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Survey looks at factors affecting marketing confidence

The second annual Marketing Confidence Report will take a close look at the confidence levels among B2B marketers. The survey, which will be released in early December, is being distributed to CMOs, marketing managers and marketing directors. The importance of aligning marketing with companies’ internal goals was the key takeaway from the initial survey in 2011.

“The data that we looked at from our first wave would confirm that the way to get [management] confidence in marketing is to create that alignment,” said Jeff Ewald, CEO of marketing analytics company Optimization Group, which is conducting the survey. “Once we’re able to achieve alignment internally then maybe some of the other things that are more tactical will raise in importance, but the first step is to get agreement on objectives.”

Part of the problem for B2B marketers is not having a better grasp of all of the data they generate from their online marketing channels. Being able to interpret the data, as it relates to the top and bottom lines, is a language the CEO and the CFO can understand, according to Ewald. 

“I would much rather go into the C-suite saying here’s what I know, rather than here’s what I think,” he said. “The lack of internal alignment is a function of a lack of communication but, more important, it’s a function of not having the data to communicate.”

Relying on data to help make your case is all well and good. But cultivating a relationship with the CFO is critical, for it affords B2B marketers an opportunity to communicate the long-term value of investing in marketing.

“You can’t measure in the short term the benefits of branding, awareness and purchase; those are longer term benefits,” Ewald said. “And the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) is looking at how to capitalize on marketing expenses and how to amortize them over time to better match the longer term nature of those benefits.”

He added: “Right now the CFOs major job is to look at expense cutting. But once you get them involved, working side by side with marketing, then they understand that part of the function of marketing is to invest in revenue growth.”

After internal alignment, the areas with the biggest impact on management’s confidence in marketing included revenue growth, proper allocation of media spending and budgets (if financial results are lagging marketing budgets are the first to be cut), according to the report released in 2011.

Indeed, last year’s survey, which garnered 33 respondents within the marketing sector, found that marketers were not feeling particularly confident overall.

Among the 14 measures of confidence, only two measures hovered near the 50% range: Knowing campaign effectiveness before launch (56%) and how marketing influences public perception (46%).

Effectiveness was one confidence measure that scored both high and low. Call it a double-edged sword. A majority of marketing managers feel confident that they know the results of a campaign before it launches.

However, less than 16% of respondents said they conduct research to develop effective messaging and less than 10% use metrics to measure marketing effectiveness.  

“It begs the question: How do marketers know that their programs are effective when it doesn’t appear that most are measuring effectiveness?” asked the survey. According to the study, 15.6% of respondents said they understand customer purchase motivations. Just 3% of respondents said that have adequate budget.

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