At Hitachi Vantara, our marketing team is over 250 strong and equipped with a significant budget that sprawls across the globe. One of our biggest challenges is ensuring that we maintain accurate budget data from individual data points contributed by individual marketers around the world. While a single data point may seem insignificant, every marketer who has managed a budget understands the data butterfly effect. One small data entry issue in a single budget can cause a ripple effect that reverberates across an entire organization’s investment data and impacts the accuracy of assumed ROI, potentially compromising the overall accuracy of the bottom line. Just as one marketer’s data cannot exist in a vacuum, the Marketing department itself is fundamentally tied to an organization’s overall understanding of revenue.
Now, I realize I’ve painted a rather daunting picture. But after years of navigating these challenges, I have identified three essential strategies for managing data to ensure you’re able to deliver a holistic view of your ROI. After implementing these strategies at Hitachi, our Marketing department was able to manage its spend so effectively that we came within dollars of our target on a multi-million dollar base budget.
Closely monitor your budget data
Today, every marketing team strives to be data-driven, but it is difficult to ensure that the numbers are accurate and telling the full story. At Hitachi, we use a combination of Allocadia and Salesforce Einstein to monitor data. We track daily campaign revenue and budget data in Allocadia during the day, then move it into Salesforce every evening. This method allows simple, constant monitoring that catches data entry errors that could otherwise go unnoticed and cause much larger problems down the road. Daily monitoring and updating can also reveal potential opportunities.
If a marketer is given $100,000 for an activity but only spends $96,000, the extra $4,000 might just languish in a spreadsheet. If this data is monitored and updated regularly, that extra $4,000 can be identified, reinvested and maximize the marketing department’s overall ROI. Regular data monitoring also enables regional managers and directors to easily check in and gain a clear sense of the overall marketing pipeline and revenue impact in real time. With this process, I can tell you on a monthly basis where we spent our budget, allowing us to adjust spending and be a more nimble marketing organization. Without quality, up-to-date data, investment decisions become incredibly risky and uninformed.
Have a comprehensive and interconnected view of ROI everyone can agree on
Previously at Hitachi Vantara, we had our marketing programs and budgets tracked in different ways and separated out across different geographies. With this method, the only consistency was the constant disconnect between finance and marketing. It was generally expected that the marketing department would be over budget each quarter, but the management team couldn’t accurately predict by how much. This led to an overall lack of confidence in the marketing department’s ability to accurately measure and report ROI data and offered no clear system for reallocations and adjustments.
To fix this, we gave finance and marketing access to the same single marketing management platform, Allocadia, to ensure all teams were seeing the same numbers. All parties now have full visibility into the same data sets, synced throughout the organization. With this single platform in place, our finance department has a newfound confidence in marketing’s ability to track and report on its performance, empowering marketers to take control and truly understand their impact.
Build in flexibility
I run marketing operations like I play golf. Playing golf is not just about hitting the ball, you have to manage the course and work backward from the green to achieve the end objective of sinking the ball in the hole while using the fewest strokes possible. The same is true in marketing: to reach your objective and optimize your performance, you must start with strategic planning. This includes building in the ability to change plans last-minute to maximize an unforeseen opportunity or avoid an unexpected risk. All of the marketing data in the world is useless if your organization can’t use it to make needed adjustments. To be prepared for the unexpected, integrate your planning, investment, and execution data together. This will allow you to see a full picture at a glance and understand how best to adjust the core plan to changing circumstances, enabling a nimbler approach.
With these simple steps in place, you and your marketing team can have the ability to intelligently maximize opportunities that would have been missed before, reliable insights to share with the rest of your organization, and empowered marketers executing upon dynamic plans. Data points are everywhere — it is up to you to harness them and make them useful.