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April 24, 2013


CEO’s Agree: Marketers don’t show Marketing ROI. How to regain trust?

by Tom De Baere


blind for marketing ROI

Are we blind for our own Marketing ROI?
(image source:

Showing Marketing ROI and the ability to contribute to the growth of the business is in many ways the biggest challenge of every marketer.

Every so often reports show that B2B marketers have problems showing Marketing ROI. And then marketers have to do ‘more with less’.


Why is this? 

Why do we have problems in showing our Marketing ROI? What can we do to regain trust from our CEO?

CEO’s see us as irresponsible

Every now and then you’ll see a report popping up that CEO’s think that marketers cannot show Marketing ROI or confirm its business relevancy.

The latest one that I could find was published in MarketingWeek (70% of CEO’s have lost trust in marketers).

CEOs have to deliver shareholder value. Period. So they want no-nonsense ROI Marketers. They want business performance. They want results.

But what do we marketers do? We keep on doing the same old trick, we keep advertising and pushing money into campaigns. Because these ads and campaigns make us feel good. And some CEO’s are very proud of seeing their company in the leading glossy trade-magazine.

But in the end, when push comes to shove, you won’t make it to the board level. And budgets are cut.

My homemade test caught people’s attention

Move from classic marketing to digital, social and content marketing, that gives Marketing ROI

My recent presentation on how to move classic marketing to digital, social and content marketing (click to see Slideshare)

A few months ago I made a presentation to a crowd of about 300 people. It announced a change program to move from classic marketing to digital, social and content marketing.

On one of the slides, I commented that all of us are confronted with 2000 to 3000 advertisements per day for brands. Ranging from billboards on the street, to the Coca-Cola label on a bottle, to the advertisements in your favorite magazine.

I asked the following question to the audience:

     “Name me ONE SINGLE advertisement you still remember?”

From the 300 people, I got 3 hands raised in the air.

I’ll tell you, from that moment on, I had their attention. The rest is history, and you can check out the results of the change program in this blog post: What it takes to become a Digital Marketer

Are we not learning? No, we are not.

Talk to every marketer about this issue. The will all tell you that it’s crucial to show Marketing ROI.

But we are not doing it:

online advertising is growing. But where's the marketing ROI?

US Online Ad Revenues 2003-2012, April 2013 (source:

While the results for on-line advertising are devastating and much talked about :

And if you think this is only about on-line advertising, well, it is. Print advertising is decreasing in favor of on-line advertising, just ask Google and the’ll confirm that with a big smile.

Where’s the Marketing ROI in that ?

Showing your Marketing ROI

Using advertising with limited marketing ROI is just a part. There’s the use of callcentres, paper mailings, old school tradeshow participation and much more.

I’ll tell you, I am guilty as hell. I used to be a marketer spending money on advertising, tradeshows and campaigns.

But not anymore. I’m doing something about it. I want to know my Marketing ROI. This is what I think we can do about it:

  • start rebalancing advertising money towards digital content creation. And track its performance to convert buyers along the buying cycle.
  • show your social media marketing ROI (incoming traffic from social sources that convert into marketing qualified leads)
  • stop showing irrelevant data, but data that shows your business contribution (link marketing activity data with CRM and with ERP)

Help me understand. Please?!

I don’t know much about this stuff, I guess. I just looked at the data.

If I would understand it, then I would know why so many marketers keep on spending money on advertising and campaigns.

So my question to you:

  • If you understand why, help me. 
  • If you know why, tell me.
  • If you see good reasons to keep doing this, tell me.

So we can prove our CEO’s they are wrong.


Warm regards,

Tom De Baere