Marketers Frustrated With Digital Advertising ROI

 In Content Marketing

89% of marketers do not think their digital marketing efforts are working, according to the latest study from Demandbase and Wakefield Research, which surveyed 500 managerial and executive-level B2B marketers. 71% of respondents say their digital programs often fail to meet their expectations.

An overwhelming 96% reported that their digital marketing efforts lead to ad waste because, while they reach a large audience, many of those customers are outside of the intended target. 89% of marketers surveyed say a different, more optimized digital marketing mix would deliver better results.

Currently, organizations execute their digital marketing campaigns using a variety of channels and formats. Website marketing and SEO lead the pack with 25%, followed by Direct Response (21%), which includes webinars, virtual events, email, social media and content syndication. Mobile rounds out the top three channels with 18%, with display and native ads at 17% and video at 16%.

Top Digital Marketing Challenges

When asked about the top challenges marketers are facing with their current marketing efforts, difficulty in measuring ROI came in first place at 46%. Long sales cycle is the number two challenge marketers face (44%), with limited quality leads coming in at number three (42%). The list was rounded out with lack of follow ups from sales teams (39%) and not enough volume of leads (36%).

Nearly half of all marketers surveyed say that 25% to 50%+ of all marketing-generated digital leads are never followed up by their sales teams. This suggests that there needs to be closer alignment and collaboration between marketing and sales organizations to maximize their digital marketing efforts.

Digital Marketing Metrics Need An Overhaul

While more organizations have now realized digital marketing’s potential and are investing more marketing dollars in it, many marketers are struggling with proving the impact of their digital marketing efforts. This is largely due to the fact that B2B marketers are using B2C metrics to measure the effectiveness of their digital marketing campaigns.

33% of marketers measure success by conversion rates, with 19% by cost per impression. Another 17% by total leads and target account lift, and 15% by click-through rate. It is clear that marketers need the right, relevant metrics to be able to truly measure and demonstrate the ROI of their digital marketing efforts.

Rise Of Account-Based Marketing?

Many organizations know they are wasting their marketing dollars on digital campaigns that are not delivering the right results, but the bigger problem is that they do not know which part. Demandbase’s CMO Peter Isaacson advises marketers to adjust their strategy and move away from B2C to B2B-focused solutions, which can deliver more effective marketing, personalization and sales programs to specific accounts that will truly deliver the results marketers want to see.

This may explain the rising popularity of Account-Based Marketing (ABM), which seeks to align marketing and sales by focusing both teams on high-value prospects. Since ABM requires marketers to operate with a strategy that is similar to sales – targeting and converting accounts, generating revenue from these accounts, and measuring success based on the number of accounts won or currently in the pipeline. By speaking the same language, marketing and sales can work together more effectively to identify, pursue and convert target accounts throughout the buyer journey.

Effective ABM drives clear business results as marketers are measuring their efforts based on a smaller set of accounts, instead of a wide range of metrics and analytics spanning the entire company database. And because ABM is so targeted, it helps marketers focus their resources and efforts on marketing programs that deliver results, helping to reduce ad waste.

Instead of casting a wide net to catch as many leads as possible, ABM is optimized for the right audience by delivering highly personalized messaging and content that address the specific business challenges a high-value account faces. ABM ensures the right message is delivered at the right time to the right accounts, to ultimately drive more revenue and minimize cost.

Whether you use ABM or not, it is clear that highly relevant, valuable content is what will get the customer’s attention, engage and ultimately convert. It is about being helpful and communicating without selling, with a focus on providing value and nurturing a long-term relationship with customers. So when they are ready to make a purchase, customers are confident and ready to work with your brand.

What do you think? Is your organization facing similar digital marketing challenges identified here? What strategies are you using to solve them? I’d love to hear your ideas, so please share them in the comments section!

Are you interested in engaging and converting new customers for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help. Or follow me on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and if you like what you see, Subscribe here for regular updates.

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Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, former Head of Strategy at NewsCred, and the former VP of Global Content Marketing at SAP. Michael is also the co-author of The Content Formula, a contributor to leading publications like The Economist, Inc Magazine, The Guardian, and Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to the Marketing Insider.
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Showing 11 comments
  • Jabal

    Very timely post and an eye opener for all stakeholders. I thought you summarized it well that ultimately success rests on highly relevant and valuable content. I am not sure what stops B2B brands to effectively use segmentation to clearly identify needs of each market and craft unique content strategies relevant to those markets.

  • Anton

    Such a helpful post which gave me good insights. I should have a discussion about this post with my team to build a good strategy. Thans for sharing! 🙂

  • Carlos Hidalgo

    Michael: As usual you have hit the nail on the head – as you state: It is clear that marketers need the right, relevant metrics to be able to truly measure and demonstrate the ROI of their digital marketing efforts. This is a huge issue we are seeing in the B2B space. We create more content, buy more technology, launch more campaign and often times are throwing good money after bad. Organizations need to standardize their KPIs and ensure they are tacking this and in so doing continually optimize their performance.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks so much Carlos. This frustration is the reason we wrote our books, AmIright? 😉

  • Nicola Ray

    Thanks Michael. Just picked this up and it’s an interesting read. Once again, B2B is having to learn fast that it’s not the same as B2C. In fact, the other day, I was in a meeting with an enterprise software company and they were talking about the impressions gained from their social activity. That’s useful isn’t it?! She was a PR managing the global social account. Thankfully for her, her board wasn’t bothered by the ROI of the activity they were doing, but clearly worried about impressions! Madness. Things need to change, fast.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Nicola, I totally agree. I think too many execs focus on the vanity metrics and forget the value behind them.

  • Sangram Vajre

    Great article, Michael. As a co-founder and CMO of Terminus, I get me even more excited about the future of B2B Marketing. The vanity metrics in advertising are from B2C, and they don’t apply to B2B because of a smaller target audience. What I think “targeted advertising” does for B2B Marketers is that it creates a halo effect around a set of decision makers and influencers who you can surround with your message on mobile, social, web, and videos – instead of just emails and calls. The fun part is that instead of retargeting one person, you can now proactively target the entire account. Now that’s game changing for a ton of companies that want to personalization at scale. Executives in most companies don’t download ebooks of click on an ad, but they can see things which enables targeted advertising to work as long as it’s personalized.

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