LONDON: Three quarters of marketing strategies and ad campaigns under-performed during 2014 as new research claims they failed to deliver the positive business results – increased sales, greater market share, sales prospects or conversions – that management had expected.

The Fournaise Marketing Group, a specialist in marketing performance measurement, analysed the effectiveness of more than 2.5m B2C and B2B marketing strategies, campaigns and ads across all media channels in 20 countries and identified three critical effectiveness mistakes that marketers were making.

Not for the first time, weak customer value propositions (CVP) were to the fore, with 88% of cases having "wrongly prioritised the 'how to say it' ahead of the 'what to say'".

Fournaise noted a focus on style, look, feel, digital and social rather than directly addressing the needs of the target audience based on "sound, scientifically-structured, audience-triggering CVP architectures".

It further argued that marketers and agencies placed too much reliance on creativity in ads and not enough on such things as message relevance, message appeal and action/engagement.

Some 70% of creative executions, it reported, did "not build a high enough level of audience engagement to generate solid incremental customer demand for the products/services advertised".

Too many marketers and agencies were continuing to rely on "fluff" metrics such as likes and tweets which could not demonstrate any business ROI. Similarly, high ad awareness figures were no proof of having generated more demand.

The final area where marketers and agencies were going wrong, according to Fournaise was in how they used data. In 67% of cases marketers were deluged with data and reports but kept asking for more.

They often used the wrong data collection/analysis methodologies for the wrong purposes, which in turn led them to take the wrong decisions and deploy under-performing campaigns.

Or they developed strategies and creative first and then cherrypicked data to justify what they'd already decided.

"To deliver results, effectiveness and ROI, there is a formula," said Jerome Fontaine, Global CEO & Marketing Performance Chief of Fournaise. "You first optimise what you say, to whom, why you say it (and in which order), and then you optimise how you say it (and where) – using the appropriate science and tools."

He suggested that just 20% of marketers were applying this formula correctly, while for the remaining 80% "under-performance is a chronic disease".

Data sourced from The Fournaise Marketing Group; additional content by Warc staff