What’s the Measure of Your B2B Marketing Success Today?

Are market share, revenue growth and lead counts the way you measure your B2B marketing success?

If you answered yes, you’ve probably lived through this cycle:

  • When your company / product line’s numbers were good–you were a rock star!
  • When revenues were flat or declining, and sales couldn’t close deals–you were in the dog house!

The downside of market-based signals or high level metrics is that they’re only distantly related to your day-to-day work. It puts marketing at the mercy of opinion rather than impact.

Yes – it’s even true of lead counts. Think about it. To generate leads, you need a marketing tech stack, a good Web site, product marketing messaging and content, marketing programs, and well-defined market segments to target. So which marketing team specifically is accountable when results come in?

Uh oh….I don’t suppose your board will care if your content was great, but your Web site hasn’t been updated in 6 years. If you’ve missed lead goals or revenue numbers, get ready to scramble to identify what you’ll do differently.

From Hopeful to Hardcore B2B Metrics

Good marketers quickly escape this trap, but it’s ridiculously hard. Wing-and-a-prayer metrics rob everyone of the ability to have better impact.

In the age of the customer, we can no longer afford to guess at what works. Customers educate themselves through normal channels–including friends, colleagues, co-workers and conferences–as well as through digital watering holes.

According to Regalix, 52% of B2B marketers say both digital and offline marketing add up to impact. The take-away? Business as usual is dead and gone. It’s time for new ways to measure impact.

B2B Marketing Goals by Channel

What Does a Good B2B Dashboard Look Like?

So where should you start? What’s pragmatic a pragmatic approach to new B2B metric? Here are 4 guidelines and key secrets (learned the hard way) for B2B marketing dashboards that work:

1. Focus on 5-10 of the right dashboard charts.

Goodness lies somewhere in between slogging through a data haystack and juggling 50+ charts.

Working without good data will hurt your business. It’ll manifest itself as overly optimistic forecasts, followed by missed pipeline and revenue targets.

On the other hand, all but a nerdy few can effectively manage data coming from 50+ charts. If you’re only speaking the language of data to your stakeholders, you’ll kill the creativity that makes you a great marketer. Data is meant to inform, not to stifle marketing innovation.

The secret is to have 5 to 10 of the right charts. You need enough data to see marketing results, pipeline flow, and revenue trends. And your charts must focus on the outcomes that make or break your business–including what drives the results and trend lines that you’re seeing.

2. Track flow and quality.

Get insights into funnel flow. Learn how Web traffic, landing pages, events, and email marketing drive leads from casual interest into closed revenue. If your demand creation pipeline is sluggish at any point, figure out why and do it fast.

And, focus on lead quality. A higher volume of leads doesn’t matter if you’re attracting the wrong buyers. Monitor how well you’re reaching the right accounts–the ones that quickly convert to revenue and infrequently churn.

Just watch out for the volume trap. The volume trap is a risk when you turn off the firehose of leads to focus on the best leads without educating your stakeholders. Manage this transparently or you’ll waste cycles explaining why quality is better than quantity.

The secret is to have a clear time frame for when the quality ramp kicks in. Only then, should you reset your traffic and lead volume goals. Design this and track progress to the crossover point with your stakeholders. For sales, this will help them adjust how they deploy their sales development teams. So, collaboration is the key.

3. Know how marketing programs contribute to results.

Traffic volumes, leads, lead conversion rates, pipeline and revenue–these are the basics of Marketing’s new vocabulary.

And also, we need insights into which marketing investments lift our numbers. Trying to drive more leads? Which programs–social marketing, events, webinars or email marketing campaigns–work the best? What content marketing topics drive engagement and conversion? Which elements of your website convert, lower your bounce rate, or attract linkbacks?

The secret is in having program-specific insights. Marketers need to see which programs contribute to lead and pipeline forecasts. We need to know if tactics activate our existing prospects or attract new ones.

It’s the equivalent to a sales rep knowing which accounts add up to their sales forecast for the quarter. Without this marketing insight, it’s like owning a sales quota without any idea of how to achieve it.

4. Measure content marketing topics and assets.

Content marketing moved from hype to a new norm in the past year. Ann Gynn, editor of the CMI blog, says content marketing is a “catch phrase no more.”

Yet it’s still a newer area of marketing, so many aren’t sure what to track. Laura Ramos of Forrester’s B2B Marketing unit says, “when 87% of B2B marketers say they struggle to develop compelling content, no amount of messing around with the mix will create a significant improvement in results.”

The secret is to make sure you measure both content collections and assets. Focus on content themes that drive traffic, leads and engagement. Know how your content collections drive leads across pipeline stages.

And also, learn how specific assets are performing. What’s the most popular piece? What’s the best content type and at what stage in the buying journey? Was there a sequence of assets that drove the best buyer engagement? Your odds of success increase when you know the answers to these questions.

If content is king, content impact is queen.