Brian Carroll

The Difference Between ROI and Marketing Accountability

What’s the difference difference between ROI and marketing accountability? My post a few weeks ago, "On B2B Demand Generation tools and Lead Generation Dashboards," started an email exchange between me and Jeffrey Eisenberg on the subject. Our exchange spawned an article by Bryan Eisenberg over at ClickZ.

Bryan writes, "Measuring the ROI of lead generation isn’t the same thing as full accountability. If marketing is a profitable activity, it still doesn’t mean that what it is communicating to the universe of buyers is building the business. I’ve seen lots of marketers sacrifice early and middle stage buyers because they had to show an immediate ROI on each campaign they ran. Who is accountable for all the potential business they lose by saying the wrong the thing to the right people at the wrong time?"

I agree with Jeffrey. I think our "instant gratification" culture is the main culprit. We’re a Fast Food Nation, and this mindset has permeated into how we do business.

For example, most CEOs feel that they aren’t getting enough activity at the top of the sales funnel. Marketers are constantly reminded that more leads are needed…now!

So here’s the challenge that most marketers face…they want to think long term but keep getting sucked in by the more immediate and pressing issue of a not having enough high quality sales leads.

We all want our ROI, and we want it now! So who’s to blame? The CEOs who cower to the will of their investors, boards, analysts and media? The investors who applaud short-term returns in their portfolio? The analysts who predict the future success of a company and then punish them for falling short? The media who criticize leaders for thinking long-term?

In addition, we can’t ignore research showing the average tenure of a CEO is six years. But for a marketing leader, it’s less than 24 months. So I think fear plays a role, too.

Bryan replies, "So many companies are still scraping the bottom end of their sales funnel while many potential prospects are left unsold. The soution?"

Continue reading at ClickZ:The Difference Between ROI and Marketing Accountability.

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Current Affairs, Lead Management, Leadership, Marketing Strategy, ROI Measurement



  1. | #1

    Part of the problem with ROI is that a financial concept is applied to a non-financial activity. Sure, marketing and sales activity should result in financial results but the misuse of specific business language in an effort to get understanding from the Board is only piling pressure on marketers and communicators.

    One of the definitions of ROI is the ratio of how much profit or cost saving is realised from an activity against its actual cost, expressed as a percentage. In reality few marketing or communication programmes can be expressed in that way because of the problems in putting a credible financial value to the results achieved. In 2004, the UK’s Institute of Public Relations said, “this (use of ROI in PR campaign) is not only confusing but misleading” when the term PR ROI is used loosely. Unless the objectives of the activity are solely to achieve a sales or financial outcome, ROI is meaningless.

    For marketers, the application of ROI limits their role to sales support and ignores the brand and reputational issues. In PR, I’ve long argued that the use of business language is a fundamental sign of insecurity and a lack of confidence. It seems that marketing has the same affliction.

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