Volume 18 No. 1: Why your marketing might be missing the mark

The term "marketing effectiveness" has gained attention lately, but what does it really mean? And what prevents marketers from developing truly effective work? 


Decoding marketing effectiveness

Each week, we break down another marketing concept so you can skip the hype and get directly to what works. 

As defined by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), marketing effectiveness is “the process of improving business performance from marketing activities.” The WFA further breaks down the definition of marketing effectiveness into four key quadrants: 

  1. People—Buy-in at the highest levels of the company. 
  2. Focus—A clear vision of how to achieve marketing effectiveness and its impact on business growth. 
  3. Data Tools and Measurement—A system for gaining and evaluating marketing insights. 
  4. Process—Applying insights to marketing activities for improved business impacts. 

Using these four areas of effectiveness as a guide, WFA released a report titled “Creating a Global Culture of Marketing Effectiveness” that provides a broad view of the challenges surrounding marketing effectiveness based on an extensive survey of marketers around the world.  

The research’s findings? Overall, marketers score their culture of marketing effectiveness a middling 6.5 out of 10. That’s not terrible, but there's plenty of room for growth. And based on the four quadrants, "Process" clearly needs the most improvement, being scored just a 5.7. The problem with process seems to be tied to marketers' tendency to overly focus on execution of tactics, rather than exploring “why” they invest in those tactics. 

So, how do we fix it? How do marketers develop work that’s truly effective?  

Well, the solution likely starts with measurement. Just over half of marketers believe they have the right tools to analyze past marketing performance. Even fewer (34%) feel equipped to predict future outcomes. And without being able to measure or predict results, it's impossible to gain insights to guide marketing strategy. 

But even when measurement is healthy, insights gathered from performance aren’t always applied to marketing decision-making. Most respondents agreed their insight function too often sits outside of the decision-making rhythm of the rest of the marketing function. Taking action to intentionally consider past and projected performance is critical when making decisions about which marketing channels to invest in, creative strategy, and much more. 

And finally, better inter-departmental collaboration could help businesses align on marketing goals and marketing's impact on the overall business. This would create a source for both accountability and support for the marketing team as they work toward their goals.

Key Takeaway: Understanding marketing effectiveness isn’t just about strategy execution—it’s about knowing the 'why' behind each step in your strategy and having metrics to measure their impact.


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