“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

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Yesterday I went along to the Gramercy Institute’s first Financial Marketing Forum in London, continuing their global series of events. It was very interesting with lots to discuss – but I thought I’d focus here on one of the top trends: Measuring Marketing.

The event kicked off with Bill Wreaks presenting some of the recent research from the Gramercy Institute, including the fact that “66% [of financial marketers in 2013] rate measurement as very important” and yet only “13% say that they are using that data effectively”. This statistic does not surprise me, but it is indicative of a point in time in the evolution of marketing. As print/newspapers decline and digital channels proliferate, there is a new opportunity for marketers to truly measure and report on the efficacy of marketing campaigns and therefore show value/ROI.

Twice during the conference, once by Bill and once by Ruairidh Roberts from Google, a famous quote was mentioned, and so here it is again: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” (attributed to John Wanamaker on the difficulties of measuring traditional advertising)

Riffing on this – many professional marketers can now report how a digital campaign has shown results, in terms of website hits, click through emails, and downloads – but I wonder if half of this measurement is meaningless? Unless there is a direct correlation to a sale, how can you know which one of those website visits, tweets, or meetings helped to influence the buying decision? Of course, there is no simple answer, and particularly if a business is more interested in building a long-term relationship with a customer as opposed to a single ‘point and click’ purchase.

If this mass of data that marketing is able to gather can be attributed to a particular customer (ideally with full transparency to that customer, and the ability for them to change/update their preferences), then marketing can truly help the business to understand its customers and serve their needs appropriately – rather than ‘spamming’ a target audience into submission, aggression or flight.

Regardless, there’s still a mountain to climb, but some potentially huge rewards as this latest McKinsey research states: “better use of data can add $200B to global marketing returns“. Look out for the Wanamaker adage!

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