What Challenges Are B2B Marketers Facing in Measuring Their Impact?

June 6, 2018

Just 7% of B2B marketers in the US rate their company’s current ability to measure and analyze marketing performance and impact as “excellent,” according to a new study [download page] from Demand Gen Report, with twice as many feeling that they are “poor/inadequate.” As such, close to 9 in 10 indicate that marketing measurement and reporting is a growing priority.

There are two main factors motivating B2B marketers’ increased focus on – or need for – deeper metrics. Seven in 10 say that a desire to show marketing’s impact on pipeline and revenue is behind their increased attention to metrics, while two-thirds are pushing to show ROI from all their marketing investments.

This makes sense given that pressure is building on marketers to measure their performance and impact.

Yet respondents to the Demand Gen Report study indicate that they’re facing a variety of challenges to measuring and demonstrating their impact. Chief among those are an inability to measure and track activity between specific buyer stages (48%) and an inability to measure impact across channels and campaigns (47%).

Part of the problem is an absence of measurement at later stages of the funnel, combined with a lack of attribution across channels. Almost half (45%) of respondents admitted that they don’t measure marketing initiatives in the middle of the funnel, which certainly complicates any efforts to track activity between buyer stages. And among those who are measuring mid-funnel initiatives, very few are able to engage in multi-touch attribution across multiple channels.

It’s not just the middle of the funnel that’s lacking measurement: one-third (34%) of B2B marketers surveyed aren’t measuring campaigns in the later funnel stages.

On an encouraging note, the report’s analysts point out that fewer respondents this year (34%) than last (42%) say that they’re challenged by messy data. Recent research indicates that US organizations believe that one-third of their customer and prospect data is inaccurate in some way and that only half of B2B firms really trust their data.

Manual Reporting Remains Widespread

Despite the widespread availability of marketing technology platforms and solutions, a majority (52%) of respondents report on their marketing results manually with Excel-based reporting.

In fact, this appears to be one of the more popular forms of reporting, behind only reports from web analytics (63%) and reports generated from marketing automation systems (54%).

Previous research also indicates that B2B marketers have room to improve in their use of marketing technology platforms for campaign reporting purposes.

Just 15% of respondents overall say they have a dedicated measurement and attribution solution.

MQLs and SQLs Remain Popular

Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) represent the most commonly used metric by B2B marketing teams, employed by 61% of respondents, per the report. Closed/won deals (48%) and sales qualified leads (SQLs – 47%) follow in close succession, with these three metrics also showing up in previous research as enterprise B2B marketers’ most-used lead stages. (Given the above-cited results, it’s not surprising to see the MQL metric being more popular than the lower-funnel SQL.)

This latest study demonstrates that relatively few (40%) are currently measuring pipeline opportunity, although there have been signs that marketers are gravitating towards greater measurement of pipeline and opportunities.

B2B Marketers Want to Better Measure ABM Programs

While the use of separate measurement and attribution for account-based marketing (ABM) programs is relatively scarce, at 20% of respondents, roughly half (48%) plan to have separate protocols for these programs within the next year.

This coincides with an effort from marketers to make their ABM strategies more about attributing marketing efforts to revenue.

Currently, the top metrics used for measuring account-based marketing are individual campaign and channel metrics (59%). Interestingly, far fewer (38%) are measuring conversion of engaged account to opportunity, although that metric tied with campaign and channel metrics for the top in last year’s survey.

Most Sought-After Metric? ROI, by Channel

Finally, the survey asked respondents which metrics they would like to use in the next 12-18 months. Topping the list, cited by 61%, is ROI by channel, which harks back to the desire to show the impact of all marketing investments and the current inability to measure impact across channels.

Beyond ROI by channel, many marketers are also hoping to use closed-won deal analysis (48%) and deeper ABM metrics (42%) in the year ahead, among others.

The full report is available for download here.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 283 B2B marketers, 99% of whom are from companies based in the US and 56% of whom are from companies with more than $50 million in annual revenues.

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