Show Me The Money

From Jerry Maguire to today, the revenue return on investment is ultimately what counts – something I was recently reminded of by one of our partners, who made the point that they will support organizations that help them generate revenue.

Measurement of marketing performance underpins this fundamental position and purpose. As Gartners’ Ewan McIntyre reminds us, understanding that connection in tighter economic conditions has never been more important.

He also reminds us, marketing budgets drop like a stone at the first sign of trouble and rise like a feather once the environment is more settled.

This helps to sharpen the role of marketing in any organization.

It starts with understanding how an organization makes its revenues and margin, and how customers in turn make revenues from their customers (for B2B).

Next is to understand where the opportunities are, and to assign priorities to those the organization chooses to pursue.

Finally comes the understanding of how to generate value – including the tactics needed to go after – and land – those opportunities already identified.

Easy to summarize and to understand. So why do we see so many gaps in knowledge and execution?

Where is the money?

We are across a lot of marketing data points. And we see organizations struggling to deliver value.

The explicit link between marketing effort and the need to generate revenue is, too often, broken.

It can lead to challenges when being busy is confused with being effective. It’s what I call the illness of busyness, of feeling productive, getting things done, checking activities off a task list, but not actually tracking towards where the money is to be found. One of my favorite sayings is to watch for the operation being successful, but the patient dying.

One example of getting this right is the design and building of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum in Spain. Architect Frank Gehry understood that the objective was about creating something of value and wonder to attract visitors to the city and region. 

The option of converting existing buildings that had laid abandoned for some years was rejected in favor of something new and spectacular that could fulfill the brief of generating economic growth in Spain’s north (an estimated €500 million in its first three years after it opened). 

Gehry kept his focus on answering the real objective, which was to create something that would attract large numbers of tourists to drive significant economic impact, and not making the mistake of designing a museum at the originally briefed location. 

(Note: this example was referred to in How Big Things Get Done by Professor Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner.)

Closer to home, an Australian financial services institution had the objective of becoming digital-first because it understood that’s where its future customers are to be found, and that’s the fastest way to compete effectively with organizations with larger budgets. 

Yet the organization continued to be busy doing the same thing that it had been doing before. The organization had to transform itself to follow the money. Even though the commitment and lip service to the new strategy was there, the old marketing habits were still in action. The gap between marketing and revenue had to be closed.

I think as a whole, marketers do understand their role: to create demand for products.

However, the best marketers have structured partnerships with their sales organizations and their impact on generating revenue.

The best will not only create demand but also support sales by taking customers along the path to conversion.

Both, though, are different from when everyone in the organization thinks this way. When everyone says “show me the money”, that is indeed when focus of time, resources and energy converts to revenue.

A version of this article also appears at digivizer.com

Google’s Algorithms Are Not Your Customers

The recent article by Amanda Chicago Lewis on The people who ruined the internet touched nerves with a number of marketers worried about their brands, SEO gurus worried about their incomes, and business owners worried about what to do next.

Add in the opportunities and concerns about the impact of AI on marketing, content especially, and the debate was always going to be interesting.

The way through, or around, this debate is, as always, to focus on two things: the importance of what matters to customers, and the impact and value businesses seek to create in response and through every touch point. 

This seems obvious, but SEO and SEM investments need to make both of these easier to understand and deliver, more so than they currently are. This can end up being a never-ending game of chasing the Google algorithm.

Never forget to market

The job of marketers is to create the best match between what someone searches for, and what businesses have to say about solving their needs, or in answering their questions.

SEO is only the task of optimizing effort and resources deployed to create content designed to answer customers’ needs and attract them to websites. The relevance and value of content are the most important parts of the digital marketing mix

Everything else around it is designed to help map and match consumers to that content, and deliver it in ways and volumes that also make the CFO and CEO happy.

Removing complexity from search

Google’s acronym E-E-A-T – for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness – still rules. 

What’s most interesting though is the complexity that sits just beneath the surface of understanding search ranking and search query tracking. Google’s own general guidelines run to four pages of content alone.

Removing that complexity resets how search adds value to any digital marketing campaign. 

Websites should be designed, built and optimized for human customers, not for the Google algorithms. That means exploring the actual natural language and queries of the way people search, and designing sites that make it easy to access information, products and services, and measuring performance against those criteria and benchmarks. 

Performance measurement for all – not just the experts

This becomes increasingly important with the continued rise of AI, which can influence how search optimization and search query tracking might be deployed in two ways. First, how AI can be used in the actual creation of content. Second, how AI can be used to expose how others might be gaming the algorithms.

In both examples, measurement of performance becomes essential. For that to be as effective as possible, search query tracking has to be as accessible, easy and affordable as possible, to as many people in an extended marketing ecosystem, without compressing the validity or accuracy of the results.

That means removing the reliance on experts for data analysis. They are experts, but they are also expensive, and often siloed. They can only do so much. And since the role of creating relevant content falls to many, and the job is to increase the authority of the entire website, marketers and business owners can’t wait, nor  leave everything to a single source of expertise who holds all the data.   

That means giving in-house marketing teams, external marketing agencies, CMOs and CEOs access to the same organic search query data. And that means making the insights as easy to interpret and action as possible.

Then, the safety net and obstacles of complexity are replaced with accountability and collaboration.

At the start I said that there was a way through or round the debate about whether search had gamed the internet and, as a result, broken it. Ultimately, it’s the wrong conversation. 

One thing is certain: Google’s algorithms are not our customers. The better conversation is really about plugging data, including search query tracking, into strategy development and program performance management, to see the data and then make faster, better decisions as to how best to action it.  

Organic search results provide incredible insights into how customers are actually trying to discover  how to solve their needs. With personal social media posts becoming increasingly private and unable to be measured, search provides the largest open set of natural language data to inform strategy, marketing and content programs.

Organizations who will win in search will be making that information as widely available as possible, to every stakeholder inside and outside the organization.

A version of this article also appears at digivizer.com

Are vested interests killing your marketing?

That stakeholders are a forgotten audience within marketing programs may be more common than it should be.

I say this because in many cases, stakeholders are kept away from the unvarnished, objective, data-led, single source of marketing truth by those who control the data, who have something to hide, or have something to protect (usually their jobs).

In other words, vested interests are killing marketing programs.

Our experience is that many stakeholders, particularly C-level stakeholders, are frustrated at the lack of information made available to them by the marketing teams, the delay in receiving that information, and the biases in the information. 

And this is a business problem, not just a marketing problem. Stakeholders include, sales and business development teams, joint-marketing and co-branding partners, agencies and other external partners, in addition to the C-suite. All have reporting and ultimate budget responsibilities. Taken together with those responsible for delivering the programs, everyone who should influence how marketing is delivered, and therefore be held accountable for results, needs real-time access to single sources of truth about marketing program performance

Too often, we hear senior management and business owners say the opposite is the reality. 

As one business leader recently told me, “we realized too late that we spent a whole bunch of money on something that did not work, and we would not have continued had we known this earlier. We would have redirected the budget. And we’re not happy we’ve only just discovered this months after the campaign finished.” Waiting to find your budget did not work as hard as it could is an opportunity cost greater than the dollars wasted.

Better insights, better teams, better performance

There are other benefits in ensuring all stakeholders have real-time visibility. Transparency around real-time performance builds empowerment, upskills resources, and moves in all directions. 

Once a single source of truth about the performance of marketing programs is made available to everyone, without constraint or delay, marketing programs can  flourish. 

The collective learning muscle of the organization increases.

Marketing programs that already perform well can perform even better. 

Marketing programs that don’t perform well can be kick-started, redirected or discarded.

Greater trust can be built in agency and client relationships. There are no surprises, no place to hide, just the truth about whether the current marketing program is working as expected or not. Either way, resources can be deployed to best effect. 

Confidence is built with stakeholders who will be more likely to invest in success when they can see success. 

Decision quality improves as it can be based on real-time data and insights.

CMOs can prove the value of their strategies and demonstrate the quality of their decisions. 

Marketers and agencies can demonstrate the worth of their creativity and demonstrate how well creativity actually works for their customers.  Rather than working in silos, they have visibility into the insights from all aspects of the marketing program and customer touch points. These include organic search and social media, to best-performing creative, to what is actually driving valuable conversions on websites and from which platforms. These insights in turn drive better content outcomes.

Customers will relate to brands that clearly understand them.

And everyone wins. 

What’s wrong with marketing accountability

When Digivizer is invited to work with organizations, it’s often to address some of these concerns. Common factors include lack of insights, confusion, delays in information, competing silos, and an absence of truth into what’s working. 

Different teams try to justify their own reporting mechanisms or processes, often to justify the decisions they have made in external agencies or program development. We still see too many examples of teams seeking to show themselves in the best-possible light, or to rely on the agency they have appointed to do this for them.

That results in fragmented reporting. For every team with its own reporting process, targets, benchmarks and KPIs, there is another version of the truth. Nothing becomes clear, and the only thing that grows is the noise of competing claims.

As I said in a recent article, what’s interesting is that the C-suite is demanding more clarity. 

Recently, we’ve added two organizations that have rejected too many systems, too many competing teams and too many unchallenged claims about performance. They have turned to a single source of truth about marketing performance. 

We help with implementing this change, but what’s impressive is that their approach binds their extended ecosystems – their marketing team, management team and multiple agencies – into one reporting framework. This includes providing visibility and access to their finance teams. They use the awareness of real-time expenditure and conversions to estimate future revenues and book value. 

It’s worth emphasizing that this makes everyone in the ecosystem accountable as well. 

Ending marketing disunity

By removing a previous reliance on individuals to provide the insights, these two organizations – and their internal teams – now focus on consolidated data presented in a single, composite view.  

They no longer need to pay for valuable engineering resources or wait for analysts to provide the information. Instead they can invest in resources that add real value: developing  strategies, setting direction and making decisions that actually deliver returns.

The potential for team disunity and agency rivalry has been removed completely.

Everyone on these programs is empowered to seek the best possible return for the investment they are responsible for. These teams now research the opportunities that already exist, to provide inputs into strategies and to see how things are actually performing.

Making the data and the insights available (it can be found) and accessible (it can be understood) in real-time allows everyone to dig deeper into the meaning that they can see in front of them. That can be returns on a paid budget, the impact of creative executions, determining what content should be invested in or campaigns to be developed, or any other potential success factor.

New conversations, focused on performance

The discussion about performance continues to move towards what works best. This will be based on understanding why that’s the case, testing assumptions about what to do next, and focusing where success is either most-likely, based on past data, or simply demonstrated by results.

It is much easier to focus on a single area of potential performance lift within a digital funnel, than to try and move everything at once. Having visibility into everything, broken down into each platform, each stage of the funnel and each piece of creative, copy or destination, helps guide investment.

Ultimately, this comes down to business leaders deciding for themselves what they want to do about stopping the different vested interests in their organization getting in the way of better results.

They can replace the bullshit that results from different teams presenting different reports in different time frames, with one single source of marketing truth, that everyone has access to, whether they are a specialist or a beginner. 

They can close the gap between agency and brand.

And they can close the gap between failure and success.

Because the more powerful the spotlight being shone on the performance of marketing programs, the more accountable the extended business development and customer experience teams become, and the better the marketing results will be.

A version of this article also appears at digivizer.com.

Marketing under the watchful eye of the C-suite

Digital marketing can be seen as a set of levers operated to improve performance. 

This requires marketing tools built on systematic and real-time data that help marketers understand a number of important performance measurements. These include the best return on investment (ROI), return on advertising spend (ROAS), the role of each platform, being aware of the campaign and content elements in any nurture journey, and the biases that inevitably sit within the native analytics functions in each of the channels being used. 

Marketers increasingly rely on data to optimize the performance of their digital marketing programs in the face of fierce competition for the eyes and attention of customers and prospects, and for the best-possible position in search returns.

Even more interesting though is that the C-suite is also seeking those insights as well.

As one Chief Digital Officer put it to me recently, his CEO and board are less interested in the story woven by marketers and their agencies. They are much more interested in a common set of trusted performance data around results and returns.  There is a real push for greater transparency and governance in digital investment.   

We’re experiencing this first-hand, working with a CEO and his C-suite to rebuild their business as a digital-first organization. 

So if marketers and business owners know they need to make sense of millions of pieces of data, and do so without undue expense or delay, they need to know which levers to pull, in time to make a difference.  

The consequence is that to be accountable, responsive and successful, new levers are needed that allow marketers to trim and change their programs.

Words, pictures, video, performance

The starting point is content. To be effective, content has to be served to audiences, be seen by individuals, and be engaged with. Peer endorsements need to reinforce the message so that search and serve algorithms elevate its appearance. Calls to action need to be tested and tracked so that their effectiveness at driving traffic to websites can be quantified. 

Content performance has to be defined by whether it’s effective, not on whether it “looks good” or “feels right”. 

And to achieve the best outcomes, it needs to be continually refined. 

Where to next, and how fast?

This means that content performance must be measured by platform, content type, budget spent, by return on advertising spend (ROAS), revenue, and by any other objective built into the program. 

The role of content is of course to create a compelling step in the journey for the customer. 

One of the defining characteristics of digital marketing is that it allows customers to travel on the journey from awareness to conversion along non-linear paths. The traditional concept of an orderly sales funnel no longer necessarily applies. Customer journeys start at multiple starting points. The deployment of social media and digital marketing is still typically aligned to different points on these journeys, but is no longer constrained by a defined pathway from top-of-funnel to bottom-of-funnel. 

Customers choose their journey, not brands. 

Data-led measurement

By using data to define a program based on different criteria rather than one pre-defined direction, marketers can start to measure and act on the overall ROI and ROAS at any point.

If marketing is about putting the audience first, then digital marketing is the means of connecting marketers and audiences, and engaging them as customers, based on the preferences and needs of those individuals.

Every channel and platform provides the means of measuring, assessing and analyzing performance, and there are any number of alternative solutions that, to varying degrees, aggregate such data.

The digital marketing levers are there to pull, if this information and insights are available quickly, easily, and promptly. 

Taking action requires insights derived from data, and the mindset and preparedness to act and then to measure the impact. 

And with all of this now taking place under the watchful gaze of the CEO, that means data-led accountability.

(I also discuss this topic in more detail in my paper in Applied Analytics Journal Volume 8, Number 3, published by Henry Stewart Publications, available on subscription at https://www.henrystewartpublications.com/ama/v8.)

A version of this article also appears at digivizer.com.

Don’t do more. Do better.

Digital analytics changes the way businesses understand campaign performance. It allows marketers to personalize, prioritize and optimize.

Where they previously collected long-term data and painstakingly monitored programs over time, they now have access to quantitative data in real-time.

However, the principles of a successful campaign remain the same. ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) remains a primary KPI for many businesses.

But fixating on this figure alone, especially over short time spans, might be having the opposite effect. It’s much better to understand where ROAS fits in digital marketing programs, and what it contributes to those programs.

Then it can be a foundation for improvement.

ROAS as a journey

When taking a customer on a journey from not knowing who you are to being a recurring and referring customer, you need to consider the many steps involved in the customer acquisition journey. That will likely extend to subsequent customer relationships and up-sell opportunities.

The tried and tested funnel in sales doesn’t change just because you’re using digital platforms, even if the rigid funnel is now blurred for many organizations. Opportunities and prospects enter the funnel at different levels and stages. They can bounce around like flies in a bottle, absorbing content and being guided by your digital marketing cues, value and suggestions, along the path to acquisition.

But marketers need different targets and measures for each stage of the digital funnel. Customers develop awareness of your brand through impressions and views. If the message appeals to them, they will spend time researching and considering before making their decision.

Most crucially, taking this structured, data-led, performance-led approach means you understand what’s working for them. You can start to understand where they are on their journey, whether or not they are starting to leave your digital sales funnel, how you might attract them back, and so on.

By knowing what’s working, what’s happening, and knowing where and when, marketers can become increasingly confident about the quality and relevance of the experience they’re creating.

Any digital media plan needs to answer all aspects of the digital funnel, from prospect to satisfied return customer.

Why do businesses love ROAS? 

ROAS is a valuable metric for determining a value exchange, dollar for dollar. It can drive both the top and the bottom line, and everyone in an organization needs to understand what that means. The days of the expert data savant in an ivory tower are gone.

It’s also an indicator of where the budget should be spent. If marketers can predict a return and understand the multiple return based on invested dollars, they know what spend can be justified. Marketing becomes an investment (not a cost).

And as a result, marketers can make the best-possible case for that budget. (The alternative is guessing, which no longer passes muster.)

Conversions are a logical goal for many businesses, in the form of sales, enquiries, sign-ups, last clicks or something else.  ROAS is particularly important for e-commerce businesses that rely on investment to generate their income and profitability.

With access to digital analytics and insights, made as simple as possible without dumbing down the data, ROAS is easy to measure and report. At that point, the wider business can also then appreciate the precise value being delivered.

What does a successful campaign look like to you? 

Think about your last digital campaign. During the planning, you most likely set objectives you wanted to meet. They gave you a way to measure success.

You may have determined you wanted to drive a certain number of sales or website visits, hold user attention, grow your platform audiences, or build a brand.

The answer to “What does a successful campaign look like?” must start with, “It depends on what you set out to achieve.”

Taken in isolation, ROAS tells you one part of that success story. Understanding whether a customer is a new one or an existing one, and overlaying the lifetime value of that customer, gives you a significantly different view and indicators of return on investment.

Other key measures of value are understanding the customer journey. What brings them to you, do they stay and convert at your destination? Do they continue their journey to learn more, or do they bounce?  Do they repeat buy, do they only engage around discounted offers, do they refer you? You must have a complete view of the targets and results you need to reach for a fully optimized digital sales funnel.

There are many metrics you should also consider in combination:

  • Amount of organic referred traffic v. paid traffic to website, understanding each source, and which platform is driving traffic
  • If paid, cost of impression/video view
  • If paid, cost of engagement and % of engagements
  • If paid, cost of click throughs % click-through rates to website
  • If paid, cost of lead (converting from a lower-cost email acquisition may provide a lower cost of acquisition overall)
  • Total sales – organic v. paid
  • ROAS – Return on Advertising Spend
  • Total campaign return (invested dollars/lifetime value)
  • Website health on mobile and desktop – how fast it loads, how many people stay on site, the number of pages viewed (and which pages) before taking a final value action (sales/leads/registration/email sign-ups, etc.)

Insights are valuable when you look at your entire search, organic, earned and paid digital and website experience, across social media, and more.

If you are driving traffic to your website but not converting enough, it could be that your website is difficult to navigate, or the content leaves visitors cold. Your value proposition might be unclear, or there could be a technical issue with the checkout process.

All of these represent intelligence of real value. They help you understand where you can focus next to improve results. With data leading the inputs, and with all other variables accounted for, the conclusions suddenly become crystal clear. Looking at where customers get stuck or where they convert on your website allows you to focus on what to improve and test improvements for next. But you won’t know for sure unless you spend time looking at other metrics in addition to your ROAS.

Digital marketing means that the relationship between customer and brand has never been closer.

The job of your digital marketing strategy is to create these human experiences.

Which means doing better, not just more.

ChatGPT might create great content: its value still needs to be measured

In marketing, performance is everything. It determines the returns on your effort and investments, but also measures, analyzes, compares and helps you act on data such as engagement or impressions which are proxies for whether your customers actually care about your brand, its values, and the products or services you seek to sell.

So for me, the appearance and rapid adoption of generative AI starts with brand values, embodied in how brands seek to engage with their customers and audiences.

It’s a slightly different view from the consensus, which is currently anchored in discussions about productivity and profitability at one end of the debate, and the end of the workforce, especially for creative skills, at the other.

Neither is wrong, but neither is uniquely true either, and the choice is not binary in any case. AI in marketing, I suggest, is about understanding how to harness its power to create differentiation. 

And as David Meerman Scott reminds us, that starts with having a marketing strategy that includes AI, so that you understand where AI plays in your marketing efforts.

So what is AI’s role to be in marketing, and where does measurement and accountability come in?

We need to revert to first principles. If every organization replaces its creative team with AI engines, every company will eventually sound the same. Differentiation will disappear, content will either become generic or extreme as brands seek to stand out, and customers will vote with their thumbs. On its own, AI is not the answer.

AI has to continue to support authenticity and relevance. For sure it can speed up the process of creating assets that form the deliverables of a marketing strategy. But the strategy, and how success is defined, must come first. And customer trust must stay core to how you assess its value.

Customers demand differentiation: can AI deliver?

Thought-leadership and opinions invariably build on personal experiences and industry track-records. By definition, no AI engine can match these because AI engines can only distill what already exists to create visions of what might be possible. They may reflect thought-leadership already shared by experts, but clearly that won’t of itself be original thought.

Without this type of context, there won’t be differentiation, and it won’t be what customers want to consume, especially when they are seeking new input into complex business problems.

Accountability will also be important. ChatGPT’s hallucinogenic characters have already led to the first lawsuits, and AI governance remains in its infancy, with many organizations yet to consider who resolves questions of accuracy, legality, authenticity, and brand reputation. 

As generative AI creates new levels of productivity, profitability and even proficiency, people will still be needed to rule on accuracy and accountability.

In the meantime, companies and organizations can focus on what AI does have to offer. In my view, AI is  great for ideation. The Digivizer team uses various AI engines to prompt original thinking, around creative ideas, sources, and content for customers. As such, AI is a new partner at Digivizer, working alongside our experts and teams to help them think in new ways.

But the ultimate measure is whether you have created something of value, in your unique voice and contexts, that holds the trust of your customers and motivates them to take action.  

Content is great when it performs: that means measurement

Which brings me back to measurement. Content produced from the creative and fertile minds of one of our team, and content produced with the support of the algorithmic smarts of AI, both have to perform. The notion of “brilliant content” or “creative content” does not count: what does is how that content delivers outcomes. That requires systematic measurement and analysis of performance, however the content is created.

Measurement generates new inputs to the next iteration of content, so that the right levers are pulled to optimize and maximize content performance. 

Brands have to be clear about the value proposition they have for their customers, and be true to that value, as measured by the reaction of those customers. Differentiation comes from creating a unique position in the marketplace. And if AI is, above all else, regarded as a productivity tool, if it’s used solely in that way, brands will simply get to the point of being indistinguishable from their competitors faster than they otherwise would. 

Brand values are built on trust and authenticity. Brands therefore have to be clear about understanding the role AI has in promoting these values – in exactly the same way that they do today, with marketing programs that are created by humans. 

They can then focus on the benefits and advantages AI can provide, in product design and development as well as the marketing of that product, confident that AI will protect the brand promise and its values.

Digivizer named Australia’s-first LinkedIn Marketing Partner

We have exciting news to share!  We’ve been appointed to LinkedIn’s global Marketing Partner Program, making us the first Australian-based company to achieve this certification. 

We’re absolutely thrilled to have our real-time analytics technology certified by LinkedIn after three months of thorough testing. LinkedIn’s certification is validation of how our technology, insights and expertise have driven success for businesses around the world that are using LinkedIn to generate more leads and revenue.

This partnership is a huge win for digital marketers, in business of all sizes, who are looking to connect with, engage with, and sell to customers on LinkedIn. 

By integrating with LinkedIn’s Marketing Analytics and Ads API, our platform gives you a complete view across organic and paid marketing campaign performance. You can easily compare LinkedIn program performance alongside other major social media and search platform channels, to see which platform is driving the most value and conversions on your websites.

At Macquarie Data Centres, Krish Ruban, Head of Marketing, uses our platform to measure the performance of their digital marketing program across multiple channels: “Especially in the B2B space, using the Digivizer platform puts our data into context to deliver us with multi-channel insights. I know what’s working, all the time. Better still, I know why and how programs perform well. That’s a better use of my data, and helps us validate our investment in programs on LinkedIn.”

I’m proud that this partnership with LinkedIn recognizes the value we offer in providing a single-source-of-truth across multiple social media and digital marketing channels. We’re making this easily accessible and affordable to all those involved in a marketing ecosystem. It provides the real-time trust and governance that organizations need to understand the returns from their end-to-end digital marketing investments.

Watch our partnership video to see how to leverage insights to get more leads and sales from your LinkedIn investment.

If you’re a digital marketer looking to take your LinkedIn advertising campaigns to the next level, this partnership between Digivizer and LinkedIn delivers new benefits: new users of Digivizer and LinkedIn that spend US$500 (or the local equivalent) on LinkedIn Advertising will get US$500 added to their LinkedIn Ads account. T&Cs Apply.

To unlock the value of LinkedIn for your business, book into one of our 15-minute LinkedIn insights sessions here.

Marketing measurements for more businesses, in under a minute

Digivizer has always been about making best-in-class marketing technology affordable, accessible, and easy to use by everyone, and every business.

Now we’ve gone a step further. This week Digivizer announces our Digivizer Free plan.  This will give more businesses, creators and executives access to digital marketing performance insights, without delay, without cost, and without any requirement to add resources to the organization.

Businesses are spending more than ever to get better pictures of the investment and returns in their digital marketing. Christine MoormanJana Soli and Dennis Cardoso point out in the Harvard Business Review article, that 57% of CMOs’ budgets is digital marketing activities, and an increase in budgets of 16% is expected in 2023. 

That means there is also a need to increase the performance ROI of that investment. CMOs and their CEOs increasingly demand it.  They are looking to build greater data-driven capability in their team, and that requires easy measurements.

Removing hurdles, adding value with data

The first step is to open up more access, to more marketers, to their performance insights, in ways that give them the knowledge and an understanding of the levers available to them to act with confidence.

Digivizer Free is designed to give individual content creators, startups and smaller businesses the opportunity to connect their social, paid and web accounts to the Digivizer platform, for as long as they like, and – at once – start exploring how to get more ROI, improve  performance, grow sales and leads, and increase and improve ROI. 

Users can connect any combination of any four accounts they may have – whether organic or paid channels – from Facebook, Instagram, Google, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Microsoft Ads and Amazon Advertising.  They also see all mentions of the brand in Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and the hashtag they are tracking.   

Having spoken with many small business owners, we know that the cost of acquiring customers is the biggest challenge they have. They want to know that the investment in time and dollars spent on digital marketing content, website and advertising is worthwhile. They want to understand how to monetize their young businesses.

And without data or insights, easily obtained, without cost, they fly blind, seeking to break through while wearing a blindfold. 

Digivizer Free removes the blindfold of those looking to build a brand, those looking to start earning from their content, and those businesses who are at their very early stages.  

For larger teams, it is easy to gain a strong ROI on digital marketing performance insights, based on  spending larger sums on content and paid media. Those earlier in their careers, whether in-house, as a start-up founder, or as a consultant or individual creator, have by contrast been locked out.  

Insights, particularly at the test-and-learn stages, for businesses and creators, are critical. They need to know which of their content and output resonates with their customers and prospects. 

The Digivizer Free provides everything “out of the box” – 30 days of insights once the selected accounts are connected, in under a minute, with no special skills or training needed. And for smaller companies or businesses, as they grow, they can upgrade to other Digivizer plans in a few clicks, adding channels, sharing brand spaces, or adding users.

Where to next?

In a way, this is what digital marketing is all about: where to take a brand, where to take a product, how best to engage an audience, how best to form relationships with customers, where to spend budget to best effect.

With the blindfolds gone, the marketing dizziness stops. The uncertainty is replaced by data-led inputs that help define the next step. When they can see the marketing levers, and the direction these levers will take them, markets have more options.

But a new sense of purpose also prevails. Knowing that you know where to go, with choices and data that support decisions and options, makes a difference to the strategic thinking that underpins great marketing, and great marketing results.

Details of the Digivizer Free plan, and how it compares with our other plans can be found on the Digivizer website.

Why you need governance in marketing

In accounting, there are Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. 

In boardrooms, there’s corporate and financial governance, particularly important and mandated in law for listed and private companies.

And as greater responsibility is being placed on companies to manage the experiences, privacy and safety of customers, there is now a need to consider governance in marketing.

Marketing governance remains opaque. Owned media has been described as an auditing black hole, something that should alarm every business owner, CEO or board. 

And this only gets worse when you include paid media, with hard currency having an impact which can be quite material to a company’s finances.

Marketing governance, not marketing guesswork

In a world emerging from the pandemic, the global advertising market is set to grow 12 per cent this year, and to US$762 million by 2024. 

Whatever the size of your contribution to this huge number, you want to minimize what you waste. Yet not every marketing initiative will work. That, I think, is perfectly acceptable if you are measuring each initiative and know that’s the case, to act to improve or change what you’re doing and then take the lessons learned back into the business.

That’s where I think marketing governance comes in.

It’s a new take on marketing’s oldest question, about not knowing which half of your marketing spend works. 

Put another way, you need marketing governance, not marketing guesswork.

It works by going beyond being accountable up a chain of command, from the marketing executive to the marketing manager, the CMO, the COO or CEO (although those levels of accountability remain): It works best when applied across the organization, so that everyone is accountable for results, early enough for anyone to help identify insights and opportunities, to recommend making changes or to flag concerns.

Introducing GAMP – Generally Accepted Marketing Principles

There are of course principles that everyone generally accepts in marketing: the need to build brand, to develop and own share of voice, and the basic engagement measures that demonstrate success.

Measurement around cost per lead, cost per sales, cost per new customer acquisition, cost per click, cost per ad and return on advertising spend (from brand through to conversion or upsell), should all be in the centre of every marketing program.

But these are the tools used in marketing. It’s like using a ruler in protractor – you still need to understand the principles at work.

So, what are my Generally Accepted Marketing Principles?

  • Governance – providing visibility and transparency at every layer  of the organization, to know how investment in digital marketing performs, across the organization from marketing executive to CEO
  • Accountability – CMOs holding themselves accountable for the investment budget entrusted to them and the results they deliver to the organization, and holding  those they rely in turn equally accountable
  • Measurement – the measurement of the interplay of investment between organic and paid program elements, across multiple platforms, and to understand why measurements are what they are. Marketers need a single source of truth, something that anchors everything they measure
  • Performance – the insights around what’s working, and the benchmarks to continually refine performance in real-time. In the same way that scientists create hypotheses and then test them against accumulated knowledge, marketers must set benchmarks and targets, measure performance, and then reset their marketing hypotheses and test again.

Governance in marketing is therefore about measuring investments being made to deliver the best value that they can, and that those who have responsibility for that investment are able to continuously make improvements to value.  

Governing digital marketing spend

Digital marketing is powerful because you measure everything in real-time, so that you can course-correct before costing the business more than it should spend.

This is not a “deliver-once-and-wait-until-the-end-of-the-quarter-and-see” discipline. 

Digital marketing is always-on, is integrated across multiple channels, measures and reflects where all the different devices, platforms and channels that your customers can find you, and is a continuous measure-and-refine discipline. 

To be successful, you need to invest in continuous content, continuous measurement, continuous optimization, and a continuous balancing of creative options and calls to action, all to feed the opportunity-beast that is your collective sum of individual preferences of your  customer and prospects. 

Digital marketing is also not choosing “one platform or play” option over another: the variables change continually, and different platforms and programs need to be deployed for each customer target and objective – who are also using those different platforms for different purposes.

Marketing governance also removes the uncertainty around program management, by superimposing practices designed to reward accountability while those programs are under way.

Eyes wide open: data-driven marketing

Marketing governance therefore creates visibility of data and insights for everyone and better decisions and better results.

We’ve seen impressive changes to the marketing cultures of companies big and small when they have adopted this type of governance approach. I get excited by companies, whatever their size, that make bold decisions based on data. And even more excited by those companies who see marketing as a set of levers that can continuously be tested and refined.

But these decisions are not brave, because they are made using data. We have seen businesses increase their ROAS by up to four times in six months by investing governance in their marketing. If you win customer shares of impressions and conversions on site, you have a strong program. If either declines, governance allows this to be picked up and the program refined. 

By deploying  these four generally-accepted marketing principles of governance, accountability, measurement and performance,  a number of things happen: the marketing agenda is reset to focus on commercial results; the CMO understands the new rules of engagement and can share those with the rest of the organization and the leadership team; and the broader organization understands the measures of success.

In short, marketing governance helps you get ahead of your competitors and be first in line for customers’ attention. 

The results? Better outcomes, across programs, budgets, and the company.

A version of this article also appears at digivizer.com.

TikTok vs Facebook – which titan will win?

When Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg made the point, during their update to investors on the company’s financial results, that the way users and consumers are using and consuming social media is changing, the financial markets with a big thumb down.

It’s something we’ve already started to see – because we’re working with a number of Australian and overseas companies that are already redirecting their digital marketing budgets in the direction of TikTok, at the expense of Facebook.

The decisions our customers are making (and that we can measure with them) are based on testing how TikTok stacks up in brand, traffic and other marketing benchmarks, against the outcomes of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, other social media channels, and Google search. 

These are the decisions that were partly reflected in Meta’s financial results.

Where to next – and why?

In the debate about where to next for Meta Platforms, businesses will continue to work out where to play, which is today’s digital marketing reality. What’s not in doubt is that, on certain measures, TikTok performs very well – as Meta Platforms and the financial markets discovered.  

The role of digital marketing, and understanding and defining the role of each platform, has not changed. And certainly with TikTok it’s no different. As long as people consume content, watching videos in particular (a TikTok strength) and clicking through to websites, it has a role to play. If it can double as a direct conversion platform, even better. As Mark Zuckerberg himself noted, social media content continues to evolve, from text on PCs to videos to immersive experiences on smartphones.

Does TikTok stack up – and how?

The short answer is that it does.

The long answer is that it depends on what you’re measuring, and your ultimate measurement of commercial success, across products, brands and demographics.

For one company we work with, using TikTok particularly works in driving brand, engagement and traffic to the website. It is already markedly cheaper than Facebook, to deliver comparative performance.

For example, for the quarter October-December, TikTok delivered 50% more Impressions for paid marketing content, for just 35% of the budget. What’s more, the cost-per-thousand (CPM) for TikTok was one-fifth that of Facebook.

The story changes, however, when considering conversions, where TikTok has yet to prove itself. Its value has been in delivering visitors to the website who have been retargeted using other platforms, with much greater control around interests and age targeting, and relevant content that fits with where the target customer is within the conversion funnel.

Alongside these results, Amazon Ads delivered the best CPM. Search delivered the most Impressions and Clicks (although Google was expensive relative to TikTok). There were however significantly more conversions made via Google

What’s more, Meta’s Facebook and Instagram still proved to be valuable in the middle and bottom of the conversion funnel, ultimately driving online sales.

So, in the real world (as well as the digital world), the answer is indeed complex. 

At the crossroads? Possibly.

Is Meta Platforms at a crossroads? Possibly. That TikTok is creating a new competitive playing field is exciting for businesses. 

But I don’t think the reality for marketers and businesses has fundamentally changed. 

They still need to use social media, and search, to grow, and they need to know where exactly to play, and where exactly to invest. Every social media channel potentially has something to offer. 

Consumers can be fickle. They will use different platforms and devices in various combinations, always in ways that appeal to them. 

What matters is how brands discover where they need to be, and what content they need to serve, to drive the best return on their digital marketing investments. The content, messaging and calls-to-action need to be different for every platform.

As always, the devil is in the data, and the actions that lead to better business results. As the above example shows, TikTok can drive great brand and traffic outcomes, especially at the top of the sales funnel, but Meta Platforms (and Google) are still very effective in driving conversions and sales, and activating existing customers.  

Will TikTok out-run Meta Platforms, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp? Except for investors, that is, I think, the wrong question. 

The better question is around how to use this competition on social media and search platforms to your advantage, and around where you place your bets when investing in content, and buying your advertising, in ways that best delight your customers.