Elissa Fink, CMO of Tableau: Helping Marketers Make More Data-Driven Decisions About Growth

Discussion in 'Tableau' started by bsdinsight, Dec 24, 2017.

  1. bsdinsight

    bsdinsight Well-Known Member

    Our team of experts from the Forbes Marketing Accountability Initiative works with leading CMOs to learn how leading organizations are measuring and growing the contribution of marketing to enterprise value and growth. Elissa Fink, the CMO of Tableau Software, is a member of the Forbes Marketing Executive Council and has been at the forefront of marketing accountability her entire career. Below, I asked her how the executives Tableau works with are using data to support growth strategies, marketing resource optimization and the big trade-off decisions every organization needs to make to compete.

    Stephen Diorio: Seventy eight percent of the CMOs we surveyed in our Marketing Accountability Report feel the inability to communicate, quantify and optimize the value of marketing hurts them both professionally and personally. As a CMO is that your perspective?

    Elissa Fink: In some ways, yes. That’s why a study like this is so important – it can help marketers direct the dialogue toward accountability that becomes a consistent, measurable and standardized practices in organizations. The study defined marketing accountability as the ability to measure and optimize the contribution of marketing actions to financially relevant outcomes and growth over time. This is a critical issue and also a huge opportunity because it gives business leaders the tools to create new value and accelerate growth within their businesses.

    In my view, making more and helping people see the pay-back from that investment is an opportunity to create value. The research in this study suggested that as table stakes, marketing should be contributing at least $9 of marketing influenced sales for every dollar of spending and, depending on your line of business, 25% of enterprise value. And it’s potentially more, depending on what you are counting and how you’re recognizing marketing’s influence. What's important is that the entire team agree on the nature and size of the value marketing can deliver, and work together to achieve that.

    Diorio: One of the big things we heard from the CMOs in our Marketing Accountability study is that growth has become a “team sport”. Marketing alone cannot impact all the areas essential to driving growth – including: product, customer success, pricing, digital channel development and innovation. Given your experience as a CMO - how can organizations work more like a team?

    Fink: I think the one thing it takes to get executive leadership working together like a team is to have a common economic purpose for marketing. Since growth requires teamwork - the CEO, CFO and the entire leadership team must agree upon the economic outcomes we can generate and the contribution of marketing strategies, investments and actions to grow the business and contribute to enterprise value. Business leader buy-in is the most important foundation for success. For example, we’ve made a concerted effort to partner with sales management to deliver and show value. We do that by developing a common set of goals and we understand the overall sales funnel - above the funnel, in the funnel and even below the funnel. We all have responsibility for revenue growth and this creates a shared language and a common vocabulary – and set of economics – which allows you to have productive conversations about growth and the short and (more importantly) long term value marketing creates – particularly in terms of “owned” marketing assets like data, analytics, brand, content, and digital platforms that are increasingly important to creating real value.

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    Our business – analytics, metrics and dashboards – are a big part of that vocabulary. This includes agreement on how to measure the return on marketing investments (ROMI) because metrics themselves create value as they facilitate teamwork, speed decision-making and help us define collective goals. When there are commonly agreed upon and externally validated metrics for marketing’s contribution to enterprise value, we can work within what you might call the “marketing services supply chain” as a team, not as suppliers.

    Diorio: So what role does marketing need to play on the growth team?

    Fink: The role of marketing has really evolved to become more critical and collaborative than ever as the composition and complexity of marketing expands. The CMO needs to play a number of different roles to successfully facilitate growth and create new value. In order to grow in the current environment, an effective CMO needs to impact the following value drivers – brand strategy, voice of the customer, digital transformation, the innovation agenda and go-to-market effectiveness. When I look at these six drivers of growth – and consequently the big questions we all need to be asking about growth – I am reminded that I was lucky enough to learn early in my career – that every CMO needs to think like a CEO if they are going to be effective at their job and create growth and value.

    Diorio: Most of the marketers we spoke to told us the complexity of measuring marketing performance and the lack of externally validated standards for the financial contribution of marketing severely impede their ability to affect their growth agenda, make informed strategic decisions, and take appropriate risks. As a leader in using data to inform decisions, this what you are hearing from your customers?

    Fink: That’s a real problem for marketers, and we hear it from the CMOs we work with. Many CMOs are still making the critical trade-off, reallocation and risk investment decisions required to adapt to a dynamic and rapidly changing marketplace based on historical investment, or even “gut feel,” instead of data-driven facts. Right now, the huge investments organizations are making in marketing analytics are better suited at helping support marketing tactics than driving strategic marketing decisions. The A/B testing our marketing analytics teams use to track performance is good for marketing tactics, campaigns and little decisions. The problem is there is no A/B test for the big strategy and trade-off decisions the CMO needs to make, where you are either in or out. But I’m bullish about the future – I truly believe the more you use data and the more you see it benefiting even tactical execution, the smarter you become about your business, your market and your decisions about strategy.

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    Diorio: What’s holding them back from making more data-driven decisions?

    Fink: We often hear despite years of vetting and advances in analytics, marketers still feel they lack sufficient technologies and support to implement data-driven performance measures. Data about customers is spread out across the organization and it’s rare that any marketer has been able to bring that together. They have pockets of deep data and rich analytics – such as digital advertising – but while you hear about the 360 degree view, it’s just not reality for most of us. So while big data, analytics and technology offer the potential to increase transparency, attribution and accountability for business results, so far they have not delivered on that promise.

    And on a related basis, the vast majority of organizations cannot demonstrate ROI on data, at least in the short term. So putting large enough investments in data-related technologies and people can seem like a scary proposition. We see that challenge across businesses. After all, measuring the return on a better decision can be a very challenging thing to measure. We need to help make it faster, easier and more intuitive to bridge the last-mile problem so marketers can make the right ‘data-driven’ choices. The good news is this study reported that 98% of CMOs in the study report they are investing in data and analytics to generate measurable financial outcomes at many different stages of the customer journey, and for many of them, those budgets are rising at a fast clip over the next three years. So I’m very bullish on the future.

    Diorio: How can marketers overcome these challenges and generate financially valid growth outcomes from their large investments in data and analytics? What role should data and analytics capabilities realistically play in this process?

    Fink:. Marketing – as voice of the customer and owner of analytics and digital channels – needs to be a bigger part of the strategic decision-making process. CMOs are uniquely qualified, mandated, and armed to help inform critical trade off, reallocation, and investment decisions with data-driven facts, sales attribution measures, and customer insights. So you can see the critical role that data and analytics play.

    And when considering the role of data and analytics, it has to be foundational.

    The research also showed that high performing CMOs who dramatically exceed their growth plan by over 25% have built analytics teams - supported by systems and processes – that support their growth decisions with facts. When we look at what the market leaders are doing, we’re seeing a few trends emerge. Over 50% of organizations are making it a top priority to develop unified customer profiles by unifying data from many touch points, channels and media interactions. This allows them to connect interaction data from many online and offline channel touch points and media impressions to get a more complete picture of what is creating value. These leaders also are succeeding by leveraging first party data about customers in marketing planning and measurement from systems they already have in place including CRM, media analytics and marketing cloud solutions.

    All that being said, I think sometimes the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. Sometimes we marketers want everything and all data in place as a foundation to get started. But I think that by just getting started – just start the learning process – is fundamental. So even if a particular measure is not the perfect measure of an anticipated outcome, it still can help you learn. It can help you see the right direction. It can ask new and better questions, help you recognize new paths, open you to new ways of seeing your customers and markets. So even as our investments in analytics are rising, don’t wait for the ultimate data environment. Start using the tools you have – or bring in what you need on a pilot basis. Start exploring more and making inferences. We marketers are often out there on the edge in our markets. We have to start getting out there on the edge with our analytics – of course in a savvy and intelligent way.

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