Five Ways B2B Marketing Will Change in 2017: All Roads Lead to Marketing Performance Management

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Each year, the marketing community confronts a few dominant themes. A couple of years ago, predictive analytics was all the rage. If you ask any B2B marketer what trends dominated in 2016, you’d likely hear “ABM,” “one-to-one relationships,” or “managing the customer journey”; marketers were investing more in an end-to-end experience, from awareness to advocacy.

However, if you were to ask any of those marketers to put aside trends and instead identify what their continual focus has been, year after year, you would hear, overwhelmingly, “revenue.”

The truth is, when a CMO is preparing for the year ahead, the latest tactical trend isn’t nearly as important as continually focusing on how best to optimize Marketing’s contribution to revenue and business goals.

After all, regardless of the tactics they employ, CMOs are measured on their ability to drive growth for their company.

That growth is the crux of marketing performance management (MPM)—which Forrester describes as “a discipline that governs goal setting, monitoring, and continuous optimization of marketing’s contribution to revenue and other priority business goals.”

As we enter 2017, all roads lead to MPM; five key changes are occurring in our business environment that make MPM a greater priority than ever for B2B organizations.

1. Greater Scrutiny Over Marketing Investments

Marketing budgets are on the rise heading into 2017, up to 12% of revenue, as marketers manage more demand, Gartner has found. And “with power comes great responsibility. By taking custody of these dollars, CMOs are promising more and more back to the business,” Gartner states.

Marketers must be prepared for greater scrutiny over their budgets; they must be ready and able to answer questions related to planning and returns.

For example, one of our software customers makes sure it’s prepared to answer questions such as these:

  • How are you planning to deploy available budget? On what, where, and when?
  • How does what’s actually occurring compare with that plan?
  • In what ways are you underfunded, and how does that compare to external benchmarks?
  • How many inquiries/leads/opportunities did your campaign tactic generate?
  • What tactics and combinations are working best?

2. Addressing the True Data Challenge: Context

Across the board, it’s a challenging time to be in B2B sales or marketing. With so much competition and noise, it’s harder than ever to get prospects on the phone or to respond to emails.

Yet, prospects are still buying software, proving that we are often blind as to what’s working within the journeys our customers take toward a purchase. And so we struggle to understand where we should allocate more marketing dollars.

Though marketers are inundated with data (when a prospect sneezes, we know about it),…