How B2B Marketers Can Accurately Demonstrate Their Value

B2B marketers are frustrated — and finding it difficult to demonstrate their full value along the lengthy buyer journey from awareness to purchase.

A marketing campaign’s effectiveness is more transparent for business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers due to a short sales cycle that involves one emotion-based decision maker who purchases on the spot or shortly thereafter.

For business-to-business (B2B) marketers, the sale is more complex, involving more interactions, more decision makers and more time.

The Marketing Struggle Is Real

With so many hands in a slow cooking pot, how does a B2B marketer show their value?

Well, many don’t.

According to B2B marketers responding to the 2022 Marketing Measurement & Attribution Survey from Demand Gen, the number one challenge to demonstrating marketing performance and impact is the inability to measure and track activityacross buyer stages — followed closely by the inability to measure impact across channels and campaigns.

Of the respondents:

  • 62% cite a need to show marketing’s impact on pipeline and revenue
  • 58% said their ability to measure marketing efforts is inadequate or needs improvement
  • 54% said they are being pushed to prove return on investment (ROI) on all marketing investments
  • Just 10% said their company’s current ability to measure and analyze marketing performance and impact is excellent

And nearly 70% of those surveyed in MarketingProf’s 2022 State of B2B Marketing Training Report said they don’t consider their marketing team to be very effective.

Maybe it’s time for a makeover.

Forrester said, “historically in most B2B companies, sales, engineering or product is the corporate hero — the source of influence, the powerbase, the ambit of leadership.” While marketing is seen as “a supporting function — an enabler,a cost center.”

Perhaps that’s why Forrester’s 2021 Global Marketing Survey found that just 32% of CMOs report to their CEO and less than half contribute to corporate strategy.

B2B Marketing’s New Destiny — the Architect of Organizational Success

Detailed attribution is not just about getting credit for a job well done or validating the impact marketing has on revenue — it’s also a prime source of insight into the effectiveness of specific actions, allowing for an optimizedmarketing strategy that pushes resources and funding toward the most profitable channels.

And it’s in the company’s interest to take note because Forrester predicted a big change for marketing in its Predictions 2022: B2B Marketing And Innovation report, including a “new destiny to be the driving force behind the company’ssuccess.”

The report goes on to say that “B2B marketing leaders must transform their organizations and quickly, from their traditional role of brand steward, lead generation machine and sales supporter — to become the architect of organizationalsuccess.”

Ross Graber, Forrester vice president and principal analyst, said in a blog post that it’s time for B2B marketers to accurately demonstrate the value they contribute by sidelining the use of marketing-sourced pipeline as a primaryperformance indicator and embracing a lift-based approach.

He believes that B2B marketing leaders currently spend too much energy trying to show which functions found demand and not enough trying to show how marketing is contributing to the organization’s ability to win more business.

“This topic is very top of mind for B2B marketing leaders today as most progressive marketing leaders understand that they do a lot more than finding/sourcing new demand,” Graber said. “They just don’t know how to use metrics to showthat the stuff they do beyond sourcing is contributing and that affects both their business performance and the funding decisions they make.”

Related Article: The New Priorities of Next-Generation B2B Marketing

Does B2B Need a Lift?

To truly reveal the impact B2B marketing has on revenue, Graber’s research for Forrester focused on a “new vision” of lift-based performance indicators.

“Our intention was to say B2B organizations have to be a whole lot less focused on just reporting back what they found and started with and become more aware of how they are creating lift through their support of the entire buyer’sjourney,” Graber said.

He continued, “For so many years B2B marketers have been spending their money on things that were just about finding more new people to talk to, when what buyers really require is support for their buying process throughout all stagesof buying.”

With his research showing that buyers use both marketing assets and sales assets throughout the entirety of their buying journey, he believes marketers who merely express their value based on what they found are missing 75% of thestory.

Is Sourcing Spiraling Toward Irrelevance?

Relying on sourcing metrics — which reveal what percentage of pipeline or won revenue originated from a marketing interaction as opposed to having been found by sales or tele-functions — is a flawed concept, said Graber. Why? Becausethat first marketing interaction reflects only a small part of the story about the value that marketing creates.

A marketing-sourced pipeline has historically been considered a top indicator of performance, appearing on 70% of B2B CMO dashboards in 2015. But reliance on it decreased to 47% in 2020 in what Forrester called a “spiral downward towardirrelevance.”

By 2025, the research firm predicts only one in seven B2B businesses will count sourcing as a primary performance indicator for marketing.

“In 2021…B2B buyers told us that on average they completed 27 purchasing interactions before arriving at a successful purchase and the same study showed us that 60% of purchases involved groups of four or more buyers,” Graber said.

“In my view,” he explained, “it’s marketing’s role to support buyers through the entirety of the buying process — from discovery, through evaluation and commitment. It’s marketing’s job to support all members of the buying groupthroughout that process and it is marketing’s objective to help ensure that the business can successfully progress and close more deals for more revenue.”

For practical purposes, Graber said marketing should be offering up late-stage content — like a value calculator to work out the ROI of a purchase or a client case study highlighting the ease of implementation to help buyers justifydecisions. Marketing teams can also facilitate experiences, such as inviting a prospect to a client forum to expose them to how customers engage with the vendor.

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