Basecamp to Everest: Journeys to ROI with Lori West

Sam Melnick: Welcome everybody to Uptempo’s LinkedIn Live. Today it’s Base Camp to Everest: Marketing’s ROI Journey or Journey to ROI. 

I’m Sam Melnick, the Vice President of Customer Success and Insights here at Uptempo and I am joined by Lori West, who is the Vice President of Marketing Operations and Technology at Genpact. 

I’m gonna let Lori do an introduction in a moment, but I want to talk a little first about marketing ROI. This is one of these things I’m really excited to dig in with Lori. 

We’ve got a couple of these sessions coming up this week. The reality is, it’s not really a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing ROI. We can come up with equations, we can talk about what’s possible, but each organization and how they take on marketing, ROI, what technologies they use, who they have to engage internally, it’s going to be kind of different. 

However, that’s not to say you can’t learn from your peers. There’s things that each organization is going to have to go through and challenges or roadblocks that they’re going to hit, and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to learn from smart people like Lori who have paid their dues and taken on some of this journey. 

Lori, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, your organization at Genpact, about the marketing organization, give us that overview. 

Lori West: Sure thing. As you said, I’m Lori West. I’m the Vice President of Marketing Operations and Technology with Genpact. I’ve been with Genpact for about six years now. I have about 20 years or so, aging myself, in marketing overall, predominantly in professional services organizations and predominantly within technology and automation arenas. Genpact, if you don’t know, is about 100,000 people strong. We are a professional services firm that specializes in digital transformation. 

The marketing team in the six years I’ve been there has changed quite dramatically. I think back to when I started, we were a very small, lean team focused a lot on thought leadership. We had a lot of offline marketing activities that we would engage in from a vertical and horizontal perspective. 

Fast forward now to 2021, and especially with everything that happened last year, the majority of what we do is online. We have everything focused on connected journeys, predominantly from online channels, predominantly culminating with a website experience. So, generating a lot of data for us to play in. 

SM: Awesome. Thank you. You started this journey before COVID hit. You got a leg up, but everybody had to move on to that journey. It’s great that you had that start. 

I mentioned in my intro, ROI is going to be different for every organization. When it comes to Genpact and your marketing organization and your marketing leadership and CMO, what does ROI mean to you all? 

LW: It’s a really good question because it can mean a lot of different things applied in a lot of different ways across the marketing stack. I think at the top level, it’s really the strategic way that we view our activities and benchmark against the performance that we’re driving. It’s really assessing the investment in time, resource, and pure budget in the activities that we’re driving versus the impact that we’re generating and all of it with a view of how we can take and learn to invest in the future. 

I think at the topmost level that’s how we would look at ROI and then of course, within all of that, we go super granular, as does everyone, I think. And you start looking at not just the ROI on it, but also the attribution elements to it and how you can improve interactions, how you can increase engagement, what’s going on with the inflow, how you can improve operational efficiencies, et cetera. 

SM: You talk about multiple levels, which is I think a great best practice and something to think about. There’s not one end-all be-all ROI number or metric. But does every ROI metric have a dollar input and a revenue or pipeline output, or do you look at it in other ways? 

LW: I think we have to look at it in other ways. If I think about the top level scorecard that we have within our marketing team, we have it broken down in various ways. We look at reputation, we look at demand creation, we look at customer engagement and some of those are very easily quantifiable and some of them are not. Some of them you can’t very directly take it down to a dollar amount. We do look at each individual thing and we determine at the onset what it is that we’re looking to drive: is it an uplift in web traffic? Is it awareness points from it from a brand program? 

We do take a look at each individual thing that we’re doing and we set forth what we believe is the return that we’re looking for and we contextualize it so we can say, are we looking year on year? Are we looking program to program? Are we looking at pure uplifts year on year? So we know whether or not a data point that we’re putting forward is actually good. 

SM: That’s great. That’s one of the bigger mistakes that I see marketing organizations make is sometimes they’re getting pushed to prove marketing’s worth. So they try and put everything into some sort of dollar or pipeline amount, or they want to be known as revenue driven marketer, so everything has to be tied to revenue. 

But the reality is, I like how you put it and how we talk about it at Uptempo often, is this idea of intent. Not like intent, data, like some technology providers, but what is your intent? What’s the intent of the activities, the people, the dollars, and then what is the benchmark or what are we trying to hit with that? And intent can be reputation or brand loyalty or something like that, as long as you’ve stated that and you’re measuring to it.  

Did you get any pushback from your finance counterpart or sales or even other people within marketing when you try to find ROI in that manner? 

LW: No, I mean, we have a scorecard that has a variety of measures, and if you look at all of the scorecards, individual scorecards even, they all ladder straight up. So our CMO’s ladders up to our CEO and mine ladders up to hers. 

There is an element of the financial, and then there’s an element of all of the customer engagement of the brand of press or analyst relations or whatever it is that we’re specifically accountable for, because all of them play together. It’s all of those things working in tandem that are actually gonna end up driving that inflow. 

SM: I love how you just talked about that. I’m glad that you haven’t got pushback. It sounds like you’ve set up goals and your score cards ladders up, so you provide the context around, “Okay, here’s how we look at our business and our individual owners and this is how they ladder up.” Some of it’s going to be pipeline or very revenue driven specific, but some of it’s not. As long as you can make those connection point around goals and metrics you can usually get buy in. I think that is a great approach and it sounds like it’s working for you all. At least fairly well, there’s always tweaks. 

LW: There’s always tweaks. 

SM: Talk to us about your journey. The theme of this whole LinkedIn Live is the journey based on Everest. It’s not like one day you walked in, you popped open your BI, or you hit a button, you’re like, “oh, there’s ROI”. Talk to us about a little bit about what it takes and about how long it took. 

LW: When I think when you first approached me with this, I thought back to the very beginning and it was about three years ago, I think, that team members and I sat down to look at where did we want to be and what it was gonna take to get there. And we started little bits at a time. 

We started all the way back at the beginning, at the very base level, in terms of data: contact data, lead data, and we worked hard on our database, MDM. We stood up a team, we had made sure we had a team on hygiene and accuracy and enrichment and making sure that we had our CRM in tip-top form. 

We wanted to make sure that we had all of the filters in our CRM system that would actually drive to what we were trying to accomplish from a reporting element, and connect to the various tools that we wanted to introduce into the ecosystem. 

That was the very base level that we started and on, and then we started slowly bringing in the new areas. With our CRM system all buttoned up, then we could look at, okay, how can we automate now to look at what we’re driving from an inflow perspective? 

We pulled in our data visualization tool and we set up all of those rules and macros so that we could have that real time view of our data, and what we’re driving from an inflow perspective. Then we slowly started introducing and connecting the channels so that we could look at a channel view that was still very disparate. We were looking at paid media and the impressions and the pay-per-clicks, but that was separate from the rest of the journey, which is where we had set out at the very beginning, that’s where we wanted to be. 

And I think it was beginning of 2020 that we implemented Uptempo and had 3 main goals for that. For us, it was the very first and rudimentary goal of getting everybody off their spreadsheets so we could all have a centralized view. But also it was so that we could take our budget and dissect it. Use all of those meta tags and the filters in Uptempo to say, okay, within our total budget, how much are we spending on creation of a campaign versus the activation of the campaign? And is that the right way we should be thinking about our budget? That was our rudimentary view into our very first steps, into being able to really pick apart the ROI and be able to dissect it down to a very granular level. 

And of course, we were looking at it from the full campaign perspective as well. At the same time we did that, we worked on taxonomy, which is probably where we spent the majority of our time in terms of the whole road map on where we wanted to go. Taxonomy was huge for us. 

It was as basic as making sure that everybody in the team was aligned to what a program was versus a campaign versus an activation versus a tactic. But it was also really looking at every single solitary piece in the data, of tech that we have, making sure that the fields mapped up. And over time how we took a vertical that we called Banking and Financial Services years ago, is now Banking and Capital Market. Guess what? The acronyms didn’t line up. If you start looking all the way back, you’re like, oh my gosh, I can’t even align the data. We spent a lot of time on the clean up of everything to make sure that we had standardized ways of naming each channel, each tactic, each vertical. 

And then also the UTMs and how we build out a UTM, the order with which we have the UTM, all of the various ways that we would want to cut our data down and segment it and filter it. 

We spent a lot of time in that arena and now we’re finally at that point where it’s starting to pay off because, with that work completed, we can now say, “Ah! Now I can see my click from a paid ad all the way onto my website, all the pages that that individual visited, the fact that they filled out a web form and that now we’ve gone through a bid process and they’re in a down select.” It took a bit, but we’re finally now at that point. 

We’re still not at the top of Everest, Sam, but we’re getting closer. 

SM: I remember I wrote a white paper report on data strategy and the journey behind it. And I think this was back when you had started your journey, but it was still more of a twinkle in your eye. Whereas now there’s some tangible stuff around it. We interviewed a dozen or so people like Lori for it. What you just talked about revalidates what we found when we did this research, which was that a lot of time is spent on what I would call data strategy and data model. Not like modeling the data, per se, but figuring out what is the data model that is going to provide the reports and the insights you need. Because if you start without having a clear concept of what you want the outcome to be, and if you don’t understand what systems have what fields, you kind of hit that ROI button after a year of work and the data can’t come together. So you go slow to go fast. I’m sure it took you a year or two just to get all the right people in the room, everyone to agree on it. “Oh, why do we call this Banking and Financial Services versus Banking and Capital Market?” But once you have those defined, it’s like, okay, let’s get them in the system. Let’s integrate, let’s automate, let’s design the dashboard. 

Sound familiar? Am I accurate? 

LW: Well, you’re very accurate actually. It’s amazing the complexity and trying to get a standardization. 

Even in a UTM, you’re like, oh, each channel has their own way of managing their channel views and how they do their day-to-day that are also reliant upon the UTM, but don’t ladder back up into the big picture. We had to be able to go, okay, here’s the big picture and what we need and here’s all of the things downstream that you need. And then of course, we ended up with human error and we’re like, [screaming] “Aah!” Now we’ve got a project in place to automate the creation of the UTM code, so it gets really locked down.  You go in and you say this is what I want to do and these are the parameters with which I want to measure it. And then here’s the UTM code that is developed for you and that gets used across all the various channels, so that we eliminate any room for error moving forward in that capacity. 

SM: I think that’s a key point as well. What I found when I talk with folks, you start with almost manual, whether it’s bringing data together or whether it’s UTM codes, then you move to “Oh, there’s an error here” or “I can automate that.” So it’s almost semi-automated, you automate the low hanging fruit and then you move to fully automated. Some of it may never be fully automated because it’s not possible, you need human input. It’s a layer on top of the already complex process. Whereas people who go right to automation, it’s just not possible. You can’t figure out where the breaking points are. You want to figure out the breaking points manually because when you hit automate, it’s broken. 

LW: Yeah, then you’re really chasing backwards. 

SM: Who did you have to get in the room? Who were the people you engaged internally? It’s not necessarily, “hey, let’s go get Uptempo and an attribution vendor”. First it’s like, how do we get agreement on metrics and taxonomy? Who did you engage there internally? 

LW: I think from a metrics perspective and an ROI perspective, it was really sitting down with the various leaders of their domain. At the very beginning it was the individual that runs our Go To Market. A lot of time was spent there, because he was the one who is responsible for all of the data and just saying, “Hey, how are we doing? Are we doing well? Are we not doing well?” 

We spent a lot of time there looking at what are the key measures and how do we need to separate those? Do we need to look at them by audience? Do we need to look at them by geography? Do we need to look at them by vertical? Whatever that slice needs to be. 

Then it was looking at the channel owners to say, okay, for the editorial team, if we have a piece of content, do you want to see how it performs on this channel versus this channel? Is it performing at the top of the funnel or the middle of the funnel or the bottom of the funnel? We spent a lot of time trying to understand all of those various elements and I think we’re still learning. 

I find that the probably the most exciting thing with all of the data is that the more you get into it, the more you realize like, oh my gosh, I could take another step further and get another dimension to this that will help provide more of a holistic picture of what’s going on. 

SM: That makes perfect sense. I think starting with what the measurements are or even what decision you’re trying to make starts you down that path. 

We just went over a bunch of stuff in about 15 minutes, and you’ve obviously thought it through and you’ve done a great job here. Trying to boil it down, say I go back to Lori three years ago, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to somebody trying to figure out how to approach ROI at their organization? 

LW: Consider the time you think it’s gonna take you and then double it, so that you have patience. The one thing I think we did right in it was that we’d looked at bite size pieces, rather than trying to get everything done because it’s an impossibility. We’re still striving for an end goal. 

And every time we think we met the end goal, I’ve discovered something else I would like to do, so it extends the goal. It makes the Everest go higher, if you will. 

I think that making sure that you have realistic milestones and releases, and you celebrate those along the way. That’s the advice that I would give. 

SM: I think that’s great advice. I think like, oh, 3 years, oh, it’s a lot of work. What you said about milestones, I see this consistently with our customers who are getting value and happy with their journey around ROI is they’re realistic that there’s going to be a milestone once we clean up Salesforce so that the data is useful, there’s going to be a milestone once we have investment data in Uptempo, that’s reconciled with financial systems that have pivots around geos or product lines and we’re gonna see value along the way. 

The big win is when we get that first look of ROI, but it doesn’t mean we’re not gonna get value along the way. Being clear and celebrating those milestones is important. 

LW: Yeah, absolutely. I think as we were looking at one of the very early wins for us and looking at things was when we automated our inflow, and we could sit back and celebrate and say, oh my gosh, what used to take us 35 hours’ worth of manually manipulating data to get all of these cuts, we can just now log in. 

SM: And what do you mean by inflows? 

LW: Pipeline. 

SM: Great. I’m gonna ask one obligatory Uptempo question. When you look at this ROI journey, where does Uptempo fit in? How does it relate to some of the other technologies as part of your stack and as part of this journey or approach? 

LW: Uptempo was one of the earlier pieces within the journey. We really wanted to look at not just the return against a program, but we did want to look at individually how we were spending the money and make more informed decisions on, were we spending too much in one area and not enough in another area, et cetera? That was probably our very first win with Uptempo. That and financial close and alignment with our finance team, like this [snaps]. Beautiful, beautiful things. 

Now, if you take a look at the way that the tech is set up, in order for you to update in Uptempo, anything, add a line, you do have to attribute it to a program, a campaign, an activation, a tactic. It automatically will pull in a lot of the meta tagging for you, so you don’t have to do that. We have that automated view of how we want to be able to slice and dice that data against the whole program goals that we’ve set in our data visualization tool. We also have a few other things that can get set up in there as well. It is a central piece to it that’s connected directly into our systems to help us be able to see those insights. We’re right at the cusp. We’re still at that last little piece to be able to plug it all back in and get it an automated view that says, okay, at the program level, here’s the total spend and everything that falls within it. I’ve got two separate systems right now but the data is all there. We’re just working on that connection. 

SM: The larger and more matrixed an organization is, the harder these things are to connect, both in organizational structure, but functionally as well. It’s not uncommon. 

What else would you say is in your ROI tech stack? 

LW: Well— 

SM: That you’re comfortable sharing. 

LW: We did implement Bizible this year which was a big one. It’s been a big unlock to be able to see what’s going on within the full journey. You know, how customers are behaving and engaging with us at the top of the funnel versus downstream, how an existing client is engaging versus a new prospect client. It’s giving us a little bit of a richer of view there and it was also enabled us to get away from a last touch attribution, which is fine if you want to just look at your last touch. 

We now have the ability to pivot back and forth and if I’m looking at a prospect account. It is the first touch that’s super important for me to be able to bring that back to sales to say, “hey, look, this is the first touch and this is a new prospect”, versus if it’s an existing account and you really wanna look at the bottom of the funnel and where we’re helping to helping a salesperson drive the opportunity forward. That’s a big one for us. 

SM: That’s great. It’s a next level. Once you’ve proven out that you can bring the data together, now you wanna see different views, first touch versus last touch, maybe there’s a custom model that answers different questions. 

I think we can close up in a moment. 

What was the hardest part? What was that part that you were like, “man, that took a lot, but we got through it”. Or maybe you’re still working on it? 

LW: No, it was absolutely setting the data infrastructure and all of that taxonomy. We think we’d get to a point and we’d start to try to do scenarios with it. Just whiteboard it out, and we’d find it would break. That probably was the most painstaking piece of it. We got through it, but then there was human error so now we’ve redone it, tightened it up, and we’re automating it to eliminate that. That was absolutely the toughest piece. 

SM: Awesome. This has been great as always, it’s a pleasure to learn and hear from you. It truly is a journey and we’re glad to be partners with you on this. Really impressive stuff. You’re doing great. Thank you for your time. Thanks for the partnership. Thanks for sharing with everyone. 

LW: Yeah. 

SM: Yeah, for everybody who’s listening, we do have another one of these sessions coming up later this week. It’s with Richard Wasylynchuk, he runs revenue operations at Visier. We’ll have a similar conversation around their journey to ROI. You’ll be able to learn about two different perspectives on ROI and how to get there. Thank you, everyone. Thank you again, Lori. Have a wonderful day. 

LW: Thank you. 

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