“But how do you know it’s working? Show me a dashboard.”
You’ve been there. I’ve been there. Whether it’s your CMO, head of sales, CEO, or just that curious little reporting angel on your shoulder — we all want proof that our marketing is having an impact.
Here’s the problem: you know there are dozens of touch points between your marketing campaigns and every buying center that ultimately closes business with your company. Sometimes hundreds. But between click-through rates, opens, web visits and a whole mysterious black box of offline stuff, it’s still a struggle for us to communicate the value of our marketing programs on pipeline and revenue.
And most of the tools we use today — from marketing automation to custom dashboards — are all focused on minute interactions with individual people (inherited from the lead-based attribution that relies on a cookied form fill and known contacts, and the B2C bias that runs through most digital marketing tools).
But using tactical micro-metrics like cost per click (CPC), cost per lead (CPL) and click-through rate (CTR), and on-page optimizations is like looking at a Seurat painting up close.
You can count the dots, but it won’t help you see the whole picture.
Too often, B2B marketers end up in this scenario: you’ve measured everything. Your UTM hygiene is pristine. You track CTR, CPC and CPL on every permutation of channel and content or ad creative. And you optimize constantly, culling out underperformers and iterating on your superstar content.
But no matter what you do, your tiny tweaks never quite seem to add up to a more efficient funnel (and no one beyond the digital marketing team really thinks they matter). Somehow, you always seesaw between quality and quantity, and those optimizations don’t shake out downstream as better opportunities, faster sales cycles, or any improvement in opportunity-to-close numbers.
So, let’s start by admitting it’s not just you. Actually, it’s very possibly a problem with the way you’re measuring success — by hyper-focusing on the small stuff, you may be inadvertently losing resolution on the bigger picture.
If you’re measuring minutia, you’re going to be focused on minute optimizations. That’s fine if you’re selling high velocity, ecommerce or consumer, but that’s not B2B.
B2B buyers are signing up with you for the long haul. Their livelihoods depend on your product working, so they need to trust you deeply. This applies to your expertise, ability to deliver and ethics.
The account-centric measurement mentality is designed to pull you out of the weeds, so you can understand the impact of complete, coherent, cross-channel programs, not individual ads and campaigns. This is accomplished in two ways:
By using newly-available, account-level web traffic data in this funnel, you’re able to focus in on exactly the metrics that mean something:
We all know leads can be a little wishy-washy. But one thing that doesn’t lie is cold hard cash — that’s real revenue. And if there’s one thing revenue wins lead to, it’s confidence.
When you’re confident in your reporting, and know it represents what’s really going on with your programs, you can commit to bold ideas and big bets.
And ultimately, that’s my brightest vision for B2B marketers — a future where more of us can make bigger bets on memorable experiences, and easily understand the payoff of those bets so we can iterate and make more. But in order to get there, we need to use our data points to create the full, big picture first.
Janet Polyakov is the VP of Product Marketing at Terminus, where she runs sales enablement, digital marketing, content strategy and more. She has also served as the Director of Global Growth Marketing and Senior Manager of Acquisition and Retention at Matterport.
The 2019 B2B Marketing Exchange wrapped up with a closing panel wherein marketing practitioners from Pendo, Outreach and GE Digital shared their go-to-market strategies for measuring and accelerating revenue growth, and discussed new trends shaking up the industry.
B2B markers are increasingly expected to report on their performance and tie marketing dollars directly to revenue. According to Demand Gen Report research, 87% say marketing measurement and attribution is a growing priority for their organization. But it is often easier said than done.
“If you’re on a desert island and just need to see a few things for your business, what do you look at?” asked Binch, who said Pendo’s key metrics are gross pipeline created and killed each week, as well as customer engagement scores and conversion rates. “At the end of the quarter, our board comes to us and they don’t ask about MQLs created. They ask how much pipeline did you create? And what are your conversion rates?”
Binch said that in addition to proving marketing’s value, measuring conversions rates has also helped align Pendo’s sales and marketing teams to accelerate growth.
Using intent data positions marketers to better identify target accounts, which is increasingly important in an ABM world.
Pat Oldenburg, Senior Director of Digital Marketing and Operations at GE Digital, said the company has shifted to focus almost exclusively on target accounts.
“We don’t sell to white space,” said Oldenburg. “We’ve named a certain number of accounts and those are the account that sales reps are allowed to sell into.”
To improve its account-based marketing and sales efforts, GE Digital also reevaluated its ideal customer profile. By blending firmographic data with intent data, its sales reps are able to sort through the list of 4,500 target accounts and prioritize their outreach accordingly.
“Our CEO said ‘[intent data] is not a long-term play; it’s the most important play you can ever make. We should be betting our company on getting intent data and making sure the account selection is flawless,’” said Oldenburg. “We’re seeing more account-based sales and marketing activities, and the very foundation of that and maybe the most important part is account selection and the identification of not only your target market but within that, your ICP target accounts.”
Sixty-five percent of B2B buyers rate review sites as “very important” during their evaluation process. According to the panelists, review sites mark the latest trend of consumer-like experiences transforming the B2B marketplace, and they expect the value of peer input to rise over the coming years.
“What we’re seeing in B2B with these review sites is the development of peers as trusted advisors,” said Max Altschuler, VP of Marketing at Outreach. “People are going to these sites, seeing these reviews and they’re making their decision based off of them. They’re not as focused on the analyst anymore, as they are on what their peers have to say.”
Binch agreed and suggested marketers take advantage of the insights into customer pain points that review sites such as G2 Crowd and TrustRadius can provide. When armed with this information, marketing and sales teams are better positioned to tailor their messaging to address a specific customer’s needs and pain points.
“Go on these websites and look at the two-, three- and four-star reviews and pick up some themes about what their users are saying. Then, give them a call and say, ‘I saw the reviews on a third-party site about your product and these are the areas we can help,’” said Binch. “You need to go from talking about yourself and your technology to talking about the customer and why it’s relevant for them.”
At Demand Gen Report, as well as at our sister publication ABM In Action, we have made it our mission to ensure that we’re providing the latest trends and best practices in the growing realm of account-based strategy. But during a recent webcast we produced with our friends at Engagio, I realized that there is always something to learn when it comes to one of the hottest trends in B2B business today.
The business consumer has become more self-focused than ever before, challenging marketing and sales teams to give up the reins of their buyers’ journeys and adapting their go-to-market strategies to fully embrace buyer expectations. This concept was discussed in detail during B2B Marketing & Sales 2018, an event hosted by Forrester Research in Austin on October 25-26. During the opening keynote, Forrester’s VP and Research Director Caroline Robertson detailed how B2B buyers today have grown even more indifferent to sellers — expecting to be the center of any form of engagement and to have outcomes that align to their own business goals.
The pressure is on — marketers are becoming more responsible for driving revenue. In fact, Forrester research shows that 82% of CMOs have goals tied directly to revenue. As such, modern marketers are taking an active approach to measuring and accelerating pipeline — a task that was typically reserved for sales. But at companies such as Oracle and CenturyLink, there is a growing priority for marketers to generate pipeline metrics, including velocity, which can provide key insights to accelerate deals and streamline customer retention and advocacy.
AmpLive is an audience development platform that provides enterprise marketers with large, targeted audience lists for their live-streamed events. AmpLive is designed to distribute live content to audiences based on criteria such as company, industry, job title, interest or location, and then helps marketers retarget engaged audiences to drive ideal leads further down the funnel.
B2B marketing executives are rethinking their approach to metrics and reporting as they look to speak the languages of the C-suite and have a deeper connection to sales and company revenue.
I’m the type of person who measures everything. I know how many proposals I convert to revenue. I know the profile of the executives that hire me vs. take free advice. I know how many hours each type of engagement takes to complete. I even know how many truffles it takes to get through a difficult conference call.