For years, many businesses have operated on a slightly modified version of “business as usual.” CMOs may have been demanding data to prove the success of campaigns, but a critical aspect of this data collection was often overlooked. Most marketers would use the same tried-and-true framework for each strategy and make some moderate tweaks to suit the format and audience of the platform.
When they collected data from the campaigns, it was often tied to revenue to highlight the best performing campaigns. It wasn’t common to use data to show where improvements could be made. Even though data could be used to help improve ROI and better allocate their budget, market conditions didn’t make that capability a priority.
Due to the current state of the market, business leaders in many industries need to start at square one and re-evaluate how they market products. Consumer attitudes have been disrupted, certain sales channels have slowed down, and customer behavior is changing as a result. Marketers are being asked to look beyond the revenue numbers – subsequently, they need to think about ways to improve their campaigns to reach new opportunities.
This will usher in a new era of accountability and data-driven decision making. Marketers need to be comfortable being wrong in order to push forward at an accelerated rate. As Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, notes, “Being wrong will hurt you, but being slow will kill you.” Let’s look at how accountability can benefit your organization by allowing your teams to become more agile in turbulent times.
What is Accountability in Marketing?
Accountability in marketing describes using data in a way to monitor and communicate a campaign’s performance. It will help your team get to the bottom of a problem, then help improve innovative campaigns and marketing frameworks by quantifying their success. However, one of the most important parts of accountability is making sure these decisions and outcomes can be understood by every member of the marketing team as well as leadership.
It allows marketers to link certain aspects of their campaigns to a specific degree of growth, encouraging innovation and experimentation. This is crucial to finding the best path forward after serious disruptions in the world of business, including the COVID-19 crisis, rising privacy concerns, and social unrest.
Why Accountability Helps Marketers
With a whirlwind of changes in the business and consumer world, marketers are struggling to find their footing. The solution is to start using data as a way to break down what ideas are working, and which aren’t driving results. While it might be difficult for a marketer to have their idea picked apart and quantified, the alternative is far worse. Without accountability, people’s opinions and preconceived notions rule. That’s not a scientific, data-driven way to conduct business – and playing the blame game or writing off certain channels on instinct alone can have a negative impact on not only morale, but your bottom line.
All business leaders need accountability to attribute their gains or losses to certain markets, channels, or messages. It will help them determine when and why campaigns are performing in a certain way, and illuminate the best path forward. They need all the data they can get to identify shortcomings in their strategy to avoid writing off entire channels or markets as lost opportunities.
4 Tips for Encouraging Accountability in Marketing
Clearly, a culture of accountability for both campaigns and personnel is important. But unfortunately, teams may respond negatively to a shift in culture. Let’s take a closer look at the steps required to foster an environment of accountability.
1. Find Your Vision
Determine how much time and money your team can risk, what a win looks like, and the threshold that defines a shortcoming. Keep in mind that you won’t hit a “win” right away. Think of it like the North Star - it’s a vision that will help you track and measure different facets of your campaign’s performance. It’s not an all or nothing endeavor.
2. Start Small
As the year progresses, it’s increasingly difficult to be confident that an investment will turn out well. For that reason, marketers should begin their campaigns by lightly dipping their toes into the water and pay close attention to the feedback. While this will slow down campaign planning, it will help you ensure your messaging stays right on target.
3. Accept Failure
Failure provides a fantastic opportunity to learn. But if you can’t drill down and figure out how a campaign went wrong, there’s nothing to be learned – it’s a total loss. Make sure your team knows that failure is part of the strategy, and that it should be used as a recommendation to help optimize your campaigns, not as an indicator of incompetence. However, if a new campaign idea turns up unsatisfactory results again and again, it’s time to move on.
4. Know When to Scale
It’s hard to tell when an experimental campaign is at its peak since they are affected by so many externalities. It’s almost like having a hot stock in your portfolio: If you hold on and continue to optimize, you could make more money. But, if you put the campaign out there today, you could start making money today and avoid uncertainties in the future. Thankfully, platforms with predictive analytics capabilities can provide a form of guidance until your team gets a better feel for when campaigns are considered optimized.
Taking these steps to guide a new culture of accountability should help your team feel more confident when they take risks. However, don’t forget to ensure you have the measurement and analytical capabilities to understand exactly where a campaign fell short – whether it was the target audience, the advertising media, or a small gaffe in the messaging. Your accountability strategy could easily backfire into baseless accusations if you’re unable to pinpoint what went wrong. For that reason, stay away from aggregate marketing measurement, and invest in platforms that provide granular data insights.
The old saying goes, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Marketers and savvy businesses have known that a crisis can be an opportunity in disguise. This is because large disruptions and rapidly changing environments create a scenario where it’s easy to get permission to experiment with existing, rapidly aging frameworks.
With uncertainty among businesses and consumers beginning to increase, it’s not easy to make heads or tails of your future marketing strategy with your existing, legacy solutions. Instead, marketers need to search for new ways to measure, evaluate, and manage their marketing performance. The time is now to make your first steps toward change – otherwise, you may risk falling behind.