marketing measurement, digital marketing roiMeasuring their contribution to business objectives has been an ongoing challenge for marketers. A new survey of B2B marketers indicates that frustrations about proving their return on investment (ROI) appear to be waning. For the last two years, marketers surveyed by DemandWave named measuring and proving ROI as their biggest digital marketing challenge. This year, they named that task the second biggest challenge after delivering quality leads. Almost a quarter (24%) cited measuring and proving ROI as the top challenge, down from 29% last year.

Trends in marketers’ favorite metrics also point to improving measurement practices, according to DemandWave. Marketers named conversion rate (from lead to customer) as their preferred metric. This makes sense, as it links to B2B marketers’ top goal: Delivering quality leads.

Less Emphasis on Website Traffic

In another positive sign of improved measurement practices, website traffic as a top performance metric saw a decline of 40% from last year. While website traffic is an important leading indicator of digital marketing success, it’s much less important compared to demonstrating marketing’s impact on revenue.

Over one in five (22%) named ROI as the number one metric they use to gauge performance — a 77% increase from last year. DemandWave attributes at least some of that trend to an increased adoption of attribution models, particularly multichannel, for measuring ROI.

Almost a third of B2B respondents (28%) still lack an attribution model. But that’s better than last year when 35% had no attribution model. In addition, 25% use multi-channel attribution, the most advanced model. “This creates an interesting dichotomy where most marketers, a combined 53%, are nearly split between having the most advanced attribution model and none at all,” the report states.

The ability to better track marketing efforts may boost marketers’ confidence in digital and lead to larger budgets, DemandWave believes. Nearly half of B2B marketers expect to invest more in digital marketing this year, while just 6% expect a decrease in budget.

Will the Trend Continue?

Still, it may be too soon to tell if the trend is real and will continue or if the survey results are a fluke. The results contradict other recent surveys that show that determining marketing’s ROI remains a source of frustration. Differences in survey participants’ industries and job roles may account for the dissimilar results.

Research from the Leapfrog Marketing Institute last year revealed a surprising drop in accountability for marketing budgets. Only 10% of C-level executives surveyed said more than 75% of their advertising and marketing budget is accountable to ROI. That’s down from 40% of decision-makers the previous year.

Almost half of firms (44.1%) surveyed for the latest CMO survey say they haven’t been able to show the impact of their social media spending, and only 4.6% say social media contributes very highly to company performance.

Bottom Line: New research asserts that measurement practices of B2B marketers are improving. While still challenging, measuring and proving ROI is no longer marketers’ top concern. While the survey may not definitively prove that measurement performance has turned a corner across all marketing sectors, it offers a hopeful sign.