CMSWire catches up with CMSWire Contributor Justin Sharaf to get to the heart of marketing measurement ROI.
Human beings have probably been measuring since they were living in caves and their hands, feet and the distance between outstretched arms to assess their world. They knew, even in that distant time, that measurement was critical to managing their lives.
Today our contributor is here to talk about marketing measurement. About the right way to go about measuring and how various ways of looking at what we measure can add context and meaning to the conclusions we draw — ultimately leading to better marketing decisions and outcomes.
CMSWire Q&A Contributor Justin Sharaf, vice president of marketing operations at Collibra, shared his wisdom on the topic of marketing measurement earlier this year in his article Is It Time to Rethink the Way We Measure B2B Marketing Success?
We caught up with Justin for a Q&A on the topic.
Editor’s note: This transcript is edited for clarity.
Getting at the Heart of Marketing Measurement
Dom Nicastro: Hey everybody, Dom Nicastro, managing editor here at CMSWire. We are here with Justin Sharaf. He is VP of marketing operations at Collibra. What’s going on Justin?
Justin Sharaf: Not much. Just enjoying some cold weather here today in Boston.
Nicastro: Hey, we didn’t even talk about this before. That’s where I am, too. I’m on the North Shore in Swampscott. Where are you?
Sharaf: I’m in Melrose, but grew up in Danvers. So North Shore, through and through.
Nicastro: So for those of you not aware of where this is, we are like literally probably 20 minutes from each other right now.
Sharaf: The Salem witch trials are right smack in the middle of our two locations.
Nicastro: That’s right, a haunted interview here. But we’re here today, Justin, to talk about you being a CMSWire contributor. First of all, thank you very much for giving us your time and imparting your wisdom on the website at CMWire.com. And, you know, your piece today talks about really getting at the heart of marketing measurement ROI. And it started with a story from a buddy of yours who was bragging about winning a real estate award, and he didn’t — he had no idea you were gonna get all contexty and marketing numbers on him.
Sharaf: Yeah. And I didn’t want to, you know, blow up his spot. But in the middle of the conversation, I was thinking to myself, wait a minute, this, the way that he measures success and his company measures success is so similar to how a lot of software organizations or B2B software organizations measure success, which I think is not really the correct way to do it. So yeah, it was really like this aha moment, that wow, a lot of people across a lot of different industries are thinking about measurement, and maybe not thinking about it in the best way possible.
Nicastro: Yeah. So he was like, hey, I won an award, I made this many sales, and my rate was this and that, and you’re like, all right, let’s put some context around that. And that’s what sparked this article idea.
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Marketing Measurement: Cohort Analysis vs. Time Series Analysis
Sharaf: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I’ve been talking about cohort analysis versus time series analysis for a long time. And it started probably 10 years ago in my career when somebody explained it to me, and I had this aha moment, you know, back then, wow, this is, this is really the way that we need to be measuring success. It’s not what’s happening today, but how we did, you know, a month ago or a quarter ago, how has that progressed over time? And in looking at really the life cycle of a marketing program? And from the start of the program to the end of the program, not looking at how did our performance look for a given month, but how did our performance from a program look over the length of time that those opportunities existed within the organization.
Nicastro: Yeah, you talk about seeing a lot of parallels between the stock market and measuring marketing, success, marketing ROI over the long haul? I mean, you don’t just say, all right, it’s doing great this month, let’s cash out. You know, you look at the past, you look at the future, what’s coming next, talk about that comparison between like, I think you mentioned Amazon has a stock you know, looking at Amazon, looking at marketing that way.
Sharaf: Yeah, I mean, it doesn’t really matter what the stock is, or any stock is, you know, if you buy a stock in, let’s say you bought it in July of 2021. And you look at how that stock performed in February of 2001, it might have been up 20%, right, which is great. Or maybe it was down 20%. But if you look at the lifetime of that investment, right, maybe it was up or down more or less than it wasn’t that month. So you could see that the investment itself did really well in one month.
But that may not be reflective of the lifetime of that investment. And so when you think about you put $1 in in July of 2021, you want to figure out what that dollar is looking like in July of 2022. How much did you make, right? Not how much did you make in one month of that year? But how much did you make over the course of the year? And so I think that’s the same way in marketing is the dollar that you invested in a marketing program. You want to look at how that dollar did over time, over six months, over nine months, however long your sales cycle is essentially.
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How Numbers Tell the Marketing Story
Nicastro: Yeah, well, I love this piece, how it just cuts to the numbers and, you know, cuts through all the hype and everything and, you know, gut instinct and all that. Hey, we know that’s a part of marketing, too. You got it. You got to allow for some of that and creativity. But the bottom line is the numbers tell the story. What can we expect going forward, Justin, I mean, you’ve been a contributor with us for quite a bit now. And we’re excited about 2022 and having you on board, anything you’re tracking that’s particularly interesting.
Sharaf: Yeah, I mean, I started writing last year, and I was really focused more on marketing, and digital experience and things like that customer experience, and I moved into a new role last fall in running marketing operations here at Collibra. And I think my focus has been more on analytics and reporting and process and really the operations function. So, that’s what I’m excited about right now. I see the marketing operations space is really hot, a lot of turnover, a lot of exciting jobs out there.
The market is on fire right now for marketing operations professionals. And so, I want to talk about the things that marketing operations professionals and marketing leaders, for that matter, are interested in. And I think they’re interested in understanding how to measure their business, they’re interested in how to collaborate across the marketing organization, how to manage their processes, project management. So I think those are some of the topics, and if you’ve read some of my stuff before, which hopefully some of these viewers have liked, you know, that I try to make it personal, I try to make it real. I don’t like abstract. I like real, you know, things that are tangible, giving tips and tricks. So that’s really what I’m focused on right now.
Nicastro: Yeah, there’s nothing more tangible than your piece today. You get the numbers, you get the tables, you’re laying it all out. It’s a real piece, get an anecdote about your friend, so well done. And I am amazed and happy that we actually caught up cordially, considering you’re a Danvers, Mass., guy. I’m a Gloucester, Mass., guy. And those are two Thanksgiving rivals, Thanksgiving football rivals. For those who don’t know, Massachusetts, there’s football on Thanksgiving morning in Danvers and Gloucester, longtime rivals.
Sharaf: Big time rivals. I just hired someone on my team who went to my rival college and the rivalry there is even more aggressive than high school. So, I think we can put that behind us, and I look forward to working with you, Dom. I know this is a new role for you and definitely excited to continue my relationship with CMSWire and with you and the readers. Hopefully, they’re enjoying the content, and I love to hear from them. If there are things that they want to hear about. They want us to — want me to — talk about. I’d love to hear suggestions from people.
Nicastro: Absolutely. Well, thanks, Justin, for your time — for joining us as a CMSWire contributor. We’re happy to have you, and we’ll look forward to catching up on your future articles.
Sharaf: Thanks, Dom, appreciate it.
Nicastro: All righty.