Zee Jeremic is a Master Consultant and the CEO of Mass Engines and has amassed over 15 years of experience in marketing and sales automation. This topic is top of mind for a lot of people! As we analyze our budgets and figure out where to spend and where not to spend, it’s critical to be cautious. At the beginning of this chat, Zee shared his insights on why marketing analytics is such a struggle.
Why is there so much friction in marketing analytics?
“Simply put, analytics is a struggle for marketing for a number of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is history. Historically, marketing has primarily been responsible for creating awareness, which isn’t necessarily something that’s easy to quantify. Historically, marketing has always been focused on, ‘we’ve got to build a brand, we have got to create awareness in this space. So we have got to run ads.’ And you know most of the analytics marketers are used to looking at are impressions; impressions on ads, clickthroughs on ads. However, what happens with the clickthroughs afterward? When we’re looking at the B2B domain when it comes to marketing, it usually stops with lead generation. But again, even that’s a whole rich topic around ‘what is a lead.’”
One of the causes for misalignment between business units is the question of what’s a lead? If you don’t have your definitions nailed down and you don’t stick to them, whether that’s inadvertent with system setup or maybe you’re trying to hit a goal, you’re going to create a lot of tension between teams. Also, because we use so many tools in marketing, we don’t speak the same language as the rest of the business. We get a lot of difficult data to stitch together. One thing that’s interesting is we haven’t standardized metrics in marketing. When you look at other departments, sales, product development, customer success, even they tend to use really consistent metrics from business to business.
Zee offered his opinion on whether this is hurting marketing and the potential solutions that may be applied to it:
“Is it hurting? Absolutely! Can something be done? Absolutely! Is it easy? No! This is one of the reasons, it hasn’t been done yet. Marketing is growing up into a more mature practice that’s going to define metrics, which are going to be universal. However, the process is both painful and hairy. The active process of getting agreement and standardization around what’s worthwhile and what is not is challenging. Let’s talk about leads, something as simple as a lead, there are different definitions of what a lead is. Even within an organization, marketing teams may have a different definition of what a lead is when compared with sales teams. You start looking at operational elements of the business like the financial aspect, and they will again have their own definitions. This misalignment is a major obstacle.”
What are the “big guns” of marketing technology?
Zee went on to elaborate on what are some of the “big guns” of marketing technology are at the moment.
“I’ve got a fairly strong point of view on this topic, especially in terms of B2B marketing and sales. The big guns for me are marketing automation and sales automation in CRM. I think those two are no-brainers. The beautiful thing is there should be no difference whether you’re a $5 million scaling business or a $100 million or $1 billion business. These systems are foundational and there’s been enough maturity now there are different types of systems that you can adopt that will deliver the core functionality regardless of your size. Then again, you start talking of enterprise functionalities, you will need a little more integration and customization and you can look to these kinds of systems.
“Even if we’re getting tactical here around the systems, I think for better or worse, Salesforce has won the CRM battle. They are the dominant platform. It’s not a cheap system, but at the same time, the fact that you pay by license means it does actually scale well for both smaller and larger organizations. If you don’t have many salespeople, you are not going to pay as much as a bigger organization. The beautiful thing for big companies is you’ll be paying a lot, but have so much flexibility and power from this platform. What most people don’t understand about Salesforce is it isn’t just a CRM tool. Yes, it’s a CRM, but CRM is an MO, just a small part of it. It’s also a massive sales automation platform. That to me is why I think they’ve actually won the CRM battle.
“When you look at marketing automation, again it is a little more complex, but certainly you have more established, larger systems and a number of smaller systems. HubSpot is a great example of a system that used to be meant for small to mid-sized businesses, but it’s quickly elevating itself beyond the mid-market. What shocked me over the last year or two is to see even a traditional ESP system (Email Service Provider), like a simple one like MailChimp, build key elements of marketing automation and essentially provide a very cost-effective platform for smaller businesses to get core marketing automation capabilities. When you look at your funnel, the only other system I’m even going to talk about when you have CRM and marketing automation is the ability to host a website.”
Potential missteps companies make when investing in marketing technology
Zee went into detail about the core potential missteps businesses make when it comes to investing in marketing technology and signs that they’re over-investing in it.
“It’s very straightforward. An organization needs to identify a need. For example, we need a marketing automation system. Most organizations will run an RFP. Then, they’ll do their research and ultimately all decision makers want the best solution on the table. Most businesses are looking at what other companies are using. What’s the best solution? Before you know it, you’re buying a system that’s the best solution. That’s a system that maybe most other organizations are using, but that’s more likely way more than you need.
“We’ve seen this time and again. Marketing organizations that have a team of let’s say 10 marketers are buying systems that are meant for teams of hundreds. If you have a team of 100 marketers, you’re going to have a small team of marketing operations professionals who can run the programs in these bigger and more complex, Ferrari-style platforms. If you have half of marketing ops’ resources, the reality is you will need a simpler system since you just don’t have the complexity and what will the complexity do? It gives you the power, but what most people don’t realize is it constrains you because of the amount of time you’ve got to invest to be able to harness that power which takes away from the bread and butter of marketing that is running campaigns.”
Companies not willing to invest in marketing ops are more than willing to invest in a giant platform and that’s frustrating. That’s like putting a cart before the horse. Additionally, there might be an admin or even a functional player in marketing who has used a certain system and is used to it. They want to see it again without thinking through all of the pieces that need to be put in a very specific order for it to function the way they are used to seeing it functioning. Zee agrees.
“It’s a bit of human folly. What’s comfortable, and what’s familiar creates the illusion of being ideal. It’s a shortcut, all of us operate with shortcuts. How do we conserve energy? But really, it’s the goal we should look at. What’s the problem we’re trying to solve? What’s the goal we are trying to achieve? Then, you look at what tools including processes do we need to get there and that’s much harder to do. There’s so much pressure on marketing professionals, particularly as a result of the shortcuts being taken. They work in the short term, but you damage yourself in the mid to long term.
“We’ve seen time and again, a lot of our engagements come from companies buying tools that even if they’re not too much for them, they are still unable to utilize the product they invested in. So it’s easy to say it’s not about investing in the services. It’s about investing in the knowledge that you need to operate the platform. The knowledge doesn’t have to come externally. It can come internally, but you still have to hire. I think a lot of the folly comes from how technology has been evolving so quickly and how we buy technology is based on guidance from software vendors and major advisories like Forester and Gartner. Most of them are focused on the technology itself, not on what it takes to be successful with technology. What you need to think about is you might have to spend 2X to 5X and I would say 3X to 5X to maybe narrow down the knowledge to run a platform. So if you’re going to spend $100,000 on a marketing automation platform a year, you should be budgeting $300,000 to $500,000.
“Besides the knowledge required to actually get the results, those vendors will sell to you that you should be able to get what you want if you invest in the right way. However, they aren’t going to tell you all that because all of a sudden, if they tell you they’re not selling you a $100,000 solution, they are selling you a $500,000 solution, they aren’t going to get as many buyers. Therefore, the software vendors don’t have an incentive to be realistic about what it takes to be successful. The buyers also like knowing they can buy while trying to manage the budget against so many potential expenditures. They don’t ask the right questions about what is it going to take for users to achieve this vision that you and your analysts are saying is possible. So you end up with this disconnect and a lot of frustrations.”
For more content on marketing technology, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.