The impact of digitalization on marketing communications measurement process : case of global B2B industrial companies
The stature of marketing communications function is under a threat within the firms. As the board of management tends to demand the profitability of all business activities, marketing practitioners have for a long time been unable to credibly show the link between marketing communications actions and financial value. Fortunately, the digitalization has offered new insights and opportunities to make the marketing communications actions more measureable. “Everything can be tracked” is an often heard slogan when speaking of monitoring web users’ online behavior facilitated by web analytics software. However, it is questionable how well this slogan fits the marketing communications of Business-to-business (B2B) industrial companies that tend to stress the role of personal selling in their marketing communications activities. This study investigates how B2B industrial companies measure the impacts of marketing communications actions in the digital age. In particular, it aims at describing the current marketing communications measurement process and examining if the digitalization has reformed the measurement practices in a way or another. As it is often argued that the marketing practitioners are required to show the results of their activities, this study examines also the reporting and feedback processes between the marketing communications function and the top management. The main findings of this study reveal that the case companies do not measure their marketing communications results systematically, nor report them regularly to the top management. In particular, the measurement is not widely based on strategic marketing communications goals, there is no explicit metrics system in use and the top management has not set clear criteria to guide the measurement and reporting practices. However, it is found that the digitalization has facilitated the measurement practices in terms of evaluating the visibility and attractiveness of online marketing communications actions. Nevertheless, the results suggest that the digitalization has not yet revolutionized the marketing communications measurement process of B2B industrial companies, even though the future might be different. ...
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