CMO Strategy Series: How Can We Measure Success During and Post-COVID

Written by Julia Stead, CMO at Allocadia

As we near the end of the quarter, measuring performance is being pushed to the forefront of conversations. This first full quarter with COVID-19 impacting businesses has been a whirlwind: we went from chaos and triage to building a roadmap to recovery. You can’t compare the results of the past three months to anything historically – it’s not apples to apples. Measuring performance was already a difficult process, now it’s almost impossible. 

Talking with other CMOs, we’ve all wondered:

Are our benchmarks still relevant? What does success look like for this quarter? For 2020?

Engagement is the Metric that Matters 

To paint a full picture, marketing organizations should have an array of metrics and benchmarks they are measuring themselves against. But with the need to be agile and pivot plans quickly, we can’t consult every single metric before making a decision. What are the metrics marketing leaders should focus on to inform their strategy and every iteration? 

In our recent expert panel, Leading Through a Crisis: How to Adopt a ‘Wartime’ CMO Mentality, one metric we identified as consistently relevant is engagement. 

  • How are customers engaging with the product? 
  • How are they engaging with content? 
  • How are prospects engaging at different stages of the funnel? 

Engagement is critical because it helps explain the changes to purchasing cycles. How target accounts approach and interact with your content pre-COVID and post-COVID can look very different. Change happens so quickly that quarterly – or even monthly – analysis isn’t going to cut it. For example, Allocadia’s corporate marketing team is reviewing top performing content assets every two weeks to stay on top of trends. Your prospects have different needs, different resources, and face a new set of challenges. The content your marketing organization publishes and promotes should speak to this.

I’m paying closer attention to every stage of the constantly changing buyer’s journey, looking for trends and insight. Personally, I’m looking at the changes in opportunity conversion rates, and identifying where things are slowing down. Together with Sales, Marketing is taking an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to troubleshoot and come up with ideas to improve. If I were a CMO at a B2C marketing organization, I’d still be focused on the buyer’s journey but I would be looking at channel performance. Without the in-person connections, it’s critical to foster the e-commerce buyer’s journey and create a cohesive digital experience. 

The Next Normal of Measuring Performance

The first month of COVID was mostly triage: quickly pivoting plans and seeing what we could save and what had to go. A lot of marketers spent the first month holding onto plans as a “just in case”. But that ship has long sailed – “just in case” is over and we need to build a roadmap to recovery that accounts for the next normal, not what could have been.

To realistically measure success, one of our first changes at Allocadia was target setting. We are setting smaller, more frequent goals to understand and measure what’s achievable right now. The increased frequency of goalposts helps us stay on top of trends and keeps the team and myself motivated to keep reaching for the next target. It’s impossible to predict how long we will continue to set goals at this frequency, but I like how it hones our focus as a team. 

Depending on how much your strategy and plans have changed for the quarter and the rest of the year, you may need to build new data sets to measure performance. Understanding new buyer intent is a top priority – I want to understand it better than we did before and understand how it has changed. What aspect of our product is most appealing to buyers? What campaigns could we run to bring awareness? With this in mind, the next step is prioritizing resources and budget to support that goal.

A data set we’re giving extra attention is keyword search volumes and trends. I want to know – as does every CMO – if consumers are still searching and shopping. And if they are, I definitely want to know how their buyer research and needs have changed. Recently, our keyword research showed a greater need for targeted, succinct messaging. Was it always necessary to have targeted, succinct messaging? Yes. But with less shoppers, this need is heightened and it’s become even more important to grab the attention of the right audience at the right time. 

Define the Outcome Then Work Backwards

Marketing should always have been an outcome oriented department – success is using what you have to achieve the desired outcome. Start with your goals and work backwards to factor in your current resources. If in-person events are no longer an option for the next year, what resources are at your disposal to create a similar outcome? 

This is where I think scenario planning becomes essential. With the desired outcome in mind, think of two or three scenarios to achieve your goal that map out different options of revenue performance and build an investment plan for each. Based on where your revenue is at – be it good, okay, or bad – you’ve already got a plan in place to quickly invest at the right level. 

With our new targets and back-up plans in place, we come back around to measurements. Engagement is both our biggest goal and the metric we’re most focused on. How many prospects are tuning into our webinars and reading our eBooks? Did they share it? How far did they make it through our content? All of these questions tell us how engaged prospects are and where they sit in the funnel. Success is nurturing the engagement all the way through the buyer’s journey. 

If you missed our recent expert panel, Leading Through a Crisis: How to Adopt a ‘Wartime’ CMO Mentality, with Heidi Melin, CMO at Workfront, Anton van Deth, CMO at Apptio, Elle Woulfe, VP Growth Marketing at InVision, and myself you can catch it and the top tips right here.

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