We marketers are getting better at breaking down departmental silos and sharing standardized data within our orgs. Yet, we’re still failing miserably when it comes to sharing information with our external media partners – often the primary sources of our sales pipeline. This isn’t smart marketing. We need to communicate with our media partners, providing the necessary information they require to do their best work and maximize media ROI.
You may have incredibly strong media relationships and supporting tech, but unless all parties share common definitions of success, more often than not, you’ll be disappointed with the results. Defining KPIs and communicating performance data with your media partners (via standardized metrics and processes) drastically increases your odds of paid media success.
It starts with internal communication
Arguably the most important step is the first: enlisting all internal stakeholders to gather and standardize expectations so you can clearly define your objectives, agree on processes to achieve them, and decide on performance metrics.
Without standardized objectives, processes and measurement within your org, information (from program data to customer data) will be incomprehensible and very difficult to use to improve initiatives.
Furthermore, without standardization, marketers are faced with many additional task that hinder their full potential – such as normalizing data across multiple channels utilizing spreadsheets (i.e. the dreaded spreadsheet hell).
Standardization starts with agreement. For example:
- Standardized objectives – How many opportunities must Marketing generate per month?
- Standardized processes – How will we acquire and nurture leads to convert to opportunities?
- Standardized metrics – What are the characteristics of an opportunity?
But agreeing on your marketing standards (objectives, processes and metrics) within your org isn’t enough…
Prepare to share definitions of success
The importance of standardization can’t stop within the walls of your org. You’re wasting much time and effort (and potential payoff) if you don’t communicate your standards with your media partners. Specifically, sharing with your partners leads to improved:
- Program measurement and analysis
- Optimization for present and future campaigns
- Fair and accurate ROI calculation by media partner, asset and channel
And don’t just say it, document it! Be prepared to define in detail how you’ll hold your media partners accountable and how you’ll define their success.
For example, will success be dictated by steadily paced lead volume, by the ratio of job title seniority, or strictly by opportunities created? There’s often numerous way that success can be measured, so let your partners know what they’ll be judged on – it’ll likely affect the way they approach the program.
Don’t stop at just sharing performance metrics, be prepared to discuss what best practices:
- What forms of media vehicles are allowed
- What hasn’t worked in the past
- What should be replicated, what shouldn’t, etc.
Share your follow-up processes too
Standardization refers to more than just performance data and success metrics – it’s a standardized mindset on tactics that lead to an understood objective. Thus, you need to facilitate success by communicating your follow-up strategy as well.
Media partners should understand the entire post-media-partner process you’ll use to engage prospects. Knowing how you plan to use the result of media efforts will help your partners select the best mix of channels and messaging to reach your overall objectives.
For example, if after a lead has been acquired, you plan to contact the prospect immediately by phone, it’s in the best interests for you to share this information with your partners so they can set that expectation in the offer copy to ensure the best engagement possible.
Important questions to answer for your partners:
- When, how and with what message will you communicate with the prospect?
- How do you plan to adjust nurturing strategy as the prospect interacts with the brand and demonstrates different levels of engagement?
By providing not only metrics for success, but also defining the entire scope of the customer acquisition lifecycle, you’re arming your partners to generate better value for them, your business and your customers.
The sharing is reciprocal too. Having an open dialogue regarding campaign success invites information, strategy and insight from your partners based on their experience with similar campaigns that have comparable strategies and expectations. These insights can be an opportunity that lead to new initiatives, changed perspective or ideas of how to engage your consumers effectively.
Sharing should be cyclical
After you’ve launched your program and have begun receiving the fruits of media efforts (prospect data, MQLs, emails downloads, newsletter signups, etc.), you need to inform your partners on what’s working and what’s not. Marketing technology is highly helpful here. If you haven’t developed your marketing tech stack to enable closed-loop analytics, it’s a good initial step to ensure a clear strategy that’ll support a continually advancing customer lifecycle.
Think of your martech stack as the facilitator of this critical information shared both internally and externally. By leveraging technology and integrating systems, you’ll have the visibility to understand where the customer originated, which audience characteristics are most likely to be interested, which messages or assets resonated the most, etc.
However, without standardized data allowing integrated systems to communicate with one another, all your other efforts will be compromised by manual data processing tasks and a lack of program visibility. That’s why I highly recommend centralizing all your media partners in one location and automating the media partner management process. It’ll greatly increase your ability to achieve everything discussed in this article.
Your media strategy and relationships won’t matter much if you don’t share your objectives, processes and success metrics with your partners. Start with internal collaboration to establish your media expectations, then communicate these expectations to your partners along with your follow-up processes so they can tailor their media efforts specific to your needs.
Finally, be sure to provide your partners with regular, closed-loop feedback to ensure they have the necessary data to continually optimize programs. Following this formula will greatly increase your odds of generating big returns on your outbound demand generation and paid media investments.
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