E-channels let you precisely know your respondents

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Adam Sarner is principal analyst at Gartner Inc. BtoB recently asked him about trends in marketing resource allocation.

BtoB: Determining how to allocate marketing spending would seem to depend on assessments of campaign success, right?

Sarner: Yes, call it response attribution metrics. And because it's Web-based you can get very precise. With traditional marketing, you have to infer a lot of things about where any sale came from. In the e-channels, such as the Web, e-mail or call centers, you know precisely your respondents and what they're responding to.

BtoB: It sounds like that old John Wanamaker quote, about not know which half of the ad budget works, is becoming obsolete.

Sarner: It's no longer acceptable to spend your budget and not be really sure of where the money is going and why. That's why response metrics is getting a bigger seat at the table for CMOs.

BtoB: You lump call centers in with marketing automation, but they seem pretty old-school.

Sarner: Like with the Web, call centers also feature a two-way communications flow. When the caller provides new information, pop-up screens can alert the call center about other campaigns he'd most likely respond to.

BtoB: How do more traditional campaigns figure in?

Sarner: Programs like billboards, direct mail and traditional advertising are effective for brand awareness and customer acquisition-type campaigns but are hard to measure. Marketers should consider an addressable response mechanism, such as a redemption code to a call center or specific URL landing page, to tie responses to a campaign. The key is to create opportunities to get the customer to a channel where you can obtain more contextual information.

BtoB: There might be lots of touches going on. Which one gets the credit?

Sarner: That's an issue. Perhaps there's direct mail, then somebody calls the call center or clicks a banner ad. An e-mail goes back out, something is purchased. To set your budget year over year, you can apportion credit by measuring when channels are linked. You might be able to determine, for example, that a call center person answering the right questions in response to a direct-mail campaign is twice as effective as each touch individually, and allocate money accordingly.

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