organized super cool events for your customers are not the ideal talent to leverage this new digital world. You must have the ability to leverage technology, produce volumes of content to use in marketing programs and then rigorously test and optimize those programs.

Achieving ROI on marketing programs is more possible than ever in a digital world. Take an honest assessment of your market and of your team and start measuring your success.