Why you need governance in marketing

A young woman against a yellow background with the title Why we NEED Generally Accepted Marketing Principles
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Digivizer CEO, Emma Lo Russo, explains why it’s time to take the measure of digital marketing and make governance a priority.

In accounting, there are Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. 

In boardrooms, there’s corporate and financial governance, particularly important and mandated in law for listed and private companies.

Marketing accountability requires transparency

As greater responsibility is placed on companies to manage the experiences, privacy and safety of customers, there is now a need to consider governance in marketing

Marketing governance remains opaque. Owned media has been described as an auditing black hole, something that should alarm every business owner, CEO or board. 

And this only gets worse when you include paid media, with hard currency having an impact which can be quite material to a company’s finances.

Marketing governance, not marketing guesswork

In a world emerging from the pandemic, the global advertising market is set to grow 12 per cent this year, and to US$762 million by 2024. 

Whatever the size of your contribution to this huge number, you want to minimize what you waste. Not every marketing initiative will work. That, I think, is perfectly acceptable if you are measuring each initiative and know that’s the case. Then you can act to improve or change what you’re doing and take the lessons learned back into the business.

That’s where I think marketing governance comes in.

It’s a new take on marketing’s oldest question, about not knowing which half of your marketing spend works. 

Put another way, you need marketing governance, not marketing guesswork.

It works by going beyond being accountable up a chain of command, from the marketing executive to the marketing manager, the CMO, the COO or CEO (although those levels of accountability remain). It works best when applied across the organization, so that everyone is accountable for results, early enough for anyone to help identify insights and opportunities, to recommend making changes or to flag concerns.

Introducing GAMP – Generally Accepted Marketing Principles

There are of course principles that everyone generally accepts in marketing: the need to build brand, to develop and own share of voice, and the basic engagement measures that demonstrate success.

Measurement around cost per lead, cost per sales, cost per new customer acquisition, cost per click, cost per ad and return on advertising spend (from brand through to conversion or upsell), should all be in the centre of every marketing program.

But these are the tools used in marketing. It’s like using a ruler in protractor – you still need to understand the principles at work.

So, what are my Generally Accepted Marketing Principles?

  • Governance – providing visibility and transparency at every layer  of the organization, to know how investment in digital marketing performs, across the organization from marketing executive to CEO
  • Accountability – CMOs holding themselves accountable for the investment budget entrusted to them and the results they deliver to the organization, and holding  those they rely in turn equally accountable
  • Measurement – the measurement of the interplay of investment between organic and paid program elements, across multiple platforms, and to understand why measurements are what they are. Marketers need a single source of truth, something that anchors everything they measure
  • Performance – the insights around what’s working, and the benchmarks to continually refine performance in real-time. In the same way that scientists create hypotheses and then test them against accumulated knowledge, marketers must set benchmarks and targets, measure performance, and then reset their marketing hypotheses and test again.

Governance in marketing is therefore about measuring investments being made to deliver the best value that they can, and that those who have responsibility for that investment are able to continuously make improvements to value.  

Governing digital marketing spend

Digital marketing is powerful because you measure everything in real-time, so that you can course-correct before costing the business more than it should spend.

This is not a “deliver-once-and-wait-until-the-end-of-the-quarter-and-see” discipline. 

Digital marketing is always-on, is integrated across multiple channels, measures and reflects where all the different devices, platforms and channels that your customers can find you, and is a continuous measure-and-refine discipline. 

A laptop displaying a screen from Digivizer's marketing metrics platform
Transparent, data-driven marketing requires continuous measure-and-refine discipline and delivers the best results.

To be successful, you need to invest in continuous content, continuous measurement, continuous optimization, and a continuous balancing of creative options and calls to action, all to feed the opportunity-beast that is your collective sum of individual preferences of your  customer and prospects. 

Digital marketing is also not choosing “one platform or play” option over another: the variables change continually, and different platforms and programs need to be deployed for each customer target and objective – who are also using those different platforms for different purposes.

Marketing governance also removes the uncertainty around program management, by superimposing practices designed to reward accountability while those programs are under way. 

Eyes wide open: data-driven marketing

Marketing governance therefore creates visibility of data and insights for everyone and better decisions and better results.

We’ve seen impressive changes to the marketing cultures of companies big and small when they have adopted this type of governance approach. I get excited by companies, whatever their size, that make bold decisions based on data. And even more excited by those companies who see marketing as a set of levers that can continuously be tested and refined.

But these decisions are not brave, because they are made using data. We have seen businesses increase their ROAS by up to four times in six months by investing governance in their marketing. If you win customer shares of impressions and conversions on site, you have a strong program. If either declines, governance allows this to be picked up and the program refined. 

The benefits of marketing governance

By deploying  these four generally-accepted marketing principles of governance, accountability, measurement and performance,  a number of things happen: the marketing agenda is reset to focus on commercial results; the CMO understands the new rules of engagement and can share those with the rest of the organization and the leadership team; and the broader organization understands the measures of success.

In short, marketing governance helps you get ahead of your competitors and be first in line for customers’ attention. 

The results? Better outcomes, across programs, budgets, and the company.

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