Customer experience (CX)-focused marketing is the hot topic in a lot of marketing circles, but like many buzzwords it’s come to mean different things to different people – sometimes within the same team. And when it comes to metrics and measuring effectively, that’s a problem.

Earlier this year, Gartner asserted that “many CMOs regard CX as an ephemeral concept” and, as a result, don’t do an especially good job of measuring its value. This translates into struggles to explain to the rest of the c-suite just where all that marketing budget went, and what kind of return the enterprise got for its money.

That uncertainty drove Gartner to predict that investment in CX will drop significantly in the coming years as CEOs get tired of waiting for real results. Obviously that’s not great news for marketing, but at least there’s a clear solution: get serious about metrics.

But before your company can measure anything, you have to agree on what it is you’re measuring. A few CX principles are generally universal, but the rest can vary depending on your market, product, and goals. To start measuring effectively then, you have to define what CX means for your organization specifically.

We know, that’s easy for us to say, and much harder for marketing orgs to do (especially big ones with a lot of stakeholders). Here’s a sample process to help you get there. Some of this you’ve probably already done in some way or another, but by writing it all down in a single, unified document, you can crystallize your thoughts into actionable insight.

Step 1: Look at your root challenges. Whether CX is a new or evolving initiative for your company, you’re doing it for a reason. If you were 100% happy at all times with everything in your marketing, you wouldn’t be looking at a new or iterated strategy. And that’s fine! Nobody gets everything right, all of the time.

The important thing is to be honest with yourselves on this. Have a candid session with the other marketing leaders in your org, and identify where the team has been rocking it, and where they’ve run into some challenges that you’re looking to CX to help solve.

Step 2: Translate challenges into aims.  When you’ve solidified what your challenges are, you know what you’re trying to do. The next step is to translate them into concrete objectives for your program.

For example, if one of your identified challenges is content engagement, you might make an aim around increasing engagement for your target personas. This step may sound superfluous – of course you want to improve on your challenge areas – but there’s value in explicitly writing out what you’re trying to do. It creates a record others can refer back to, and a guiding light in making the decisions that come after that.

Step 3: Determine your approaches. So you know what your objectives are. Now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to tackle them. Maybe it’s increasing production of content focused on a particular persona pain point, or maybe it’s changes to your social strategy to help make sure all your great content is getting seen. Maybe it’s a more orchestrational solution, improving a process to get that great content to where it needs to be.

At this point, it’s important to have your customer’s journey clearly defined, so that you can map your approaches to what your customer is trying to accomplish at each stage. It’s easy to get caught up in what you want to happen, but the ultimate point of CX (and one of those universal principles we mentioned earlier)  is to focus your efforts around the customer’s point of view.

When you’re thinking through your approaches, be sure to consider them through the customer’s lens – and to clearly tie them to the aims you listed previously.

Step 4: Decide how to measure. We’re almost there. Now that you’ve documented what you’re going to do and why, it’s time to figure out the best way to measure those results. Be sure to specify which of your available metrics are the ones that most closely track to your objectives, and identify how to tie those metrics back to spending. Not every measurement needs to draw a direct line to money, but the leadership team is going to want to see some proof they’re getting ROI.

Step 5: Identify success. This one can be surprisingly tricky to get alignment on, but it’s arguably the most important. Now that you know how you’ll measure your efforts, how will you determine if those efforts are working? Before you call it a day on your CX alignment exercise, make sure all stakeholders are in agreement on what success looks like.

We’re big fans of the CX-centered marketing approach, but like most things, it only works as well as you set it up.  We’ve put together a free customer experience alignment template to help you get going. Download it here, and get started on your CX marketing today.