Effectiveness – No magic answers, but clear clues

Posted 3 August 2016.

​By Paul Head, CEO, CAANZ

​As marketers, we live in an increasingly data rational and measurement-focused world and we’re all (marketer and agency alike) under constant pressure to prove the value of the work we do and be ever more effective. And to deliver even better business results. Ultimately, that’s the only reason any of us are here.

Having greater understanding of that goal is more likely to lead to effective marketing, so CAANZ and Nielsen recently launched the Effie Report to provide insight into what drives effectiveness based on New Zealand’s most effective campaigns from 2015; those that were finalists or metal winners at the 2015 Effie Awards.

We asked long-time Effie sponsor Nielsen to put the 2015 entries under the microscope to discover what makes a campaign highly effective. During the process they called on both Massey and Waikato Universities for their assistance. Like all research, some of it is stuff we already know. But like all good research it also provides some really useful insights and ‘Aha!’ moments.

The first thing to understand is results and the power of improved effectiveness. And the most effective campaigns really stand out. A structured analysis of return on marketing investment (ROMI) shows that those campaigns that were Effie finalists in 2015 had a ROMI of $11 for every $1 spent. However, campaigns that won gold had, on average, a ROMI of $17 for every $1 invested. That’s a 55 per cent lift in bottom line return and a very strong case for the value of working to make campaigns as effective as possible.

What makes the difference? The research isolated several themes strongly present in those campaigns that really excelled.

One: the need to plan for effectiveness. Effectiveness isn’t about getting to the end of the process and asking “Has it worked?”. It’s about planning to be effective from the start. This shifts the conversation from “Has it worked?” to “What are the very specific results we desire?” and “How can we be more effective?” That last question is a powerful mantra that successful marketers ask at every step of the marketing development process.

Two: set a limited number of clear objectives. The campaigns that were most effective had between one and three objectives and built the campaign tightly around them. Campaigns with more than that were significantly less likely to achieve great results.

Three: use research to develop insight. There wasn’t a single gold-winning campaign that didn’t use research to develop their key insights. In my view, this is likely a contributor to why the gold papers scored higher on strategic thinking.

Four: using the right media to connect is critical; and an understanding of your target market provides that media focus. It’s not about choosing every channel, it’s about choosing the right channels for your audience. This is one of those points that seems self-evident. But the most effective campaigns clearly used media more effectively and with greater clarity of purpose for each channel. And while it’s not in the research, the marketer in me says this will also drive media efficiency for your brand and improve ROI – a conversation we all want to be able to have with our CEOs and boards.

Five: the most effective campaigns out-performed across all metrics, but clearly stood out on clarity of objectives and strategic thinking. Nailing these two areas up front seems to set campaigns up for a greater likelihood of success. Great campaigns appear to be rooted, therefore, in great marketing.

Six: qualitatively at least, there’s a real sense that the most successful campaigns involve an advertiser, their agencies and perhaps a research partner working together in a truly collaborative way from the start. Is this the magic ingredient? I can’t say for sure, but I’m certain it contributes to great outcomes.

The Effie Report is available free of charge on the CAANZ website.