How Marketing Reached Trusted Advisor Status at Pitney Bowes
“Allocadia is the single system of truth for our marketing investments. It empowers us to make data-driven decisions and gain insights that determine if we are succeeding and where best to reallocate funds.”
– Anna Alexander, Manager of Marketing Budget Systems, Pitney Bowes
The Task: Taking Control of Marketing Investments and Gaining Advanced ROI Insights
Being seen as a catalyst for innovation and a trusted advisor to the business is the end goal for many marketers. Yet achieving that status is no small feat as it requires the ability to make the best investment decisions in spite of the many challenges associated with marketing planning, investment management and measurement. Add to that the necessary alignment and technology required to arrive at marketing ROI, and it’s no surprise that so many struggle to achieve that objective. In fact, that’s the place Pitney Bowes found itself just a few years ago. With Allocadia, Pitney Bowes gained new marketing ROI insights that enabled transformative decisions and earned the finance department’s confidence.
Establishing a Baseline for Operational Excellence
Pitney Bowes (NYSE:PBI) is a global technology company powering billions of transactions – physical and digital – in the connected and borderless world of commerce. The company is in the midst of a digital transformation and is basically a a 97-year-old startup. Clients around the world, including 90 percent of the Fortune 500, rely on products, solutions and services from Pitney Bowes in the areas of customer information management, location intelligence, customer engagement, shipping, mailing, and global ecommerce.
The company combines the best of physical and digital solutions to redefine global commerce. They combine the strength of physical mail and shipping with digital experiences to deliver more value across a wide range of clients. Their global ecommerce solutions power more than 250 retailers, brands and online marketplaces who sell to more than 6.5 million buyers in more than 220 countries and territories, using more than 74 currencies. Through global trade APIs, they are the largest online classification service, providing classification data for over 1,078,843 products, for 141 import countries and for 236,454 customers. Banks, Telcos and insurance firms are adding digital interactive and personalized videos from Pitney Bowes to explain physical paper statements and policies to their customers. Twitter, Zillow and inMobi and other social platforms use their location intelligence technology to identify consumer trends and capitalize on emerging markets.
Prior to 2014, Pitney Bowes operated as three separate business divisions, each with its own financial systems and marketing teams. As a result, the company as a whole lacked a centralized view of its marketing spend and results. Running on separate processes for marketing planning and budgeting made it impossible to truly grasp the potential and actual return on every marketing effort – including programs, campaigns and tactics.
When Pitney Bowes decided to undergo a significant transformation to stay in lockstep with a changing market and business environment, the CEO laid out three pillars that would enable this, one of which was operational excellence.
For marketing, operational excellence includes evaluating campaign effectiveness to determine which demand-generation activities will yield the best ROI. It also means providing all marketing leads, department heads, and field marketers with data-driven guidance on the most effective and efficient way to spend their budget. Moreover, it entails delivering accurate marketing investment insights to the executive team.
To enable this, the company’s marketing arm needed to consolidate under a single global department , build out marketing operations, and excel at financial management, measurement and analysis. It also needed the right tools and processes to make this all possible.
Gaining Control of the “I” in “ROI”
The first order of business was to create a global marketing and communication department. As part of this transition Allison Smith Terrey, Vice President Marketing Operations and Analytics, and Anna Alexander, Manager of Marketing Budget Systems, saw a need to set about uniting and making sense of the organization’s disconnected marketing budgets.
At the time, all marketing plans and budgets were managed in spreadsheets and each business unit ran its own finance system. As a result, the company lacked a unified view of its marketing planning, investments and actual allocations.
The team first decided to to gain control of the “I” in “ROI.” As Anna explains, “The ‘I’ is a strong denominator in the ROI formula. As forward-thinking marketers, we see it as a baseline of success.” Allison continues, “Our ultimate goal is for marketing operations to become a trusted advisor. This means we needed to understand how spend is allocated against peer companies, whether investments are effective, and how we can help every marketer at Pitney Bowes make smarter business decisions.”
To enable alignment with finance and regional marketing, Allison sought a technology platform and partner that would help consolidate the disconnected business unit marketing budgets and better manage marketing investments. After evaluating her options, Allison chose Allocadia because it was built from the ground up for marketers, enables marketing planning and forecasting, and syncs seamlessly with Salesforce.
Securing Buy-in from Finance and Marketing
Once Allocadia was selected as the marketing performance management platform, Anna focused on rolling out planning functionality around the world, providing budget visibility to the business units and budget owners. She also prioritized the alignment of marketing with finance to enable accurate forecasts.
Marketing executives recognized the value of Allocadia as it enabled her to drive the unified marketing planning and investment management that was essential to global consolidation. “Allocadia provided us with the control, visibility, and clarity she needed over all our marketing investments. That was critical as the company was transforming and marketing was being centralized,” explains Allison.
With the marketing leadership’s full support, Anna socialized Allocadia and demonstrated its advantages over the use of spreadsheets. With a mandate to make Allocadia the planning and budgeting system of record, Anna worked with budget owners across the world to adopt the solution. The business unit marketing leads quickly got on board with Allocadia as they appreciated the full transparency and visibility. “Because Allocadia is a live system, any changes are instantaneous and visible to everyone, which is impossible to ensure with spreadsheets,” says Anna.
The marketing leads in turn encouraged their teams to use Allocadia. Combined, these efforts drove 100% adoption and virtually eliminated the need for spreadsheets as part of the planning and budgeting process. The transparency of spend across marketing programs, campaigns and geographies enabled consistent planning, and also made it possible to prepare data for ROI reporting.
Once the finance group saw Allocadia, it was sold on it being the system of record for marketing investments as it knew that the existing financial systems were not serving marketing’s needs. With Allocadia, all of marketing can manage their budgets in a separate system but finance still has control over core financial data. As a testament to its belief in Allocadia, finance uses the system during its forecast calls for a comprehensive view of planning and actual marketing spend.
Connecting Revenues to Investments
With the global, cross-business unit marketing budget consolidated into a single platform, the next focus was linking the investment data with marketing campaign results in Salesforce.com. “This enables the ultimate insights in the form of return on marketing investment and budget effectiveness. After all, our ultimate goal is optimized performance and to get there, we need various and granular views of ROI,” explains Allison.
By leveraging the combination of data on marketing investments and marketing results, Allocadia would make it possible for marketers and the company as a whole to make better investment decisions. Anna was charged with enabling ROI measurement on the following levels: company-wide, geographic and business units, and by campaign and program.
Once Salesforce.com and Allocadia were linked, Anna then worked with Allocadia to create three reports. The strategic-level report shows how marketing investments have driven leads, opportunities, pipeline and revenues. The second report shows the same by geography and line of business. The third report shows the impact of the numerous programs and underlying campaigns, which can number more than 1,000 in a given year. “We can roll up all these details through Allocadia, which would have been impossible to do otherwise,” says Anna.
By proving the value of Allocadia when it came to gaining control of marketing investments, Allison and Anna had paved the way for reaching the next stage of marketing performance measurement maturity. They first rolled out the new ROI-specific reports with two select business units while also tying the allocation of investments to monthly scorecards used by the executives of these groups.
The next step is working with Allocadia to develop reports for multi-touch campaign attribution, regression analysis, and ratio of pipeline to spend.
Reaching Trusted Advisor Status
With all this in place, Allocadia is now the accepted source of truth for all marketing investment data. By seeing spend by program and campaign, both company-wide and by geography and business unit – and gaining ROI insights – through Allocadia, the marketing organization is able to reallocate budget as needed. “It’s easier to rebalance our budget now that we can visually grasp the impact of our spend. Simply put, Allocadia helps us easily pinpoint and zero in on which programs and campaigns are most and least effective,” says Anna.
Going forward, Allison and the Marketing Operations group plan to further position marketing as a trusted advisor to the business by helping both marketing VPs and business units understand how their spend is allocated in comparison to peer companies. “Empowering all our line of business leaders with Allocadia enables them to provide their marketing VPs with insights that allow them in turn to make the next best investment decisions. In other words, Allocadia delivers data-driven results so we can determine campaign effectiveness and strategically allocate funds,” concludes Anna.