Report: Accountability key to marketing's influence in business

New research out of Macquarie University finds marketing teams who develop data analytics and financial performance capabilities are more likely to gain influence inside businesses

Dr Hume Winzar
Dr Hume Winzar

Marketing leaders who show accountability in terms of performance, market share and effectiveness of marketing programs are more likely to be trusted and gain influence with their executive counterparts.

That’s the finding of new research undertaken at Macquarie University into how marketing departments can improve their strategic position within organisations, as well as what key metrics they need to possess to win the hearts and minds of more financially-driven executives.

The PhD research, which has just been submitted, was based on market research undertaken in two phases by PhD student, Adam Gaskill, and overseen by Dr Hume Winzar (pictured), marketing professor in the university’s Faculty of Business and Economic. Their objective was to understand marketing’s accountability in the eyes of finance leaders in particular, and the extent to which certain metrics contribute to marketing’s position of influence.

The first stage of the research was a qualitative survey of dozens of senior finance leaders from large technology companies mainly in Australia, to find out how these executives understand marketing’s role, as well as measure it.

The research found eight common ways financial teams seek to understand marketing, four of which are tied to financial outcomes, and four of which relate to long-term impact. According to Dr Winzar, a surprising result was that profitability wasn’t a core metric in how financial executives rate marketing’s role.

“Finance people know things like communications, distribution and design are not the responsibility of one organisational group... and to hold marketing accountable for profitability alone is plain silly,” he told CMO.

The four financial-oriented metrics employed are return on marketing investment; revenue per customer; marketing expenditure versus budget; and marketing expenditure as a percentage of revenue. Each of these are ‘after the fact’ measures but vital in getting support for marketing, Dr Winzar commented.

Four non-financial measures considered equally important are brand awareness, both prompted and unprompted; market share in terms of volume and value; website traffic and particularly unique visitor statistics; and customer acquisition and churn.

“Financial executives recognise that some marketing activities don’t have immediate returns and need long-term investment,” Dr Winzar said.

Across the board, just over half of those surveyed said they are getting these results from marketing teams, while the other half were seeing these figures but in varying degrees of quality.

“What we also found was that marketers who delivered good results – not necessarily favourable ones, but honest and straightforward results – gained more support from all different functions across the business, gained approval for any new projects more quickly, and secured resources such as people, funding and so on,” Dr Winzar said.

Related: 5 ways CMOs can get their CFO on-side

The second phase of the research project surveyed senior financial officers from more than 200 companies to determine what metrics should be used to gauge marketing’s contribution, and their importance. Of the respondents, about 60 per cent were services-led businesses and about two-thirds were B2B organisations.

According to the research, marketing accountability is the antecedent of marketing’s influence on strategic business decisions and thinking within organisations.

The five key metrics marketing professionals should be using to demonstrate their accountability are performance ratios, such as return on marketing investment and sales growth; cost controls, including operating within agreed expenditure targets; actual versus planned performance of marketing programs; market share, both revenue and volume; and marketing campaign effectiveness, or achieving non-financial objectives of marketing campaigns.

To be able to deliver these and build accountability with financial teams, the marketing function should develop capabilities in data analysis, financial planning and financial analysis.

Dr Winzar claimed these metrics and capabilities will allow marketing departments to demonstrate their accountability through linking their activities to organisational outcomes.

“The people whose job is to do marketing need to be more accountable and that means metrics, at least where financial-oriented executives are concerned,” he said.

The good news is “more than half of the respondents to the second survey had a good relationship and were getting what they wanted”, Dr Winzar added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook:

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Read More:

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

What happens when the 'market' becomes a 'customer'?

One of the insightful things that has been said to me recently came from an independent consultant working at a major FMCG client. He said: “The problem here is that we have some people who are world-class at marketing to the masses, but they haven’t got a clue about how to speak to a customer.”

3 Metrics to measure B2B content marketing ROI

Content marketing has become a key pillar for marketing departments of all sizes across the world. But how do you measure – and ultimately prove – the effectiveness of the time, money and energy spent on content marketing?

How global brands can connect on a local level

The dot-com boom allowed brands to easily access the global market. Thanks to this increased exposure and worldwide awareness, brands can no longer exist in a local bubble.

Dan Ratner

managing director, Uberbrand

Informative comments , I loved the info , Does anyone know if my assistant could get ahold of a blank 2011 IRS 8804 - Schedule A document...


Telstra unveils fresh digital content media services

Read more

So, the one thing I would say is .. the customer already has a voice, whether you wanted them to have one or not .. and they have a platf...

Paul Gilbert

Why digital strategy equals customer experience

Read more

Appliances online are doing a good job online, but they're still not giving customers a truly powerful online experience in my view. Wher...

Graham Howlett

Navigating the future of omni-channel retailing

Read more

For both businesses and marketers alike who want a digital marketing platform that supports data visualization, integrated analytics and ...


Adobe to bolster analytics capabilities of Marketing Cloud with Digital Analytix acquisition

Read more

Good Content is a crucial part in Marketing ROI. No doubt metrics like sharing & engagement, consumption, & lead generation &...


3 Metrics to measure B2B content marketing ROI - B2B marketing - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in