Strategic Marketing Planning: What’s the Bottom Line?

If you’re unable to show what exactly marketing is doing, or how marketing is contributing to growth for your organization, you’re not alone.

It’s a tale as old as time: being asked to demonstrate not just what marketing is contributing, but which specific outcomes certain marketing activities are responsible for creating. It’s not always easy.

For Lianna McGauley, senior manager of marketing technology at Bottomline Technologies, achieving marketing attribution was a major priority when she joined the company in June 2021. However, she knew she couldn’t get there without first making crucial changes to the way Bottomline was planning.

The ~$500 million SaaS company, which provides digital banking and payment solutions across several global business lines, was executing its marketing plans across disparate systems and siloed teams, which meant very limited visibility into how marketing efforts were performing.

Today, Bottomline can see all its plans in one place, view them against budget results, and attribute plans to performance across the buyer’s journey to drive growth for the company.

How did they carry this out? In a case study presentation at the 2022 Forrester B2B Summit, Lianna shared the secrets of Bottomline’s night-and-day marketing journey—involving the adoption of Hive9’s marketing operations platform, as well as a staunch commitment to change.

Improving marketing planning

When Lianna joined Bottomline, teams across the globe were planning in PowerPoint and Excel spreadsheets. Each team had its own plans that were disconnected from other departments and revisited on a limited basis.

“It gets complex very quickly,” she said, explaining that in terms of knowing what’s working and what’s not, “you can’t see it, and you can’t measure it.”

Importantly, they also didn’t have a view into which audiences they were reaching across activities or throughout the buyer’s journey.

It was time to follow three steps:

  1. Refine the plan. Focus plans based on audiences and their specific needs.
  2. Figure out how to target these audiences: e.g., awareness, demand, enablement, or engagement.
  3. From there, decide which specific activities to spend budget categories against: e.g., paid activities, unpaid initiatives, events. 

Bringing in one system: a marketing transformation

Next, Bottomline adopted BrandMaker’s Hive9 platform: one place from which everyone across all business lines would be able to see these plans.

“We were able to partner with our marketing operations team, our digital teams, and other functions within marketing to collaborate together and build our plans in one system,” Lianna said. “The teams are no longer siloed. There are no longer separate plans on PPTs and spreadsheets. We have drastically decreased the time to pull all that together.”

In Hive9, teams can see plans, campaigns, programs, and tactics all in one structured place, with any changes seen in real time from anywhere in the world. No more checking in on plans only once a quarter.

Additionally, they were able to adjust their marketing campaign hierarchy for efficiency, fixing campaign attributes and capturing the details that mattered the most to them, like revenue, asset size, and vertical.

“All our teams are collaborating inside of this one tool,” Lianna explained. “We’re able to work together to ensure our campaign hierarchy structure is accurate, and that teams aren’t planning in different ways. We can now see all the business’ plans in one place.”

What’s more, the system is also connected with Bottomline’s CRM.

“We build our plans in the Hive9 system, we hit ‘sync,’ and it creates our plans in the CRM automatically,” explained Lianna, pointing out the major time-saving benefits of this integration.

Viewing marketing plans in the right context

Next is where the magic of attribution happens. With all plans tied to budget and goals, Bottomline can see exactly what’s working and what’s not—something they “never had before,” according to Lianna.

With the system’s ability to contain the entire marketing plan and connect it to performance and budget results, Bottomline can see the complete picture of all activities engaged by specific audiences.

This means they can continuously improve what marketing is doing. For example, if they see a trend in ROI is going down in one area, they can pull back on tactics for a specific audience and need (and vice versa).

Bottomline has also gained a view into marketing performance across marketing touchpoints throughout the entire buyer’s journey, whereas before, they were limited to just first- and last-touch.

Now able to pull back a complete view of performance on plans, the marketing org can make more informed decisions on marketing planning and spending. They can easily answer questions like:

  • Who’s the audience?
  • What’s their need?
  • And how can we reach them in an integrated way?

This integrated approach to planning also enables lines of business to “drive deals off of one another,” Lianna explained. With plans and performance in one place, teams can “get ideas from each other and continuously improve,” helping to meet business goals.

You might be more ready than you think

Bottomline certainly made a monumental change when they went from PowerPoints and Excel spreadsheets to one marketing ops platform. But that doesn’t mean it was a one-and-done change.

Noting the constantly evolving world of marketing and technology, Lianna stated that although the “heavy lifting” of the Hive9 implementation was done in just a few short months, there’s still a lot more to come, including more training and more integrations, such as the finance and marketing automation connections.

“We’re still working toward a paramount state,” she pointed out. “I think this will forever be true.”

For example, because the back-office part of the organization is still in the process of revamping its ERP system, Bottomline wasn’t ready to integrate its financials with the Hive9 system—and that’s perfectly OK.

Instead, looking at planned expenses as a way to tell an accurate story from a performance perspective in Hive9, Bottomline is proof that you don’t need to have absolutely every duck in a row in order to improve the way you plan. You don’t always have to control all of the core parts of an organization in order to effect change where you see fit.

Lianna, having managed this project since its inception, realized the importance of getting marketing’s plans and performance in order, gained support from the CMO and SVP of marketing operations, and acted as the catalyst of change to bring the vision into reality in just five months’ time.

“We took our plans, we decided to redefine how we were going to plan and go to market, and we moved it all into an operational system,” she said. “And now we’re all executing and collaborating in one space. That’s huge.”

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