9 June 2021

UK SME Owners Flummoxed by Marketing Metrics [RESEARCH]

Clare Methven
Written by Clare Methven

Clare Methven is the Co-Founder of The Marketing Centre and specialises in working with small and mid-size businesses. She has over 25 years’ experience working in PR and marketing agencies focussed on construction, financial services and travel companies.

Last year we launched our revamped Marketing 360 Assessment to give business leaders a quick and easy way to measure their marketing performance and prioritise areas to work on.

Since then, over 500 UK business leaders have used the tool to get a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses - and one thing was abundantly clear from the data we’ve received.
UK SME owners are struggling to measure and understand the ROI of their marketing activity. Marketing metrics scored lower than any of the other 12 categories in our assessment.

Other common pain points included lead generation, executing marketing plans and enabling better sales team performance. However, it’s worth noting that these are self-assessments so the data represents people’s perceptions of their marketing and not necessarily an objective appraisal.

In this post, we’re going to explore the data in more depth and share resources for any business owners that are struggling with marketing metrics, lead generation, executing marketing plans and more.

How the Marketing 360 Assessment works

Our assessment is based on the four key stages of the marketing process as defined in our Marketing 360 framework.

1. Define

Know what your potential customers look like, and what your product or service can do for them.

2. Find

Identify ways to target them, based on their behaviours and habits.

3. Win

Devise strategies to close sales and create customers.

4. Keep

Monitor customer churn (loss) and create retention activities to remedy it.

We then map the separate marketing activities to each of these four pillars. These 12 activities cover the marketing process from start to finish.

Screenshot 2021-06-09 at 11.38.51

Our Marketing 360 Assessment gives you a score between 1 and 5 for each of these 12 areas. You can see the average scores for each area below.


Want to see how your marketing compares to this data? 

Take our Marketing 360 Assessment to find out.


What aspects of marketing are UK SME owners struggling with?

Measuring marketing activity and understanding ROI

UK SME owners said they struggled to measure cost per acquisition, ensure their marketing budget aligns with their objectives and understand the overall ROI of their marketing efforts.

Not being able to measure your marketing has a massive impact on your business. If you can’t tell what’s working and what’s not, how do you decide where to invest next quarter or next year? How do you set budgets and determine whether something is worth repeating? How do you set objectives and KPIs for your team, partners or suppliers?

When we’re working with our customers, establishing a solid measurement framework is one of the first things we do. Because once you have that in place, it becomes much easier to make the right decisions about everything else.

If your business struggles with choosing and measuring the right metrics, check out our webinar on six marketing metrics you need to know. You may also want to read our detailed guide on Marketing ROI as well as our post on why most marketing ROI calculations are misleading, and how to do it right.


Generating a pipeline of high-quality leads

Lead generation will always be a priority for business owners, so we found it surprising that respondents scored themselves low in this area. From generating enough leads to meet their objectives to accurately measuring conversion rates, respondents said they struggled to generate and nurture the leads their business needs.

If you’re the same, read our step-by-step guide to B2B lead generation. It will tell you everything you need to know to generate, nurture, prioritise and close more leads for your business.

You should also check out our original research into the lead generation tactics that are delivering the most leads for UK SMEs. And here’s a quick and easy exercise to help you define what an ideal lead is for your business.


Planning and executing marketing plans

Business owners were confident in their ability to make a marketing plan but struggled to translate those plans into the right day-to-day activity needed to achieve their goals.

No plan survives contact with the enemy, as they say.

We’ve written previously about 6 steps you can follow to write a better marketing plan. You may also want to find out if yours is a waste of time.

Enabling better sales team performance

UK SME owners reported that they didn’t have the tools and materials they needed to support the entire sales process. And that they struggled to get marketing and sales to work well together - a common problem that we’ve written about many a time.

Over the years our marketing directors have worked alongside over 500 different sales teams. If you’re interested, we recently wrote about what distinguishes the best-performing sales teams from the rest.

Getting the best from agencies (and other third-parties)

Finally, business owners also said they struggled to get the specialist marketing support they need and to manage the support they had. Key areas of frustration were setting proper briefs and objectives and getting adequate reporting from partners aligned to business goals.

If you want more value from your marketing partners, check out our six tips to help you get a better ROI from your agency and how to agree the  right brief and budget.

How does your marketing compare with this data?

The Marketing 360 takes just 10 minutes to complete and will give you an objective view of what’s going well and what areas you should focus on.

To find out how your marketing compares, check out our Marketing 360 Assessment.

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