Measuring ROI and attribution has been listed as the top challenge (44%) among B2B marketers in Asia, according to an Adobe survey titled “State of B2B marketing in Asia” which surveyed 317 individuals in total, out of which 174 were from Asia. This was followed by demand and lead generation (37%) and inconsistent and broken customer experience as a result of disparate systems across marketing and sales (28%).
Although the challenge of measuring ROI and attribution was ranked first alongside demand and lead generation for marketers in the IT, software and tech space, those in the banking and finance sector found their biggest challenge to be making better data-driven decisions, the study said. This was followed by getting visibility into leads once passed over to sales and then measuring ROI and attribution.
Meanwhile, getting marketing heard or a seat at the leadership table was the key challenge for marketers in professional services and also emerged high on the list from those in manufacturing.
1. Excel spreadsheets still the top choice used
When it came to measuring ROI and attribution, the study found that 100% of marketers who spend more than 40 hours each month calculating ROI did not use marketing automation. In fact, Excel spreadsheets (60%) are still the tool of choice for B2B marketers when doing ROI reporting and attribution. Adobe found that this is especially so for marketers working in industries outside of tech and IT.
On the other hand, majority of marketers (63%) who only spend zero to 10 hours a month on reporting had marketing automation in place.
At the same time, 51% of senior marketers do not have a marketing ROI and benchmark target set. For those who do have targets, about 42% fall between 1:7 and 1:10+ marketing spend to revenue ratio. When it came to attribution, Adobe also found significant differences in sophistication from marketers. Majority of marketers in banking and finance (58%) do not have an attribution model, along with 43% of those in manufacturing. On the other hand, only 13% from IT, software and tech reported the same. According to Adobe, those in IT, software and tech are mainly using multi-touch models followed by single-last touch and omni-channel distribution.
2. Managing sales and marketing funnels
Lead generation, which is the second biggest challenge for B2B marketers in Asia, is no doubt a crucial tool for marketing efforts. However, only 15% of marketers have a clearly defined service level agreement regarding lead hand-off to sales and only 10% reported they had a documented joint sales and marketing agreed lead scoring strategy.
Adobe found that 27% of respondents were unsure of or could not say what their lead nurture process is. That said, majority of B2B marketers in Asia do have some form of documented lead and scoring processes, including 28% who report having a clearly defined lead scoring and nurture process from marketing qualified lead to opportunities won and lost.
The difference was also seen among industries. According to the study, 78% of marketers in the IT, software and tech space have a clearly defined lead nurturing process while 50% in the banking and finance scene said they do not know what it is.
Meanwhile, marketers shared different levels of confidence when it came to forecasting, with 40% not being confident in making accurate revenue forecasts based on their sales and marketing lead management funnel.
The top few reasons include an absence of a clear lead management strategy, working with multiple CRMs and disparate technology, and the lack of alignments between sales and marketing and siloed businesses.
Only 20% said they were feeling confident, with the main reason being having strong data and analytics across the entire sales and marketing funnel.
3. Account based marketing the top skill shortage
Account based marketing was listed as the main skill shortage among respondents followed by performance measurement and analysis (33%), marketing operations and martech skills (25%) and marketing strategy and research (23%). Adobe found that skills shortage were consistent across IT, software and tech; banking and finance; and professional services. Meanwhile, marketing strategy and research as well as local country knowledge and understanding were key skills shortages reported for the manufacturing sector.
B2B marketers need more respect from the leadership team
Adobe defines advanced marketers as those who has a seat at the leadership table and report directly to the CEO. They are also effectively measuring and communication marketing’s contribution to the company’s revenue and growth, and are using integrated marketing automation and CRM systems as their attribution funnel management and predicative forecasting tools. On the other hand, the emerging marketer is defined as someone who is on their way to getting a seat at the leadership table. In Asia, they have a strong appetite of getting heard at the leadership table and are ambitious and ready to move their businesses forward. However, emerging marketers can still struggle with being seen as cost centre supporting sales.
About 28% of marketers surveyed either agreed or strongly agreed that marketing is just seen as a cost centre supporting sales. That said, 22% were neutral about the statement while 51% strongly disagreed or disagreed.
The numbers, however, differ according to industry. Majority of marketers from the manufacturing sector (61%) said they are seen as a cost centre while only 40% from the professional services scene said the same. This figure was merely 14% in IT, software and tech.
On the bright side, Adobe found that 65% of respondents indicated that marketing is a respected revenue and growth function within the organisation, and 75% said their CMO or head of marketing has an important seat at the leadership table.
To gain respect at the leadership table, Nicholas Kontopoulos, Adobe DX’s Asia Pacific head of growth marketing, told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that emerging marketers need to overcome their current challenges which including measuring ROI and attribution, gaining more visibility in lead generation, leveraging marketing automation and building confidence when working with predictive insights and forecasting. About 40% of those surveyed said they are not confident when making accurate revenue forecasts based on their sales and marketing lead management funnel.
Kontopoulos said that these factors as a whole hamper marketers’ ability to drive demand and prove their contribution to the business, let alone join the leadership team.
“Marketers need to effectively measure and communicate marketing’s contribution to company revenue and growth. They need to be more revenue- and pipeline-focused, using marketing automation to turn things around and measure their impact on KPIs,” he explained.
To overcome the negative perception of marketing being a cost centre, Kontopoulos said company leaders need to ensure their marketing lead is reporting to the top of the organisation and has access to business goals and measurement metrics.
Marketers will also need to be given the autonomy to decide which tools and platforms are best for the company’s marketing needs. According to him, building such a culture will enable marketers to better align with business goals and decide which platforms and resources they require.
Marketers, in turn, must learn to communicate their contribution to business objectives to gain respect.
Marketers must speak the language of the business so stakeholders can grasp their contribution to long-term goals. Concurrently, for professional development, Kontopoulos said marketers need to keep abreast of emerging marketing technologies, trends, and best practices, proving that they are up-to-date, and can work with relevant marketing strategies.
At the same time, marketers also need to take more personal responsibility for their skills development and remain up to date with the new technologies and emerging industry trends. This is to overcome the key skills shortage in the industry in areas such as account based marketing, performance measurement and analytics, and martech.
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