6 ROI and Performance Measurement Challenges Great CMOs Must Conquer this Year

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As marketing executive recruiters, we communicate with B2B companies and exceptional B2B marketing talent on a daily basis.

They frequently share the challenges they’re having with us. Some marketing problems are unique to an organization or industry, but a few in particular, usually related to marketing ROI and performance measurement, come up time and again as serious problems.

Marketing strategies and technology are finally maturing to the point where these problems can be overcome by clever leadership. Here are some of the questions we hear most often and the approaches great marketing executives need to take to find solutions.

1. Tracking Revenue Across Marketing and Sales Stages

  • How are marketing qualified leads generated last quarter performing today?
  • Where are my leads getting stuck?
  • What buyers’ journeys work best for our audience?

It seems that every modern B2B marketer has adopted (or is in the process of adopting) a multi-stage sales and marketing framework. That is a good thing. Yet when it comes to measurement, many of these same companies only track initial creation of leads. If you’re trying to measure demand generation performance, what matters is the eventual outcome of the leads created and finding out where they’re falling off or slowing down.

2. Identifying the Message that Sells

  • What marketing themes should we bet the company on?
  • What are the patterns in efficacy of themes/messages across audiences/products/regions?

High-growth companies often face “bet-the-company” decisions, such as focusing on one customer segment or channel over another.

The answers are often right there in your own data. But for a majority of B2B CMOs this is a missed opportunity. Too often they aren’t even aware that rich strategic insights on segmentation and focus can be mined from everyday demand generation activity captured in CRM and marketing automation systems.

3. Following Buyers and Attributing Conversion

  • How much revenue did past campaigns source?
  • How can I move to an advanced, multi-touch model that makes sense for our buyers’ journey?
  • How can I measure results at an account level?

The simplest way to think about multi-touch attribution in a B2B context is that it is an attempt to accurately model and measure the buyer’s journey taken by your customers in target organizations. Often times, this translates to dozens or even hundreds of touches.

If there are 10 people involved in a buying process, with 5 touches each across several months, you have 50 distinct marketing interactions to keep track of. It adds up quick.

While that idea might give you a headache, consider the alternative: instead of making a full account of how you drove the prospect through the 75% of buying cycle that you own, you rely on your sales team to accurately do data entry and pick a single touch to get all the credit. Smart CMOs understand this, and that is why it is a recurring theme (nightmare?) that causes them to lose sleep.

Google explains why marketers are obsessed with multi-touch attribution

video from Google Analytics

4. Finding Trustworthy Data

  • How can I identify potential gaps in my data?
  • What measures can I take to overcome bad historical data, without having to change all of it?
  • How can I handle ongoing process gaps?
  • How can we find insights across a complex web of account and campaign hierarchies?

It seems that every CMO thinks their data is bad. And there are legions of service providers who prey on that low data self-esteem, not unlike the latest diet fads. But what’s often missed is that the solution isn’t relentless cleaning and scraping the data, but to intelligently analyze the data in a way that considers its limitations.

CMOs are rightfully concerned about bad data, but they often wrongly prescribe a solution that only focuses on cleanup, not intelligent analysis.

5. Big-Picture Planning

  • What investments should I make now to achieve my goals?
  • How much revenue will marketing generate next quarter?
  • Across all our efforts, what do we expect to mature into revenue in a given period?

CMOs increasingly understand that to be strategic with their executive team and Board of Directors, they must be active in driving future success while offering insights from past.

Conveniently, those future goals are also where sales and marketing are most aligned, because marketing can uniquely have an impact today, and on the future several quarters  or even years out.

Marketing must sow the seeds today that the rest of the organization can reap tomorrow. But too often, those are made decisions in a vacuum, without an understanding of the likely future outcomes. That will have to change in the near future for companies to grow.

6. Nailing Down Campaign Productivity

  • Which campaigns were most effective in sourcing marketing qualified leads?
  • Which campaigns were effective in influencing Opportunities?
  • Which efforts produce the fastest velocity results?
  • What types of campaigns perform best?

This first theme is the most basic building block of marketing performance measurement. At the most basic level– even for companies with long sales cycles where marketing plays a significant role in the middle and bottom of the funnel– marketing should be bringing potential new business into the “top” of the funnel.

The top is often measured by metrics such as sourced Inquiries or MQLs. While stopping at such metrics leaves a lot to be desired, it is certainly a good place to start, and is often the limit of organizations with limited marketing resources. But many larger companies feel that they don’t have a handle on these basic questions, either.

B2B marketing leaders, what problems would you like to share with marketing executive recruiters? Can you relate to anything on the list? What hasn’t been mentioned that keeps you up at night? I’d love to hear your comments!


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