bottom line, Chief Marketing Officer, Lifetime value of the cutsomer, LTV, Markeing ROI, Marketing Effectivemess, marketing performance, Net Present Value, ROI Marketing, segmentation

How Long Does a CMO Live?

The Book, What Sticks, Why most of the Advertising Fails and How to Guarantee Yours succeeds by Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart, says that a CMO tenure is getting shorter every year. His career, not due to stress from business, as a Chief Marketing Officer, is an average of 2 years.

Not a good thought for aspiring marketing professionals.

Increasingly, CFO and CEO are professionals with Finance background, and therefore the approach towards marketing has changed. Marketing needs to be more accountable (read predictable) and linked to balance sheet to forecast figures to the shareholders. Marketing effectiveness or Marketing ROI is the buzzword, each dollar spends needs to be accountable and marketing more scientific and metrics driven.

Hmm so there is an important question does a good Marketing ROI bring Marketing Effectiveness? Does linking Marketing to finance create the robust marketing environment, on which CMOs can jump to be CEO and be business drivers? The answer doesn’t lie so much in semantics and formula equation. It requires the understanding of what does what.

I was reading an article- “Marketing Effectiveness. It’s more than ROI” by Gordon Wyner, EVP Milward Brown. Great article which helps to define Marketing effectiveness. He states the following as the limitations of ROI…

1. ROI has two important components “R”, and “I”, Investments. Both should have proper definition and we know that the reality is otherwise. And even when “R” & “I” can be pinned down precisely, there would still be some decision that will have to be made, such as strategic decisions, macro environment impact.

2. Segmentations is one of the three pillar of marketing. The segmentation decision is extremely important and should be financially driven. However, measures of current use, purchase, revenue, and profit can always predict the Lifetime Value (LTV) of a customer.

3. It is very difficult to predict the consumer behavior change, new trends and extract the financial implication.

4. Product Designs can defy ROI calculations for several reasons. And as such only manufacturing cost can be determined.

Even if we best approximate the ROI, one won’t be able to deduce the whys was the ROI bad. An ROI analysis that focuses only on the end result would report a financial failure, but will not shed light on why it happened.

The concept of ROI is straight forward. Whether expresses as a percentage of investment or as NPV (Net Present Value) of cash flows overtime, ROI is an important component of the overall process of linking marketing to Finance. But it is not a substitute for a great understanding of how marketing works to achieve business objectives.

Financial Results is not what you see on the Balance sheet/Powerpoint presentation but in the field and it is that moment of truth that decides the result.

Maybe more CMOs need to go out in the war zone, where the real battle of share is and not just appreciate a good presentation in his swank cabin. Maybe this moment of truth will help them fight the battle harder!


brands, David Aaker, eBay, Google, Internet Marketing, Orkut, Philip Kotler, RIA, ROI Marketing, SEM, Television, Time spent on internet, Webisodes

Internet- A Sales Channel or a Branding Medium?

A food for thought, it didn’t strike me even when Google was making a presentation on Branding strategy. Spends more on building brands, as the cost of conversions on a brand keyword would be the least (roughly 5-10 times more than your average conversion). So invest in brand and reap benefits, increase your ROI and lower the cost of conversion. Perfect theory, instantly buyable. Another large part of their presentation was on how the brands will be built online- Content, display ads, RIAs video ads. You name it and it is on the internet. As a marketer and a category leader what would you do? Where would you
put the money and how much.

Lets go a little deeper, and recall the definition of brands (a difficult one and to my mind one of the very misued terms). A brand is a sum total of Product’s Physical attributes and its experience and has a name. A strong brand should be able to conjure images and experience (good/bad) in your mind. It is the holy grail of marketing, and in an ideal state, if your brand is big enough, you don’t need to advertise and waste monies (but you do that till you get there). All our B-school course, our strategy is around how to build great brands (Mr Arker has written 4 books on this theme and Mr Kotler tome must be in its 11th edition by now). However, we marketers are still pondering over on how to do it. More so, how to do it online. Or should we not?

Lets consider this small example, TV has 70 million households, and more than 500 channels. The black box has been the greatest invention for marketing so far (in my opinion and have no hard feeling with my other online loving folk). Experiments have proven that a communication has a greater impact and lasting impression when sound and Vision are in tandem. And then came the other inventions Computers and Mobiles (also with screens). And so it happened that someone (and followed by a number of whitepapers) announced the birth of second and third screen (please note that the first screen was television). And marketing was to be dominated by this genre.

In US it started about 20 years back and now they have 50% internet penetration, Singapore is 60% and Taiwan is 90%. For India, I only know the number of users and it also varries greatly, 25 Mln as per comScore, 35Mln as per IAMAI and 45 Mln as per NASSCOM. In short, though our sheer number is high, our penetration is very poor (i’ll update the penetration figures as soon I get it). In India, internet is still not a mass medium. Please consider the time spend by today’s youth on each medium (Source Business World Youth Report 2006, IAMAI 2006)

TV: 124 minutes/day
Newspaper: 30 Minutes/day
Radio: 84 minutes/day
Internet:61 Minutes/day

People do spend time online, where does the communication stick and occupy that little space, which creates a brand. Video ads, Social community, RIA, Viral, Flash Movies and webisodes are the answers. Huge engagement, huge interaction and best of all it is by choice and recommendation (by search engine). But is this good enough to create brands? Good enough to create recall and not to use the search engine to come to the website? Will it be a talking point?

Lot of brands have done it, and have been hugely successful. Google didn’t do any advertising (and maximised PR to its advantage). eBay utilised the online community and so did YouTube and MySpace. Orkut is very popular in India and they did it with 0 advertising.

And the most differentiating factor of our medium is the measurability. Internet is one of the few mediums that can define ROI (Direct Marketing is the other). So now we can use it to define goals and plan backwards to derive the ROI. The campaign have set goals and marketers can now be smarter and more accountable. However, this brings us back again to our moot point, can it create brands. At least in India can it replace TV. And will an emarketer choose Internet whole heatedly to drive the strategy to build brands?


Email Marketing, Internet Marketing, ROI Marketing, Web Analytics

First Step (Part 4): Email Marketing

Email Marketing is not CRM; treat this as the most precise communication weapon that you have in your arsenal. EMails are personal and if used using “Recency” concept can deliver fantastic results. This is a bit of cliche, but studies have shown that personalized attention and getting to know when to connect with the consumer increases attachment and relationship (Marketingsherpa). And therefore EMail Marketing.

The conversion of an EMail campaign to a established base can be as high as 4-5% (and more) depending on the product category, which makes it even better than Search Engine Marketing. There are few other advantages…

1. The media spend spend is 0, you will spend only in technology to maintain the Email Platform and maintaining the response and conversion data.

2. EMail Marketing is also insulated from the bid fluctuation due to competition, and therefore the inconsistencies of the response and expected conversion.

3. The targeting is more precise, as the data is completely yours. Ideally you should have all the information- right from age to location and his buying pattern. Targeting coupled with right product mix would work wonders for the business.

4. Faster turnaround and results. SEM campaign will take 2-3 days to kick off, whereas Email can start getting your responses and conversion from the next day itself.

However, before an eMarketeer would reach this ideal stage (where he exactly knows who is he targeting), there’s lot of groundwork to be done. An Email infrastructure requires an immense Technology backbone, coupled with data mining & history of communication plan. The goal should be to create identifiable and profitable clusters. These clusters are the cornerstone of this internet marketing tool, and needs to be studied continuously to determine how much focus should be given to a particular cluster. One of my friends who worked for Citibank direct marketing told me that they had 120 such groups (and is growing everyday). This segmentation is the foundation on which Email marketing works. Though initially traditional parameter like age, education, location, income level etc might dominate, but gradually one should move towards non demographic traits like preferences, tastes, which are more likely to influence the purchase.

The decision on which EMail platforms to go for will torment you for days. Better idea will be to get test account from two-three vendors, before you finally decide one. At MakeMyTrip, we used CATAPULTMAIL, which is the homegrown product of erstwhile Webshatra and now Position2. This is a very basic emailing platform, which helps to broadcast email with nice performance dashboard (# Broadcasted, # Opened, # Links Clicked). There are few advanced ones, notably Dartmail, which has a good relation with all the ISPs and inboxes. The precision and analytics are of very high standard. There are also specialised agencies which deliver this solution, solution integrated. Another late entrant is Epsilon International, which uses Dartmail. They have started an Indian office headquatered in Mumbai.

Before you start sending EMails, you should have a very clear idea of your database profile- total numbers, active base, targeting information like age, location, sex and transaction history (if possible). This should help you to divide the database into few groups and hence target communication. Every campaign that you execute should make you more intelligent about the base, about their preference and about their buying capacity. Here again, I would want to emphasise the need to integrate Web Analytics with the EMail platform, which would help you to measure the response down to the level of conversion. Again, when you use this data to enrich the profile information (in the database) it will make you next campaign stronger.

Though all the above points were in favor of technology and Emailing platform, one shouldn’t ever neglect the power of content, the creative and the subject line. Like all the other form of internet marketing, these too should be optimised. An average open rates is 20% (30% in case of super efficient database) and click through rate (on open) is 15%.

Through EMail Marketing, marketing and organisation overall will not only save valuable marketing monies, which it would have spent to acquire the same users and increase conversion, but also make the brand stronger through a relevant interaction. The method encourages the marketeer to segment and thereby gain valuable and psychographic insights about his consumers and business. What could be a better competitive edge?