Is Marketing becoming a numbers game?

Based on conversations with fellow marketers over the past couple of years, seems to me that our conversations have shifted significantly to discussing marketing data and metrics. Marketing has been under pressure to produce more measurable and visible metrics about their activities and contribution to the business results. Marketers have responded very well to collect and produce more data and metrics about almost every facet of marketing activities. CEOs, Sales, Finance and other areas of a company now have much better insight into what marketing is doing and the results produced. Marketing has more insights into what they’re doing and tracking their activities and results as never before.

This is all good and great progress over the past several years, but it seems to me that many of our conversations and the preponderance of article and blog topics these past couple of years are mainly about marketing data and metrics. This raises two concerns for me about where our focus in marketing is heading;

First concern is that we’re mostly talking about volumetric data and basic metrics such as percentages, ratios or trends derived from the data. We also keep adding more data and metrics because it’s becoming relatively easier and less costly to acquire the data and produce the metrics. While this may be a significant leap forward from not having good data and metrics previously, it’s only the beginning. The part of the conversation that still needs attention is the next step of generating information and intelligence. The data and metrics tell you what happened and while there may be some intuitive feel for whether it was good or bad, it doesn’t tell you why or how it happened, or how to improve the results, or whether to continue a particular marketing campaign, or answer a myriad of possible questions. We need to generate actionable insights and intelligence from the data to provide real guidance for improving marketing’s effectiveness and contribution to the business. The metrics may be interesting, but it’s the analysis, insights and intelligence that will really make a difference.

“Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom.” – Clifford Stoll

The second concern is that the customer and value proposition appear to be somewhat overlooked in our attention to metrics. Who specifically are the target customers for this campaign – what industry, market segment, psychographic, persona, etc? Is there a clear picture and understanding of the target buyer and their buying cycle? Does the value proposition really resonate with these buyers? Is the price correct for this target audience? There are so many fundamental marketing questions that determine the outcome of a campaign and the eventual metrics. The story is not in the metrics, it’s in the marketing decisions that went into a campaign that caused the metrics. While everyone initially pays attention to the marketing fundamentals that go into developing a campaign, we need to do causal analysis to revisit these decisions based on the metrics produced from executing the campaign. And most importantly, there is no sale without a buyer – don’t lose sight of the customer and their motivation for buying amongst the captivating metrics.

What’s your opinion about Marketing becoming more of a numbers game? Your comments are always welcome.
Copyright © 2009 The Marketing Mélange and Ingistics LLC. http://marketing.infocat.com

1 comments:

Melissa Paulik said...

Mike,

I think the focus (obsession even) in metrics is an excellent step in the right direction. We both dealt with marketers in a better business climate that judged their performance on how “busy” they were. It was a time when “awareness” was seen as an end goal and marketers created programs based on the 6X impressions rule. I’m confident that marketing will continue to evolve as writers like yourself focus on the next level – what metrics are important, how to use these metrics, and what insights does the underlying data offer that a pure metric does not. For now, I’m thoroughly enjoying this more scientific approach to marketing that has been a long time coming.

Melissa