Marketing Executives' Focus on Social Media ROI Should Lift The Role Of Analytics

There’s a lot of promise in research released yesterday by the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG) and Anderson Analytics. MENG is a national group representing senior marketing executives from across industries. Until the revolution when digital marketers claim their rightful place as eCMOs or some such, these are the people who green-light online plans. (At this point, I should say that I’m a MENG member, agitating on your behalf from the inside.)

It’s good news that two-thirds of respondents to the Third Annual Marketing Trends Study have a more optimistic business outlook for 2010. Marketing budgets are being increased (by 24% of respondents), innovation and research and development (R&D) is being funded (36%) and about 30% of executives say they’re hiring.

You can find a complete copy of survey results at We went straight to the Online Marketing & Social Media Strategy part of the report and there it was. Overall, marketers intend to spend 45% of their budgets online this year, 55% offline. Nice, very nice.

Company size factors into the spending. Large companies (defined as having 2,000 or more employees) will spend just 30% of their budgets online versus 48% spent by small companies. That’s OK, large companies have bigger budgets. The dollars will be there.

Research is conducted to answer questions, but one looming question emerged out of this research: Will the results of heightening spending be there?

The MENG/Anderson survey is comprehensive and covers a range of topics from executives’ assessment of growth in geographic markets to their own job satisfaction. We were interested in the list of marketing concepts that respondents consider “the most important to pay attention to.”

Marketing executives’ top marketing concept for 2010? Marketing ROI. And, Social Media ROI ranked as #15.

Return on investment, that again. The ROI mandate is inescapable this year (see our post on asset managers' special challenge in demonstrating social media ROI).

But take a look at the marketers’ list of top 15 marketing concepts. Where’s Web analytics? How can anything online be evaluated without a focus, at the top of a marketing organization, on analytics?

Digital marketers, this is your call to arms. Web analytics—and we’d broaden the term to make sure it encompassed analytics of off-site strategies, too—ranks #19 on the MENG/Anderson list of marketing concepts that executives are focusing on. That’s too low for what needs to be demonstrated and understood in 2010.

This data, which may or may not reflect responses from asset management marketing executives, confirms what asset managers’ Web analysts already know. At too many organizations, analytics is a siloed capability, typically too low in a marketing structure and almost always focused on reporting as opposed to taking part in planning, anticipating, learning, testing and sharing.

In this year of “Where’s the ROI?” digital marketers need to seize the moment to communicate the value and limitations of analytics. Don’t fault the marketing leaders for analytics not being top of mind. It’s your job to command their attention. Find a way to present insights (not auto-generated reports) that widen executives’ eyes as opposed to glaze them over.

Your work, your organization’s online presence and its future effectiveness depends on your speaking up this year. Take another look at that list—how hard could it be, really, for Web analytics to unseat Blogging as a top marketing concept? Go.