Are Your Metrics Counting What Counts?

March 12, 2014

This post was written by Ryan Wilson, B2B Agency Lead at LinkedIn.

As Director of Sales for the past two and half years at Bizo, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of B2B marketers. I’ve also had the unique opportunity to work closely with our marketing team here at Bizo as we’ve built and scaled our own marketing engine (and sales org). Since we all seem to face similar challenges around attribution in a B2B sales cycle, here’s my approach to identifying the right metrics for your business.

In our world of B2B, sales cycles are long, decisions are made by committees, and we’re battling our top competitors for every new client. Today’s savvy marketers have more data (and more solutions) at their disposal than ever before. So how are you going to cut through the noise? It all starts with knowing which metrics count…and which ones don’t.

In order to figure out which metrics are right for you, we need to start with the business objective behind the marketing campaign. Are we looking for new clients to buy into your core offering? To build awareness for a new product within your existing client base? Are we focused on winning market share from a specific competitor? Are we expanding into a new market?

Next, we need to understand your buyer’s journey. How long is your typical sales cycle? Who will be involved in your client’s decision making process? How does your offering compare to your competitors? Below are some simple but effective metrics for measuring your success at each step in a typical B2B sales cycle.

Effective metrics for measuring your success at each step in a B2B sales cycle:

At the top of the funnel, we want to make sure that we’re building awareness within the right audience, so the following steps can ensure that proper measurement is taking place:

  • A third-party brand study from a company like Vizu can help you quantify the lift in brand recognition that your campaign has driven.
  • Free audience analytics tools shows the impact that any marketing campaign you run has on visits to your website from specific business audiences. Since we’re typically dealing with niche audiences in B2B, knowing ‘who’ you’re driving to your site is at least as important as knowing ‘how many,’ and this free tool will help you see both. To avoid wasting impressions, be sure to identify the right decision makers/influencers who will be involved in the buying process.
  • Avoid the click trap! Click metrics (especially click-through rate, or CTR) can be a false indicator of success. Numerous studies have shown a low correlation between clicks and conversions. Focusing on clicks means that you’re prioritizing the behavior of ‘someone likely to click on my ad’ over ‘someone likely to buy my product’. It’s a weak metric at best, and at worst, can actually lead to ‘optimizations’ that hurt your overall campaign performance.

The middle of the funnel often gets lost in the mix – even though it’s arguably the most important stage for many B2B marketers. With the majority of the buying process happening before a prospect ever engages with your sales team, it’s crucial to differentiate yourself from your competitors at this stage.

  • Engagement metrics such as repeat visits, page views per visit, and increased action rates all point towards winning the education battle during this competitive phase.
  • An effective nurturing strategy can help you separate yourself from the pack. Timing, content and personalization are all key components here. Developing relevant content will keep your audience engaged and can increase velocity through the sales cycle.
  • Today’s best B2B marketers are developing content that speaks to their most valuable segments and aligning their creative messaging across marketing channels. Some highly successful B2B marketers have accomplished this by syncing their display and email nurturing efforts through Eloqua’s AdFocus product. Using defined audience segments and a prospect’s digital body language allows you to deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time, across channels. That’s your opportunity to tell your story, while your competitors are waiting/hoping to be found.

Takeaways

  • The bottom of the funnel typically gets the most love, because it’s closest to the dollar…and easiest to measure. Leads are going to be the key metric here for most B2B marketers, but it’s important to keep a couple of points in mind:
  • All leads are not created equal. For some B2B companies, there may not be a big difference between your most valuable and least valuable customer…but for many of us, that difference is significant. CPL doesn’t account for the potential value of a lead (only the cost to attain that lead). The most valuable prospects are likely not the cheapest/easiest leads that you’ll find, so if you’re only focused on CPL, you may be unintentionally cutting yourself off from your best prospects.
  • Don’t rely on last-touch attribution. It’s important to have effective bottom-funnel tools to nurture and capture your prospects as they reach their buying decisions. SEM, SEO, email and display nurturing/retargeting can all be powerful tools to help you capture leads and prove ROI. Just be careful not to compare apples and oranges between these tools (geared towards lead capture/conversion) and your upper-mid funnel programs that are designed to drive new qualified prospects into (and through) your funnel.

This post was originally published on the Bizo blog. In July 2014, LinkedIn + Bizo joined forces to build the most robust B2B marketing platform available to marketers. To learn more, check out David Thacker, VP of Product at LinkedIn’s announcement blog post.

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