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How B2B Marketers Fuel Predictable Sales Growth

There was a time when vendor marketing executives could choose to focus their attention on branding and related advertising campaigns. From the company's sales leadership perspective, if that eventually resulted in generating new business opportunities, that was a welcomed bonus.

But as time went on, the bar of expectations was raised and marketers were asked to more closely support meaningful new sales growth. Now it's already commonplace. More marketing leaders are expected to directly influence the acquisition of new customers and associated sales revenue.

Besides, they're given the challenge of optimizing their marketing efforts to ensure that they fulfill the customer's fundamental need for helpful information and guidance, during the buyer's journey.

Exploring the Marketing Impact on Growth

Meanwhile, industry analysts that support the technology sector are researching and analyzing the relative performance of these marketing activities. To gain a deeper understanding of marketing’s impact, Gartner has studied four distinct methods that marketers can employ to gain deeper insights.

"Competitive insights and analytics are what marketers need to progress to higher levels of maturity, understand ROI, inform investments and optimize campaigns in real-time," said Joseph Enever, senior research director at Gartner. "And marketers are backing this view with resources."

According to Gartner, market research and competitive insights, plus marketing analytics, now absorb more than 13 percent and 16 percent of marketing operations budgets, respectively. However, evidence from Gartner's latest survey indicates investments are often mismatched with their output, presenting a significant risk to the ongoing investment.

Gartner now recommends the following marketing measurement methods:

Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) is a top-down methodology that uses time series, aggregate data (such as historical sales), aggregate media spend by channel or geography, competitor promotional events, or pricing, and econometrics techniques (like multivariate regressions), to generate models.

Marketing leaders should use MMM to inform multichannel marketing investments as it can generate a broad range of insights, including the most prominent and sometimes elusive insight such as sales and revenue incrementality.

Multitouch Attribution (MTA) is a bottom-up approach requiring user-level data to identify the relative contributions of consumer touchpoints along the path to a goal. Digitally focused, MTA is primarily a methodology for online marketing analysis, but it can also include multichannel events, depending on the available data and provider. It gives marketers the ability to track an individual’s path to conversion across multiple touchpoints, such as paid search, display and video.

Holdout Testing, often referred to as test and control, is a crucial method for testing hypotheses. When conducted properly, marketing leaders can utilize holdout testing to accurately quantify the incremental impact of marketing investments across channels and tactics.

Unified Measurement Approaches (UMA) answer questions that span both the tactical and strategic impacts of marketing. These approaches attempt to resolve the challenges of disparate, unlinked methodologies and insights. Marketing leaders looking to understand the impact of online and offline marketing should look to UMA.

"Successful marketers use several of these methods because each provides unique insights and addresses different challenges," said Mr. Enever. "For example, building a measurement strategy that lays the data foundation effectively for MMM and MTA is essential for facilitating UMA. Whichever method a marketer chooses, it is best when used within a wider ecosystem of measurement -- not in isolation."

Choosing B2B Market Development Metrics

Deciding which marketing metrics to monitor is very important in establishing a high-performance growth mindset. As an example, consider the way that marketers typically go about creating content and then analyzing customer consumption results. Content assets are a key component of effective market development.

The old way to create content is to produce static one-size-fits-all campaigns that can't easily be modified. In contrast, the modern marketing organization has a process that enables messaging and content to be constantly recreated, monitored by performance analytics, and then adapted as needed (by marketers and/or sellers).

Typical prior B2B product marketing was limited to the creation of broad offerings and experiences across large customer segments -- because customization for the expanding variety of buyer personas was deemed to be too complicated. Today, the goal is to use data from all customer interactions, with the intent to deliver relevant one-to-one engagement. It's essential to choose the best metrics to attain that outcome.

The Path Towards Predictable Sales Growth

From my perspective, I believe that the forward-thinking Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) already know that better metrics and analytics tools can help uncover new market insights. However, their teams must improve their growth-oriented skills and attain a better market understanding that will enable them to make the most effective budget allocations.

The prior mismatch issues that Gartner reported are likely associated with talent recruitment and development. I've witnessed how vendor marketers who have little appreciation for the C-suite buyer's needs will continue to defer the tough decisions to others who claim to be more informed (e.g. their organization's product managers). But the survey results indicate this may be a flawed approach.

In contrast, the better way is to hire talent that's most likely to deliver the desired outcome -- in this case, predictable sales growth. Effectively utilizing market data and analytics tools require an ability to grasp the value of applied situational context. Meaning, this shouldn't be an academic exercise.

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