This post will conclude my discussion of several B2B-specific findings from the August 2021 edition of The CMO Survey. In my earlier posts, I reviewed what the survey revealed about the state of marketing spending and the progress B2B companies have made on the digital transformation of marketing. You can find the two previous posts here and here.

The CMO Survey is a semi-annual survey of senior marketing leaders with for-profit U.S. companies. The survey is directed by Dr. Christine Moorman and sponsored by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, the American Marketing Association and Deloitte LLP. A more detailed description of the survey is included in the first post in this series.

In this post, I’ll focus on what The CMO Survey revealed about how B2B marketers are addressing the perennial challenge of measuring the impact and value of marketing.

Proving the Value of B2B Marketing

It’s not news that marketers have been under pressure for the past several years to prove the business value of their activities and programs. The CMO Survey found that these pressures are increasing. Fifty-three percent of the survey respondents with B2B product companies said they are feeling increasing pressure from their CEO to prove the value of marketing. For survey respondents with B2B services companies, the comparable percentage was 68%.

The CMO Survey also addressed what metrics companies are using to measure marketing performance. It asked survey participants to distribute 100 points to reflect the degree to which their company is using seven marketing performance metrics. The following table shows how the respondents with B2B companies distributed the points.

The ultimate objective of most marketing leaders is to be able to measure the impact of marketing activities quantitatively, but this can be challenging, particularly when it comes to measuring the long-term impact of marketing. The CMO Survey asked survey participants which of the following three statements best describes how they demonstrate the short-term and long-term impact of marketing.

  • “We prove the impact quantitatively.”
  • “We have a good qualitative sense of the impact, but not a quantitative impact.”
  • “We haven’t been able to show impact yet.”
The following two charts depict how the respondents with B2B product companies and those with B2B services companies answered these questions.

These findings clearly show that measuring the business impact of marketing remains a significant challenge for B2B marketers. Fewer than half of the surveyed B2B marketers said they can measure the short-term impact of marketing quantitatively.
Even fewer B2B marketers can measure the long-term impact of marketing quantitatively – only 27.5% of marketers with B2B product companies, and only 36.4% of marketers with B2B services companies. More concerning, nearly a fifth of marketers with B2B product companies (18.8%), and 13.6% of marketers with B2B services companies cannot show the long-term impact of marketing at all.
Measuring the long-term impact of marketing is a difficult challenge for all marketers, not just B2B marketers. Only about a third of the B2C marketers who responded to The CMO Survey said they can show the long-term impact of their activities quantitatively.
Two years ago, Google published an excellent paper discussing “three grand challenges” relating to the measurement of marketing effectiveness. The authors of the paper acknowledged that perfect solutions for those challenges don’t currently exist. In fact, the primary objective of the paper was to focus on the areas where existing methods of measuring marketing effectiveness are “running up against the boundaries of the possible.”
I discussed the Google paper in three posts, which you can find here, here and here, and I encourage you to take the time to read the entire paper.
Top image courtesy of theilr via Flickr (CC).