Marketers have long been divided on the right recipe for long-term sales growth: focus on sales, or focus on brand building. While the marketing landscape is rife with tech solutions to help brands and agencies easily track and validate their mid- and low-funnel spending, research shows that sales-driven efforts do little to acquire new customers—the top business objective cited by marketers for the 2022 Nielsen Annual Marketing Report.
With new customer acquisition and brand building at the forefront for marketers in the coming year, the need for balanced marketing strategies has never been greater. This need is also being embraced by brands around the world, especially after some began to over-emphasize conversion efforts heading into the pandemic.
“There is a clear tension between brand awareness and the need to drive clear outcomes,” said Emma Delserieys, vice president of customer success in Europe at Nielsen, during a recent panel discussion arranged by the Drum on the topic. “Every advertiser wants the same thing—maximum brand awareness, quantifiable, immediate outcomes and all of that for the minimum budget they can spend.”
Katie Evans, U.K. chief marketing officer for Burger King, noted a distinctive pivot to be more holistic in her brand’s marketing efforts since she joined back in early 2018.
“When I joined, there was a relatively traditional media strategy that was very focused on linear TV and short-term sales,” Evans said. “The company had brand awareness, but we put new emphasis on brand salience and brand affinity to drive differentiation in a busy market. That really drove the media strategy and approach for us.”
Media sellers are seeing the shift as well, including Jo Holdaway, chief data and marketing officer at The Independent, a global, digital news brand.
“As a media owner, we are seeing much less focus on performance marketing, much more focus on brand awareness as a brand that is offering clients a platform to advertise on,” Holdaway said. “We’re seeing a real shift into more direct brand awareness campaigns, a lot more long-term partnership business, and a lot of the marketers out there want to associate their brands with our brand on a long-term sponsorship or branded content basis, and that is very different from what you would have seen five years ago.”
Navigating the shift, or finding the right balance between long- and short-term goals can be daunting. Rather than trying to navigate the challenge alone, Delserieys advises working with partners to identify solutions that measure both the long-term effects and short-term impact and holding them accountable to delivering outcomes.
“We see advertisers, for example, who have too many KPIs to be operationally efficient. We have others that only focus on one KPI, and that can come at the expense of finding true balance,” Delserieys says. “So typically, I advise to find the right KPIs for long- and short-term effects, measure both and place greater accountability on partners to deliver outcomes.”
The importance of measurement is critical here, especially as consumer journeys aren’t siloed in specific platforms or channels. This, however, is where many marketers are struggling to track their returns, as only 54% of global marketers are confident in their ability to measure full-funnel ROI.
The full-funnel ROI measurement challenge is real, acknowledged Holdaway. As a news brand, she says The Independent is very involved with podcasting, video, digital and social, but measuring the ROI of these channels holistically is a growing challenge. For example, she says it’s relatively easy to measure whether people come back to the site or are more engaged with the site. But as a brand with many channels at work to drive registration and membership, largely through brand awareness efforts, attribution is the larger, growing challenge.
“To improve full-funnel measurement, brands need to achieve a more holistic strategy by having the best data available at the granularity where it’s available, combined with the best expertise to make sense of those different datasets,” Delserieys said. “At work as well as in life, in times of trouble or challenge, having the right partners to handhold you through this is key.”