For 20 years, we have been digitalizing marketing processes in large and medium-sized companies. And in that time, we have noticed that the reasons why marketing teams are not as efficient as they’d like to be are almost always the same. One classic example is spreadsheet overload.
We spoke to Ralf E. Strauß, President of the German Marketing Union, to compile a list of the seven most common pitfalls for CMOs. As one of the top consultants for digitalization in marketing Strauß can confirm that “when undertaking a digital audit to investigate the challenges faced by the head of marketing, we often see that the problems lie in very fundamental areas.” We compiled this list so you can benefit from his insights and avoid making these common mistakes:
They have no centralized planning
Excel and PowerPoint are still two of the most popularly used tools for campaign and budget planning – even though they were designed for entirely different purposes. The advantage of Office applications is clear: They are cheap. And many marketers are real Excel ninjas. So why switch to a new tool when Office has proven itself again and again?
The answer is simple: You cannot create a centralized plan using Excel files. Instead of planning campaigns and budgets on one platform, you have to grapple with ten different Excel sheets. There are several reasons why this is problematic.
Firstly, maintaining any sort of overview is impossible. To be able to professionally plan campaigns, you need to collect data on various marketing parameters: Target group, time period, budgets, KPIs, channels, content, etc. If this information is not centrally available, but rather spread across several Excel documents, you not only waste a great deal of time searching for the information, but the data sets cannot be linked.
Secondly, a great deal of time has to be invested in working together with different departments and stakeholders to constantly update the various documents. Most of the time, this means that the plans are, at some point, no longer kept up to date as the time and effort involved is simply too great.
Which brings us to our third point: As no one takes the time to keep updating the plans, there is no documentation of which measures were actually implemented – making it impossible to evaluate their overall effectiveness.
In our work, we often see that many marketers take for granted that marketing planning is arduous and time-consuming. But it doesn’t have to be that way: As soon as they start working with a professional planning tool, they realize how much extra work was involved before. This is something our customers say again and again – such as the international investment management company Invesco or electrics and electronics manufacturer WAGO.
They are measuring the wrong KPIs
The term KPI has become part of the basic vocabulary of every marketer. But it is often not much more than an empty buzzword that describes quantities that provide no real information.
Here is an example: One popular KPI is the number of likes for a social media post. But in themselves, likes don’t mean anything – unless they are placed in relation to the post’s aim.
If the purpose of the post is to create awareness for the brand, placing value on the number of likes makes sense. But if the aim was to hold a clearance sale, these figures don’t say much. In this case, it makes more sense to analyze the number of products sold during the sale or to track the revenue generated.
Many companies lack a KPI framework or DuPont analysis to show which aims and related target quantities are connected and which figures influence each other.
So, the maxim is as follows: Do not examine KPIs in isolation – always define them in consideration of the overarching objective. Finally, KPIs do not just exist to achieve marketing aims, but should also ensure that nobody loses sight of the business objectives.
Their analysis data is not being centrally collected
If no overarching KPI framework is defined when developing marketing measures, the impact will be felt in their operative implementation – at the very latest during the reporting stage. The larger a marketing department, the more impenetrable reporting can become. Social media, digital advertising, e-commerce, media planning – each element is evaluated separately and perhaps even by different internal teams and external agencies. At the end of the process, you are faced with dozens of jigsaw pieces that simply do not fit together and – warning, buzzword – result in a data silo situation.
With no central planning, out-of-date campaign plans, and no platform to consolidate the analysis data, any marketing director is in trouble at the latest when the managing director asks the dreaded question: “So what are we doing when and in which target markets on topic X?” Instead of simply glancing at a campaign plan and checking its implementation status, you have no other option than to run round in circles and ring up the various agencies – while usually still being left without any satisfactory answers at the end of it all.
They’ve lost track of budget and costs
Another dreaded question is: “What are we spending our marketing budget on and what is the result?” To answer this question, you need an overview of all expenses and the performance of each individual channel. After all, the aim is to find out which measures work best and are the most cost-efficient so that the company can invest in the best channels.
You can end up trapped in a vicious circle: You need centralized planning to maintain an overview of expenses and know which measures are the most effective and efficient. Only then can you better plan for the future – and achieve more with less budget.
They aren’t managing media files on a central platform
DAM, Digital Asset Management, is now well and truly part of marketing jargon, and for good reason. Although there are many different options for centrally managing files, the assets still end up parked at five different agencies and on four different systems.
Never mind the fact that metadata such as copyright details and license terms come into play with media files, in many companies the problems start with version control. Or are you not familiar with the file name draft_coverpicture_blogarticle_August_final_2_complete_V3.docx?
They are wasting time with manual processes
We have already described in detail here how digitalization is often simply a buzzword, with not much of a concept behind it. Roughly summarized: Digitalization in marketing does not mean storing Excel plans on SharePoint. It means using digital tools for their intended purpose – and thereby increasing efficiency and making processes easier.
The reason behind the reluctance to digitalize manual processes is this: they may be inconvenient and complicated, but they work. Approval is a classic example. In large companies, approval processes can be complex due to the many different stages involved. Before advertising material can be printed, it needs to be seen by various departments. Of course, you can send an employee to run through the building with an approval folder, collecting signatures – but, over the course of a year, this adds up to a huge number of working hours that could be more efficiently used for other tasks.
Another time guzzler is reporting. Even after the correct KPIs have been defined, the analysis data usually still needs to be compiled and processed using various tools, another tedious task. Many CMOs wish they had a dashboard where all the data was collected automatically, where you could simply push a button to see the information for the current reporting requirements.
They’re not managing their marketing – it is managing them
The overall picture is one of a lack of control. Instead of managing their marketing via a central console, CMOs spend their time fighting fires (those dreaded questions), avoiding mid-level catastrophes (e.g. printing marketing material without approval), and relying on gut instinct to work out whether they are reaching their target group effectively and cost-efficiently.
That doesn’t sound great, does it. But there is some good news. It isn’t difficult to regain control. Marketing technology has undergone rapid development over the last few years so there are many different sophisticated solutions on the market. There is such a range of products available that the challenge is to select the correct tools and put together the right martech stack for your company.
Some tools cover individual sub-areas of marketing, such as social media, marketing automation, and analytics, while Marketing Resource Management products are increasingly being used by large marketing teams to keep sight of the bigger picture.
MRM solutions are a modern marketer’s central control unit: They replace the many scattered Excel sheets and ensure that the different threads of marketing come together on one platform.
Essentially, MRM covers the following areas:
- Strategic marketing planning
- Campaign planning
- Budget planning
- Expense tracking
- Project management
- Teamwork coordination
- Centralized data storage and management
- Reporting and monitoring
But MRM is not right for every company or company size. For example, MARMIND was developed specifically to meet the needs of large marketing departments and can be customized if needed.
Take our test to find out whether MRM is right for you and your team.