How to Build (and Measure) a Marketing Center of Excellence

Every marketing team has the goal of improving efficiency and getting better results. Standardizing and operationalizing best practices across a marketing organization can help with both of those goals. A proven way to do that is through a Marketing Center of Excellence (COE). 

According to Gartner, a Center of Excellence is “a physical and/or virtual structure that centralizes expertise, knowledge, and resources to achieve and sustain performance and efficiency.” When it comes to marketing, the focus is largely on improving campaign execution and tracking through the proper use of marketing automation platforms. This is particularly relevant to Adobe Marketo Engage users. The platform enables you to templatize processes and standards to maintain consistency while speeding up execution. 

Creating a COE is time-intensive and requires resources. However, when done correctly it can streamline the work between marketers and automation experts and reduce missed deadlines and campaign mistakes. But how do you know if it’s working? Is your marketing COE doing what you designed it to do? 

5 Components Of A Marketing Center of Excellence

When it comes to a Center of Excellence—across any area of business—the goal is to run the business, grow the business, and transform the business. There are 5 critical components that a COE is based on. If any of these areas is lacking, your function is less likely to be successful. 

  1. Standardization The main purpose of a COE is to define and develop best practices. Marketing teams should document templates, blueprints, and repeatable processes and methodologies for any significant work efforts. The best practices you rely on will be a mix of industry standards and benchmarks along with your company’s established documentation and processes. 
  1. Leveraging assets Your team should understand all of the usable assets within your department and company (both physical and virtual). Consider human assets (employees), relationships, program code and designs (this is where Marketo Engage really comes into play), and “artifacts” (or documents that describe policies, guidelines, etc). 
  1. Measuring performance It’s important to track, measure, and report on the performance of the team’s initiatives across all areas of its efforts. Before you can start measuring you need to understand what exactly you plan to measure and what metrics you’ll use – more on this below. 
  1. Guidance and governance – The COE needs to be positioned as an authority that will cast the vote on significant marketing development or decisions. Leaders within the COE should have a thorough understanding of the complexity of any work planned along with resource availability. 
  1. Subject matter expertsIdeally the COE will identify the right SMEs who can be leveraged where and when needed, based upon their specific skills and experience. These people will support, service, advise, and consult the organization as needed, and they can be internal staff or outsourced experts

How To Know If Your Campaign Center of Excellence Is Effective

As we mentioned, a significant factor in making your COE as effective as possible is proper measurement. But many people struggle with knowing what to measure. It’s difficult to find specific KPIs around things like strategic alignment, process optimization, or customer satisfaction. However, there are 5 areas that our clients have learned to take a close look at to understand their marketing COE performance. 

  1. Is ongoing work aligned with strategic objectives? One of the most important functions of a COE is keeping marketing projects focused on larger company goals. Document a list of current campaigns and score them based on alignment with company goals. For example, give a 1 for ad-hoc projects that don’t contribute in any way to revenue generation, and a 5 for those projects that are directly related to strategic initiatives. Review that score each quarter and look for a positive trend line. 
  1. KPI: Cost per Outcome “Outcome” doesn’t always mean conversion. Whatever outcome you’re looking for, though, make sure that it’s properly documented and then make sure you can get a clear view of the overall journey to that result. What are the costs in terms of human resources, time, dollars, etc? Make note of these figures and compare year over year. Ideally, you will see this figure getting lower as you improve efficiencies and streamline processes. 
  1. KPI: Overall ROIOne thing that you should always be prepared to do as an overall marketing function is to demonstrate your value to the organization. You need to have a clear picture of the return on investment for all marketing activities. To get this number, take the total revenue generated divided by the total marketing investment and reach your return on marketing investment. What this number “should be” depends on a variety of factors such as your industry and your marketing channels. Again, you’re looking for improvements as time goes on as well as positive comparisons to industry benchmarks. 
  1. What is the average lifetime value of a client or customer? – It’s important to understand the value that each customer or client will bring to the organization throughout their entire lifecycle. Different industries calculate this KPI in different ways. Generally, the calculation is the average order total multiplied by the average number of purchases in a year, multiplied by average retention time in years. As you better engage with customers and build programs to encourage loyalty, this number should grow. Look for a positive trend over time. 
  1. Understand funnel movement Here you’re looking for the real effects that your efforts are having on attracting and nurturing leads. What percentage of targets are your marketing campaigns moving into the next phase of the customer journey (ie: how many people that move from the “awareness” to “interest” phases interacted with your campaign touch points?). For this you’ll need a clear view into each customer’s buyer journey and data on their movement within funnels. Marketo provides essential tools that can help you understand funnel workflows and engagement. 

How A Campaign Services Desk Can Help

If monitoring the success of a marketing COE seems like a job within itself, that’s because it can be. Without consistent measurement, you won’t know what’s working—or not working— and your COE won’t help your bottom line. 

That’s why many businesses rely on Digital Pi’s Campaign Services Desk. We build, launch, and monitor campaigns so that marketers can spend their time focused on what matters: connecting with their audience and generating revenue. Our clients have found that it’s a great way to scale their marketing efforts without adding headcount. We’ll be talking more about marketing Centers of Excellence at the upcoming Marketo Top Tips Event. COE experts will drill down into best practices for Marketo Engage users and ways to measure their programs. 

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At Digital Pi, we use technology to connect revenue to marketing efforts. We fuse marketing strategies, processes, data and applications to make marketing technology solutions work for clients' businesses.

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