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Radically Better Results

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Marketing planning and execution management are business practices and processes that are foundational to achieving marketing results, whether your desired outcomes are revenue, ROI, or as specific as channel performance. There are established best-practices that are widely acknowledged to support the achievement of better outcomes like using data insights to inform decisions and agile execution. How widely used are practices like these? How are marketing teams planning and executing those plans? What are the challenges and issues being faced in 2021 against a backdrop of the COVID pandemic? We wanted to know.

YouGov was commissioned jointly by marketing agency Yard and attribution software Cubed to survey 1,000 marketing leaders in the UK about how they approach marketing planning and execution. This is the first of what is intended to be an annual state of marketing planning report.

The state of marketing planning - some surprising findings

  • 71% of marketers plan activity on an annual or Adhoc basis.

  • 83% of marketers are using gut feel when it comes to making strategic decisions.

  • Only 17% of marketers’ go-to for decision making is data or analytics.

  • 10 out of 20 of eCommerce Marketing Managers/Directors say they struggle to pinpoint growth opportunities due to lack of analytical insight.

  • 92% of those who struggle to pinpoint opportunities for growth say it’s because of lack of people, time or tools.

Setting yourself up to plan

Research suggests that the planning flywheel for marketing might not be working optimally for many. There is often an issue with software investments not being fully utilised, with organisations needing to invest in optimising their software set-up and use in order to both measure what matters and develop actionable insights.

A further issue of how marketing teams’ approach both planning and execution is apparent with a broad acceptance that agile working is better – but there’s a lack of structured agile working practices being implemented. This means insights may not get actioned quickly and learnings fed back to the growth flywheel.

Goal setting

45% of marketing leaders do not have a formal process to set goals. Of those that do set goals, 80% are using either KPIs, SMART or OKRs. Some 40% report progress on an adhoc basis, while 28% report monthly, 23% quarterly and 31% annually.

Why do goals matter?

  • Direction / focus

  • Clear priorities

  • Provide meaning to work

  • Accountability

  • Align execution

  • Stimulate learning, collaboration and innovation


‘Highly successful agile transformations typically delivered around 30% gains in efficiency, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and operational performance; made the organisation five to ten times faster; and turbocharged innovation.’

McKinsey 2021

Complete and actionable data is needed to direct work and measure efforts. Without data, organisations do not know the impact, can’t close the experiment or carry learnings forward.

Rise and rise of the marketing data team

84% of the top 50 eCommerce companies in UK have an inhouse data science team.

Top performers within eCommerce specifically are consolidating their positions by being better set-up to use data and marketing spend more effectively. Cubed helps marketing teams to get the data they need to close the insight and ROI gap.

Key services in data

Our data team has deep expertise in analytics set-up, attribution, budgeting and forecasting. We are Cubed and Adobe implementation experts and offer several complimentary services:

Analytics Implementation – Yard have 15 years’ experience in full analytics implementations and support in Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics, WebTrends, IBM and Coremetrics.

Marketing Data Optimisation – Yard drives customer acquisition and retention through data optimisation, using research methods such as A/B testing, test design and management, rule-driven, data-driven and propensity driven personalisation and next best action.

Marketing Data & Analysis – Yard gives your teams the know-how to use your chosen tech with confidence. This allows them to access and view data seamlessly, gaining insights that inform smart marketing decisions.

Data Science for Marketing – By applying data science modelling, Yard understands online journeys and predicts future consumer behaviour. This allows brands to serve the right content and experiences via targeting and personalisation technologies.

Analytics Training – Yard create and deliver tailored training, guides and documentation for beginners and advanced users. Use the technologies that your business has invested to their full potential.

How does Cubed offer a solution to our findings?

Cubed is a multi-touch attribution software that uses machine learning to understand and predict user behaviour. It is constantly training; learning which actions makes a person more likely to buy. This level of insight provides brands with the data they need to lead in their market.

Cubed facilitates marketing teams to work in an agile manner. The software encourages regular planning and full utilisation of data and analytics. Cubed aggregates ata from millions of touchpoints – and provides genuinely actionable insights. It clearly defines the activity brands should keep, start and stop doing, creating a stream of agile  marketing experiments to ensure continual test and learn.

Teams are formulated to optimise activity based on growth opportunities and identify then resolve gaps should they occur, whether they be in terms of skills, time or tools. No revenue opportunity is left untapped. From campaigns to keywords, affiliates to SEO, brands are positioned to put budget where marketing performs. The true value of each channel is made clear, making both investing and forecasting easier. This allows investment in the channels, campaigns, ads, content and affiliates with the highest ROI potential.

Next steps

If you’d like to find out more data services we offer, or Cubed, we’d love to hear from you at

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