Marketing metrics often go wrong, so what’s the right way to go?
It’s common wisdom that metrics are the foundation of successful marketing. Yet all too often B2B businesses focus only on measuring number of net new leads, a simplistic focus that ignores the growing complexity of the marketer’s scope.
Today’s B2B marketers find themselves navigating a rapidly shifting landscape. They engage prospects sooner than ever before and often stay involved with them long after the point of purchase. The ever-increasing array of digital marketing options means that in order for companies to keep up with their competitors, they must utilize a variety of multimedia platforms and provide a relentless stream of fresh, engaging content. And of course they face the ultimate pressure as well: to show proof that their marketing execution is driving impressive ROI.
The problem is, for years marketers have been preaching an immeasurable, intrinsic value to their efforts – something rooted in brand presence and perpetuated by large-scale advertising. With the advent of marketing automation, the production of evidence is not only expected but also demanded. To produce this kind of evidence, marketers must think beyond measuring lead production and shift to monitoring the entire sales cycle – because marketing qualified leads are only one dimension of the result of marketing effort. The right information can illuminate precisely what factors are working, what factors are failing, and what kind of course correction can spark higher performance in the future.
Yet just as the outflow of marketing content has increased, so has the influx of marketing data. There are more channels to oversee, more immediate data and final results to analyze. All of this can feel exhausting for marketers who aren’t even sure how to select from the many options at their disposal, let alone measure their results.
Which brings us to the most important metrics that should be on every smart B2B marketer’s wish list:
- Lead Volume: This basic metric is still crucial to measuring the success of your lead generation programs.
- Close rate: Knowing the number of customers derived from those leads will signal the effectiveness of your lead nurturing programs.
- Time to close: This will give you an idea of how long it takes on average to close with each customer.
- Cost per close: This will tell you what you’re spending on average to achieve the close.
- Revenue per new customer: Calculating the revenue delivered by each customer will tell you the quality of your leads.
Why are these five so valuable? The primary reason is that they divide the buying process into stages and help identify buyer motivations and dynamics. Once you’ve put them into context, you’ll have a fairly good idea of what’s driving results and how you can maximize your marketing’s business value.
To manage all of this information effectively, you’ll want to implement three main steps. First you’ll need to gather and store reliable data that connects leads to business outcomes. Next you’ll need to create benchmarks to interpret the data in a relevant context. Finally, you’ll want to build a model that allows you to accurately assess the impact of changes and trends across groups.
And don’t forget – when you’re designing your metrics monitoring system, you’ll want to track both immediate and long-term results. Operational reports, like the number of links clicked or social media posts shared, can sketch a fast picture of your digital programs’ value and are often built into their functionality. Strategic reporting, on the other hand, can help answer more complex questions, such as tracking the movements of customers exposed to multiple channels. For this, you will need to do a more in-depth attribution analysis, which will collect contact with leads, connect those leads to sales, and calculate the contribution of each contact to the final result. (Not all metric reporting systems are sophisticated enough for this capability, so you may need to buy a separate attribution system).
Does all of this sound overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. After deciding what kind of reporting system you need, take a good look at your current resources and identify the gaps between your goals and your current capabilities. This is where technology can help optimize your monitoring system, as there are plenty of data storage and modeling tools available on the market.
The Roadmap to Revenue
The ultimate goal of high-value metrics monitoring is to amplify your ROI. Through a deeper and more precise understanding of the prospect’s decisions within the sales cycle, you can identify both problem areas and potential opportunities. Monitoring the above five metrics will spell out exactly what’s driving revenue – and steer you toward a more powerful and profitable marketing program.
Finally, use that data. Start an active benchmarking program and use it to tweak small variables – like aligning content to buyer personas and then adjusting the call to action and measuring the results. Organizations that have embraced content marketing are truly using a pull strategy to swap content in and and out – or repositioning it – to determine how it is accelerating the buyer conversation. Once you’ve achieved that level of granularity and flexibility you will have left the old branding message in the dust and proven your long desired participation in the revenue discussion.