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How Marketing Operations at GE Digital Proves How Marketing Matters

On the Customer Success team here at Allocadia, we work day in and day out with hundreds of marketing operations practitioners at companies around the globe. Their efforts are often happening behind the scenes, as they strategize, plan, budget, and analyze results to make sure every dollar counts.

It’s a critical role in an organization, and one that is increasingly being tasked with the challenge of proving Marketing’s value to the business.

How can marketing operations help to show how marketing matters? 

Kerri Westfield, GE DigitalI had the chance to ask this question to Allocadia champion, Kerri Westfield, Director of Marketing Operations at GE Digital. You can see her speak live at the Brand Marketing Summit later this month in NYC (save $200 off your ticket with code GEdigital200.)

Kerri’s strategy for measuring and communicating Marketing’s performance is a great example for all marketing operations professionals (MOPS) as they work to ensure marketing matters.

It’s all about relevant metrics, KPIs, and language.

Allocadia research found that only 21% of companies are able to point all measurements to Marketing’s contribution to revenue. This metric is a critical part of demonstrating Marketing’s impact on the business, but it’s not the only KPI that matters.

Many MOPS are holding themselves back by ONLY reporting on revenue contribution, or on the other hand, exclusively reporting at the tactical level. The truth is, strategic decisions about marketing investments are made based on our ability to answer questions at all levels of the business. 

The key is to clearly define which metrics matter – and to whom.

Kerri’s team at GE Digital leverages a three tier metrics system recommended by a mixture of SiriusDecisions modeling and a lot of best practice benchmarking and research.

a) Activity – highly granular, intended for the execution team, reviewed daily or weekly to make adjustments to campaigns.

b) Output – the result of the activities they perform as a marketing organization, reported to marketing leaders who use the information to make pivots in integrated campaigns and small resource changes.

c) Impact – KPIs that show the true impact of Marketing’s work, most commonly reported to the sales or commercial organization. Examples include number and value of sourced opportunities, pipeline value, deal velocity and conversion rates.

Shifting to speak the language of the business

These impact metrics look similar to the KPIs of a sales organization or a P&L, focusing on opportunities, pipeline, and conversion.

This is not by accident. GE Digital has crafted their metrics specifically in the language the business cares about – money, and return on investment. Often, marketing team members find themselves presenting compelling metrics that simply don’t translate to others outside the marketing organization.

Terms like the “buyer’s journey,” marketing funnel stages, and labels like “MQL” and “SAL” are not always commonly understood to anyone outside of the marketing and sales function. Educating others and providing definitions may not always be in your best interest. Instead, Kerri’s team chooses to translate marketing performance into the common lingo of the intended audience.

For example, the team added a new stage to explain the pre-opportunity work that Marketing does (traditionally called “awareness”). Instead of showing a conversion rate from “marketing qualified” to “sales qualified,” her team shows a conversion from S0 to S1.

That small change drove a major perception impact, giving Marketing a role on the pipeline-building team, just one of many strategic conversations that GE Digital’s marketing leadership is invited to, due to their ability to have the right answers to the critical questions of the business.

Now is the time to prove how marketing matters.

It’s about that time of year again when marketers don their favourite pair of boxing gloves to fight for budget dollars.

Gartner found that we are in the third consecutive year of marketing budget increases, after having spent over $290B in 2016. It may seem like great news that budgets are rising – that could mean marketing is proving its value to leadership and getting more dollars to execute our plans, right?

But, with those additional dollars comes greater expectation, especially for the beleaguered marketing operations professional. And, in an age where the CMO holds the shortest tenure in the C-suite (according to a Korn Ferry study), the pressure has never been stronger to prove marketing matters.

I’m encouraged by the effort of Kerri and her team, especially in this context. It’s no wonder why GE Digital recently won a 2017 RunMarketing Award for their best-in-class Marketing Performance Management strategies.

I highly recommend catching Kerri’s session at the Brand Marketing Summit later this month in NYC to hear more about this critical topic. Save $200 off your ticket with code GEdigital200.

See you there?