No marketer questions the importance of analytics. Measurement is the only way we see the results of the work we’re doing.
As much as everyone talks about it though, many marketing organizations are approaching their marketing analytics in a way that’s not doing much for them. Sure, you can show your executives that you’re getting re-tweets and webinar attendees, but are you using that information to improve?
B2B marketers today have loads of data, but many of them still struggle with figuring out how to turn that data into actionable insights that will help them get better results. Measurement shouldn’t just be about proving your worth; it should be about understanding your performance in order to improve it.
In our recent webinar on marketing measurement, Ross Graber, the Senior Research Director at Sirius Decisions, reviewed some of the top trends in marketing measurement today and discussed how businesses can put them to work for better results.
Current Trends in Marketing Measurement
Over the course of his presentation, Ross covered four important marketing trends and methodologies.
The Metrics Spectrum
Sirius Decisions developed their metrics spectrum to help better identify the types of metrics marketers collect and the value each provides.
According to their spectrum, metrics can be divided into four categories:
- Activity Metrics – These help you measure productivity. How much is your team getting done?
- Output Metrics – These are the metrics that show you the immediate results of your activities. Where the number of emails you send is an activity metric, the number or emails that are opened and the amount of traffic they drive back to your blog are in the category of output metrics.
- Impact Metrics – Most marketers are already tracking activity and output metrics, but impact metrics are a little more sophisticated and less common at this point. They’re the ones that tie all those other metrics back to your main goal: revenue. How do your specific activities and their responses help to drive revenue?
- Readiness Metrics – These are a little more niche, but still important. They’re the metrics that help your organization stay on top of your own readiness. How do your employees fare when it comes to important marketing skills? Does your martech stack have the capabilities you need?
Many marketing organizations are currently considering some of these metrics, but not others. It’s important to consider all of them. With the right tools and approach, you have the ability to not only count what you do and measure the immediate reaction to your work, but also summarize how the actions of your buyers and customers are coming together to profit your business.
Look Across Campaigns Rather Than at Tactics
All four types of the marketing metrics included in the spectrum are important, but it’s at least as important not to look at them in a vacuum. If you want to be the kind of marketing organization that drives revenue, then you have to pay attention to how your tactics work together.
To do that, Ross recommends taking a campaign-level view of your metrics, rather than simply looking at how each tactic performs independently.
You should still pay attention to those output metrics, but then follow through to see how they relate to the success of the overall campaign. View your metrics as a hierarchy:
- At the bottom you have all the metrics that tell you about the performance of specific tactics, like the attendance at a webinar or the number of people that opened an email.
- Next up, you have the combined metrics for tactic types. How are your webinars performing in general?
- Next you have your program-level metrics. How are all the tactics designed to help bring in leads performing?
- At the top are the summary metrics that tell you how well your larger campaigns are meeting their goals.
Those summary metrics are ultimately the most important because they help you see the influence of your efforts on revenue, but you need all the other metrics in order to get to the point where you can see those summary-level ones.
Tactic attribution is the practice of trying to calculate the financial return of specific marketing tactics. The challenge, of course, is that most customers encounter a number of tactics before they reach the point of sale. So you have to figure out how much financial credit should be given to each one.
Marketers have developed a number of different models for revenue attribution, but ultimately which one works best for you will depend a lot on the contextual situation and the particular goals you’re trying to measure.
Tactic attribution has been a popular buzzword in the marketing space for a while. To see if the practice matched the buzz, Ross did a small study of businesses to see how widely practiced it is. He found that:
- 48% of businesses weren’t doing it at all
- 21% are starting to implement it
- 31% are already actively doing it
That means if you haven’t fully embraced tactic attribution at your organization, you’re not really behind. It’s growing in use, but not standard practice yet in B2B marketing. Naturally that makes now a good time to get started.
While tactic attribution is a pretty advanced form of marketing measurement, it’s not perfect. It tends to be overly simplistic and can’t tell you much about the who, what, and why behind the results you’re getting. It also doesn’t take into account difficult-to-measure factors like your brand reputation and the reactions to any offline marketing you do.
Nonetheless, it does help provide a clearer picture of how your activities contribute to revenue and can be especially useful as part of a larger metrics toolkit.
The Toolkit Approach
Ross left the best for last. The ideal way to approach marketing metrics is with a toolkit approach that mixes and matches different approaches to get the best results.
In particular, some of the best tools to keep in your toolkit are:
- A/B testing – Any time your data seems to be telling you something, the only way to know for sure is to test it. A/B testing answers the important question of which tactics provide the best results. It allows for continuous optimization so you can tweak your marketing plan for better results on an ongoing basis.
- Tactic goal mandates – While there’s a whole section above on the importance of looking at your campaign-level metrics, that doesn’t mean your tactic metrics aren’t still important. Use your current data to determine realistic goals you can set for all the tactics you use. You’ll get a faster warning sign if your campaigns are falling behind and be able to course correct early if you’re able to see which individual tactics aren’t reaching the goals you’ve set for them.
- Touch analysis – Look at your successful deals to see what touch points contributed to them. This is some of the your most important data because it shows you what works. When you can see what isn’t working, you know what to cut or work on improving, but seeing what is working tells you what to do next.
If you thought that was a lot of good information, wait until you hear the full spiel in the webinar. No matter where your marketing organization falls on the measurement spectrum, you can probably be getting more out of the data you have.
It’s not about finding the one report or analysis that will answer questions for you, it’s about crafting the right multi-layer approach that tells you what you need to know to make improvements.