15 Prevailing Myths of Marketing Measurement, BUSTED

September 6, 2018

Shhh. Don't tell the kids!

Every B2B marketer understands the need to measure and prove the impact of their work. But it’s far too easy to veer down the wrong measurement path under the guidance of common myths that no longer reflect reality.

To help you avoid any pitfalls, we’ll debunk 15 popular misconceptions and steer you in the right direction for effective and meaningful marketing measurement.

Myth #1: Most marketers are confident in their ability to measure ROI

In reality, LinkedIn’s research shows that only 18% of marketers say they successfully and accurately measure ROI. According to the 2018 Marketing Measurement & Attribution Benchmark Survey report from DemandGen Report, marketers struggle to demonstrate their impact because it’s challenging to do so between specific buyer stages and across channels or campaigns. In fact, 45% of respondents admit that they don’t measure marketing initiatives in the middle of the funnel and one-third aren’t measuring campaigns in the later funnel stages. When it comes to operating in the midst of lengthy purchase cycles and decisions by committee, marketers must be able to track and measure activity at every stage of the buying cycle.

Myth #2: Click-through rate (CTR) is an effective way to measure the impact of digital marketing efforts and ad campaigns

While our research shows 80% of marketers still report on CTR, this method doesn’t properly gauge influence on the bottom line. Vanity metrics like CTR are simple and familiar, helpful mostly for day-to-day optimization, A/B testing, and determining whether an ad is gaining an audience’s attention. However, CTR is not useful for measuring business impact, guiding long-term decision-making, or linking to profitability and growth. Measuring what matters means tracking and reporting on metrics that directly link to revenue.

Myth #3: More leads means more business

In reality, higher-quality leads mean more business. Though lead volume is important, it shouldn’t be the top priority. Racking up a high quantity of leads does nothing for your business if those leads aren’t likely to convert — in fact, it’s likely to bog down and frustrate the sales team. If you can instead deliver high-quality leads, you’ll help fill the pipeline with promising opportunities that sales will be happy to take on.

Myth #4: In general, marketers are effectively nurturing prospects

Only 5% of leads saved in Sales Navigator were nurtured by Sponsored Content, per a global LinkedIn study. One reason may be that marketing is still of the mindset that its top mandate is demand generation. But as self-empowered buyers make their way through the research and purchase process, marketing is increasingly called upon to engage them deeper into the buying cycle. By accurately mapping the path to purchase, and understanding the information and content needs of buyers at each stage, marketers can better nurture prospects and drive them toward converting.  

Myth #5: Any company can quickly get its measurement, attribution and data practices to a healthy level

Only 1.3% of marketers are confident they have the skills to get value from data. Without the right training, marketers are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to analyzing their performance, proving their impact, and continually improving their results. Moving up this maturity curve is not an overnight effort. Instead it requires serious thought, planning, and continual emphasis.

Myth #6: Marketers are satisfied with the metrics they currently use

Per the 2018 Marketing Measurement & Attribution Benchmark Survey report, the top reason for US B2B marketers to focus on deeper metrics is to show marketing’s effect on pipeline and revenues. In other words, more marketers are recognizing that it’s not sufficient to track and report on cost per lead (CPL) and CTR.

Myth #7: Marketers should focus on short-term measurement

B2B marketers need to align their measurement with the full buying cycle, and that is often lengthy. As more marketers are held accountable for measuring pipeline velocity, closed/won deals, and marketing-impacted revenue, it’s essential for them to excel at long-term measurement. This means abandoning the isolated campaign mentality and exclusive top-of-funnel focus.

Myth #8: Marketers are empowered by all the data now at their fingertips

From the outside, the explosion of easily accessible information seems to be a marketer’s dream. After all, B2B marketing executives have far more raw material from which to draw conclusions. But simply having access to more data doesn’t automatically lead to clearer insights or drive better results. In fact, the majority of marketing execs feel overwhelmed by the data deluge. Clarifying, cleansing, and organizing information are critical priorities. 

Myth #9: Single-click attribution is good enough in most cases

Proving marketing’s true impact on purchases in today’s complex B2B environment is crucial – yet nearly impossible through single-touch attribution. First- and last-touch attribution models are flawed by definition since they are based on the premise that a single point of contact leads to a conversion. In reality, it takes seven to 13 touches on average before a buyer becomes a qualified sales lead. The truth is that single-touch models are highly inaccurate because most are used to determine CPL rather than revenue-per-lead.

Myth #10: Vanity metrics are still relevant to executives

While they have their place, vanity metrics don’t speak to the C-suite. Marketing is often measured by activities like the number of impressions, likes, shares, comments, followers, open rates, views, traffic, time on site, bounce rate, click-throughs, and downloads. While these metrics can provide a feeling of accomplishment, they aren’t all that telling. In fact, they can be outright misleading as indicators of success. Most of the time, vanity metrics are so high up the funnel that the results are too ambiguous to contribute effectively to the revenue goal at the bottom. Even when you rack up hundreds, thousands, or even millions of clicks, they aren’t valuable unless users take the desired actions and convert to customers.

Myth #11: You measure account-based marketing (ABM) tactics just like any other marketing tactics

Traditional marketing is focused on short-term goals like generating leads. ABM is a strategic approach to achieving long-term revenue growth. Yet 59% of B2B marketers use individual campaign and channel metrics as the top methods to measure ABM. The fact that this approach requires engaging each individual on the buying team in a personalized way necessitates the use of unique metrics, such as number of engaged accounts turned into opportunities.

Myth #12: Most marketers are using sophisticated means to measure their impact

Even with more martech solutions at their disposal, a majority of B2B marketers manually report on their marketing results using spreadsheets. This might be because marketers often rely on multiple systems to execute their tactics. In other words, they lack a single repository of all performance-related data so they resort to cumbersome docs in their attempts to aggregate and report on it. This is a widespread opportunity for greater sophistication.

Myth #13: Marketers only need to measure up to the point of handing off leads to sales

Today’s marketers are deeply involved in nurturing leads much farther along in the buying cycle, and are expected to generate pipeline and revenue. By definition, that means they need to measure beyond MQLs. However, according to Forrester, 52% of global B2B marketing leaders stop measuring once they deliver MQLs.  

Myth #14: Measuring marketing’s impact is easier than ever

It’s never been easy to measure the impact of marketing, and it’s certainly not getting any easier. With more touchpoints, channels, and stakeholders involved in most B2B purchases, marketers have their work cut out for them connecting all the dots to show what is and isn’t working. That’s not to say we should all throw up our hands in exasperation, but it’s important to recognize the scope of this challenge.

Myth #15: You can only measure marketing tactics, not marketing strategy

If you only focus on execution, you can’t answer questions about your budget and the ROI on your spend. You’ll also struggle to figure out how to drive better results. Yet, according to the American Marketing Association, 38% of companies do not understand the ROI of marketing plans. Moreover, Gartner found that only 33% of CMOs say ROI of total marketing spend is a key performance indicator.

These 15 outdated notions about marketing measurement prevent many savvy marketers from proving their worth and earning more budget. By putting these myths to rest, you can focus your measurement efforts where they’ll truly pay off. 

For more ways to showcase your value, find out how you can make the case for marketing on LinkedIn.