Measurement. It’s the topic that public relations and communications professionals regularly debate and want to improve – but doing so is a continual challenge.
The softer arguments for investing in marketing of any kind, for a combination or all of the goals of brand awareness, brand development and relationship-building with new and existing customers, are generally accepted.
However, demonstrating return on investment is something that in-house and agency-side communications practitioners still need to justify to their Directors.
First of all, it is almost impossible to set firm KPIs from a PR campaign built around a monthly retainer. If your main scope of work is filling in a timesheet, then deliverables and activity can be mere sideshows. This traditional way of working is one of the reasons PR has developed a bad name.
Fortunately, the tide is changing. As awareness of the need to measure PR output grows, supported by the recent AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework, the adoption of systems and processes to manage marketing communications measurement have increased accordingly.
Platform Adoption: The Marketing Automation Stack (MAS)
Take CRM systems as a first example. They should never be purely the domain of the sales team to log and prioritise leads. They should provide marketers with significant data, which can be analysed to demonstrate the value of and better PR and communications – and ideally, that data should come from both potential and current clients.
In our recent research report, ‘A Perfect Match: ABM and ABS’, 59% of 200 senior B2B Sales and Marketing decision-makers said they use a CRM system to gather, retain and take action on information about both groups. As more and more marketing teams understand the possibilities of automation, the needle is beginning to shift around measurement.
So it’s natural, we would argue, that a strategy must demonstrate how this content is delivered in a tailored, relevant and timely way to each audience segment, through as many channels as possible. Integrated marketing is proven to be more effective in terms of awareness, recall and consideration, than single-channel marketing. Not only does this approach increase return on investment, but it retains the consistency of messaging to the audiences, regardless of how they consume information.
Which brings us onto marketing automation software, sometimes combined with a CRM system, or integrated with it. By connecting social media channels, blogs, forms, email marketing and more to a platform such as Hubspot, savvy marketing teams can track leads directly from content created by the PR and communications agency.
Delivering Marketing Leads to Sales Teams
Take our client, Omnico, for whom we launched the first, and now established, Retail Gap Barometer – created to chart the gap between consumer expectations in an omni-channel world, and the reality of retailers to deliver upon them – at the start of our engagement.
Rather than taking the survey data, creating a press release and simply delivering a quality volume of media coverage, our partnership with the client has led to a vast variety of asset creation, including reports, eDMs, sales brochures, eBooks and more. With this approach, Omnico was able to attribute more than £12million in qualified sales leads to our work alone by tracking the campaign through their marketing automation platform.
It’s results from projects like these which prove multi-channel marketing can have a demonstrable benefit in generating sales opportunities for B2B brands. Encouragingly, our research found that 89% of both professional groups agreed with the statement that their company’s marketing efforts have a positive impact on sales efforts and lead generation.
Evolution not Revolution
Armed with the impact and measurement of our work for Omnico and other clients, we have been able to put metrics against our work which grab the attention not just of the sales and marketing teams, but the boardroom too.
And it is a key starting point for us with prospects and clients. The question “Do you use a CRM and marketing automation system?” has become one of the first we ask senior marketers and PRs at our first point of engagement. It can fundamentally alter the capabilities of and deliverables in our campaigns and moves the conversation from one of coverage volume to sales leads – right from the start.
By Tom Lee, Account Director