Great Expectations: What a CEO Would Say to a Digital Marketing Manager

It’s a classic challenge for digital marketers, how to tie marketing activities to revenue and gain the support of the C-Suite. The pressure to prove marketing’s role in pipeline growth is greater than ever in the digital age.

Put simply, CEO’s want to know how marketing activities are driving sales and revenue. Gone are the days of the traditional marketer as brand ambassador, event planner and awareness builder. CEO’s want to know if the investment in marketing is positively impacting the bottom line.

Often, what marketers report to the CEO and what the C-Suite wants to hear are two different things. If CEO’s could talk candidly to the marketing department, here’s what many would say.

“Show me the data.”

Marketing is increasingly becoming data driven. Used and analyzed the right way, the data available to digital marketers can help them prove their worth to the CEO.

Forrester research analysts recommend the following data sources to help you inform the C-suite and secure the funding you need for your next marketing cycle:

1. Previous Campaigns

CEO’s want to see the connection between social marketing and positive business outcomes. Showing wins from previous social campaigns can build support for future social campaigns and the budget needed to carry them out. At the same time, filter out campaigns that did not perform well.

2. Data Analytics Platforms

The speed and size of marketing data requires a tool that can generate qualitative and quantitative insights. Forrester recommends marketers make social intelligence and data analytics a priority in order to gain the attention and support of the C-Suite.

By using marketing analytics to track attitudes and behaviors, digital marketers can accurately reflect those insights in measurement scorecards and reports to the CEO.

3. Third Party Research

In order to improve your credibility with company leaders, validate your internal findings with third-party data when possible. While internal data and research is valuable, it may be dismissed as self-supporting. Executives will find support from an objective source difficult to ignore.

Bottom line, use your data to help your CEO clearly understand that marketing is the path to new sources of revenue and differentiation.

“I don’t want to hear about social engagement.”

Social engagement is measured as the percentage of people who saw a post and liked, shared, clicked or commented on it. While engagement is easy to measure, in the eyes of the CEO, it’s not a direct source of revenue.

According to Forrester, social vendors have not been able to prove if, or how strongly, social engagement correlates to sales or loyalty metrics.  Facebook itself admits that social engagement does not equal persuasion or prove success.

“Online engagement metrics are a proxy for interest, but they are not a reliable indicator of the content’s persuasiveness.”  -Facebook for Business, Advertising Guide

Instead, choose a set of metrics that show a logical link between marketing activities and business goals achieved.

“Connect the dots and show me the big picture.”

More is not necessarily better when it comes to reporting to senior leaders. Don’t get caught up in the number of spreadsheets and reports you’re able to present to management.  Instead, give them a big picture of how marketing is performing.

The best way to do this is to break down your marketing silos and collect information in a way that shows how multiple channels and activities combine to increase performance.

Just remember, the number one priority for the CEO is driving profits. The more you can show marketing’s connection to revenue generation, the easier it will be to lobby your case, gain backing from senior leaders and increase the role of marketing in future business decisions.

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