paul-roetzerYour new book, The Marketing Performance Blueprint lays out why and how businesses should be more closely measuring their marketing efforts. So what is performance marketing?

Performance-based marketing asks about the outcomes of actions. How many people did a particular action drive to the website? How many of those people became customers? Did we get more customers from social media than we did from email marketing or from paid advertising?

Technology has made it possible to measure the effectiveness of everything and that’s the blessing and the curse of marketing today. It makes it possible to let you know what you’re doing is working.

Why do you think so many brands have trouble integrating performance-based techniques into their marketing strategies?

When we started doing research for the book, it was surprising to find out how little progress has been made.

We cite a number of statistics: 76 percent of marketers think marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the past 50. A survey from 2013 found that only 36 percent of CMOs can quantitatively prove the short-term impact of marketing spend.

So while everyone knows all this change is happening, marketers still aren’t really able to quantitatively prove the impact of what they’re doing.

Why do you think that’s the case?

Roetzer's new book, The Marketing Performance Blueprint.

Roetzer’s new book, The Marketing Performance Blueprint.

There are a lot of reasons. A lack of urgency is one. If sales revenue is up and profits are up, there’s limited motivation to completely transform the way you do things.

CMOs today didn’t get into their positions with performance-based marketing. If you look now at the rapid evolution of marketing technology, it can be intimidating as the head of marketing to move in that direction.

A lot of CMOs don’t know how to evaluate, select and manage marketing automation systems and they don’t necessarily know how to hire and manage marketing technologists or data scientists. And if you don’t have the right people and you don’t have the right tech, you can’t build the right strategy.

In your experience, how do you convince the c-suite – who might still be trying to understand what “digital” even means – that they should be investing to adapt their business?

The c-suite doesn’t want to be overwhelmed with how you’re going to do it and the tech you’ll need. They just want to understand that you’re going to connect with customers in a way that’s going to build relationships and that’s going to drive them to an action.

At the end of the day, it’s just marketing. It’s what it always has been, it’s just now we just have fancy new terms for it and we have different ways of doing it.

Technology has made it possible to measure the effectiveness of everything and that’s the blessing and the curse of marketing today. It makes it possible to let you know what you’re doing is working.

Is there a type of company that’s best suited to this kind of approach?

The ones that are most obvious are B2B companies that have online products, or e-commerce companies because you can monitor online traffic and performance and report in real time.

As soon as you add bricks and mortar stores, you add layers of complexity in terms of data gathering and reporting and analysis, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

In the book you explain that the customer journey involves awareness, consideration, intent, decision and validation stages, but that it doesn’t follow a linear path. Is the customer journey just a myth, then?

You still have to consider the customer journey. People still go through those stages, they’re just not following a perfect linear path, so you can’t create a marketing strategy that fits in this nice little line.

On the performance-based side, you can track what people are doing in the online environment. So even though it’s not this perfect linear journey, as a marketer you have the tools to know where people are, what they’re doing, what they’re consuming, and ideally personalize your marketing to them so that it resonates on a one-to-one level.

Marketer Scott Brinker's illustration of today's customer journey.

Marketer Scott Brinker’s illustration of today’s customer journey.

Department store Target got into hot water for monitoring people’s behaviour. So how do you track people’s interactions without creeping them out?

We tell clients this all the time: Personalize, but don’t be creepy.

An organization that has a general sales team, using a tool like Hubspot, it can know when a lead comes back to the site. If you don’t educate that sales force, there’s a chance that salesperson may immediately make a phone call or email that lead. And you’re going to creep that person out.

Instead, you teach the sales team that 24 hours within that visit they can send an email saying, “Hey, it’s been awhile since we talked, just wanted to check in to see if there’s anything I can do for you.”

There is definitely a danger of marketers and salespeople being creepy, because you do have a whole lot of information about people’s behaviour. There is not nearly enough conversation around that stuff in my opinion. You can go to industry events and never hear anything around the ethics of privacy.

Despite your commitment to data-driven marketing, you also say, “content creation, and the ability to write persuasive copy for all marketing channels, is possibly the most important fundamental modern-marketing skill.” How come?

If you give me someone who’s a good writer and can connect in a powerful way, we can teach her SEO principles, we can teach her how to run retargeting adds and how to analyze data.

But if you give me someone who doesn’t have a solid writing background and can’t craft a strong email, proposal or a strategy document, or make a convincing argument internally, then I have a really hard time teaching him those skills. That’s really what it comes down to.

So now that we have, as you say, “entered the age of content, context and the customer experience,” and now that brands can equip themselves with all of these measurement tools, what does that mean for the traditional full-service agency?

I think a lot of traditional agencies are struggling and I think they will continue to struggle. I honestly don’t believe that a lot of them will survive the next ten years.

A study by CMO Council shows that nine percent of senior marketers believe traditional ad agencies are doing a good job of evolving and extending their service capabilities in the digital age. So what I’d ask agencies is, “where will the other 91 percent turn?”

In his own words

Click here to listen to Paul Roetzer explain why agencies should drop billable hours and adopt value-based pricing models.

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