For the latest episode of ‘Talk Life Science Marketing Analysis’ podcast, I was privileged to interview Jim Heeren, Senior Manager Marketing and Strategy at Thermo Fisher Scientific. I must confess to being a fan of Jim. He is a rare breed in our industry, a strategic marketer with the foresight to encourage a culture where creativity, taking risks and not being afraid to fail are dominant. We sat down to discuss how Thermo Fisher approaches marketing measurement, which metrics are the most important to track and how marketing success is defined. We concluded that it is the culture of the marketing team (as defined by the leader) that is the most important factor in forming a data-driven marketing function.
Creating an Analytics Culture
Creating the right environment for creativity and not being afraid to challenge each other, is Jim’s main ingredient for success in analytics and marketing measurement. A/B testing is critical, just like in the scientific industries Thermo Fisher serves, the team must form a hypothesis and test against it until the best solution emerges. Jim advocates taking a small marketing budget to test an approach over a short defined period, If it works, scale up. “You are always going to have your failures and if you make them small and quick you can adjust and learn from it”.
Throughout his career, Jim has experienced cynicism of marketing’s impact in a scientific world. With data, metrics and reporting, however, he has experienced a change in the way marketing is perceived. It is now seen as a unique skill.
Marketing Metrics That Matter
Before defining the top marketing metrics that you will monitor, it is important to understand the ‘why’ behind the tactics. There is a tendency for marketers to jump straight to planning tactics and the associated KPIs, when in fact, effective marketing measurement starts with really understanding the target audience. Jim discusses the benefits of getting out into the market to speak to customers, but to also overlay this with broader trends from third party research providers. Ensure you understand what the main business goals are, and how you should use marketing to achieve these.
The important thing is to test assumptions that are held in the team about who you are trying to reach and what you are trying to achieve. Often these assumptions are, at the best, out-dated, or at the worst, completely incorrect. Base decisions on data, not assumptions! “I didn’t appreciate how much of the job is getting internal stakeholders aligned rather than just pushing out marketing programs”. Once you are all agreed what success will look like in advance, you need to define what data will be used to monitor progress.
What Are the Most Important Metrics and Marketing KPIs to Monitor?
Thermo Fisher looks at both leading and lagging indicators. As the purchasing cycle is long and complex, it is not sufficient to just tie marketing results to sales. You may end up waiting 18 months to discover that the marketing campaign hasn’t worked if you just take this approach. While measuring ROI (return on marketing investment) in terms of sales is important, you also need to look at other conversion points throughout the customer journey. This requires careful planning of what behaviors will indicate a purchasing indicator, and how that is captured. For example downloads of certain pieces of content can be seen as a conversion, and something to measure during the lead’s journey to becoming a customer. This is why understanding your target audience in advance is so critical. “You need to be able to pivot your approach based on what the data is saying in real time. This enables you to become a lot more agile in marketing. With this constant flow of data, you can make changes to messages, channels etc to make programs much more successful as they are running”.
How to Measure Marketing ROI
Jim comments that the scientific industry lags others in marketing and measurement. However, Thermo Fisher is learning from other industries to experiment with attribution modeling, and different methods for measuring marketing ROI and offline channels. Listen to the podcast to benefit from the tips and tricks the team have learned in rolling out marketing measurement solutions.