4 min read

Know and control your marketing spend in real time

Rowan Tonkin

Head of Sales and Marketing Solutions

For modern marketers, proving marketing performance and measuring marketing influence are exhausted topics. And typically, the conversation is framed around tools—the integration of CRM, analytics, and marketing automation using marketing software. Yet, rarely mentioned is how important (and greatly lacking) sheer visibility in marketing spend and budget is. Despite the proliferation of marketing software solutions in the marketing ecosystem, the tool of choice for strategic planning and budgeting software is still the spreadsheet—and lots of them. Non-collaborative and containing static data, spreadsheets do not provide a quick, real-time, or holistic look at the multitude of marketing channels and the complex spends associated with them.

Quickly measure marketing performance

As 2015 came to an end, marketing teams clamored to spend the remainder of last year’s budget before they lost it—while fighting for an increase in the 2016 budget. Simply understanding what was spent is a lengthy process all too familiar for most marketers. Substantial effort, time, and frustration are expended on bottom-up consolidation of budget reporting and analysis via spreadsheets to share with Finance and the business.

And that’s just the beginning. In this arduous roll-up of spreadsheets, CMOs hope they didn’t under- or overspend—and in either scenario, Marketing is at a disadvantage in defending last year’s budget, let alone asking for an increased one.

Anaplan has found, when speaking with our customers’ marketing departments, that one of their biggest concerns is not knowing what they have left to spend or if they have overspent, and understandably so—under spending is a huge issue for marketers as they not only lose the money that they have fought so hard for, but it puts them at a significant disadvantage for negotiating next year’s budget. The right marketing software can provide real-time visibility into spend, which empowers the CMO to be more efficient and effectively spend while fighting for an increase in next year’s budget.

Planning the new year with an old-school approach

With the planning cycle nearly finished, it is a crucial time for CMOs to accurately understand what Marketing spent last year, what was most effective, and, most importantly, how to prove the need for an increase in budget. Only when the new year’s budget is finalized by Finance (which includes another waiting period that results in a spreadsheet) can Marketing decide how to best allocate the new budget.

Planning across geographies, channels, activities, and against business objectives is then completed in yet more spreadsheets. This entire planning and budgeting process can easily take 12 to 16 weeks to complete. The information then has to be re-keyed into a multitude of systems, such as marketing automation and a CRM system. At this point, if Marketing isn’t tired enough of spreadsheets, it has to endure the spreadsheet’s limitations on an ongoing basis. Clearly, without the right marketing software in place, the inability to see, collaborate, and change current spend levels as objectives shift will hinder Marketing’s value to the business.

Gaining agility and control to adjust marketing spend

According to a research report from Aberdeen Group, 43 percent of organizations cited that market volatility creates the need to dynamically account for change, but 89 percent are still using spreadsheets in planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes.

This lack of agility and control to adjust spend puts Marketing at a significant disadvantage today. In order to keep pace with ever-changing market dynamics and business objectives, Marketing must be empowered to redeploy budget quickly and in a controlled manner based on insight into marketing performance.

Another critical consideration is the changing role of Marketing within the business as it increasingly seeps into other customer-facing departments, such as service and sales. As roles and responsibilities blur, so does the need for rapid re-allocation and/or expansion of resources and spend. In today’s environment, CMOs need to be armed with 1) real-time insight into what percent of the budget is accounted for versus still available and 2) a strategic plan and budget that prove the impact of their existing spend against business objectives.

By removing Marketing’s budgeting and planning process out of spreadsheets with the right marketing software, leading CMOs are no longer dependent on reporting out on budgeting data that is weeks or months old. With access to accurate budget numbers, Marketing can confidently report out influence and provide accurate ROI measurements against the budget spent, better optimize resources, and forecast future spend activity. By moving planning out of spreadsheets and into a cloud-based planning solution that connects with other business units’ planning processes and Marketing’s ROI attribution, marketers can provide deeper value to all customer-facing departments—while driving operational efficiency and increased marketing effectiveness.

Anaplan is excited to announce our first marketing app—Marketing Resource Management—that will help plan and optimize marketing strategy based on budget, resources, historical sales, and marketing performance.