Marketing Performance Metrics 2.0: B2B Brands Focus On Pipeline Velocity, Activity Across Buying Stages And Campaigns

Published: January 9, 2019

Marketing performance measurement is an ongoing challenge for many B2B brands. For example, our research shows 87% of B2B companies ranked marketing measurement and reporting as a growing priority, but more than half (58%) said their current ability to track marketing performance “needs improvement” or worse. Progressive companies such as Iron Mountain and ServiceMax are succeeding by moving beyond baseline metrics to analyze pipeline velocity and track marketing performance across various stages and campaigns.

“I don’t think marketers have it easy here,” said Allison Snow, Senior Analyst at Forrester, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “It often feels like something that everyone else has cracked when you’re in the practitioner role, [but] the first thing I like to tell people is that they’re not alone.”

While measuring marketing performance may prove more challenging than anticipated, B2B companies should not be deterred. Research from Allocadia shows that the ability to measure marketing performance is highly tied to revenue. In fact, 65% of companies expecting revenue growth of 25% or greater can demonstrate marketing KPIs that show their direct contribution to business. On the flip side, 80% of companies expecting flat to negative growth say they either have no agreed-upon approach to measuring marketing performance or are only completing baseline measurements.

“This is the kind of thing that people will always be working to improve,” said Leslie Alore, Director of Regional Marketing at Iron Mountain, a data and records management provider, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “When you think about measuring marketing performance, think about what you want to get out of it. The focus should be on impact and decision making.”

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Pairing Volume Metrics With Velocity For Predictive Insights

As B2B companies get more advanced with their marketing performance metrics, Snow recommends tracking pipeline velocity in addition to volume metrics. By analyzing velocity, marketers can glean insight into which tactics move buyers through the funnel more quickly and can better identify what levers to pull in future campaigns to maximize success.

“We need to start thinking of metrics in terms of everything that affects the velocity in our funnel … and move from the trend of counting and understanding to understanding and forecasting,” said Snow. “Because ultimately, we don’t measure to count. We measure to make better decisions.”

According to the 2018 Marketing Measurement and Attribution Survey Report, only 13% of B2B companies currently measure pipeline velocity, whereas 61% measure MQLs, 48% measure closed-won deals and 40% measure pipeline opportunity.

ServiceMax, a field service software management company, time stamps each buying stage and analyzes the number of days in between. Nevertheless, Pat Oldenburg, Senior Director of Digital Marketing and Operations, admits that velocity is one of the more complex marketing metrics.

“We look at our full funnel and try to analyze how long it takes from account creation to an opportunity, and then how long it takes to close or lose an opportunity on average,” said Oldenburg in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “We can see that it takes, say, 120 days for that stage and the full opportunity cycle takes 240 days, but it’s probably the hardest metric that we have tried to nail down.”

Connecting Activity Across Buying Stages And Campaigns

Industry experts agree that marketing performance measurement is made more complicated by the number of platforms, channels and campaigns marketers must juggle. Connecting the dots between these to understand marketing’s impact across the buying cycle can feel at times like solving a Rubik’s cube.

Demand Gen Report  research revealed that the main challenges of measuring marketing performance are tracking activity between buyer stages (48%) and measuring impact across channels and campaigns (47%).

To address these issues, ServiceMax has adapted a granular method to measuring marketing performance. Oldenburg said the company takes an account-based approach to metrics, with particular attention paid to the total number of target accounts, the number of engaged accounts and the number of accounts converted.

“We’re a low-volume company as far as customers but with a really high selling price, so we’re looking at small numbers all the time,” said Oldenburg. “We start with the accounts and we end with the accounts. It helps make the numbers more realistic as far as performance tracking.”

According to Oldenburg, ServiceMax also leverages cost metrics to track success across every campaign and channel. By analyzing metrics such as the cost per click, cost per conversion and cost per opportunity, the marketing team can better understand and optimize marketing dollars throughout the year. These metrics are then reported to executives on a biannual or quarterly basis.

Marketing performance metrics and methods can, however, vary greatly from company to company. For example, Iron Mountain created its own three-category system that aims to provide a holistic view of marketing performance.

The first level is tactical measurement, which analyzes how tactics are executed within their own channels and platforms, such as measuring email marketing efforts in Oracle Eloqua. The second level looks at individual campaign performance and success against specific goals which are set forth at the beginning of the campaign. Finally, the company looks at operational/funnel performance, which shows how marketing activities are cumulatively contributing to the creation of leads, the movement of leads through the funnel and ultimately, revenue. KPIs vary depending on marketing objectives but can include the number of leads generated, conversion rate, cost-per-lead and more.

According to Alore, tactical measurement is reviewed on a bi-weekly basis, campaign performance is measured on a bi-weekly or monthly basis depending on the size of the campaign and operational performance metrics are presented to marketing leadership each month, as well as to the leadership organization once a quarter.

Tactical Tips For Improving Marketing Performance Metrics In 2019

As marketers continue to adapt new tactics and tools in the New Year, the struggle to measure marketing performance may only grow more elaborate. But by experimenting with marketing attribution, B2B companies can better identify the steps of a successful buyer journey and lay the groundwork for a prosperous 2019.

In addition to measuring pipeline velocity and developing a clear framework for marketing attribution, industry experts recommend:

  • Taking a proactive approach to developing marketing performance metrics.
    “Marketers need to step up, be accountable and say, ‘We have a role in shaping these metrics,’ rather than letting them be dictated by the sales department or another department.” — Allison Snow, Forrester
  • Investing in marketing attribution tools.
    “LeanData, BrightFunnel (now Terminus) and Bizible are all awesome options and are my personal favorites. If you have a very lean budget, hack it till you make it with the UTMs and triggered Marketo campaigns.” — Masha Finkelstein, Google
  • Maintaining consistency over complete accuracy.
    “I would say the KISS method (keep it simple, stupid) can’t do you wrong. If you’re measuring so many things that when you look at the dashboard, you can’t actually derive real insights and be able to take action from it, you probably need to rethink what your focus is.” — Leslie Alore, Iron Mountain
  • Preserving performance data amidst organizational changes.
    “As a marketer, it’s really important to try to think carefully and influence other organizations within your company when there are material changes to try to at least minimize it or preserve the history that you have with campaign performance, so you can remain somewhat predictable with your measurements. Otherwise, it’s all just trended results and you don’t know if they’re good or bad.” – Pat Oldenburg, ServiceMax
  • Testing!
    “Play around with different types of attribution: first or last touch, multi-touch, U-shaped, W-shaped and whatever other attribution type you can think of. You might find that only last touch attribution makes sense for your organization. Or U-shaped. Who knows!” — Masha Finkelstein, Google

To create a winning strategy in 2019, B2B organizations must take a granular approach to analyzing buyer activity and pipeline with a clear focus on performance metrics and tools.

“Marketing has a marketing problem,” said Snow. “In many cases, we lack the things that make our value demonstration really compelling. In some cases, we lack the tools. In others, it’s the story or the metrics. The trend is to get ahead of this … and understand what really moves someone through the funnel.”

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