Data is the foundation for analytics. Analytics is the foundation for marketing driven by data and insights.

When you start with bad data, you get erroneous insights and your marketing goes in the wrong direction.

A recent research result from ITSMA and Vision Edge Marketing is eye opening. Even though the importance of starting with good data should be obvious, B2B marketers are analyzing and optimizing marketing from a broken foundation.

As shown in the chart below, marketers are more satisfied with their performance management than their performance measurement. Without solid performance measurement, how do you even know if you are managing marketing effectively? You Don’t!

Go Back To Measurement Basics

There are good reasons why marketers are not satisfied with their measurement. Doing it well is not easy and it can’t just be tacked on at the last minute. But if you plan to manage and optimize your marketing investment, you can’t skip measuring it!

Step 1. Clearly Identify Your Objectives
For example, your overall objective might be increasing revenue or marketshare for a certain product or solution group.

Step 2. Determine What Marketing Will Contribute
Marketing is not the only contributor to the objective, make it clear what marketing will contribute. For many B2B companies, marketing’s key contribution may be qualified leads. For others it may be educating the marketplace or increasing awareness of your solution.

Step 3. Develop Your Marketing Plan
Once you have identified the marketing objective in Step 2 (not the overall business objective) develop your marketing plan.

Step 4. Establish Metrics to Measure Marketing’s Role
You need metrics to measure and manage both marketing’s contribution identified in Step 2 and the activities in your marketing plan (Step 3).

Well defined metrics are critical. For example, if your metric is leads, then you cannot leave ambiguity about what is and is not a lead.

For additional information on selecting metrics see Online Advertising Metrics: A Simple Framework

The Pitfall

Too often, marketers skip Step 2 at the strategic planning phase.

Instead, overarching measurement is established based on the objective outlined in Step 1 (if it is established at all) and then tactical plans are created (part of Step 3). Each tactical activity is then measured on its own with a distinct set of metrics.

With disparate data being collected, overall results cannot be effectively analyzed, optimized and managed. Yikes!

Based on the research above, it is time for marketers to fix this crumbling measurement foundation.

Your Turn

Are B2B marketers simply not disciplined when it comes to measurement, or is this a symptom of an overall lack of strategic planning in B2B marketing?

Share your perspective in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Image Credit: Dreamhouse 1 by ex_magician on Flickr