Despite recent advances in data, analytics and technology, only 26% of marketers are capable of determining their impact on their business, according to VisionEdge Marketing and ITSMA's 2014 Marketing Performance Management (MPM) survey. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

A key component of the annual study was the number of marketers earning an 'A grade' from the C-Suite for their ability to measure and report their value to the business. There are a number of things that separate the 'A' marketers from the rest of the pack - in particular:

  • 'A' marketers make performance management a priority;
  • 'A' marketers have a well-defined and documented roadmap for continuous performance improvement;
  • 'A' marketers choose metrics that measure business outcomes rather than effort and activity;
  • 'A' marketers build dashboards that effectively communicate business outcomes and marketing results.

The study also found that those marketers earning A grades tend to have aligned their marketing objectives with business priorities, enabling them to select the right metrics in the first place. These best-in-class marketers are leaders who make the market and offering decisions that create value for both customers and shareholders.

Marketers in the middle of the pack (earning B grades) tend to focus exclusively on enabling sales. The B marketers emphasize mapping the buyer journey and producing a steady stream of leads. Albeit important, there is more to marketing than feeding the sales pipeline.

And finally, the laggards - those marketers receiving poorer grades - are more likely to be perceived to be good at producing marketing campaigns, rather than producing business results.

"The data revealed a good correlation between business performance and MPM excellence," noted Laura Patterson, president for VisionEdge Marketing. "It's not the act of measurement itself - all marketers measure things - but it's the alignment and holistic approach to performance management that sets the best-in-class apart from the rest."

Most importantly, companies with A grade marketers tend to outperform their peers. Specifically, 63% of companies with A marketers reported increased customer share of wallet compared to 48% with marketers in the middle of the pack and only 38% with laggards.

As for new business growth, 54% of the companies with A marketers confirmed improvements in their win rates compared to 39% and 25% with the middle of the pack and laggard marketers respectively.

"Interestingly, 'A' marketers are twice as likely to be working directly with the CEO and CFO, and 50% more likely to understand what these senior executives care about," concluded Julie Schwartz, senior vice president of research for ITSMA. "Of course, to get face time with the C-Suite, marketers need business acumen and gravitas: they have to be business people first and marketers second."