How to Measure and Optimize B2B Marketing Campaigns
In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, glassCanopy is featured as one of our Top Digital Marketing Agencies in the United States. Check out their profile here.
Marketing complex B2B products isn’t easy. We wish there were a one-size-fits-all, plug-and-play formula that would make it easy to create, launch, and optimize all of your campaigns – but there isn’t (and that would take all the fun out of it anyway). Since there is no set strategy, it’s essential to take the time to make sure you:
- Measure your campaigns effectively
- Understand how those marketing metrics impact campaigns
- Develop an ongoing optimization strategy
If you don’t take the time to regularly optimize campaigns, you’ll be bleeding budget and ultimately continue to develop and deploy campaigns that may not be working as you intend.
Understanding Marketing Metrics
We believe that you should track based on the best metric you have. What’s considered the “best” will largely be based on how advanced your current marketing processes are. Look at a basic marketing funnel and try to figure out how far down you can go. Here are some of the most commonly used marketing metrics:
- Impressions, clicks, and page views: These metrics are OK if you’re just starting out, but they are old school. The numbers simply aren’t meaningful (except for finding obvious problems), and optimizing based on these numbers isn’t effective.
- Inquiries: If possible, move beyond basic traffic metrics and use the tools you have to determine how many raw inquiries come into the funnel. These metrics haven’t been filtered for anything other than obvious spam. It’s a step up from the previous metric – but not by much.
- Marketing qualified inquiries (MQIs): An MQI is an inbound contact that can be linked to a person who can buy or influence the purchase of your product or service. This takes a little extra work in terms of augmenting the lead data coming in to “unmask” these individuals, but it streamlines the sales handoff, which tends to lead to more closed deals.
- Marketing qualified leads (MQLs): An MQL is an MQI superstar. This is someone who not only can buy your product but has indicated some intentionality around market interest for your product or service. Every organization defines this differently, but it usually includes a scoring system with triggers like “downloaded multiple eBooks” or “converted on a bottom-of-funnel campaign.” This is usually the point where the lead is given to sales (but marketing should continue to nurture them as well).
- Sales qualified leads (SQLs): This is an MQL that has been accepted by sales. They have had some contact, and believe it is a viable lead to work on.
- Opportunity: This takes the next step in the sales process. Typically, sales assign a predicted value for closing the sale and how likely that is. Working with sales to get these numbers is critical in being able to determine marketing’s impact on your bottom line.
- Revenue: The sale closed and now marketing needs the actual estimated lifetime value of the customer. In other words, how much marginal profit will the customer bring during the course of the relationship? The goal is that the money generated from the sale will be more than you had to spend on marketing and selling to get it. When it comes down to analysis, this is the only way to know if marketing spend is effective.
How these metrics are defined may change from organization to organization; however, you want to make sure that everyone working on your team understands and uses the same terminology consistently.
It’s All About Revenue
Ideally, track allllll the way down to revenue. For many organizations, the goal is lead generation, and then it’s up to sales to do the rest. (However, you should be working collaboratively with sales, of course). But if you think about it, this doesn’t quite make sense. You can’t pay your staff or investors with “leads.” In 99.99999999% of cases, people prefer to be paid with money. In a perfect world, you’re optimizing your marketing spend and campaigns based on how much revenue campaigns are generating.
It’s OK If You Can’t Track Revenue
Tracking marketing spend down to revenue is not easy – it took our agency years to get there. Most companies don’t even have the ability to track from inquiry down to the final sale. This is a very common problem. For now, just track based on the best metric you have and work on updating your processes so you can go one deeper. Then keep going deeper and deeper, with the ultimate goal of eventually tracking down to revenue.
Regardless of where you are in this process, it’s important that you work to set up accurate tracking through the marketing and sales funnel. This critical piece of your marketing infrastructure allows for more productive conversations, better handoffs, and the ability to tie marketing’s contribution to your bottom line.
What Does It All Mean?
How to Understand These Metrics
Once you’ve figured out how far down in the funnel you can track (hopefully at least to MQIs so you know you’re reaching the right audience) it’s now time to explore how the marketing budget was used. You want to organize marketing spend in dollars, time, and other resources. We find it’s best to break this down into:
- Campaigns: This is an idea, asset, or call to action, like an eBook, webinar, or demo sign-up.
- Platforms: These are the methods that you use to reach your audience, like organic search, Google AdWords, LinkedIn Lead Generation forms, etc.
Develop a Matrix
Once you have organized your data in this way, you can develop a matrix that helps you really drill down and determine what campaigns and platforms work best. Ideally, campaigns are launched across a variety of different platforms to figure out where your audience is lurking and what messages resonate best with them.
This data makes it possible to optimize for more nuanced and multi-touch campaigns. You can figure out what topics are best for bringing in new leads, pushing leads down the funnel, or bringing in the leads that are ready to purchase immediately.
Without an in-depth analysis and ongoing targeting refinement, companies end up wasting their budgets reaching the wrong people with the wrong message.
This information makes it possible for your team to continually optimize effectively. Instead of completing A/B tests that are a shot in the dark, you can make slight tweaks to campaigns to figure out what really brings in the best leads. Developing an ongoing optimization plan is important to ensure that your campaigns aren’t getting stale. Plus, the market is always changing. A campaign developed six months ago with no changes may not be performing as well as when it was originally launched.
Developing an optimization plan will depend on your organization, your goals, and the resources available. We recommend reviewing your campaign immediately after launch for any initial problems, like broken forms, misleading calls to action, etc. Then set time aside to optimize on a quarterly or six-month basis. You need to give your campaigns some time to run to ensure that you have enough meaningful data to work from. Optimization should consider things like:
- Lead quality
As always, when you’re getting started, make sure you use a variety of campaign types (eBooks, demos, etc.), topics, and platforms to give yourself the best chance of success. As you optimize, you will figure out the elements that resonate with your audience best. While you should always continue experimenting, this gives you a reliable formula to use to ensure an ongoing flow of high-quality leads.