Marketing Accountability: Who Owns What, and Why It Matters

Who owns data quality management (DQM)? Who owns defining the program and campaign calendar? Who owns driving the editorial and content calendars? Who owns the coordination of digital communications with customers? Let’s address them one by one and create some guiding criteria for coming up with the best answers.

In budget discussions, we rarely argue over the very obvious line items that are to be included or excluded from the budget. We spend most of our time debating items near the cut line. It’s the same when discussing which function in marketing is accountable for what items.

Ownership is clear for items such as reporting, budget management, marketing automation platform execution, or digital property management. But the addition of marketing operations as a function, or the creation of a center of excellence, makes it tricky to pin down exactly which marketing group is accountable for what.

  1. Who owns data quality management (DQM)?
  2. Who owns defining the program and campaign calendar?
  3. Who owns driving the editorial and content calendars?
  4. Who owns the coordination of digital communications with customers?

Let’s address them one by one and create some guiding criteria for coming up with the best answers.

1. Who Owns Data Quality Management?

Within marketing, most would agree responsibility falls to marketing operations. But the real question here is if marketing should own this at all, or should sales operations or information technology (IT) own it?

Certainly, there are unique data in the marketing automation platform (MAP) that are not synchronized to the CRM. But much of the data is shared by both platforms, and the CRM is usually governed by sales operations. This problem is solved in some companies by merging marketing operations and sales operations into one function. Here are the criteria to help arrive at an answer when the functions are not unified:

  1. Who has the skills to report on DQM, can be an admin in the CRM and MAP, and understands at a deep level the data needs of marketing and sales?
  2. Who has the relationship with data vendors to support data cleansing and appending of the database?
  3. Who pays the licenses for the software systems involved, and does the licenses cost scale with the number of contacts?

Given the increasingly complex data needs of marketing, and the increases in budget allocated to marketing technologies, it seems likely that the expertise and therefore accountability for this function will shift from IT and sales operations into marketing operations over time.

2. Who Owns the Program and Campaign Calendar?

When a marketing organization has a field marketing team and a headquarters team, the question often arises: Who owns the program and campaign calendar? On one hand, the field marketers are closer to both the customer and the sales organization and know their unique market needs better than HQ. On the other hand, a centralized approach to program and campaign planning will ensure maximum reusability of developed content and assets, consistency in execution, better brand alignment, better best practices adoption, easier reporting rollups, and potentially the ability to focus on programs and campaigns that are delivering the best results. So, the criteria for a decision are:

  • Skill level of the field marketers for ideating, designing, and building multi-channel campaigns
  • Clarity of the brand materials so that consistent application is easy at the regional level
  • Ability of the content/creative group to roll up diverse requests from many regions to create a single content calendar without duplication of effort
  • Availability of creative talent in the field
  • Quality of best practices management and communications
  • Quality of inter-region collaboration and information sharing
  • Frequency of global marketing planning sessions
  • Degree to which regional markets are similar in their needs, maturity, and messaging

The dominant criterion is likely to be the availability of skilled marketers in the field who can design multi-channel campaigns including social and email channels. Even if the execution (build) is centralized, one could decentralize the designs if the skills were available in the field.

3. Who Owns Driving the Editorial and Content Calendars?

If your program and campaign design is distributed, wherein the field can create their own campaigns from scratch, it is likely they will want to keep control of the asset design too. Since up to 30 percent of marketing program budget goes to content creation, it may behoove us to wrest control of the content calendar any from the regional leaders and centralize it. Additionally, content is now coming in other forms than the whitepapers, videos, and PowerPoints we had in days past. Do we really want to foster creative agency contracts in each region? The criteria for a decision are:

4 Tips to Improve Environmental Performance of Email and Digital Communications

When discussing the sustainability of marketing, attention very much needs to be paid to digital communications. Many fall into a trap: We may believe we are being environmentally “good” when we use a digital message in place of a print message. Evidence increasingly tells us to think more deeply.

When discussing the sustainability of marketing, attention very much needs to be paid to digital communications. Many fall into a trap: We may believe we are being environmentally “good” when we use a digital message in place of a print message. Evidence increasingly tells us to think more deeply.

Banks, utilities, investment companies, retailers, credit card companies and others that all use “green messaging” to appeal to customers to go “digital” with their invoicing and statements most often commit a sin of “greenwashing”—because they are not measuring truly the environmental impact of such claims. (I’ve mentioned a superb, must-read report for marketing professionals on the “Seven Sins of Greenwashing” in previous blog posts: www.sinsofgreenwashing.org.)

However, digital and electronic data-driven technology users and suppliers are highly—even urgently—concerned about the amount of energy used to run IT infrastructures—from data centers, to servers, to PCs and laptops and the power grid that keeps them all humming 24/7. They are not alone. A recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report says 1.5 percent of total energy consumption in America is attributable to data centers—and the figure is growing rapidly. Streaming video eats server capacity—and more and more U.S. households (and workplaces) are spending time online; watching television and movies off tablets and laptops; streaming audio and video; chatting and emailing with friends, families and social networks … and, in short, tapping energy sources that keep the dialogue moving.

This has a clear environmental and sustainability impact—requiring brands to assess their energy sources, the efficiency of the IT equipment, and, most certainly, any verbiage their organizations may have used previously to state the “green” credentials of digital over print.

While purchasing Green IT and Green Power are perhaps the most profound ways digital communication users can tackle being sustainable environmentally, there are other smaller but visible ways to lessen environmental footprints when dialoguing online with stakeholders. This is just a suggested list:

  1. Team up with a green partner. Have a tie-in with an environmental or conservation group. With a recent e-commerce purchase I made with one marketer, I was prompted to direct where I wanted a seedling to be planted in return for my transaction, with one of four regional forest areas (California, Michigan, Florida or Virginia) of the National Forest Service.
  2. Guard against greenwashing. Avoid “greenwashing” when environmental claims are made for everyday business activities or for products, behaviors or processes where one or two attributes may be “green,” but the overall activity may very well not be. There are two excellent resources to refer to prevent “greenwashing.” Going digital—again—is not “green” if a company fails to analyze the lifecycle of its power choices and data centers, for example. Canada-based TerraChoice, which works with both Canada and U.S. regulators to monitor environmental claims, has published The Seven Sins of Greenwashing: Environmental Claims in Consumer Markets. By reading and absorbing this report, communicators will likely not make a mistake in hyperbole over a green dialogue claim. Further, the Federal Trade Commission is scheduled to release its updated Green Guides for environmental claims at any point this year—with an expectation it will clarify creative interpretations behind many of today’s eco-marketing terms.
  3. Opt-out, opt-in, opt-down and more. Modify any online preference center for emailing and mobile messaging to customers from mere CAN-SPAM compliance to “best practice” heaven—where each customer is in (near) total control. Preference centers should be designed for our multichannel world, rather than simply an on/off switch for email. Opt out. Opt in. Opt down. Allow for frequency, subject matter, mail and phone switches, and—most certainly—third-party data sharing suppression if that applies. Retailers are excellent leaders in this area: Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, L.L. Bean each offer preference centers on their respective Web sites. Likewise, segmenting stakeholders and sending targeted emails to each segment helps to prevent non-responsive email. Why is this green? McAfee, the provider of security software, recently reported that each legitimate email (sending and receipt) generates approximately 4 grams of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas associated with climate change. FYI: One of my clients, Harte-Hanks, offers an excellent white paper on designing online preference centers.
  4. Open up the suggestion box. Web 3.0 and accountability go hand in hand. There’s no one path to environmental responsibility, so let customers, vendors and other stakeholders help. Brands should tell their sustainable story online—enable audiences to post suggestions and engage an internal team to evaluate all of them. Talk with suppliers—not just about green IT, but ways to procure power, print, paper, packaging, office supplies and other workplace necessities. Environmental pursuits—and their tie-in to business success—shouldn’t be kept a secret. By sharing objectives and outcomes with customers and vendors, there is higher chance of success—and transparency is achieved.

The lesson here: like print, digital communications have an environmental footprint. As marketers, if we seek sustainability for our enterprises, and if we wish to communicate such objectives to our many stakeholders with credibility, these impacts need to be assessed, measured and managed accordingly in the very communications process itself.

“Consider the environment before you print this electronic message.” Yes, consider it—thoroughly!