Marketers ‘stuck in comfort zone’ amid continuing focus on clicks, shares and likes

Liz-Miller 2Marketers are still not measuring the performance of their digital advertising strategies in any meaningful way with the ongoing failure branded “incredibly frustrating” by the Chief Marketing Officer Council.

CMO Council chief executive Liz Miller said she “rolls her eyes” when hearing of the metrics still being used to gauge the success of a campaign.

Marketers talk a good game and are demonstrating “bravado” but ultimately they are “stuck in their comfort zone” and continue to fall back on clicks, likes and shares, she said.

The comments came at the release of research from Adobe and the CMO Council which showed marketers are focused on digital but failing to demonstrate its worth to the bottom line. That, in turn, is preventing them from presenting a strong enough business case to receive a larger budget, the study said.

“We found that despite the knowledge that digital has a mandate for the future and a mandate for success, we are having a hard time getting there.” Miller said. “What is really holding us back is this campaign-centered approach where everything goes into a silo and into a neat little bucket-world of digital marketing where you have your website and social and your advertising and SEO.

“What we are failing to connect is how all of these individual points on the journey link back to the customer. And because we are only looking at those campaigns in a limited view we are beginning to question whether whether digital really can impact the business.”

The report said Australian marketers are still focused on “single vector metrics” that measure past success or single campaign performance rather than “harder business metrics” such as customer lifetime value.

Asked if she was surprised at the findings, Miller said: “I wish I was. That is the incredibly frustrating thing. I feel like a broken record.

“When we get CMOs in a room they say ‘we are driving the business, we are orchestrators of the customer experience’.

“Then you ask them for their top five metrics and they say cost per lead, clicks, social media metrics. You kind of have to roll your eyes a bit.

“We don’t seem to focus on those metrics of revenue and that is the only universal language of business.”

Many marketers are “stuck in the comfort zone”, Miller added, arguing they need to be more proactive about “defining what measures we want to capture that will impact the business”.

“That must happen before we execute the campaigns rather than only thinking about them when we are filling out our awards submission,” she said.

The study of almost 650 marketers across Australia and Asia Pacific found that only 16 per cent of local marketers measure truly relevant business metrics such as revenue per customer, down from 36 per cent in the 2013 survey.

Seven out of 10 are still measuring click through rates and 73 per cent are looking at response rates.

“It’s not a matter of throwing away clicks and web metrics because they are important in spot checking performance. But we have to start integrating new measures that do actually speak to the business,” Miller said.

Those marketers who are looking at bottom line metrics are far more successful in receiving larger budgets for digital marketing, the study suggests.

“Those metrics are what the CFO perks up to and you’ll be able to make those business cases,” Miller said.

She added that too many marketers are also using social media as a “fast, cheap advertising push channel” rather than one to truly engage with consumers.

Describing social as the “great experiment”, Miller said most brands in all regions are using social for self serving reasons.

“They are not engaging with people who are in social because they view it as a conversation,” she said. “Marketers regard it as a fast cheap advertising push channel. We try to go into the conversation in a horribly inauthentic way.”

The research also found the top digital priorities for Australian marketers was strengthening the digital content strategy (68 per cent), deeper customer profiling and insights (51 per cent) and social media optimisation (50 per cent).

Steve Jones


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